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What is matched betting, and does it still work in 2021? [Beer Money 2021]

What is matched betting, and does it still work in 2021? [Beer Money 2021]

Around 10-years ago, matched betting became popular and was a great way to make money with little to no risk. It was such a successful strategy many people even made a living from it.

However, online bookmakers quickly caught on and reduced the ability to make easy money, but many people still do it and can earn a fair chunk of money in 2021.

So, what is matched betting? Does it work, and is it really risk-free? Surely it can’t be legal?

What is matched betting?

Matched betting is a technique that allows individuals to make a (theoretically) risk-free bet from bookmaker free bet promotions. The most popular way to do this is via sign up bonuses such as betfair promo codes.

It involves betting on all outcomes of an event, removing the element of chance whilst at the same time triggering free bets from bet offers. These free bets can then, in-turn, be converted to cash profit by using similar matching techniques as before. The reason it is called ‘matched’ is because you are matching your bookmaker bet with an opposite bet on a betting exchange.

Does it work, and is it risk-free?

Yes, it works, and yes it should be risk-free. There are obvious caveats to this. If you miscalculate or just mess up the bets, then there is a good chance you could lose money.

There are matted betting services that do all the work for you, but then you need to pay their fee, reducing the overall profitability but saving you time.

The other factor you need to consider is the online bookie you sign up for. Once you have worked through all the big names, you may be tempted to use whatever random site you can find. However, not all sites will be trustworthy, and you need to be careful about using reliable companies. It is not hard to do a little research and find the best online bookies with the best promotional offers.

Is it legal?

Yes, it is perfectly legal. However, online bookmakers are well aware of this technique.

Sign up bonuses are exactly what they sound like, it is to make you sign up, so once you have used it, it has gone. When you have worked through all the bookies, you will have to create 2nd accounts, and this is when you may find a bookie will boot you off their platform.

Many bookies will have intermittent promotions for existing accounts (reload offers), and it is perfectly fine to uses these for some matched betting tricks.

How profitable is matched betting?

A lot less than it used to be, and I am unsure about the viability of doing it long term as many bookmakers will catch on to you using secondary accounts, but you can still make the most of any reload offers they supply.

Some sites claim that you can make over £800 profit using up to 35 separate welcome offers

Using reload offers, it is claimed that you can still earn a few hundred per month, but this will be dependent on the offers and the time you are willing to put in.

Example Matched Bet

Many offers will have terms to qualify for a free bet. In this quick example, you will place a bet to back a team to win for the qualifying offer, and then lay the bet off via an exchange.

An example might be any sport, but it must be placed at odds of 1.50 (1/2) or greater.

Qualifying bets should always be placed at low odds. So in the above case, you want as close to 1.50 (1/2) as possible.

You also need to look for close odds between your back bet at the bookmaker and your lay bet at the exchange.

So if you have two popular football teams with close odds, let’s say 1.5 on the team to win and 1.51 for them to not win.

So if you bet £5 @ 1.5 for team A to win, you would get £7.50 if they win, plus earn you a free bet.

With the lay bet, if you pay 5% commission, you will need to bet £5.14, which would then give you a final loss of 12p, but you have earned a free bet(s).

Normally you’d get something like £20 in free bets (4 x £5), so you would need to go through the above process again, but this time you want to place your back/lay bets at higher odds to maximise your profits.

Matched betting vs arbitrage betting

Matched betting evolved from arbitrage betting. This was much harder and, therefore, riskier. It required you to place bets across different bookmakers and exploit the different odds between bookies. Some bookies would offer advantageous odds to lure punters in, and it was these variables that helped it work. You could, and still can, do arbitrage betting in physical bookmakers because you are not exploiting sign-up bonuses. However, most bookies offer similar odds nowadays so profitability is low. It is reported that arbitrage has a return of less than 1.2% which therefore requires you to bet with large sums of money.


Matched betting is nowhere near as profitable as it once was, but if you have the spare time or just love sports and betting in general, it is still well worth doing.

It can be a little time consuming, and it is probably very boring if you are not massively into sports, but it is a great way to earn some extra cash.