What is Matched Betting? – Get Matched Bets Explained

Matched betting is a strategy that can be used to profit from free bets offered by online sportsbooks. Our guide explores what is matched betting in more detail – we explain how it works, when to use it, and provide some helpful tips to get you started.

How Does Matched Betting Work?

You can generate potential profits by matched betting with sportsbook offers by covering all possible outcomes in an event. Also known as no risk matched betting, the process involves leveraging free bets and top online sportsbook offers against gambling sites.

Traditionally, this is done by backing (wagering in favor of something happening) at a sportsbook and then laying (wagering against the same thing happening) at a betting exchange.

Almost all top online sportsbooks offer bonuses or free bets when you sign up for an account. Typically, you must first make a deposit and place a bet at set odds to unlock free bets. This requires an initial bankroll to place a bet and lay the same bet elsewhere.

Steps to Follow

When matched betting free bets are unlocked, you repeat the process of playing a back bet. Then, with another unlocked free bet – or your own money – you can lay that bet elsewhere.

  1. Claim a Free Bet – Sign up with an online sportsbook offering free bets.
  2. Place Your Initial Bet – Back a qualifying wager (using your money) on a market to release your free bet, such as the LA Lakers to win.
  3. Lay the Same Wager – Now lay the bet at the same time (Boston Celtics to win) at another sportsbook, covering both outcomes.
  4. Use the Free Bet – When your qualifying wager has settled on the LA Lakers vs. Celtic game, use your free bet to back another outcome.
  5. Lay Your Free Bet – Lay the outcome backed in Step 4 with another free bet (or real money) to cover all outcomes and secure a betting profit.

Altogether and if done right, this process can reduce your risk and lead to profit. But even though you don’t need in-depth sports knowledge to take advantage of matched betting opportunities, some foundational knowledge of betting and the gambling industry will help.

Matched Betting Examples

We’ll now cover some examples to help you understand what is matched betting in more detail. Let’s start with a simple scenario based on an initial $10 back bet and a $10 lay bet.

Simple Matched Betting Example 1

You want to place a $10 wager on Manchester United to beat Liverpool in the Premier League. As fate would have it, the sportsbook you plan to bet at offers a $10 free bet for signing up for an account and betting $10. This is where matched betting can secure a profit either way.

For instance, you can place a $10 real money back bet on Utd to win (+100) at the bookie. Then you place a $10 real money lay bet for them not to win (lose or tie – where a sports betting push is not an option) at odds of -150 a betting exchange.

Naturally, even the losing lay bet at the exchange is not technically a loss on your bottom line, as you still have the $20 you started with. Furthermore, you get a free bet of $10 that can win you more.

So, by placing the $10 free bet on another event – and laying against it at the exchange – you can cover both outcomes and potentially make a profit.

Matched Betting Example with Commission

It’s crucial to understand the role commission plays in matched betting. This is the cost you pay at betting exchanges when laying bets. For example, you may see an opportunity in the moneyline betting markets for the LA Rams vs. Kansas City Chiefs game. But you want to work out bet stakes required to ensure you don’t lose.

Summary of Bets

You must set your stakes, find suitable odds, and have accounts with both a sportsbook and betting exchange before anything else. For example’s sake, let’s presume you have a $20 free bets at matched betting sites to ride on the Rams winning at +200.

Instruction Stakes & Odds
Use Free Bet at Sportsbook $20 on Rams to Win at +200
Lay Bet at Exchange $18.18 on the Rams Not to Win at 3.2

You can work out the stakes necessary by using a dedicated matched betting calculator. In this case, the odds for the Rams to win at the sportsbook are +200 but you have somehow managed to find odds of 3.2 (+220) on the exchange for them not winning.

Potential Outcomes

There are only two outcomes in this market, meaning you can cover both. The commission charge for winning your lay bet is 5%, so you must factor this into any profits made.

Outcomes Sportsbook Result Exchange Result Net Profit
LA Rams Win Win $40 (No Stake Returned) Lose $40 (Lay Bet Liability) $40 – $40 = $0
LA Rams Lose Lost Free Bet (No Real Money Deficit) Win $17.27 (Winnings After 5% Commission) $17.27

Your profit made is a solid $17.27 after commission. You can choose to work out the correct lay stake manually (Lay Stake = Lay Odds−1/Free Bet Amount × (Back Odds−1)) but we recommend using calculators instead. Working out back bets requires no formula as this is factored into the betting odds you take.

Example of Dutching in Matched Betting

Some bettors share the risk simply by wagering on all outcomes in an event at different sportsbooks. Known as “Dutching,” it can be as simple as backing both teams in an NFL game or similar. It’s not quite matched betting, as there is no lay bet, but it can be a suitable alternative when you can’t bet on an exchange.

  • $10.00 on Dallas Cowboys to Win (+150) at Sportsbook A
  • $13.16 Carolina Panthers to Win (-111) at Sportsbook B

You must calculate the right stakes (and find suitable odds) to generate a profit when Dutching. In the example above, you’re covering both outcomes with odds found on two different sportsbooks. If you meet the terms and conditions to unlock a free bet with one or more football or soccer betting sites – or have already unlocked them to use on both markets – you can make money using these offers.

When to Use Matched Betting Calculators

You should always use an online matched betting calculator to work out lay stakes. This essentially gives you the stake that must be laid to match the back bet and spread your exposure. There is little need to apply manual calculations as free software does a perfectly accurate job that can save you time.

You can also use these calculators for the following purposes.

Your betting strategy may involve cashing out for a small profit or to minimize losses at the exchange. When this happens, we certainly advise using calculators to work out expected value and more. Especially as a time-saving tool that limits human error.

How to Join Matched Betting Sites

Signing up for the best new sportsbooks with free matched betting offers is easy. Follow these simple steps to get started.

1. Find a Sportsbook with Free Bets & Bonuses

Choose from one or more of our recommended online betting sites for matched betting to get started.

2. Complete the Registration Form

Enter the required details including your name, date of birth, email, and telephone number – the process takes around five minutes to complete.

3. Choose Your Offer

Always prioritize free bets and deposit match offers when starting, as these are more suited to matched betting.

4. Add Your Initial Stake

Choose your payment option and add the minimum amount required, at least, to claim your free bet.

5. Make a Qualifying Wager

Place a wager on the sports betting markets of your choice at the odds specified in the T&Cs. For example, a $20 bet on a top boxing betting site for Tyson Fury to win at +150.

Pros & Cons of Matched Betting Online

Although there are ways to make no-risk matched betting work for you, there are some pitfalls that must be avoided if it is to pay off. Furthermore, there are upsides and downsides to consider before trying it for yourself.


  • There is nothing difficult about matched betting
  • You can make consistent profits by utilizing free bets and offers
  • Covering all outcomes in an event greatly reduces any risk
  • One doesn’t need to be a skilled handicapper or sports betting whizz to take part
  • Profits are steady and increase in line with a growing bankroll


  • Matched betting can consume a lot of time in exchange for small yields
  • The strategy is not sustainable as it relies on regular promotions and offers
  • You must learn how to use betting sites and exchanges before taking part
  • Online sportsbooks can limit your spending or close your account
  • Commissions, fees, and other charges may be applicable

Matched Betting Without Free Bets

Online matched betting relies on free bets, deposit match offers, and other bet promotions. When you remove these offers, they are not – strictly by the widely accepted definition – matched bets. Instead, this may qualify more as arbitrage betting contextually.

Arbitrage betting, also known as “arbing,” is another thing you may come across in a matched betting blog or video. Although it shares similarities with matched betting in the USA, the strategy looks to guarantee a profit by finding advantageous discrepancies in odds across several sportsbooks.

Terms and Conditions of Matched Betting Explained

It can be convenient to bypass T&Cs when learning what is matched betting for the first time. But it’s of paramount importance to know how they can affect you when practicing this matched bets strategy. Here are some basic terms and conditions to get acquainted with.

Account RestrictionsFree Bet AbuseQualifying Bet RequirementsMinimum Odds for Free BetTime Limits

While this strategy is not illegal, some sites can and will close you down or reduce your stakes if they suspect you are doing it and making a consistent profit. Known as “gubbing,” this can limit your opportunities to win.

Online bookmakers can close your account and retain any profits made from a sign-up offer if they suspect you of breaking bonus terms. These can quite often be arbitrary and vague.

The amount that must be deposited and staked to release a free bet.

You must place a qualifying wager or betting unit at set odds to get your bonus.

Free bets must be used within a set time as underlined in the T&Cs.

These basic terms and conditions will get you started. But we recommend also reading up on T&Cs at exchanges and individual sportsbooks.

Online Matched Betting Strategy & Tips

Here are some expert tips to get you started with matched betting.

Start with the Best Free Bets

Look for the outstanding offers and take them – together with good odds, they might not be there next time. Make sure to only bet with safe and secure offshore bookies, too!

Always Look for Top Odds

This is chiefly part of the process, but something that can be overlooked in favor of convenience. Altogether, finding the best back and lay odds on 2 ways, not 3 ways bets, can also help to increase your profit margin exponentially.

Familiarize Yourself with Betting Exchanges

If you don’t know how to lay with betting exchange accounts, take some time out to learn the basics. Start with what is matched betting laying and don’t stop until you’re confident.

Always Use Reliable Matched Betting Calculators

There is little to no use for manual calculations in matched betting. Online calculators can be used for free and will save you much time in the long run.

Keep Records of Your Bets

To match bet thr right way, you should be looking to learn from your mistakes and apply gained knowledge next time around. Keep profit/loss records, details of successful wagers, and other things that can be used to improve your game at the best matched betting sites.


Matched betting is a useful strategy that can be utilized to limit losses and secure a profit. Once you are covering all outcomes and have your calculations spot on, there is scope – at least in the short term – to make some money.


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