In what is the first of three articles pitting value betting against other options, we focus on how matched betting compares.
What is Matched Betting?
Also known as ‘bonus grabbing,’ matched betting is the practice of using bookmaker promotional odds to earn a risk-free profit. It works in the short-term because there are so many online bookies that offer free bets to entice new customers.
With dozens of options to choose from, you can earn several hundred pounds in quick time when you know what you’re doing. Here is what you do:
- Place a ‘back’ bet on an outcome.
- Place a ‘lay’ bet with a different bookie. The odds need to be as close to the back bet as possible to minimise losses.
- In most cases, a promo offer involves placing a qualifying bet first; then you get a ‘free’ bet.
- You repeat the trick with the free bet and end up winning no matter the outcome.
Matched Betting in Practice
Let’s use the bet £10, get a £30 free bet from Betfred as our example, in conjunction with the Betfair Exchange. To simplify matters, we’ll assume you have no free bet with the Exchange. Please read the terms and conditions; bookies usually force you to bet at odds above Evens.
In the example above, we bet £10 on the Czech Republic at 11/10.
Then we lay the away side at odds of 2.18 on the Exchange. We earn a profit of £0.99 if the Czechs win, and a loss of £1.52 if they fail to win.
The next step is to wait for the game to be settled, and use the £30 free bet on Betfred.
We place our £30 bet on New York City FC to win at odds of 23/20 (2.15).
Back in the Exchange, we ‘lay’ New York City FC at odds of 2.28.
- If New York wins, we make a profit of £34.50 on Betfred. The loss on the Exchange is £30, so we earn £4.50. Worst-case scenario, we make a profit of £2.98 all told.
- If New York doesn’t win, we ‘lose’ our free bet but make £23.44 on the Exchange. Worst case, we make a profit of £21.92 when we account for a possible loss of £1.52 in the first bet.
While it seems great in theory, in practice, matched betting doesn’t last long and has downsides including:
- The time versus profit equation may not work in your favour.
- Margins are thin, so mistakes are costly.
- Bookmakers may limit your accounts.
- Changing terms and conditions mean you may not be able to withdraw your earnings.
- If you use another person’s ID and try to earn via matched betting, there are possible legal issues.
- Certain bookmakers may not be legal or available in your country.
Why Value Betting is Better
- It offers a much more secure long-term income.
- The time versus profit equation is far superior.
- When you profit from sharp odds, you are less likely to be restricted.
- Once you utilise AI software, you earn without spending time because bots do the work automatically for you.
- The margins are higher, and there are more opportunities.
In matched betting, your potential earnings are capped at the promotion limits. For instance, you may be able to get £2,000 worth of offers, but you can’t do anything beyond that. With value betting, especially on the Betfair Exchange, you are only limited by liquidity. When it comes to matches in the ‘major football leagues’, you are theoretically only limited by your bankroll.