Qualifying Bet Strategy

Difficulty: Easy Read time: 5 mins

You may have noticed in my matched betting guide that we placed our qualifying bet at low odds. There’s a reason for that and I’ll explain why.

There are many different bookmaker offers out there and the majority will require us to place a straightforward ‘back and lay’ bet in order to qualify for a free bet or bonus.

We’ll almost always incur a small loss when placing a qualifying bet. Keeping our qualifying losses at a minimum enables us to maximise our profits, so it’s important that we understand the process.

Understanding the offer

Before getting involved with an offer, it’s important that we understand exactly what is required.

Let’s take a look at the old Ladbrokes welcome offer. If we place a £50.00 bet at minimum odds of 1.50 (1/2) or greater, Ladbrokes will give us a £50.00 free bet.

Ladbrokes Multisport Welcome Offer

Always read the terms (small print) before placing your qualifying bets. There’s nothing worse than waiting for your free bet, only to discover that you placed your qualifying bet on a market that wasn’t included in the offer or you placed your qualifying bet at lower odds than the minimum requirement.

Which outcome should I choose?

I’ve opted to place my qualifying bet on a football match between Chelsea and Roma…

Back odds for Chelsea v Roma at Ladbrokes.
Betfair Lay Odds
Lay odds for Chelsea v Roma at Betfair.

As you can see, we can place our qualifying bet on a Chelsea win, a draw or a Roma win. In order to determine which selection gives us the smallest qualifying loss, we need to input the figures into the matched betting calculator.

The results are as follows…

OutcomeBack OddsLay OddsExchange LiabilityQualifying Loss

As you can see, if we place our qualifying bet on Chelsea to win (the lowest odds), we’ll incur the smallest qualifying loss of £2.06. If we bet on a draw, we’ll lose £6.42 and if we bet on Roma to win, we’ll lose £10.73.

Generally speaking, back and lay odds are tighter the lower they are. We should therefore always look to place our qualifying bets at low odds in order to minimise our qualifying losses.

It’s also important to note the exchange liability figures. Our exchange liability is the amount we stand to lose from our Betfair account in the event that our lay bet loses. As you can see, the lower the odds, the less money we need in our Betfair account to place the lay bet.

For more information about lay betting, please see my Betting Exchange Guide.

Placing our qualifying bet

We know we need to place a £50.00 bet on Chelsea at Ladbrokes as this is the selection that gives us the smallest qualifying loss. All we need to do now is work out our lay stake for the Betfair bet…

Calculator for Chelsea Lay Bet
Enter the back stake, odds and commission into the calculator to find out how much we need to lay at Betfair.

As you can see, the calculator tells us that our lay stake should be £50.47…

Chelsea Lay Betslip
Enter the lay stake from the calculator at Betfair.
Chelsea Lay Bet
Potential profit or loss at Betfair for the possible outcomes.

So all we need to do is click on the ‘1.65’ lay button and enter our stake of £50.47. It tells us that our liability on this bet is £32.81 and it’s good practice to check this figure against the expected liability on the matched betting calculator. As you can see, they’re both the same but for a penny (due to rounding), so we know we have entered the correct lay stake.

We’ll need to deposit enough funds into our Betfair account to cover our £32.81 liability as this is the amount we stand to lose from Betfair if Chelsea win. Don’t worry though, our winnings at Ladbrokes will cancel it out, but for the small qualifying loss.

Let’s have a look at our resulting profit/loss for the two outcomes…

Chelsea win+ £30.75 – £32.81 = £2.06 loss
Chelsea don't win- £50.00 + £47.94 (£50.47 minus 5% commission) = £2.06 loss

So, regardless of whether Chelsea win, lose or draw, we’ll incur a small loss of £2.06 in qualifying for our £50.00 free bet.


Always place your qualifying bets at low odds. You’ll need less money in your exchange account and it’ll minimise your qualifying losses, which in turn maximises your profits!

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