Risk-Free Bet Strategy

Difficulty: Easy Read time: 5 mins

Risk-free bets are a great source of matched betting profit. Risk-free bets allow us to place a bet, safe in the knowledge that if it loses, we’ll get our money back as a free bet, bonus or cash.

When I first started matched betting, I didn’t make the most of risk-free offers. I would place and lay my risk-free bets at high odds hoping they’d lose, so that I would receive the free bet or bonus. Although my selections would lose the majority of the time, there were occasions where my risk-free bet won. This left me with a small overall loss and a guaranteed profit opportunity wasted.

I soon realised that risk-free bets should be treat in a similar way to free bets. By placing them at high odds and overlaying slightly, we can guarantee ourselves a profit on any outcome.

What should I place my risk-free bet on?

First of all, we need a risk-free bet offer and they don’t come much better than the Totesport welcome offer…

Totesport Welcome Offer

As always, it’s important that we read the terms and conditions thoroughly before getting involved. The Totesport welcome offer is pretty straightforward. All we need to do is stake £1.00 or more on any sport and if our bet loses, Totesport will refund our stake as a free bet, up to a maximum of £25.00.

I’ve always favoured football markets when doing welcome offers, but the horses are worth a look too, especially given Totesport’s horse racing roots. Just try to avoid the more obscure races and stick to the big ones.

I’ve opted to place my risk-free bet on a big Saturday race from Ascot which was shown live on ITV…

Totesport Back Odds
Totesport back odds for the top few runners in the 13:25 at Ascot.
Betfair Lay Odds
Betfair lay odds for the top few runners in the 13:25 at Ascot.

Obviously, we need back and lay odds that are fairly tight, but generally speaking, the higher the odds, the more profit we’ll be able to extract.

With that in mind, we can see at a glance that we should be placing our risk-free bet on Stradivarius.

Placing our qualifying bet

Now that we have decided to place our £25.00 qualifying bet on Stradivarius at Totesport, we just need to work out our Betfair lay stake.

You’ll notice on the matched betting calculator that there is an extra ‘Cashback’ field when using the ‘Risk-Free Bet’ setting.

This is where we can enter how much cash we expect to get back, should our qualifying bet lose. If you’ve read through my free bet strategy page, you’ll know that we’re able to extract approximately 75% of our £25.00 free bet as cash. We can therefore enter £18.75 as our ‘Cashback’ figure…

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

As you can see, by using the ‘Risk-Free Bet’ setting and entering the relevant figures, the calculator tells us that our lay stake should be £23.04.

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

So, all we need to do is click on the ‘9’ lay button and enter our stake of £23.04. It tells us that our liability on this bet is £184.32 and it’s good practice to check this figure against the expected liability on the matched betting calculator. As you can see, they are both the same, so we know we have entered the correct lay stake.

We’ll need to ensure we have enough funds in our Betfair account to cover the £184.32 liability as this is the amount we stand to lose at Betfair if Stradivarius wins. Don’t worry though, our potential Totesport winnings of £200.00 will more than cover it.

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

Outcome Profit
Stradivarius wins + £200.00 – £184.32 = £15.68 profit
Stradivarius doesn't win - £25.00 + £21.88 + £18.75 (extract 75% of £25.00 free bet) = £15.63 profit

So, regardless of where Stradivarius finishes, we’ll make a minimum guaranteed profit of £15.63 on this risk-free bet offer. Given that this was a £25.00 risk-free bet offer, we’ve managed to extract just over 62% of it as cash.

When placing risk-free bets, we should be aiming to extract at least 60% cash.

Applying the strategy to any risk-free bet offer

Not only can we apply the above strategy to straightforward offers like the Totesport welcome offer, but we can apply it to any offer where a bookmaker is offering us something back if our bet loses.

On the first day of the Cheltenham November Meeting 2017, Coral offered money back as a free bet if our horse failed to win the 13:50. Using the risk-free bet strategy above, we were able to make a guaranteed profit of £14.36.

During the Cheltenham Festival 2016, 188BET offered 25% money back as a bonus on all Day 1 losses. By working out how much cash we could extract from the 25% refund bonus, we were able to make just over £60.00 guaranteed profit.

Always keep an eye out for any promotions where the bookmaker is offering you something back on your net losses or if your bet simply loses. By applying the risk-free bet strategy above, we can usually make a nice guaranteed profit with very little hassle!

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  1. Jonne

    If Tottenham win in overtime then neither of the bets (bookie nor exchange) will win. So you should bet moneyline in bookie in order to win regardless the outcome of the match.

    1. Matt

      That’s not the case Jonne. The ‘Match Result’ market at Totesport and ‘Winner’ market at Smarkets both include stoppage time at the end of a game.

  2. Alex

    If a bet was placed at high odds and won then presumably you’d be happy with the pay out of the first bet , so why match the first when the outcomes are either you get a free £25 bet from a loss or a high payback from a win?

    1. Matt

      This is a question that crops up a lot Alex. If you were to place your qualifying bet without laying it and it lost, you would be £25.00 down. You would then extract £20.00 cash from the £25.00 free bet refund, giving you an overall loss of £5.00. By using the risk-free bet strategy above, we can guarantee ourselves a nice profit rather than run the risk of making a loss. It’s all a matter of personal preference though so if you’re comfortable risking the £5.00 loss to make a big profit, by all means go for it.

  3. Martyn Lannigan

    Also by putting £25 on Bournemouth its obvious what you are upto and a very good chance of a gubbing coming yo’ur way surely.

    1. Matt

      I disagree Martyn. I think you’re fine if you stick to the big markets (Match Odds) of the big matches (Premier League, Championship, La Liga etc).

  4. Greg

    People take punts all the time Martyn, they cant gub everybody and a few random bets arent going to make them home in on you! Well I dont think anyways, 25 is small fish. they have bigger fish to fry than watch small bets and gub because you bet on Bournemouth. Maybe we are fans of the club? 🙂 Erratic high stake bets and winning often and loads from the bookies may well get you gubbed. You may not even be mbetting but if you arent giving value to the bookie..and winning loads they dont give a what what.

    So yea just my opinion..:)

  5. frankfx45

    Do we always use 75% of the back stake as for the cashback section of field?

    1. Matt

      You can adjust the figure if you wish. 75% is an estimate of what we can extract when laying at Betfair. I usually suggest 80% as the cashback figure when laying with Smarkets, due to their lower commission rate.

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