Matched Betting at Online Bookmakers
Lets say that Man Utd are playing Aston Villa in a football match. The odds for Man Utd to win (when expressed as decimal odds) are 2.25 (or 5/4 as fractional). The odds for Aston Villa to win are 4 (or 3/1). Betting odds for the match to end in a draw are 3 (or 2/1).
If you were to lay Aston Villa to win, and you were willing to do this with an amount of £10, you are basically offering £10 for someone to bet on Aston Villa to win. You are taking the place of online bookmakers, and allowing a punter to place a bet.
When you lay a bet, you are betting against that event happening so in this example, you are betting against Aston Villa winning the match. If Aston Villa lose or draw, then you are successful. Only if they win, have you lost your money.
You can lay any bets at an online betting exchange, the most popular being Betfair Exchange. We will discuss these in more detail later on in the article. Say Aston Villa win, you have to pay out £40 (The £10 lay and then the £30 winnings - £10 lay x odds of 4 = £40).
However if Aston Villa don't win and they lose or draw, then you get the £10 lay.
Matched Betting Example
Say that Arsenal are playing Tottenham Hotspur in a football match. The odds for Arsenal to win (when expressed as decimal odds) are 3 (or 2/1). The odds for Tottenham Hotspur to win are 4 (or 3/1). Odds being offered for the draw are 2.25 (or 5/4).
If you think there was going to be a bit of an upset, and you think Arsenal won't win, you can lay them to win. Say you lay them with £40, at odds of 3. This means that if Arsenal do not win, ie they lose or draw, then you've earn’t £40. If Arsenal do win, then you've got to pay out for the bet - £120 (The £40 lay and then the £80 winnings - £40 lay x odds of 3 = £120).
Earning Money From Matched Betting
You may be thinking that this just sounds like another form of gambling, and to be honest it is, but there is a way of using it to guarantee a profit with a little help from online bookmakers.
Often when you use an online bookmaker, they will offer you some form of a signup bonus for example, when you signup and place a £30 bet, they will give you a bonus £30 bet.
A bookmakers bonus bet at signup enables a profit to be made from bet laying/matching. When you match a bet, you are basically covering both sides of the bet. Imagine you were to lay a bet, as mentioned earlier on in this article.
Then you make exactly the same bet but this time you bet normally, by staking a certain amount at certain odds, at a online bookmakers. If you win your bet with the online bookmakers, you will get your winnings from that bet but you will also have to 'pay out' for your lay.
This is where the two outcomes cancel each other out, meaning you have lost nothing (but also gained nothing). However, if you were to use a free bet or bookmakers special offers, then either on the lay or the bet you will more than likely make a profit.
It's important to point out at this point that when laying a free bet, it's important to try and lay at odds that are as similar as possible to the actual odds that are available at the online bookmakers. This is so that a minimal loss is made when making the bets.
Also, if you are able to find lay odds at the betting exchange that are lower than the odds at the online bookmaker, you can guarantee that your bets will make a profit.
Matched Betting With Your Own Money
Say the odds of Chelsea winning the Premier League are 3, or 2/1. These are the odds of them winning at the online bookmakers. To lay at the betting exchange Chelsea winning the Premier League the odds are the same, 3.
If you placed £10 on Chelsea to win the Premier League and then lay £10 at the exchange, both outcomes will have cancelled each other out. If Chelsea win the League, then you get £30 from the bookmakers (£20 profit, and the £10 bet is returned with the winnings).
With the lay at the betting exchange, you will have to pay out £30 (Their £10 stake and the £20 winnings from the bet). Therefore you would have £20 profit at the online bookmakers, and a £20 loss from betting at the betting exchange.
This means you are back to square one, and have neither gained nor made a loss. Just to confirm, had Chelsea not won the League, then you would have lost your £10 bet at the bookmakers, but won the £10 lay at the betting exchange, cancelling each other out.
All of this is of course pretty pointless, unless you were using a bookmakers bonus bet.
Matched Betting With Bonus Bets
We will use the same scenario as before to keep things simple. The odds of Chelsea winning the Premier League are 3, or 2/1. These are the odds of them winning at the bookmakers. To lay at the exchange Chelsea winning the Premier League the odds are the same, 3.
If you used a £10 free bet on Chelsea to win the Premier League at a bookmakers, and then lay £10 at the exchange, then no matter what happens you'll make a profit. If Chelsea win the Premier League, you'll have won £30 (as long as the bonus bet was stake-returned).
You would then have to pay out £20 at the exchange for the lay. This means that you have an overall profit of £10 (£30 winnings minus £20 lay loss) and all down to matched betting.
If Chelsea don't win the Premier League, then you have lost your bonus bet (no actual loss though as it didn't cost you anything) but you will win your £10 lay, so you will have £10 profit.
From this scenario, you can see that by using a bookmakers bonus bet you can guarantee to gain nearly almost of the bonus bet amount back.
There are a few issues that mean its not always possible to extract the full amount back. At the lay exchanges they often charge commission on any winnings on a bet or lay. At the most popular exchange, Betfair Exchange, the commission is usually 5%.
Another issue is that sometimes the bonus bets that bookmakers offer is SNR or Stake Non-Returned. This means that if you were to place a £10 bet on odds of 3 (2/1), you will only receive £20 back from the bookmaker, and your stake isn't returned.