If you haven’t already read my matched betting guide, I would recommend you do so before reading any of my strategy pages.  It’s important that you understand how we place certain bets before learning why we place them.

If, however, you’re already familiar with my blog and the concept of matched betting, you will have noticed that I always place my qualifying bets at low odds. Allow me to explain why…

There are many different types of bookmaker offers out there, but the majority of them require us to place a straightforward ‘back and lay’ qualifying bet in order to claim a bonus or a free bet.

We almost always incur a small loss when placing qualifying bets, so the aim is always to keep this at a minimum.

For the purposes of explaining how we should place our qualifying bets, we need an offer, and there’s none better than the Ladbrokes welcome offer. If we place a £50.00 bet at minimum odds of 1.50 (1/2) or above, Ladbrokes will give us a £50.00 free bet.

It’s important that we always read the terms of an offer before we place our 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.

I like to place my exchange lay bets with Smarkets as the site is really easy to use and they only charge 2% commission in comparison to the 5% charged by other betting exchanges.

I’ve opted to place my qualifying bet on a match between Tottenham and Stoke City, the odds for which are as follows…

Back odds for Tottenham v Stoke at Ladbrokes.

Lay odds for Tottenham v Stoke at Smarkets.

As you can see, we can place our qualifying bet on a Tottenham win, a draw or a Stoke City 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…

Outcome Back Odds Lay Odds Bookie Profit Exchange Liability Qualifying Loss
Tottenham 1.70 1.74 £35.00 £36.57 £1.57
Draw 3.80 3.95 £140.00 £142.62 £2.62
Stoke City 5.50 6.00 £225.00 £229.93 £4.93

As you can see, if we place our qualifying bet on a Tottenham win (the lowest odds), we will incur the smallest qualifying loss of £1.57. If we bet on the draw, we’ll lose £2.62 and if we bet on a Stoke City win, we’ll lose £4.93. Generally, the lower the odds, the less we will lose on our qualifying bets.

It’s also important to notice the exchange liability figures. Our exchange liability is the amount we stand to lose from our Smarkets account if our lay bet loses.  As you can see, the lower the odds, the less money we need in our Smarkets account to place the bet.  For more information about lay betting, please see my betting exchange guide.

We know we need to place £50.00 on Tottenham 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 Smarkets bet.

Enter the back stake, odds and commission into the calculator to find out how much we need to lay at Smarkets.

As you can see, by selecting ‘Qualifying Bet’ and entering the relevant figures into the matched betting calculator, it tells us that our lay stake needs to be £49.42


Enter the lay stake from the calculator at Smarkets.

So all we need to do is click on the 1.74 lay button and enter our stake of £49.42.  It tells us that our liability on this bet is £36.57 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 will need to deposit funds into our Smarkets account to cover our £36.57 liability as this is the amount we stand to lose from Smarkets if Tottenham win. Don’t worry though, our winnings at Ladbrokes will cancel it out, but for a tiny loss.

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

Tottenham win +£35.00 – £36.57 = £1.57 loss
Tottenham don’t win -£50.00 + £48.43 (£49.42 minus 2% commission) = £1.57 loss

So regardless of whether Tottenham win, lose or draw we will incur a small loss of £1.57 in qualifying for our £50.00 free bet.



Always place your qualifying bets at low odds as it gives you a smaller liability at the betting exchange and minimises your qualifying loss which in turn gives you a larger overall profit!!!