How does matched betting work?
March 28, 2017
Many curious readers have noticed a trend in recent times: the conversion of many ‘unsporty’ people to matched betting, a craze that has allowed many students and stay-at-home parents to make a consistent, tax-free profit.
What is it? How does matched betting work? It is a way of turning the tables on the bookmakers, of flipping the script on a house that has always won off the backs of its players.
Ironically, matched betting works by making the most of one of the bookmakers’ favourite strategies: the free bet.
Often employed during major sporting (or political!) events, the free bet is a way to rope in a new customer and give them the illusion of riches, only to catapult him into a world where the odds are generally in the bookies’ favour, as they always are.
Matched betting is the polar opposite: a sustainable way of earning money relatively risk-free.
But how does matched betting work? The idea is that a player uses his free bet, but hedges it by gambling on the exact opposite outcome, made this time with an exchange. Either way, the player wins – so long as he or she picks the rights odds.
Let’s say that a gambler bets on Jordan Spieth to win the next Masters, quoted at 10/1 by Bookie A, who is also offering a free £20 bet to golf enthusiasts.
Matched betting at work is a simple mechanism: it involves using that free bet, which would generate winnings of £220, and a profit of £200.
To ensure that the player wins no matter what, he also has to ‘lay’ Spieth on an exchange (say Betfair) – in other words, bet that Spieth does not win.
They key here is that the player needs to ‘lay’ a sum that isn’t superior to £200. When someone lays, they’re essentially acting as a bookmaker, promising to gain little if they win, but pay out big (the ‘liability’) if they lose. Someone needs to take a ‘liability’ of less than £200. Let’s say that the player is set to make a profit of £15 if Spieth fails, but lose £180 if Spieth ends up triumphant.
This is the beauty of matched betting. Either way, the player is a winner; if Spieth doesn’t come out on top, the player gains their £15 lay bet, and loses nothing on the free bet with Bookie A.
If Spieth were to triumph, on the other hand, the player would pocket the £200 profit, minus the £180 loss on the lay. That’s a £20 gain.
There are elements which can have an impact, and require any matched bettor to put in the work, and not just click on whichever odds look good.
Betting exchanges charge commissions (up to 5%) on winnings, so read the terms and conditions carefully. Bookmakers may also ask a player to make a qualifying bet, to punt your own money before you can access a free bet.
The good news here is that a player can entrust his or herself to matched betting software, an odds matcher and match betting calculator.
The software can be particularly helpful, and they come with a free trial, tutorials, and even some guaranteed earnings. Subscription sites charge a fixed rate every month or annually and publish useful advice, too.