Some of you may know that in my earlier career I wrote quite a lot about gambling, principally for subscription-based newsletters such as Risk Free Betting News and The Winning Report (both now closed). Matched betting is a concept I hadn’t really come across till earlier earlier this year, however, and initially I dismissed it as having limited money-making potential.
It just shows how wrong you can be.
What changed my mind initially was that my blogging colleague Emma Drew was promoting matched betting heavily on her blog. She said it was her favourite side-hustle, and the figures she shared (around £12,000 profit in a year) were certainly compelling. I decided I needed to find out more, so I did some research on it. I’ve set out what I found below.
What is Matched Betting?
Matched betting is a method for making risk-free profits by cleverly taking advantage of offers made by online bookmakers.
The best offers are those made to attract new clients. Here’s an example. Coral offer a £20 free bet for new online customers. To get this, you have to open an account with them and deposit and bet £5. Once you have done this, Coral will immediately credit you with £20 worth of free bets.
So how do you turn this into a guaranteed profit? Ah, that’s the clever bit. You make use of a website called an exchange (Smarkets and Betfair are two of the better known). These sites allow anyone to lay a bet (i.e. bet that the outcome in question won’t happen). By backing with a bookmaker and laying the same bet at an exchange you can ensure that however the event pans out, you will only make a small loss or occasionally a tiny profit (depending on the odds available).
So far, so underwhelming. With a normal bet this is obviously of limited value, but when your first bet qualifies you for a second (and in Coral’s case much larger) free bet, it suddenly becomes a lot more interesting. Here’s an example…
At the time of writing, Hull City are about to play Everton in the Premiership. You can back Hull to win with Coral at 4.75 (15/4 in the more traditional but less useful fractional style) and lay them with Smarkets at 4.70. If you put £5 on Hull with Coral and at the same time lay Hull to the appropriate stakes (something I’ll come to shortly) you can ensure that whether Hull do or do not win, your net loss will be just 2p.
But now, because you are a new member, Coral will give you £20 worth of free bets. You can back and lay these again to generate a guaranteed profit. For the sake of simplicity let’s say you use the same market, Everton v Hull, although you certainly don’t have to. At the odds mentioned, and backing to the correct stakes, you can guarantee yourself a net profit of £15.70 either way. Subtract the 2p loss from your qualifying bet, and once the dust has settled you will have made a risk-free (and tax-free) £15.68. If your bet loses with the bookie, your profit will be in the exchange (remember, this is a free bet so it hasn’t cost you anything). If the bet wins at the bookie, you will lose money at the exchange, but your winnings with the bookie will exceed this, giving you the same net profit either way.
Those are the bare bones of matched betting. Of course, there’s more to it than that, but most matched betting opportunities boil down to this. You place an initial qualifying bet and lay it to ensure (at worst) a small net loss, and then back and lay the free bet you receive to make yourself a guaranteed profit.
So How Do You Find Matches and Calculate Stakes?
You can of course do all this yourself in theory, but that would be very time-consuming and involve a lot of mathematics. Fortunately there are online services that will do all this for you and provide step-by-step instructions. You can apply these even if you have never placed a bet in your life before.
Here’s the service I use and recommend for beginners to matched betting…
Profit Accumulator is a dedicated matched betting site. You can join free initially and they will provide details of two offers you can take advantage of straight away. These should make you around £45 in net profit. If you wish to proceed further, you can then pay to become a Platinum member and get access to their full range of offers and services.
As well as detailed instructions on offers you can profit from, Profit Accumulator also provide online software you can use. Their Oddsmatching tool helps you find markets where the back and lay odds are as close as possible, so you can minimize your qualifying losses and maximize the value of your free bets.
And they also have calculators, where you enter the back and lay odds and how much you want to bet at the bookmaker. The calculator then reveals how much you need to lay at the exchange to guarantee a set profit.
A further advantage of joining Profit Accumulator is that you get access to the members-only forum, where you can get any questions you may have answered by more experienced members and/or the team behind PA.
What Happens When You’ve Exhausted All the Opening Offers?
This was the first thing I wondered, and I know other people do as well. First of all, it will take you quite a long time to work through all the offers on the PA website. In total, they currently list 64. Not all of these are as simple and straightforward as the Coral offer, but nonetheless if you follow the step-by-step instructions they can all generate a healthy profit for you.
After that, you can move on to reload offers. These are offers made by bookmakers for existing members to encourage them to keep coming back and using their service. Reload offers work in a wide range of ways. Some provide a guaranteed profit if you apply them correctly, while others sometimes make a small qualifying loss but other times produce a much larger profit, generating a good net profit overall. Reload offers are also listed on the PA website and updated every day.
My Own Experience
I joined Profit Accumulator in September 2016, initially as a free member. Once I had completed the opening offers and was convinced of the potential of this money-making approach, I upgraded to Platinum membership.
I paid for a year’s membership straight off as this is more economical, but if you are more cautious you can also pay monthly. At the time of writing this costs £22.99 a month. Your first month will, of course, be more than covered by the profits from the initial (free) offers.
Three months on, my total profits stand at just over £1000. Other people do better, but I have had a busy few months (including launching this blog!) so have only been matched betting now and then. It has already become one of my favourite side hustles, though, and the fact that it is tax-free in the UK (as it is regarded as gambling) is another bonus.
Is Matched Betting for Everyone?
In principle anyone can do matched betting, but it is probably more suitable for some people than others. In particular, it will help if you have a small amount of capital to get started – at least £50, preferably £100 or more.
If you have less you can still do it, but it will take longer to build up your earnings. Remember that you will need money to fund your qualifying bets at the bookmaker sites and also your exchange account. You don’t lose this money – it simply moves between bookie and exchange according to how events pan out – and you can always withdraw it if required. But to operate as a matched bettor you do need to have some ‘working capital’.
The other requirement to make a success of matched betting is that you need to be reasonably well organized and methodical. Matched betting is not difficult once you grasp the basic concept, but if you make a mistake it is possible to lose money doing it. Initially at least it’s important to take it slowly and steadily and follow the instructions on Profit Accumulator (if you have signed up with them) to the letter. It helps to be numerate as well, although the actual calculations are done for you by the Oddsmatching tool and calculators.
I plan to cover other aspects of matched betting in future posts, so please do sign up in the right-hand column to be notified when the blog is updated (you can also follow PAS on social media and Bloglovin). And if you think matched betting may be for you, do click through to the Profit Accumulator website to see what they offer and sign up for the free trial.
As ever, if you have any questions or comments about matched betting or Profit Accumulator, please do post them below.