Matched Betting


Matched betting is a betting technique that allows punters to profit from promotional offers, free bets and betting bonuses offered by sportsbooks. Due to the nature of the stake, they are considered to be risk-free and focus more on mathematical equations as opposed to chance. In this article we will explain everything you need to know about match betting, how it works, when you should use it, and when you should avoid it.

How does matched betting work?

Matched betting works by betting on both outcomes of a sporting event so that whatever the end result, you are guaranteed a win. However, to ensure that your betting is completely risk-free and in order for you to make a profit, one of the bets that you have placed on the result must be a free bet or at least come at no cost to you.

The technique used for matched betting is known as ‘back and lay’ betting. In such a hugely competitive industry, bookmakers will offer a huge range of incentives to try and win your custom such as free bets or bonuses such as the ‘Bet C$5 and get another C$5 free’ deal. Matched betting allows you to utilize these bonuses to have risk-free bets on both outcomes to ensure that you are guaranteed a win.

If you place a bet on a particular outcome (back bet) and then place a bet against that bet happening (lay bet), you are destined to win regardless of the outcome. By backing and laying you can use the free bets you have been given in promotions and bonuses to make a profit. On average you tend to end up with around 80% of the free bet amount, so that a C$30 free bet will give you C$24 in cash.

How it works

Getting to grips with matched betting can take some time but worry not, it isn’t as complicated as it first appears. There are two crucial parts to a successful matched bet. Both of these parts consist of two bets.

First up is the back bet. A back bet is just saying that you expect a specific result to occur. You visit your favourite Canadian sportsbooks and place your stake. If your result comes in then you win your stake multiplied by the odds, if it doesn’t, you lose your stake. This is also known as your liability.

The second, and crucial part to a matched bet is the lay bet. The lay bet is where you are betting against an outcome occurring. You are essentially saying ‘this outcome will not happen’. Lay bets can be placed through online betting exchanges where you are matched against another bettor who wants to place a back bet. As the lay bettor, you play the role of the bookmaker. The exchange makes their money by charging a commission for both users which will be deducted from their stake.

If the outcome that you have placed a lay bet against occurs then you have to pay the other person their winnings, which is the stake multiplied by the odds and this is your liability. On the flip side, if the outcome doesn’t happen, you will win the stake from your opposing player exactly like a bookmaker does when you place a losing bet. As mentioned previously, you will also have to pay the exchange a small commission which will be deducted from your winnings.

When using matched betting you utilize both the back bets and lay bets so that they cancel one another out, and it works out that make a small net loss when the commission is taken into account. You then use your free bets on higher odds outcomes that will deliver you a larger profit than your initial loss, so it ends up profitable. Not only is it profitable, but it is also completely risk-free.

How to place a matched bet

So, we’ve talked about the theory behind matched bets but how do you place a matched bet? Well, let’s look at some steps that will guide you through the process.

  1. Find a suitable offer that you are eligible for, whether you are a new or existing customer. Visit the desired sportsbook and open the markets.
  2. Choose a specific event that you want to place your bet on. For example, Canada to beat the United States in ice hockey. To minimize your initial loss the odds should be low and close together. There are specific tools that you can use to help you, or there is also a mathematical equation we will touch upon later that will work this out for you.
  3. Log in or sign up to the sportsbook and place the bet which qualifies you for the bet.
  4. Now you need to place the lay bet. Sign up or sign into a betting exchange and place the relevant lay bet with the correct stake shown in the calculator or from the formula below.
  5. Place the second of your matched bets using the free betting credit. However, this time round you need to back and lay odds that are high and close together to maximize your profit.

The best way of understanding how matched betting works is by looking at a real life example, So, let’s take a look. For this example, let’s consider that the bookmaker is offering C$25 as a free bet if you deposit place a C$25 initial bet. Let’s look at how you would turn this free bet into physical cash.

First Matched Bet

1. Visit the bookmaker offering the promotion and deposit your funds and place C$25 on Canada to beat the United States at odds of 2.0. Once you have placed this bet, you have qualified for the promotion. This is therefore aptly named the ‘qualifying bet’. You will be using the free bet aspect of this later on.

2. You then need to visit the betting exchange to place your lay bet. The exchange is delivering odds of 2.02 on Canada NOT to win and they will also charge you 5% for placing the bet. You will then need to use a matched betting calculator or do the maths which will tell you that you will need to place a bet of C$25.38 in order to match the bet you placed in step 1 (your back bet). This leaves you with a current liability of C$25.89.

3. In simple terms, this means whatever the outcome of the match you will make a marginal loss. 

Obviously, this isn’t very helpful, you have lost money, but only 89 cents with either outcome. This is why the next step is so crucial and is where you make your money.

Second Matched Bet

4. Your initial qualifying bet is out of the way and you can now place your free stake of C$25 free bet on selection with slightly higher odds to stretch the profits. Let's take an imaginary event where the Mexico soccer team have winning odds of 5.0 and 5.2 lay odds. You bet on Mexico to win using the £25 free bet.

5. You go back and visit your betting exchange who are providing lay odds of Mexico NOT to win with their usual commission of 5%. By doing your calculations, you work out that you need to place a bet of C$19.42 to match your back bet (step 4), and in total this leaves you with a liability of C$81.56.

6. This is the good part. Now, whatever the outcome for Mexico, you will make a healthy profit. 

So, you have placed your two matched bets (four bets in total) and it has left you with a profit of around C$18 in total.

Taking a look at a quick example, it is very easy to see how you can make a substantial amount of profit risk free by applying a wide range of matched bet promotions. It can seem quite daunting and difficult to understand, but hopefully this working example gives you an insight as to how matched betting works. Once you have got your head around the technique, you will be able to utilize this method to earn some extra income from free bet promotions. The more experience you gain of matched betting then the easier and quicker it becomes. Finding the right odds and calculating the right stakes is key to ensuring a profit is generated, but as we say, it will get easier with practice.

Matched Betting Tips

Matched betting is available across a wide range of sports and markets. Canadian players will be delighted to learn that most matched bets are perfectly suited to the major sports in Canada such as the NBA, NFL and the NHL.  As with most things in life, time and experience are two of the biggest factors in making matched betting a success and as profitable as possible.

There are many elements of matched betting that can improve your return. Fundamentally, the more time that you are willing to put into it will depend on your success. The more research you put in, the higher profits you are likely to win. Taking advantage of great value offers and promotions and being able to place the maximum stake that these free bets offer can also help increase your winnings. 

Timing can also be crucial as you need to make sure you get the best odds from both the bookmaker and the betting exchange. Observing trends on when odds are likely to increase and decrease before an event can help you maximize your return. Having access to tools such as a matched betting calculator can save you both time and effort as well.

For those that don’t have access to a matched betting calculator, we mentioned previously that there are formulas you can use to decipher the correct amount to stake. These can be seen below:

Qualifying Bet and Welcome Bet Formula

To work out the ideal stake for an even profit, regardless of the result:

To work out the ideal stake for the same profit, regardless of the result:

To work out the ideal stake for the same profit, regardless of the result:

Things to be aware of with Matched Betting

We have continually mentioned that matched betting is risk-free, but the question on many of you reading this will be, is it safe? In theory, matched betting couldn’t be safer. When completed correctly, matched betting is much, much safer than traditional betting. It is backed by mathematical formulas that ensure that you will make a profit. However, some people don’t like the use of ‘risk-free’ as there technically is an element of risk, however, that element is through human error. The only way you can go wrong with matched betting is if you make a mistake through lack of care or understanding in what you are doing. 

If you follow the steps outlined in this article properly and make the right mathematical calculations, it is entirely safe and risk-free. One of the other things to be wary of when placing your matched bets is that speed can be key. There is a small possibility that the odds will change between you placing your back and lay bets. The quicker you can place these the more protected you are from fluctuating odds. Another essential thing that you must consider when using matched betting is that you must only bet on an event with only two possible outcomes. Using point spread and over/under line (odds usually around 1.87 and 1.95) bets offer punters the easiest way to make a profit.


Match betting can be a risk-free technique for earning additional money in your betting strategy through utilizing free bets and promotions offered by bookmakers. It requires you to place two low profit/loss bets that counteract one another so that you qualify for the free bet, and then two high profit/loss bets that will provide you with your overall profit. Using free bets and betting site promotions ensures that this style of matched betting guarantees you a profit.

It is a completely legal and legitimate technique for ensuring yourself profits with free bets and it allows you to convert free betting credits into cash. One of the most appealing factors for match betting is that you do not need to know an awful lot about betting, nor do you need to know anything about sport. Matched betting is available for everyone which means you can get started today and make some extra income every month.

Matched Betting - FAQ

Is matched betting legal?

Yes! Matched betting is a completely legal and permitted way of making profit through your betting strategy. It is just a simple and intelligent method of converting the free bets and bonuses offered by your bookmaker into cash.

Is matched betting completely safe and risk-free?

If performed correctly then matched betting is completely safe and entirely risk free. Covering all bases for a sporting event ensures that you are guaranteed to correctly call the correct outcome and make a profit. Even the most seasoned of matched bettors make mistakes though, sometimes these mistakes are favourable to your profit and sometimes they aren’t, so it is especially important that you take great care when placing your matched bets.

Do I need to be an experienced bettor or have good sports knowledge?

Simply put, no. One of the most appealing aspects of matched betting is that it is readily available to everyone, no matter the level of experience you have in betting or how clued up on sports you are. Follow the simple steps of covering as many outcomes as possible and you are guaranteed to make a profit. Being a betting novice can actually work in your favour as you will be able to take advantage of more sign up bonuses and promotions, which should translate into more profit.