What is matched betting?
March 25, 2017
“What is Matched Betting?” is a question asked by seasoned gamblers and novices alike in recent months, as Google searches for this new form of hedged betting has emerged and become increasingly popular.
Simply speaking, matched betting is the art of using the free money provided by bookmakers to cover both outcomes of a particular event (say, Manchester United beating Liverpool), and finding the right odds so that, no matter what, a player doesn’t lose their own money, and actually makes a profit.
Betting websites are particularly keen on “free bet” promotions during big sporting events (Cheltenham Festival, for example), or as a means of competing with their rivals and attract new players. While the initial offer may appear generous, it’s the house that wins in the long term if the new player provides it with repeat custom.
In that sense, “What is matched betting?” can answered far more cynically: it’s a way of getting back at the bookies for once, and making the most of their offers to net a tidy profit – something not a lot of gamblers can genuinely claim.
How does it work? The punter uses the free money offered by a bookmaker to bet on a particular outcome (say, Manchester United winning), only to then lay it (i.e. gamble on the opposite outcome, Manchester United not winning) on a betting exchange (a good example being Betfair).
There are obvious caveats here: the player needs to pick odds that will allow him to actually gain something – many bookies charge commissions (say, 5%) on winnings, which need to be taken into account.
There’s more: certain betting websites require the player to actually wager some of his or her own money before being eligible to make the most of the offer – these are known as “qualifying’ bets. Then again, using matched betting will incur a negligible loss which is offset by the profits for the free bet – and there are plenty of ways to break even on qualifiers too.
There are further rules introduced by bookmakers to try to offset the gains made by matched betting: they may prohibit players from withdrawing their winnings until a certain amount of bets have been made with that free money, for example.
Repeat matched bettors can also find their accounts lose the right to benefit from some, even all promotions, a practice known as ‘gubbing’.
Despite these issues, however, matched betting has seen its popularity spike in recent months, as it has helped people from all over the globe make decent, tax-free profits.
Used by stay-at-home mums and students (allowing the latter to pay off their university loans at a stroke), matched betting has the unique advantage of appealing to anyone, not just sports enthusiasts who have long poured over the books looking for a potential winner.
In a nutshell, it’s a clever way to make money, provided one is willing to put the work in.