Matched Betting - Detailed Guide

I fell in love with the flexibility and reward of matched betting instantly and from then onwards I always had the urge to tell as many friends and family about it as I could. This got pretty exhausting and is partly why I decided to set up Team Profit - I really just wanted to tell as many people as possible about Matched Betting.

I've used numerous paid matched betting services (Team Profit is completely free by the way) and trawled through countless online articles and forums during my time matched betting but there's never really been any guide that's hit me and made me think "wow - that's a really great explanation of what matched betting is and what it involves".

So my aim for this guide was to create exactly that and include everything you need to know about Matched Betting in a clear, concise and (hopefully) enjoyable way!

What is Matched Betting?
wikipedia logo

" Matched betting is a betting technique used by individuals to profit from the free bets and incentives offered by bookmakers. It is considered risk-free as it is based on the application of a mathematical equation rather than chance. "

- Wikipedia

There are more than 25 online bookmakers in the UK. In order to attract new customers, they each offer free bets, known as ‘Welcome Offers’. In total they offer over £800 in free bets to new customers.

For you to receive the free bet, bookmakers require you to place your first bet. An example offer is ‘Bet £5, Get £20 free bet’. The risk is that you could lose both the £5 bet (your own cash) and the £20 free bet. But by using a technique called matched betting, we remove this risk.

How we do this is we match our first £5 bet on the bookmaker with a £5 bet on a betting exchange on the opposite outcome (this is known as a ‘lay bet’). For example, we bet £5 on Man Utd to win on the bookmaker, and £5 on Man Utd not to win on the betting exchange.

As we have now bet on all outcomes, regardless of whether Man Utd win, draw or lose, we will neither win nor lose money. However, we have received the £20 free bet! With the £20 free bet, we can now repeat this process by betting on say Liverpool to win on the bookmaker and Liverpool not to win. This time, because we are using a £20 free bet but our winnings are paid out in cash, we will always make a profit.

We repeat this process for 25+ bookmakers, one by one. In total we can convert the £800+ in free bets to over £600+ in actual cash profit, in very little time at all.

How Is It Risk-Free?

The process of matched betting is completely risk-free and despite the action of placing bets, it is nothing to do with gambling.

If we were to place a bet with a bookmaker on a particular outcome, then of course there is the risk that the outcome doesn't happen and your bet loses. However when matched betting we then match that initial bet with a bet on the outcome not happening, so either way we will win one bet and lose the other (cancelling each other out). We then use a clever matched betting calculator to calculate the exact bet amounts we need to place to a) make them risk-free and b) extract profit from the free bets.

Matched betting does come with a risk, but that risk is simply human error. In that if you don't follow the steps correctly you may well have not made the bet risk-free and so you are eligible to lose money. Team Profit has you covered though, as every offer on site (all 30+) have very easy to follow 'step by step' guides, to ensure you carry out your bets correctly.

Here is one piece of advice from a Team Profit member, posted on our free facebook support group:

matched betting advice

Once you understand the process it becomes very quick and straight forward to complete each welcome offer (over 30 in total - equalling over £600 in risk-free profit).

If It's So Good, Why Isn't Everyone Doing It?

They are!

Well, ok not everyone, but it's becoming increasingly popular especially in recent years.

Matched betting has been around for years (over 10 to be more specific), but it's only in the the past couple of years that it has really gone mainstream. To illustrate this, below is a graph showing the number of people searching the term 'matched betting' on google over the past 10 years and as you can see it's really rocketed since 2015. It's estimated that over 25,000 people enjoy matched betting each month, in the UK and Ireland alone. It's fantastic to think that so many people are gaining additional income for very little effort, all courtesy of greedy bookmakers - but my mission is for there to be even more!

Better yet, Team Profit has made matched betting accessible to absolutely everyone - before it was only experienced bettors who would matched bet or at the very least people with a strong understanding of sports. But now with the help of all the free information and guides Team Profit provides, I am proud to say that over 60% of Team Profit members had never placed a bet before in their lives before joining!

How Much Money Do I Need to Start?

The most common reason for people interested in matched betting, but not starting, is a lack of funds to deposit into the bookmakers and Betfair Exchange.

To help those of you in a similar situation, I have written a Starting With £10 week by week plan.

This shows you start with just £10 and turn this £800 in 3 months, in your spare time - pretty good!

If you have more funds available, you can start with £25 or £100 and turn this into £1,000 in in 2-3 months. All plans need just 1-2 hours a week. Here are the three week by week plans for you to use:

Starting With £10
  • Turn £10 Into £800
  • Within 3 months
Starting With £25
  • Turn £25 Into £1,000
  • Within 3 months
Starting With £100
  • Turn £100 Into £1,000
  • Within 2 months

Check out Which plan should I follow to compare the plans and decide which is best for you.

Five Key Terms

Before going through the step by step guide to completing your first offer, let's cover five key terms:

Back Bet

The back bet is the bookmaker bet you place on a team to win their match. It is called a back bet, because you are 'backing' a team to win.

Lay Bet

The lay bet is the exchange bet you place on a team not to win their match. In effect, is it the opposite of the back bet. So if the team draw or lose, then we win our lay bet, because the team did not win their match.

When you are matched betting, you are always place a back bet on the bookmaker and the corresponding lay bet on the exchange.


The liability is the amount of money you stand to lose, if your lay bet loses. Don't worry though, the amount you lose on the exchange will be matched by the amount you win from your bookmaker back bet. For more information on liability, check out this short 3 minute video:

Trigger Bet

The trigger bet is the first bet we place with a bookmaker. It is called the trigger bet, as once placed, it 'triggers' the free bet. Usually trigger bets are £5 or £10.

Free Bet

The free bet is the reward given to us by the bookmaker for signing up and placing our first bet. Usually free bets are £20 to £30. The free bet is where the profit comes from in matched betting, as it is a real money bet given to us for free.

Now those 5 key terms have been covered, let's crack on with the 4 steps for completing a bookmaker Welcome Offer, using Coral's Bet £5 Get £20 as an example.

Step By Step Guide: Coral Walk-Through

There are 4 steps to completing a bookmaker welcome offer and making a profit risk free:

  1. Finding your Trigger Bet
  2. Calculating your Lay Bet
  3. Placing your bets
  4. Repeating for your Free Bet

Let's now go through exactly how to complete each step.

Finding your trigger bet

In this step, you need to select a team for your bookmaker trigger bet. The Coral trigger bet amount is £5, as it is a Bet £5 Get £20 welcome offer.

To make selecting your team as easy as possible, check out the Selections blog post which I update every week with the most suitable teams for your trigger bet. These trigger bets I select are based on 3 criteria that you should be aware of:

Popular leagues or cups

It is best to choose a team from a popular league or cup, otherwise it may look a bit strange if you sign up and bet on the Swedish 4th division!

popular football leagues and cups

Minimum Odds

The team you select needs to have odds above the bookmaker's minimum odds. For Coral, the minimum odds are 1.5. You can see the minimum odds in every Welcome Offer guide on this website.

Low Odds

As explained in the liability video above, the higher the odds, the higher the liability. So to prevent needing to deposit much into Betfair exchange, aim for odds no greater than 2.5.

Please check out the Step 1 Video in the Video Guides section for more detail.

Calculate the lay bet

To calculate the Lay Bet, open the matched betting calculator and then enter your back stake (for the Coral offer, this is £5), the Coral back odds and the Betfair Exchange lay odds.

You can easily find the lay odds by using the Betfair Exchange link provided in the Selections blog post or by using the search box at the top of the Betfair Exchange website.

calculator explaination

The Calculator will the immediately give you the lay stake for your lay bet:

calculator lay stake

In this example, with Coral back odds of 2.0 and Betfair Exchange lay odds of 2.1, your lay stake is £4.88.

The liability amount of £5.37 is the amount of money you need to Betfair Exchange to cover this lay bet, in case it loses.

Please check out the Step 2 Video in the Video Guides section for more detail. For those interested, the equation to calculate the lay stake is:

(back stake x back odds) / (lay odds - exchange commission %/100)

Whilst the equation for the liability is:

lay stake x (lay odds -1)

Note though you don't need to worry about these equations as you can use the matched betting calculator.

Place Your Bets

You have now selected the team for your £5 trigger bet and calculated the lay stake as £4.88. It's time to place those bets!

Coral Place £5 Bet

Add bet to betslip

Betfair Exchange Place £4.88 Lay Bet

Adding lay bet

Please check out the Step 3 Video in the Video Guides section to watch these bets being placed in real time.

Repeat for your free bet

Our £20 Coral free bet (added by Coral as 4 x £5 free bets) is immediately added to our account once you have placed the £5 trigger bet.

You now repeat Steps 1 to 3 with your £20 free bet, but with one minor change at each step.

Step 1 Choose Higher Odds

With the trigger bet, low odds is best to keep your liability low. With the free bet, high odds is best to maximise your profit.

Here is a table showing the amount of profit you will make from your £20 free bet, based on the odds you choose:

free bet profit table

As you can see from the table above, the higher the odds, the larger the profit. Just be wary that higher odds require a larger liability in Betfair Exchange, so just ensure you have this amount in your Betfair Exchange account before placing the free bet on the bookmaker.

For more details on the conversion of free bet to profit, please read the Free Bet Profit Explained article.

Step 2 Calculator 'Free Bet SNR'

In the Calculator bet type dropdown, select Free Bet SNR rather than Normal. This will calculator the lay stake based on your bet being a free bet, rather than a trigger bet that uses your own cash.

Let's say you selected a team with Coral odds of 3.0 and Betfair Exchange lay odds of 3.1, your calculator would now look like this:

free bet calculator

You can see from the above screenshot, that your profit is £12.45. But how do you actually make this profit?

You make this profit because you are now using a £20 free bet and the lay stake is now only £13.11, much lower than our £20 free bet. This is unlike the trigger bet, where our Coral bet was £5 and our lay bet stake was very similar at £4.88.

Below the calculator is a Profit Breakdown that shows you the two outcomes, whether your Coral bet wins or loses:

profit breakdown

If your Coral £20 free bet wins:
On Coral you win £40 cash
On Betfair Exchange you lose £27.53 (your liability)
This gives a net profit of £12.47

If your Coral £20 free bet loses:
On Coral you lose nothing (as it was a free bet)
On Betfair Exchange you win £12.45 (£13.11 lay stake less 5% commission)
This gives a net profit of £12.45

So regardless of the outcome, you win a guaranteed profit of £12.45.

For more details on this, please read the Free Bet Profit Explained article.

Step 3 Use The Free Bet

Once you have selected your team in the bookmaker, select the free bet in the betslip to use it. In Coral, this is shown in the betslip as a dropdown box:

coral free bet 5 betslip

Some bookmakers give you the free bet as 1 single free bet. Other bookmakers, such as Coral, give you multiple free bets (4 x £5 free bets). So simply repeat placing the free bet four times, each time using a £5 free bet.

Please check out the Step 4 Video in the Video Guides section to watch this in real time.

Team Profit Jon TrophyCongratulations - Up to £15 Risk Free Profit!

Easy money! You have now made between £9 to £15 profit depending on your free bet odds.

There is another £600 profit to be made from another 24 bookmaker offers!

What Next?
Keep Reading >>
Video Guide Section >>
Welcome Offers >>