Bet Matching Explained: How to Turn Free Bets Into Cash

Bet matching is a betting strategy with a difference.

Instead of trying to make money from picking a winner, no risk matched betting effectively leverages free bet offers from online bookies to generate a guaranteed cash payout from a series of bets.

In this sense bet matching shares something in common with bet arbitrage, which uses differences in bookie pricing to lock in a profit irrespective of the outcome of the event bet on.

However, unlike arbitrage, bet matching is perfectly legal and won’t put you at risk of getting on the wrong side of the online sports betting industry.

If used properly, bet matching can unlock hundreds of pounds of free money available from online bookmakers.

What is bet matching?

The majority of online bookmakers offer new users a sign-up incentive in the form of a risk-free bet, also known as a free bet.

When new users deposit money into their accounts they can qualify for a free bet by placing a real money bet of equivalent value on a sports betting market.

Once they have done this they will then have the free bet credited to their account.

The free bet can be used on any betting market. If a free bet wins the winnings are deposited in the user’s account as cash. The free bet stake is not included in this payout.

Bet matching uses lay bets at a betting exchange to hedge the bets placed at the online bookie during the process of earning and placing a free bet, thereby converting the free bet into cash.

How does bet matching work?

The bet matching concept is easiest to understand when broken down into the simple steps that take place once a punter has deposited funds into their new betting account.

Step 1: A bet is placed on a selection to qualify for the free bet at the online bookmaker. The bet will usually be the same value as the free bet on offer at the bookie.

Step 2: A lay bet is placed at the betting exchange for the same amount staked at the online bookmaker. In other words the exchange is used to bet against the selection backed at the bookie.

Step 3: If the selection loses, the punter will lose their stake at the bookmaker but ‘win’ their lay bet at the exchange, breaking even.

If the selection wins its event, the punter’s profit from the bookie will cover the cost of the losing lay bet at the exchange.

Step 4: The punter uses their free bet to place a second bet at the bookie.

Step 5: A lay bet is placed at the betting exchange for the same amount as the free bet, betting against the selection backed at the bookie.

Step 6: If the selection loses, the lay bet will pay out and the punter will get the value of the free bet paid out as cash by the exchange.

If the selection wins, then the winnings at the bookie will cover the cost of the losing bet at the betting exchange, and the punter will effectively break even.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind here:

  1. To ensure that you earn a profit and don’t just break even you will need to win your lay bets at the betting exchange. This means that when you place your bets you must back selections that you are confident will not win their events.
  2. It is unlikely you will be able to exactly match the odds at the bookie at the betting exchange. Typically you will need to lay the selection at slightly higher odds, which means that if the bookie bet wins there will be a minor loss on the transaction.

Bet matching example

To demonstrate how bet matching works, let’s use an example.

John clicks through on a $30 free bet promotional offer from William Hill after verifying that his region qualifies for a free bet. When he lands on the bookmaker’s site he clicks on the register and account button and submits his details.

John uses his Moneybookers account to make a $30 deposit into his account, he then changes his preferred odds format to decimal. John repeats this process at a betting exchange, opening an account with Betfair, where he submits his details before making a $150 deposit.

Step 1: John clicks on the tennis betting markets at William Hill where he finds a match between Dominic Thiem and Nick Kyrgios. Thiem is priced Evens to win the match while Kyrgios is trading at 4.0. John clicks on Kyrgios’ odds. These appear on the bet slip, offering a return of $120 on a $30 bet. John confirms the bet.

Step 2: John then logs into the betting exchange and locates the match market between Kyrgios and Thiem. He finds that Kyrgios is trading at 4.2 and decides to accept the slightly higher risk to match his first bet. He clicks on Kyrgios in the lay betting market, then lays a stake of $30 resulting in a liability of $126. He confirms this bet.

Step 3: Thiem defeats Kyrgios, as expected. The $30 bet at the bookmaker therefore loses. However, the lay bet at the betting exchange wins, generating a $30 profit. There is therefore no net loss on the wager. Within 24 hours a free $30 bet is credited to John’s William Hill account.

Step 4: John repeats the first three steps. He starts off by finding a suitable market, where Rafael Nadal is playing Bernard Tomic with Tomic priced at odds of 5.0. John needs to back the underdog in order to increase his chances of the lay bet generating a return and therefore bets the $30 free bet on Tomic.

John opens his betting exchange account next. He tracks down the match market in question and finds Tomic trading at a price of 5.15 in the lay betting market. He accepts this price by clicking on it and enters a stake of $30 on the betting slip. This results in a liability of $154.5.

Step 5: Nadal holds form during the match and defeats Tomic. As a result the free bet placed at the bookmaker loses. However the $30 layed at the betting exchange is credited to John when his bet wins. This means that the $30 free bet has effectively been converted into $30 cash that can be withdrawn from the betting exchange.

In the event that Nadal loses the match and Tomic wins, John will win $150 at the bookie and lose $154.5 at the exchange for an overall loss of $4.5.

Bet matching tips

Once you understand the concept it’s easy to see the potential for making completely free cash from no risk bet matching. However there are some things you need to keep in mind:

  1. Check the play-through terms on free bets before attempting bet matching. Some free bet offers may require you to place several bets before your free bet is unlocked, making them unsuitable for bet matching. Ensure that you are only required to place a single real money bet in order to qualify for your free bet in full. Offers that break free bets into three separate amounts, for example 3 x $10 free bets, are suitable for bet matching.
  2. Start small. Big lay bets mean big liability, and you will need to have enough money in your exchange account to cover any lay bets you make during the bet matching process. The best idea is to begin working with small free bets, keep the winnings in your exchange account, and work your way up to the bigger free bet offers.
  3. Get close to the bookie. Betting exchange odds are around 15% higher than the odds offered by fixed odds bookmakers. This can be a problem as you are looking to match bookies’ fixed odds to lay odds, and any difference will result in small losses on the exchange if your lay bets lose.

    Take time to search the betting markets for matches where the exchange odds are as close as possible to those offered by your fixed odds bookmaker. It is also a good idea to use clear underdogs for your selection, as this improves the chance of your lay bets winning, and when your lay bets win you’ll never incur losses on the bet matching process.

  4. Stick to team sports. If you bet on any sport that involves a single player you run the risk of the player being injured during the event. If you have backed/layed a player in a match where the opponent is injured and the win is forfeited, you will lose your exchange bet while your back bet will be refunded – resulting in an overall loss on the transaction.
  5. Remain focused. Don’t be tempted to bet casually while bet matching. The idea here is to make a guaranteed profit without risk. You’re going to feel like you’re ‘winning’ as your bet matches come in, and this can tempt you to bet with this money. Rather convert and cash all your free bets, then take a portion of your money to bet with at a later stage.

Bookmakers for bet matching

You can cash in $160 in free bets right now by signing up at the four biggest and most trusted bookmakers on the planet.