What is matched betting? A definitive guide to beat the bookmakers in 2023

So you want to find out more about matched betting and learn how you can beat the bookmakers?

Well, you’re in the right place.

In this in-depth guide I explain everything you need to know about matched betting, including how it works and what you need to get started. Plus we share our top matched betting tips that will help you maximise your profit.

Let’s get started.

What is matched betting?

Matched betting is a popular way of making money online. This method has allowed me and many others to make £1000s in risk free cash each and every month.

It almost sounds too good to be true!

That’s exactly what I thought when I got started. But I soon realised matched betting was a completely legal and very profitable way of making money online.

Here’s an example of how one matched bettor turned £87 into £7500 profit in just 7 months.

Matched betting profit

Just to clear things up, matched betting is not a ‘get rich quick scheme’ and you’re NOT going to get rich using this technique. However, if you’re interested in making up to £1000 risk free every month, read on…

So, what is matched betting?

Matched betting is a way to make money online taking advantage of bookmakers’ free bets and promotions.

This betting technique is used by thousands of individuals across the UK to beat the bookmakers.

Matched betting is not like gambling as you know it. All outcomes are covered so nothing is left to chance. We know exactly how much profit we’ll make before an event has even started.

So how does this process work?

How does matched betting work?

The process behind matched betting can seem quite complicated to grasp when you first get started. It took me a number of days before I was confident enough to place any bets.

Take your time and stick with it. Everything should become a little clearer once we’ve looked through a few examples.

The main concept behind matched betting is backing and laying bets. The process is essentially split into two sections so let’s split these down and look at them in more detail.

Back bets

A back bet is a bet you place on an outcome that you believe will happen. If you’re familiar with betting, this is the traditional type of bet. 

For example you might bet that Chelsea will beat Manchester United in their next game. If Chelsea win the game, your back bet wins. If Chelsea draw or lose the game, you lose your stake.

You can place a back bet at any bookmaker such as Bet365, Paddy Power etc.

Lay bets

A lay bet is a bet you place on an outcome you don’t believe will happen. Lay bets are the opposite of back bets.

For example we now bet that Chelsea will NOT beat Manchester United. If Chelsea draw or lose the game, you win the lay bet.

You can only place a lay bet at a betting exchange such as Smarkets or Betfair.

Matched bettors place both a back bet and a lay bet on the same event in order to cancel out each bet. So using our example above, we place a back bet and a lay bet on Chelsea to beat Manchester United. This way, our two bets cancel each other out.

What’s the point of that you’re probably thinking.

Let me explain.

Unfortunately the bookies don’t hand out promotions for free. There is always qualifying criteria that we must fulfil before we can trigger the free bet or bonus. 

An offer might look something like this:

Bet £10 and get a £20 free bet.

Matched betting example

So to trigger the £20 free bet, we first must place a qualifying bet of £10.

By using back and lay betting, we can complete the qualifying criteria without risking any of our own money. We then repeat the same process with the free bet and make a guaranteed profit.

As simple as that!

How much can I make?

Matched betting is a great way to make a second income online.

Whilst your earnings will vary depending on how many offers you complete, you can potentially make up to £1000+ every month.

Gambling winnings are currently tax–free in the UK meaning you keep more of your matched betting profits.

What do I need to start matched betting?

So you want to get started with matched betting?

Good news, you don’t need to know anything about sports or even how to place a bet.

You just need access to the internet via a smartphone or laptop, an online bank account, a separate email address and some money to complete your first few offers. Your starting funds will not be at risk and your balance will only increase as you complete more offers.

Is matched betting legal?

Back when I started matched betting, I was looking for ways to make money online but I didn’t want to get into something that was illegal and end up in jail…

I stumbled across matched betting and it all looked very promising. But after looking into the process in more detail I wasn’t sure if matched betting was a legitimate way to make money. It all seemed too good to be true.

This is probably the same feeling you currently have. It wasn’t until I placed a few bets that I realised the potential.

So to answer the question above, yes, matched betting is 100% legal.

Whether the bookmakers like matched betting is a question for another day. You can find out more in this article where we dive into the legality of matched betting.

Matched betting step by step

To make things easy, we can split the process down into 6 simple steps which you can see in our matched betting infographic below.

Matched betting infographic
  1. Find a free bet
  2. Place a qualifying bet
  3. Place an opposite bet
  4. Use free bet
  5. Place another lay bet
  6. Make guaranteed profit

As easy as that… Let’s check out each step in more detail.

Step 1 – Find a free bet

The first step is to find a free bet or offer to take advantage of. There are various ways to do this.

You can manually search for bookmaker free bets or use an automated tool like OddsMonkey or Outplayed.com. This software continually scans hundreds of bookmakers websites in order to find profitable matched betting opportunities. More on this later in the guide.

Initially, look for free bets and offers for new customers. Most online bookies offer some form of free bet when you create a new account. Here is a good example from William Hill who are offering ‘Bet £10, Get £30 In Free Bets’.

William Hill free bet

Step 2 – Place a qualifying bet

The second step is to place a qualifying bet to activate your free bet or bonus.

We need to find an appropriate market to place our qualifying bet. Again you can do this manually, but I suggest you use odds matching software.

The software scans thousands of potential markets and highlights the most appropriate options based on certain criteria such as profit, time of event and odds etc.

OddsMonkey OddsMatcher software

It’s important to pay attention to the qualifying criteria of the free bet. This can be anything from a minimum odds requirement on the free bet to the length of time between opening your account and placing your first bet.

Once you’ve found a suitable market, you need to place your qualifying bet. So in our example we’d place a bet of £10.

Step 3 – Place opposite bet

Once you’ve placed your qualifying bet at the bookmaker you need to place an opposite bet (lay bet) on the same event to cancel out the risk from your back bet.

No matter what the outcome of the game is, one bet will win and the other will lose meaning your two bets cancel each other out.

In order to calculate the lay stake, we need to use a matched betting calculator or odds matching software.

Free bets in matched betting

The oddsmatcher software will automatically calculate the most profitable lay stake when it finds a market to place your back and lay bets.

If you’re using a matched betting calculator you need to enter the following:

  • Back stake (the amount of your qualifying bet)
  • Back odds
  • Lay odds
  • Lay commission

For those of you just getting started I recommend using odds matching software as everything is done for you. Once you get to grips with matched betting you can move onto using the manual calculators.

It’s important to note that we may lose a small amount (typically less than £1) to trigger our free bet. This is due to a small difference in the back and lay odds. But we’re guaranteed to make a profit with the free bet.

Step 4 – Use free bet

Now for the exciting bit, using your free bet!

Once the qualifying bet has settled, double-check that your free bet has been credited in your bookmaker account. If not, get in touch with support and they should be able to help you out.

Once you’ve activated and unlocked your free bet, you need to repeat the same process as above, only this time you’ll make a guaranteed profit.

Guaranteed profit with matched betting

Find a market to place your free bet bet. Once again, I suggest you use OddsMonkey’s software to help you pick the best and most profitable market.

Step 5 – Place another lay bet

The fifth step requires you to place another lay bet at the betting exchange. As before, use odds matching software or the matched betting calculator to work out the correct lay stakes.

Step 6 – Make a guaranteed profit

Congratulations, you’ve completed your first offer.

Rinse and repeat the 6 steps above and you’re well on the way to making £1000s in risk free cash.

Matched betting offers

Now you know more about the process behind matched betting, let’s look at some of the different matched betting offers available, where you can find them and what to do if you run out.

One of the great things about matched betting is that there’s a huge range of bookmaker free bets and promotions to take advantage of.

The betting industry is incredibly competitive and has seen huge growth since the first online bookies started springing up.

More and more bookmakers wanted to get in on the action and take a piece of the increasingly lucrative gambling sector. Enter Bet365, Betfair, 888Sport and many others. These are now some of the world’s largest and most profitable betting companies.

Today there are over 100 online bookmakers licensed in the UK.

It became incredibly tough for online bookies to attract and keep new customers as there was so much choice in the market.

To get an edge, bookmakers started offering promotions and offers to incentivise new and existing customers to place bets with them rather than their competitors.

Cost of new betting clients

It’s reported that some of the larger betting companies are willing to spend up to £300 to gain a new client. A large amount, but one that matched bettors can benefit from!

This budget goes straight into free bets and other promotions that matched bettors profit from on a daily basis.

To make things easier, we split the offers into two main categories; Sign up offers and reload offers.

Sign up offers

These offers are for new betting customers only and almost every bookie runs one of these promotions, so there’s plenty of profit to be made.

At the time of writing this article, there’s around £1200 worth of free bets for new customers. Read on to find out where you can find these offers.

Typical examples include Bet x, Get x and deposit bonuses.

Reload offers

Once you’ve worked through the sign up offers or you already have an account with some bookmakers, you can move on to reload offers.

To keep existing customers returning, the bookmakers offer what we call reload offers. These offers are only available for existing customers.

Thankfully for matched bettors, there are a huge range of these offers available each week. This is where the ongoing, long term profit is made with matched betting.

Can you do matched betting without free bets?

There may come a time when you’ve taken advantage of most of the free bets available.

Thankfully for those looking to continue matched betting, there are a number of strategies you can try without the use of free bets:

  • Price boosts
  • Extra place offers
  • Casino offers
  • Bingo offers

When it comes to matched betting without free bets, keep an open mind and think outside the box.

If you see an offer, think ‘can I make money from this?’ and ask around in matched betting forums to see if anyone else has the same idea.

Where can I find the latest matched betting offers?

The aim is to complete as many matched betting offers as possible. The time consuming bit is finding offers which are worthwhile completing.

For certain offers the qualifying criteria is such that it makes the offer worthless.

Whilst you can manually search for the latest offers, I recommend you use a matched betting website such as OddsMonkey or Outplayed.com.

Your time is best spent completing the latest offers rather than finding them and working out which ones will be profitable.

Both sites have a team of experts scouring the web for the best offers. Any new offers are then uploaded to the members area with detailed instructions explaining how to maximise your profit from the offer. The guide will also outline how much profit you should make from the offer.

OddsMonkey free trial

What’s the long term potential?

Matched betting is a great way to make some extra cash online. But you might be wondering what the long term potential is like.

You get the biggest bang for your buck with the sign up offers. But once they’re done, you can’t do them again.

However, with reload offers you have the opportunity to make a lot more in risk free cash every month.

Best matched betting services/sites

Whilst you can teach yourself and start matched betting on your own, I recommend you use a matched betting site to help you get started.

Matched betting can seem quite complicated at first and it’s great to have someone walk you through the whole process step by step. They show you exactly how to profit from each free bet, making the entire process incredibly easy. They do all the hard work for you.

Matched betting sites generally charge a monthly membership fee. You will typically get the following:

  • Matched betting guides/tutorials
  • All the latest offers
  • Expert software and calculators
  • Access to members only communities

Most matched betting sites also offer a free trial showing you how to complete a number of offers before committing to a membership.

Some of the best and most popular sites include:

  • OddsMonkey
  • Outplayed.com


OddsMonkey (review) is one of the most popular matched betting services around, having helped thousands of matched bettors since they started back in 2011.

The platform costs £24.99 per month with a free trial available.

OddsMonkey developed the original matched betting software that is widely used in the industry today. Since then they’ve expanded their matched betting service significantly.

Today you can find a huge range of tutorials and guides, 1-to-1 support for members and access to thriving communities.


Outplayed.com (review), formerly Profit Accumulator, is another popular matched betting site who have helped over 100,000 people profit from matched betting.

This service also costs £24.99 per month with a free trial available.

Outplayed.com arguably brought matched betting to the masses and simplified the way it was taught to newcomers.

Like OddsMonkey, they offer a wide range of tutorials and guides, brilliant support and access to large matched betting communities.

There’s very little to pick between the two platforms. Why not check out this article where we compare the best matched betting sites.

Matched betting FAQs

Is matched betting legal? 

Yes, matched betting is 100% legal. We’re simply taking advantage of bookmakers’ free bets and promotions.

What if I already have betting accounts open

Not to worry. There’s over 100 online bookmakers with sign up offers to profit from. If you have an account with them all, you can move on to reload offers for existing customers.

Can you get rich from matched betting?

No, matched betting is not a ‘get rich quick scheme’ and you’re not going to become wealthy using this strategy. You can, however, make a great second income.

Can you make a living from matched betting?

Making a living from matched betting would be difficult unless you deem £1000 per month as a full time income.

Is matched betting tax free in the UK?

Yes, all gambling winnings are tax free in the UK meaning you get to keep more of your matched betting profits.

Do I need to know anything about betting?

No, you don’t need to know anything about betting or even how to place a bet. Sites like OddsMonkey walk you through the whole process from start to finish.

How much time does matched betting take?

You can spend as little or as much time as you want completing the latest offers. However, once you’re up to speed each offer typically takes 5-10 minutes to complete.

How much money can I make?

With matched betting you can make up to £1000 in risk free cash every month. This will require you to complete the latest matched betting offers every day.