What matched betting is all about

Online bookies frequently offer free bets as part of an email promotion or mailing. If you use this free bet there’s obviously no way to ensure it wins, but there is a simple way to ensure you make a return. As it was a free bet, you can’t really lose any money.

This trick won’t make you rich but can make a small amount of money for about 5 mins work.

Matched bet

Here’s an example called ‘matching’ the free bet. The bookie gives you a £25 free bet and you place it on York City to beat Chelsea in a cup match at the weekend. Let’s say the odds for York to win are 6 to 1, which can be shown as 7 in decimal format (which most sites use now). You winnings in this case would be £150.

Of course we can’t be sure that York City will win. You now need to place the ‘matched’ bet which must be the exact opposite of the first. The simplest way to do this is to use an exchange like Betfair. You go to the exchange and lay York City to beat Chelsea. ‘Lay’ means ‘bet against’ and you are basically betting that it will not happen. This will mean that if York wins, you will win at the bookie and if York do not win you will win at the exchange.

The trick to making a few quid here is to cover just three things:

•    Firstly makie sure you find a close match. This means the bet odds and the lay odds should be close. A reasonable match would be odds of 7 at the bookie and 8 at the exchange. The closer they are, the better the return.
•    Secondly make sure you lay just the right amount. This is where the lay calculator comes in.
•    Thirdly make sure you lay the right thing, eg get the right game and outcome.

So back to our example. If you head over to the lay calculator, and select free bet SNR at the top. Enter the bet amount (£25), then your back odds which was 7.0 and the lay odds which was 8.0. You also need to enter the commission rate for the exchange you’re using, this is usually 5% and will eat slightly into your profit. Now hit the calculate button.

Under the standard match section you’ll see the return. For our example, the calculator should tell you to lay £18.87 at the exchange. Below that are the possible outcomes which I will explain:

Outcome 1 – York win – the free bet wins you £150 at the bookie. You lose £132.09 at the exchange, so that’s a profit of £17.91.
Outcome 2 – York do not win – the free bet loses and you win £17.93 at the exchange, so a profit of £17.93.

So you can see that, whatever happens with York and Chelsea, your profit is the same (within 2p).

For those comfortable with this method, there is also an advanced lay calculator which enables even greater returns.