What Is Matched Betting?

“So what is matched betting? It sounds risky!”

I get that a lot, ‘matched betting’ sounds a lot like gambling but it actually isn’t.

Is it risky? No, not at all.

Providing it is done right, matched betting results in risk-free and tax-free profit.  This probably sounds too good to be true, but it really is a genuinely safe way to make money without any risk.  Of course, you need to understand the basics and be confident carrying out the process.

Matched betting involves a back bet and a lay bet. This betting technique ensures profit from the free bets and incentives offered by bookmakers.

Back Bet – This is a bet that something WILL happen. This is a normal bet that you can place at any bookmaker shop or online. Example: I bet £10 on Horse Number 1 TO WIN. So I get paid if Horse Number 1 wins the race.

Lay Bet – This is a bet that something WON’T happen. Lay bets can be placed using betting exchanges like Betfair. Example: I bet £10 on Horse Number 1 NOT TO WIN. So I get paid if any other horse wins that isn’t Horse Number 1.

Don’t worry if you don’t quite grasp the difference between a back and lay bet just yet, hopefully working through an example will help you understand.

I am going to break the process down into 5 steps whilst working through an example. I will attempt to explain clearly how matched betting works, however, if you have any questions or are unsure on any of the stages, please leave a message below.

(For the example I used the current Coral welcome offer – Bet £5 Get A £20 Free Bet – As used on the Oddsmonkey website)


1 – Sign Up Offer And Deposit

To get started I opened an account with Coral to take advantage of the offer below. If I bet £5 I get £20 In Free Bets, nice! This stage involves filling out an online form with your details and then depositing £5. Depositing into bookmaker accounts is the same as any typical online purchase.

Matched Betting Dad Coral OfferMatched Betting Dad Coral Form


2 – Place Your Back Bet

I now have to find a bet to place. To find a back bet I used the odds comparison software at Oddsmonkey. This software displays the closest matching odds with Betfair and other betting exchanges. The closer the odds match up on Coral and Betfair, the more profit I will make. You can access the software by signing up for a free account at Oddsmonkey.

Using the filter, I set the software to only display odds from Coral. The closest matching odds are displayed at the top. The Coral back odds are displayed in blue and the Betfair lay odds are displayed pink. I choose to bet on the Lyon v Nancy game. The bet is on Under 3.5 goals (this means that I am betting on 3 or fewer goals to be scored in this game). The back odds are 1.5 and the lay odds are 1.53.

Now that I had found a back bet with close lay odds available I then went back over to Coral. I navigated the site to find the Lyon v Nancy game – this becomes easier the more you get used to bookmaker websites – some sites have search bars where you can simply enter a team name to find your game.

I placed my £5 bet by clicking the 1.50 odds displayed next to Under 3.5 Goals.

So I now had a £5 bet on Under 3.5 Goals to be scored in the Lyon v Nancy game, if I left it at this stage, it would have simply been gambling. So I went over to Betfair to make this offer risk free.


3 – Place Your Lay Bet

Now that I had placed my back bet I needed to then place the opposite lay bet at Betfair. By clicking the information icon on the Oddsmonkey comparison software, it brings up the matched betting calculator. This calculator makes the process simple by working out the exact amount you need to place to have an even outcome regardless of the what happens during the game. Note that the calculator is set to NORMAL (Qualifier) as these initial back and lay bets mean we qualifying for the free bet.

I’ve zoomed in below to look at the most relevant information. First I set the Coral stake amount to £5, the calculator worked out the amount I need to place for my lay bet at Betfair.

I now had to place a lay bet of £5.07 at odds of 1.53 at Betfair (Betfair charge 5% commission on winnings but the matched betting calculator factors this in for us). By placing the suggested bets, it leaves us with -£0.19p if the back bet wins (there is under 3.5 goals) or -£0.18p if the lay bet wins (there are more than 3.5 goals).

So I navigated to the Lyon v Nancy game using Betfair’s search bar. As displayed on the Oddsmonkey software and calculator, the blue odds represent the back bets and the pink represents the lay bets. You can see to lay Under 3.5 Goals was 1.53 as the odds comparison software displayed. By clicking on the 1.53 lay bet I entered the 5.07 stake and placed the bet.


4 – Place Your Free Back Bet

My qualifying bet was placed, I now had to wait for Coral to credit my £20 free bet. Most bookmakers will credit free bets within 48 hours, usually much quicker.

When the free bets were showing in my Coral account, I had to repeat the process as before but with some differences. With the qualifying bet, the idea is to minimise the loss (the worst case for me was losing £0.19p). With the free bet, the idea is to maximise the profit you can make from it.

I returned to the odds comparison software at Oddsmonkey to find a selection to use my free bet on. This time I clicked the SNR column to order the bets in SNR value. This showed me the best bets that would help me retain the most value from the free bet. SNR (Stake Not Returned) means your free bet stake (in this case £20) isn’t returned if the bet wins. Most free bets are Stake Not Returned.

So I choose to go with the horse Monumental Man running at Chelmsford City 16:05. The SNR is 77.67% which means I will get to retain 77.67% of my £20 free bet. The higher the rating the more money you make from your free bet.

I then clicked the information icon to take me to the matched betting calculator.

Important Note: I was using a free bet, so I set the matched betting calculator to FREE BET (SNR). This then tells us exactly what amount to place in order to extract that 77.67% of value from the free bet. Which in this case, is £15.53.

So I headed back to Coral and found the horse, Monumental Man. I doubled checked the odds were still the same as the software and added it to the bet slip.

The £20 free bet was credited as 4 x £5. This didn’t change anything, I simply clicked each free bet four times over to place the full £20 on Monumental Man.

So now I had placed my £20 free bet, what next…


5 – Place Your Lay Bet To Guarantee A Profit

My £20 free bet was placed on the horse Monumental Man. Next, I had to go over to Betfair to place the opposite lay bet on Monumental Man to guarantee my £15.53 profit as the matched betting calculator displayed.

Over at Betfair, I navigated to the horse race by using the search bar and typing Monumental Man. The lay odds of my horse were 8 as expected. I clicked on the pink lay odds of 8 and placed £16.35 as the matched betting calculator above advised. Notice that my liability was a lot higher for this bet because the odds were higher. Always make sure you have enough funds in Betfair to cover the liability before placing your back bets.

And that’s it! Like in the qualifying bet, we don’t care what horse wins the race as we have guaranteed our profit whatever happens.


To summarise:

I set up my qualifying bet which lost £0.19

I used my free bet to guarantee a profit of £15.53

£15.53 – £0.19 = +£15.34

If you are brand new to bookmaker websites and Betfair this may take a while to get your head around. It gets much easier. As you build your confidence the whole process will take a maximum of 15 minutes. Just think about that, over £15 for 15 minutes of work! Over £60 per hour for my example.

The great thing is there are many more welcome offers to complete, so you can repeat the process collecting all the profit available.

Hopefully, my example made some sense! But if not, here is a video from Oddsmonkey explaining the same example in a video:


Before jumping in. Things to consider:

1 – For each offer you do, always check terms, conditions and minimum odds required for your qualifying bets. If you use a service like Oddsmonkey they keep up to date with bookmakers current offers and display this information for you. It’s good practice to have a quick check yourself too.

2 – Football bets are preferable to horses. This is because horse racing odds can move quickly. If the odds do move, simply go back to the matched betting calculator and adjust the odds. The calculator will then display what new stake amounts you need to place.

How To Start Matched Betting


If you have any questions or need any help please leave a message below or contact me. Let me know how you get on.