Put simply, there are two parts to matched betting; back bets and lay bets.

Back betting

back bet is when we bet on something to happen, like betting that Andy Murray will win Wimbledon. If our back bet wins, we get our stake back plus our winnings. If our back bet loses, we lose our stake.

Lay betting

lay bet is when we bet against something happening, like betting that Andy Murray won’t win Wimbledon. If Murray doesn’t win Wimbledon, our lay bet wins because we bet that he wouldn’t win. If Murray does win Wimbledon, our lay bet has lost. We place lay bets to effectively ‘match’ our back bets and that’s where the term ‘matched betting’ comes from. So if we bet on Murray to win at the bookmaker and then lay him to win at a betting exchange, the two bets cancel each other out, but for a tiny loss.

You can read more about back and lay bets in my betting exchange guide.

Here’s the clever bit…

We can use the matched betting strategy to extract profit from free bets and bonuses offered by bookmakers. Take the Ladbrokes welcome offer for example, ‘Place your first bet on any sport and get a free matched bet up to £50.00’.

So the first step is to place a £50.00 qualifying bet on something to happen at Ladbrokes. We can then bet against that outcome by laying it (matching) at the betting exchange. Once our qualifying bet is completed, we will receive a £50.00 free bet, which is where we make our profit. We simply repeat the above steps, by placing the free bet on something to happen at Ladbrokes and then betting against the same outcome by laying it (matching) at the betting exchange. We are guaranteed to make a profit regardless of the result.

Decimal Odds:

 

Betting exchanges display their odds in decimal form, so in order to be able to compare odds easily, we need to change the odds display from fractional to decimal at each bookmaker we use. This option is usually at the top of the page (see above) or in the left-hand sidebar.

Step 1: Sign up for a Smarkets account

First of all, you need a betting exchange account so that you can place lay bets to match your back bets.

My advice is to sign up for a Smarkets account as their website is really easy to use and they charge a market-leading 2% commission in comparison to the 5% charged by other betting exchanges.

Step 2: Sign up for a Ladbrokes account

Once we have our betting exchange account ready, we can sign up for a Ladbrokes account. Their ‘£50.00 free bet’ welcome offer is one of the best and very straightforward. Sign up using promo code ‘F50’ and deposit the £50.00 needed to place your qualifying bet.

Always read through the terms of an offer beforehand to check for any specific requirements. For example, the offer may only be available on football markets for example or there might be a minimum odds requirement. For the Ladbrokes welcome offer, our qualifying bet must be placed at odds of 1.50 (1/2) or above.

Step 3: Place our qualifying bet

It’s time to place our qualifying bet. When matched betting, its important we look for selections with close back and lay odds. The closer the odds are, the less we will lose on our qualifying bet and therefore the more profit we will make overall. Also, for qualifying bets, we need to look for selections with low odds, ideally as close to the minimum odds requirement as possible.

Having looked at the odds available, at the time of writing, we can place our qualifying bet on Manchester United to beat Tottenham.

 

Odds of 1.66 at Ladbrokes for Manchester United to win.

 

Odds of 1.69 at Smarkets against Manchester United to win.

As you can see from the above screenshots, the back odds for Manchester United at Ladbrokes are 1.66 and the lay odds for Manchester United at Smarkets are 1.69.

We know we need to place a back bet of £50.00 on Manchester United at Ladbrokes, but we need to 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 £49.70.

 

Enter the lay stake from the calculator at Smarkets.

So all we need to do is click on the 1.69 lay button and enter our stake of £49.70. It tells us that our liability on this bet is £34.30 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, but for a penny difference (due to rounding), so we know we have entered the correct lay stake. We will need to deposit funds into our Smarkets account to cover the £34.30 liability as this is the amount we stand to lose from Smarkets if Manchester United 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 potential profit/loss for the possible outcomes…

Manchester United win +£33.00 – £34.30 = £1.30 loss
Manchester United don’t win -£50.00 + £48.71 (£49.70 minus 2% commission) = £1.29 loss

So regardless of whether Manchester United win, lose or draw, we will incur a small maximum loss of £1.30, but the good news is that we’ve qualified for our £50.00 free bet!

Step 4: Extract our profit from the free bet

Once our account has been credited with the free bet, it is time to extract our profit. As with the vast majority of free bets, our Ladbrokes free bet is stake not returned. This means that the £50.00 free bet stake will not be returned with any winnings. It’s important therefore, that we check the terms of each free bet offer, so that we know which option to select when using the matched betting calculator.

The process of extracting profit from a free bet is pretty much the same as the qualifying bet we have just done. Again, we need to find close back and lay odds because the tighter they are, the more profit we will extract. The only difference with placing free bets is that we need to place them at higher odds to account for the fact that our stake is not returned with any winnings. Put simply, the higher the odds, the more profit we will make, but also the more money we will need to deposit in our Smarkets account to cover the liability. So it depends on your financial situation.  The option is always there to go for lower odds, which means you won’t need to deposit as much at Smarkets, you’ll just make slightly less profit.

Having looked at the odds available, at the time of writing, we can place our free bet on Swansea to beat Chelsea.

 

Odds of 10.00 at Ladbrokes for Swansea to win.

Odds of 11.00 at Smarkets against Swansea to win

As you can see from the above screenshots, the back odds for Swansea at Ladbrokes are 10.00 and the lay odds for Swansea at Smarkets are 11.00.

We know we need to place our £50.00 free bet on Swansea at Ladbrokes, but we need to 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 ‘Free Bet’, leaving the ‘Stake returned’ box unchecked and by entering the relevant figures into the matched betting calculator, it tells us that our lay stake needs to be £40.98.

Enter the lay stake from the calculator at Smarkets.

So all we need to do is click on the 11.00 lay button and enter our stake of £40.98. It tells us that our liability on this bet is £409.85 and as always, this needs checking against the expected liability on the matched betting calculator. As you can see, they are both the same, but for a penny (due to rounding), so we know we have entered the correct lay stake. We need to make sure we have sufficient funds in our Smarkets account to cover the £409.85 liability as this is the amount we stand to lose from Smarkets if Swansea win. Don’t worry though, our winnings at Ladbrokes will more than cover it.

Let’s have a look at our potential profit/loss for the possible outcomes…

Swansea win +£450.00 – £409.85 = £40.15 profit
Swansea don’t win -£50.00 free bet + £40.16 (£40.98  minus 2% commission) = £40.16 profit

So regardless of whether Swansea win, lose or draw, we will extract a minimum of £40.15 from our £50.00 free bet. If we take into account our maximum qualifying loss of £1.30, we have made an overall minimum profit of £38.85 on this Ladbrokes welcome offer.

Now imagine if you applied the same matched betting strategy to all of the welcome offers

There is over £1,000 to be made from bookmaker’s welcome offers, but that is just the beginning. We can then make over £500 every month by applying the same strategy to tons of reload and free bet offers targeted at existing customers. I post them all on my blog, so all you have to do is follow my lead and get your bets on!

I hope having read this guide, that you now understand how easy it is to profit from bookmaker’s offers. Give it a go, you’ll be glad you did!

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