Matched betting explained – Simple guide for beginners (works in 2020)

By Charles   |    Updated May 28th, 2020

Matched betting explained – This step by step beginners guide will explain everything you need to know about no risk matched betting in 2020.

In this guide, we’ll explain:

  • What matched betting is
  • How matched betting works
  • Key terms and definitions
  • How much you can expect to make

Plus we walk you through a number of simple matched betting examples and show you how you can get started with OddsMonkey today.

This is an in-depth guide so I recommend you grab a drink and find a comfy chair.

Ready? Let’s dive in!

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Matched betting explained

As with starting anything new, matched betting will take time and dedication to get to grips with. Understanding the processes and systems involved can be quite challenging for some people.

Match betting beginners are sometimes put off by the concepts and jargon involved with this risk-free betting method. It certainly took me a while to get my head around certain ideas when I first started.

But not to worry!

I’ve created this simple matched betting guide explaining the most important concepts and key terms you need to know in order for you to get earning as quickly as possible.

Before we continue, I just want to mention that matched betting is not a get rich quick scheme and you certainly won’t become a millionaire using this betting strategy. What it is, is a proven method to generate a great second income online from the comfort of your own home.

Still interested? Great, so what is matched betting?

Simple matched betting definition

As some of you have probably never heard of this technique, we’ll start right from the beginning. And where better to start than a clear and concise explanation of what matched betting is:

You can find the best definition on OddsMonkey’s website:

Matched betting definition - OddsMonkey

Matched betting: The smart way of using bookmaker promotions to make money online

To expand on this, no risk matched betting or double betting is a method used by individuals to profit from bookmaker’s free bets, bonuses and other promotions. This method is completely risk free as outcomes are based on a mathematical equation rather than chance.

Here’s an example of the type of promotion that matched bettors take advantage of. Betdaq offers new customers a £10 free bet when they sign up and stake £10.

Betdaq signup offer

As you can see, matched betting is very different from normal gambling which makes it incredibly popular with a wide range of people.

Individuals from all walks of life use matched betting to make money online. Typically students and stay at home parents find matched betting the most effective but it’s not just limited to these types of people (more on this later).

So we know matched betting takes advantage of bookmakers promotions, but are there really enough free bets to make a second income from this strategy?

Bookmakers free bets and promotions

If you’re new to betting, you may not be aware of the huge range of free bets, bonuses and other promotions the bookmakers offer.

Betting sites use this tactic to encourage and incentivise as many individuals as possible to bet on their platform. Some bookmakers are willing to spend up to £300 to acquire one new customer.

A crazy amount especially when you consider the bookmakers are gaining thousands of new customers daily! What’s more, most of this marketing budget ends up in sign up offers for new customers, much like the Betdaq example above. This is great for matched betting!

Matched betting - In play with Ray

If you like watching sport on the TV, you will have seen a number of bookmakers promoting their latest offers.

This is especially true for the larger bookmakers like Bet365, Ladbrokes and Coral who have huge marketing budgets. The big companies even pay celebrities to endorse their betting platforms! You’ve undoutedly seen the ‘In play with Ray‘ adverts in the past.

Whilst the whilstle to whilstle ban reduced the number of ads during live sport, it’s still hard to get away from betting adverts.

Since the ban, the bookmakers haven’t reduced the number of betting offers available during live sport. Bookies are just no longer able to advertise their promotions in play, in a bid to reduce the number of children being exposed to gambling at a young age.

Amount of free bets available in 2019

At the time of writing this article, there is over £1200 worth of free bets to take advantage of at OddsMonkey. You can make a guaranteed profit from a lot of these free bets right now.

Not only does OddsMonkey find all the latest offers you, they also provide in-depth video tutorials showing you how to profit from each offer. These guides are created with complete beginners in mind meaning it’s easy to get started no matter how much experience you have.

You’ll also have access to brilliant support from knowledgeable and friendly staff. So if you ever get stuck with anything, you’ll be in safe hands.

As you can see below, existing members rate OddsMonkey very highly.

OddsMonkey reviews

Why not get started with matched betting today? Using the link below, you can join OddsMonkey for just £1 by using the code ‘OM12FOR1

Next up, we’ll check out how mathed betting works.

Understanding how matched betting works

As I mentioned earlier, if you’re new to matched betting, it may take a little time to get your head around certain concepts.

However, once you’ve got the process nailed it’s incredibly easy and you’ll be a pro in no time. You’ll be able to complete one offer in about 10 minutes making matched betting incredibly profitable for a relatively small investment in time.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of how matched betting works, here’s an infographic of the overall process.

Matched betting infographic
Matched betting example – An infographic

The infographic above should help you get an idea of how the overall process works. Now let’s dive into the details.

Matched betting is based around a concept called back and lay betting. This process is what makes matched betting completely risk free so it’s vital you understand how it works.

This method involves placing two opposite bets, each at different betting websites. You place one bet at a bookmaker (known as a back bet) and another bet at a betting exchange (known as a lay bet).

What is a betting exchange?

Beginners out there may be unsure of what a betting exchange is and how it works.

In basic terms, an exchange is an online betting platform that lets you bet against other punters rather than against the bookmaker. It’s effectively a peer to peer betting company that acts as a marketplace.

Betting exchanges explained - match betting

You can place both back bets and lay bets at an exchange, making them more versatile than traditional bookmakers (more on this below).

Betting exchanges are relatively new in the industry. Betfair, the first exchange was launched in 2000 making them much younger than traditional bookmakers.

However, matched bettors have a lot to thank them for as they make matched betting a possibility.

Since betting exchanges just act as the middle man, they make money differently to traditional bookmakers. They charge a commission on players’ net winnings rather than building a profit margin into the odds.

Therefore the odds at a betting exchange generally offer greater value for the punter. This is one of the reasons these platforms have become so popular over the last few years.

Betting exchange commission rates

In terms of commission, the figure varies between companies. Here’s a list of the most popular exchanges along with their commission rates:

Smarkets – 2%
Betdaq – 2%

Betfair – 5%
Matchbook – 1.5%

Matchbook may look like the industry leaders in this category. However, their 1.5% commission rate applies to both wins and losses whereas the other exchanges just charge a commission on net winnings.

Placing bets at a betting exchange

In terms of placing bets at an exchange, you follow pretty much the same process you would at a traditional bookmaker:

1. Select the market

This stage is pretty self-explanatory. Simply find the market you want to place your bet on by searching for the event or clicking through the appropriate links.

2. Choose bet type (back bet or lay bet)

At a betting exchange, you’ll need to choose whether you want to place a back bet or a lay bet. In terms of matched betting, you’ll want to place a lay bet at the betting exchange.

To make things easy, the back and lay markets are highlighted in different colours.

At Betdaq, back bets are highlighted in orange and lay bets in green:

Betdaq colour scheme - Back and lay markets

The other exchanges use slightly different colour schemes. For more information, check out this article.

3. Enter your stake

The next stage is to enter your desired stake. The matched betting calculator will have worked out the exact lay stake so you should use that figure.

4. Place your bet

Again this step is rather simple, however, I do recommend checking over your bets before hitting the place button.

All in all betting exchanges are a crucial part of matched betting and you’ll use them on a regular basis.

For more explanation on what betting exchanges are and how they work, check out this article.

Backing and laying in matched betting explained

As I mentioned earlier, matched bettors place two bets for each offer they complete – a back bet and a lay bet. But what’s the difference between backing and laying?

Back betting (backing)

Backing an outcome is the same as betting something to happen. You are staking money on an outcome to occur.

Make money with OddsMonkey

Backing is the most common and traditional type of betting in 2020. When you have a bet with your mates, you usually place a back bet without even knowing it.

So how does that compare to laying a bet?

Lay betting (laying)

Laying is the opposite of backing. So when you place a lay bet you’re betting on an outcome NOT to happen.

Lay betting is generally used by matched bettors and traders. The majority of gamblers are actually unaware that lay betting even exists.

However, it’s a key part of matched betting so it’s important you understand how it works.

Below is an example of back and lay betting.

Back bet: Leicester City will beat Chelsea
Lay bet: Leicester City will NOT beat Chelsea

Note: In the lay bet, you’re not betting that Chelsea will win, you’re betting that Leicester City won’t win. So if the game ends in a draw, your lay bet would win.

Don’t worry if you’re confused about anything at this stage. Using a site like OddsMonkey will help you get to grips with the whole process incredibly quickly.

Back and lay betting in matched betting

So what’s the use of backing and laying in matched betting?

As I explained above, matched bettors use this technique to ensure a profit is made from each free bet. It also allows you to make the process completely risk free.

Let me explain how this works.

By using a mathematical equation to calculate your stakes, you can ensure your back and lay bets cancel each other out. Before you worry about the maths involved, everything is done for you especially if you use a service like OddsMonkey.

The free matched betting calculator over at OddsMonkey works out the exact stakes required for your bets to cancel each other out.

OddsMonkey calculator

So, what’s the purpose of placing bets that cancel each other out?

The bookies don’t just hand out free bets and bonuses to anyone who signs up or opts in. They would lose a lot of money. Therefore, there’s usually some kind of qualifying criteria involved before you can access a promotion.

That’s where back and lay betting comes in handy. By using this process, you can qualify for a bonus without losing any of your own money.

You can trigger the free bet risk-free! This is what sets matched betting apart from other forms of betting.

Once you’ve placed your qualifying bet, you’ll have access to your free bet meaning you can make a guaranteed profit!

As a general rule, you should aim to extract at least 80% of your free bet in cash, which you can then withdraw straight to your bank account.

How to get started with matched betting

So how can you get started with matched betting in 2020? Let’s find out!

In the following example, I’m going to use certain OddsMonkey tools to help explain the matched betting process.

To access these tools, you can register with OddsMonkey for free or try their premium platform for just £1. You can check out my in-depth OddsMonkey review here.

Matched betting example

Right then, here are the steps we’re going to follow:

  1. Find free bet & open bookmaker account
  2. Complete qualifying bet
  3. Complete free bet

Whilst you can split the process into more steps, these are the key steps we need to consider.

1. Find free bet & open bookmaker account

So the first step of any matched betting offer is to find a free bet or bonus to take advantage of. Whilst you can manually scan online bookmakers to find the most profitable offers, this is a time-consuming process when you consider there are hundreds of betting sites.

Instead, I recommend you use a matched betting service like OddsMonkey. Their team is constantly searching for the latest offers which are then uploaded to the members area.

OddsMonkey matched betting offers

Once you’ve found an offer to take advantage of, the next stage is to sign up with a bookmaker if necessary. Nowadays this process is relatively straightforward.

Tip: Once you’ve logged in to your new bookmaker account, I recommend you change the odds to decimal format.

2. Complete qualifying bet

The next step of a matched betting offer is to complete a qualifying bet. As I mentioned earlier, we need to trigger our free bet before taking advantage of it.

In my example, I’m taking advantage of the following Coral offer:

Matched betting explained - Coral sign up offer

Coral offers new customers a £20 free bet when you sign up and stake £5. Therefore to trigger this free bet, I need to place a bet of just £5.

Once again, you can manually search for a market to place your bets or you can use special matched betting software that does this for you. At OddsMonkey, this tool is called the OddsMatcher and is incredibly popular with thousands of punters.

It shows you exactly which markets are the most profitable for your qualifying bet and calculates how much you should stake in order to maximise your value. Accessing this powerful software is a reason in itself to sign up with OddsMonkey.

OddsMonkey OddsMatcher software

As you become more experienced, the OddsMatcher has various advanced features that you can take advantage of. For more information, check out this article.

Once you’ve found a suitable market, it’s time to go ahead and place your bets. This process is fairly self-explanatory but OddsMonkey walks you through step-by-step in case you’re unsure.

3. Complete free bet

The last step of a matched betting offer is to complete your free bet.

When your qualifying bets have settled, you should find your free bets in your bookmaker account. They usually appear in the bet slip or the account funds section.

Free bets in bet slip

Now for the exciting bit! Once you’re happy that your free bet has been triggered, it’s time to place your bet and make a guaranteed profit.

Similar to the process above, you need to find a suitable market to place your back and lay bet. Once again, I recommend you use the OddsMatcher in order to maximise your profit.

Your free bet can be placed on any betting market, however, large football games are usually the easiest for beginners. The Premier League is usually a great place to start.

Once you’ve found a suitable market, go ahead and place your bets. Now you can sit back and relax knowing you’ll make a guaranteed profit regardless of the outcome of your bets.

How awesome is that…

Whilst I’ve glossed over certain aspects of the matched betting process, this example gives you a good idea of how it all works. As I say, if you sign up for a free trial at OddsMonkey, they’ll walk you through the whole process from start to finish.

Is matched betting legal?

We’re often told that when something seems too good to be true, it often is. Well, that really isn’t the case with no risk match betting. There is no catch!

Matched betting as a method is 100% legal and is actually endorsed by certain betting companies such as Betdaq.

Matched bettors simply take advantage of bookmaker’s free bets like anyone else would. The only difference is that you place a lay bet using a betting exchange in order to guarantee a profit.

There’s nothing illegal with the matched betting process. But don’t just take my word for it, here are other companies that praise match betting:

Make money matched betting

Despite what I said earlier, not all bookies are such big fans of matched betting. Especially bettors who continually take advantage of their bonuses, free bets and other promotions.

However, you can employ tactics to mask your matched betting activity. Whilst these strategies will help in the short term, the bookmakers are still likely to catch you in the long run. The only way to avoid this is by not taking too much value.

What do I mean by this?

If you constantly win at the bookmakers, you’re taking a lot of value. As a matched bettor, your aim is to win at the betting exchange as often as possilbe. This way, you’re less likely to have your bookmaker accounts restricted.

For more information on the legality of matched betting, check out this article.

How can matched betting be risk-free?

After legality, this is probably the second most popular matched betting question that comes to mind – how can anything to do with betting involve zero risk?

As I explained above, matched betting is technically not gambling. Back and lay betting is a risk-free method used to guarantee a profit and mitigate any risk from normal gambling.

Bettors use a matched betting calculator to work out the most effective stakes to maximise the profit from their bets.

If you’re still not sure how matched betting is risk-free, I recommend you sign up for a free trial over at OddsMonkey and give it a go yourself.

How much can you make matched betting?

As I mentioned at the start of this article, matched betting is not a ‘get rich quick scheme.‘ If you’re looking to make millions overnight, matched betting is not for you.

Make money with matched betting

What this is, is a proven strategy to make a sustainable income online. Some people use this as their primary income whilst others use it to supplement their full-time job.

Obviously, the amount you make really depends on how much time you invest.

However, on average, matched bettors at OddsMonkey generally make around £500 each month with more experienced bettors earning up to £1000 per month.

Not bad considering it’s all tax free and takes very little time.

If you’re not making enough money from matched betting to be your full-time job but you still like the idea of making money from home then you could check out

They have some good information on how you can make some extra cash while you get your matched betting off the ground.

Matched betting key terms & definitions

Now let’s have a look at some of the most common matched betting key terms, abbreviations and definitions you’re likely to read on our site and throughout the wider betting industry.

Whilst not all of these terms will directly affect your matched betting, they’re all worth knowing and may come in handy at a later stage.

If you need more explanation on any of the following key terms or you come across a term that’s not covered, please leave a comment in the section below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Key terms and abbreviations are in alphabetical order.

Accumulator / Acca

An accumulator, combination or multiple bet is a single bet that contains 2 or more selections in one. For this to be a winning bet all the selections must come true.

Sky Bet accumulator win

In recent times, accumulator bets have become very popular, especially with football punters. There are plenty of methods matched bettors can use to take advantage of accumulators.

Back bet

Betting on an outcome to happen – just like a traditional bet. For example, we may bet that Chelsea will win the Premier League next season.

We generally place this bet at a bookmaker (bookie), however, it is also possible to place a back bet at a betting exchange.

Back odds

The odds we get at the bookie or betting exchange when placing our back bet on a given market.

Betting exchange

The betting site where we place our lay bets, for example, Betdaq or Betfair.

We use the betting exchange to make this process risk free. It allows us to bet against our first bet (back bet).

Check out this article for more information on betting exchanges.

Bookmaker or bookie

The betting site where we place our back bets, for example Coral or Ladbrokes. This is the most common type of betting company.

Free bet

A bet that we place using bonus funds given to us by the bookies or betting exchange. These free bets are usually from a promotion or offer that we have qualified for.

Free bets are the bread and butter of matched betting – without them, our potential profit would be severely restricted.


Gnoming, also known as multi-accounting, involves opening and running more than one betting account with the same bookmaker to maximise income from an offer.

Individuals usually do this by using a family member or friend’s name.

This is technically fraud, therefore we strongly recommend you don’t use this strategy. It’s very likely you’ll be banned by the bookmaker in question, limiting your potential profit.

For more explanation on the legality of multi-accounting check out this article.


Gubbing is a term used to describe the situation when a bookmaker restricts our account in some way. This can be anything from a stake restriction to a complete account ban.

For a successful matched betting strategy in 2020, we need as many bookmaker accounts open as possible, preferably without any restrictions.

Account restrictions

There are a number of methods we can use to keep our accounts open and active for as long as possible.

Lay bet

Betting on an outcome NOT to happen.

A lay bet is the opposite of a back bet.

We bet that Chelsea will NOT win the Premier League next season. We place this bet at a betting exchange. For more explanation on back and lay betting check out our specific guide.

Lay odds

The odds we get at the betting exchange when placing our lay bet on a given market.


Liability is the amount we stand to lose at the betting exchange should our bookie (back) bet win. With matched betting, any losses at the betting exchange are covered by wins at the bookmaker.

Before placing any lay bets, we need to ensure we have enough money in our exchange account to cover the liability amount.

The matched betting calculator always shows this amount in the results section underneath the exchange heading:

So in the example below, we’d need to ensure we have at least £27.83 in our betting exchange account before being able to place our lay bet.

Smarkets liability


In relation to a betting exchange – the amount of money waiting to be matched for a given selection.

This figure is always changing and increases considerably, closer to the start of an event. This is why we suggest you place your bets around 15 minutes before the scheduled start time.

You’ll find the liquidity underneath the market price at all betting exchanges. In the example below, the liquidity is £2903.

Betfair liquidity


In relation to a betting exchange – our bet is matched when it has been accepted by the exchange. If the liquidity is high, like the above example, our bet will be matched as soon as we place it.

Therefore it’s best to stick to popular markets where the liquidity is bound to be high. Large football games and horse racing events are usually the most effective.

Mug bet

A bet that we place to help keep our accounts from being gubbed by the bookies.

We place a back and lay bet on the same market just like a qualifying bet, however, there is no promotion or bonus to unlock.

Mug bets are an important strategy to increase the long term profitability of matched betting.

Qualifying bet

A bet that we place to unlock a free bet.

When completing a qualifying bet we place a back and lay bet on the same market, effectively cancelling out the risk from each bet. We’ve then qualified for our free bet.

It’s important to add, we usually lose a small amount of money when placing qualifying bets. See below for more details.

Qualifying loss

The amount we stand to lose when qualifying for our free bet tokens. We work out this loss before the event has even started using a matched betting calculator.

As a guide, we aim to restrict this amount to below 5% of the overall back stake. So for a £10 bet, we don’t want to lose any more than £0.50.

Stake not returned / SNR

In relation to a free bet – the free bet stake is not returned with your winnings.

Let’s say we place a £10 free bet at odds of 2.0 and it goes on to win. We’ll receive £10 from the bookie.

In this scenario, they don’t give us our £10 stake back, like they would in a stake returned free bet or a normal bet.

Most free bets we use are SNR.

Stake returned / SR

In relation to a matched betting free bet – the free bet stake is returned along with any winnings, just like a normal bet. This is quite rare as bookies don’t usually return the stake within a promotion or offer.


In relation to a betting exchange – our bet is unmatched until it has been accepted by the exchange.

If your bet is unmatched it’s probably due to a lack of liquidity in the market. If this is the case, I suggest you pick a market with more popularity and therefore higher liquidity.

Matched betting explained

When you start out with anything new – whether that’s a new job or hobby, there’s always some kind of learning curve with new terms and concepts to get your head around.

That’s why it’s important to summon the help of experts in the field and that’s where a matched betting service comes in handy.

I recommend you register with OddsMonkey. You can get started and make a profit even with their free trial so you really have nothing to lose.

You’ll have access to all the matched betting help you could wish for along with a brilliant support network. For more information on why I recommend OddsMonkey, check out this article.

I hope this matched betting article has given you a better understanding of how the overall process works along with some of the key concepts and terms we use.