This is the exact process I followed to turn £250 into over £20,000.

This is an extensive guide and we highly recommend reading it multiple times to make sure you understand it, at the end we’ll walk you through how to make your first £20 matched betting so it’s well worth taking the time to understand it. We’ll assume that you have no knowledge on gambling and have never placed a bet before. If you have bet before you’re at an advantage but make sure you still read it all, especially if you’re used to betting with Fractions.

How do Odds work?

Odds can be presented in one of 3 ways:

Fractions (I..e 3/2)

Decimals (i.e. 2.5)

American / US Style (i.e. -100 or +100)

For the purposes of matched betting decimals are the easiest to use as they allow the simplest comparison between different sites.

In order to calculate your return should a bet made in decimals win all you need to do is multiply your stake by the decimal odds.

For example:

£10 bet at odds of 3.5 gives a return of £35 (a profit of £25), this is different to fractions and US style.


What are Betting exchanges?

Most people picture the stock exchange when exchanges are mentioned and betting exchanges are not all that different. They enable you to ‘buy’ or ‘sell’ a bet with other individuals, By enabling you to sell (lay) a bet you can act as the bookmaker and actually set the odds for other punters. As well as having the option to lay bets you can also buy / bet / back bets on exchanges.

Betfair is by far the most popular betting exchange and has been around for over 10 years. Betfair makes money through commission. When you join Betfair you pay 5% commission on any winnings, if you have a losing bet you don’t pay anything to Betfair. This commission rate can reduces the more you gamble with Betfair and can get as low as 3%

Betfair can be confusing at first so here’s an example:

An Introduction to Matched Betting - Man Utd v Liverpool Odds

Here we can see the odds available to back and lay a Man UTD v Liverpool match.

If we want to bet on Liverpool to win we can do that at odds of 4.4.

Here’s an example placing a £10 bet on Liverpool to win at 4.4.

An Introduction to Matched Betting - Bet on Liverpool

At a typical bookmaker we’d expect to get a return of £44 (£10 x 4.4) however due to commission this is slightly more complicated at Betfair especially as commission is only paid on winnings (not the initial stake). It’s important to note commission is not included in the calculation on the bet slip

The Winnings are £34 (excluding the initial stake), meaning the commission paid to Betfair is £1.70 (34 x 5%)

This means if Liverpool win we would get a return of £10 (Stake) + £34 (Winnings) – £1.70 (Commission) = £42.30

Although commission does impact the return Betfair’s odds are typically very competitive and can often be more than 5% higher than the other bookmakers.

See next page for Laying a bet

Laying a bet

Laying a bet is slightly more complicated, when you ‘Lay’ a bet you’re betting against the event happening.

If we use the example of Laying Liverpool to win.

If Man UTD win – the lay bet WINS

If Liverpool win – Lay bet LOSES

If Draw – Lay bet WINS

When placing a lay bet it’s important to understand how your stake is calculated, generally you bet the amount you want to WIN which can be significantly less than the amount you’re willing to risk.

If we look to Lay Liverpool for £10 at odds of 4.6 we can see that our liability (amount we are risking) is £36

An Introduction to Matched Betting - Lay Liverpool

This is easiest to understand if we consider the opponent we’re betting against, when placing this bet we’re betting against someone else who is betting £10 at 4.6 on Liverpool to win. If Liverpool win they will get £46 back (minus commission).

This £46 is made up of their stake (£10) and our liability (£36), this means that if Liverpool do win we lose £36.

If on the other hand Liverpool don’t win (i.e Man UTD win or it’s a draw) we stand to win £10 minus commission.

£10 – 5% = £9.50.

This ability to bet against a result happening is key to understanding matched betting. Make sure this makes sense before moving on.

See next page for Matched betting introduction

Covering all the outcomes

One of core principles of matched betting is that risk is removed by ensuring that whatever the outcome of the match you get the same return. This removes the ‘gambling’ from the betting.

We’ll use the same Man UTD v Liverpool match for an example. Here we’ve got the odds from William Hill:

An Introduction to Matched Betting - Cover all the outcomes

Let’s imagine that we place a £10 bet at William Hill on Liverpool to Win:

If Man UTD Win – Lose £10

If Draw – Lose £10

If Liverpool Win – £42 return (£32 profit)

This is clearly gambling.

If however as well as betting on Liverpool to win at William Hill we also bet against Liverpool to win at Betfair (i.e. Lay Liverpool to win)

An Introduction to Matched Betting - Bet against Liverpool

The Betfair results would be as follows:

If Man UTD Win – Win £9.23 (Stake) – £0.46 (commission) = £8.77

If Draw – Win £9.23 (Stake) – £0.46 (commission) = £8.77

If Liverpool Win – Lose 33.23

If we then look at the combined results across William Hill & Betfair we can see:

If Man UTD Win – Win £8.77 at Betfair Lose £10 at William Hill = £1.23 loss overall

If Draw – Win £8.77 at Betfair Lose £10 at William Hill = £1.23 loss overall

If Liverpool Win – Lose £33.23 at Betfair, Win £32 at William Hill = £1.23 loss overall

We can see in this example that by covering all the outcomes of the match, whatever the result we end up in the same financial position and the only difference is which Bookmaker our money is in.


Bookmakers regularly offer sign up bonuses to entice customers to gamble with them, here’s an example from William Hill one of the best known UK Bookmakers

An Introduction to Matched Betting - 91

William Hill are offering a free £50 bet once you place a £50 bet. It’s very simple to get the Freebet:

  1. Sign up using the Promo code

  2. Deposit £50

  3. Place a £50 bet

  4. Receive a freebet

  5. Place the freebet

It’s important to understand the terms and conditions when placing a freebet, some are Stake Not Returned, others have a wagering requirement. Click here for more information on the different types of bonus.

Matched Betting

Matched Betting combines the Freebets the bookmakers offer with the concept of covering all the outcomes to guarantee a profit.

Let’s use the example of the William Hill offer and the Man UTD v Liverpool match, this time placing a bet on Man UTD:

At William Hill we sign up using the Promo code and make a £50 deposit. We then bet the £50 deposit on Man UTD to Win

An Introduction to Matched Betting - Bet on Man Utd

To ensure we’re covering all the outcomes we also bet £49.46 against Man UTD to win on Betfair (Lay):

An Introduction to Matched Betting - Lay Man Utd

If Man UTD Win – Win £41.50 at William Hill lose £44.51 at Betfair – A Loss of £3.01

If Draw – Lose £50 at William Hill, Win £46.99 at Betfair (£49.46 – £2.47 Commission) – A Loss of £3.01

If Liverpool Win – Lose £50 at William Hill, Win £46.99 at Betfair (£49.46 – £2.47 Commission) – A Loss of £3.01

Whatever the result of the Liverpool v Man UTD match we lose £3.01 but we can now use the Freebet.

Lets find another football match to place the Freebet on, this time Everton v QPR.

Here we’ve got the odds at William Hill:

An Introduction to Matched Betting - William Hill odds

And at Betfair:

An Introduction to Matched Betting - Betfair odds

Let’s imagine that we’re now placing £50 using the Freebet on Everton to win:

An Introduction to Matched Betting - William Hill free bet

And Laying Everton to Win on Betfair for £49.66

An Introduction to Matched Betting - Lay Everton at Betfair

This time,

If Everton Win: Win £72 at William Hill, lose £24.83 at Betfair – Winnings £47.17 overall

If Draw: Lose £0 (freebet) at William Hill and win £47.17 at Betfair £49.66 – £2.49 commission) – Winning £47.17 overall

If QPR Win: Lose £0 (freebet) at William Hill and win £47.17 at Betfair £49.66 – £2.49 commission) – Winning £47.17 overall

So over the 2 sets of bets, Man UTD v Liverpool and Everton v QPR we guarantee to:

Man UTD v Liverpool – LOSE £3.01

Everton v QPR – Win £47.17

Overall GUARANTEED winnings of £44.16

Click below to sign up to Betfair and William Hill and make your first money Matched Betting


It’s important to understand the Terms and Conditions of any free bet that you use, click here to understand more about the different types of freebets.


The different types of bonuses

Generally bonus take one of three different forms, it will either be “Stake Returned’ or “Stake not returned” or “Refund on lose”.

Stake Returned

Stake returned means that when you place your freebet the returns are calculated in the same way as if you’d placed the bet with your own money. Generally when a bonus is stake returned you will also have a wagering requirement (WR) meaning that a certain amount must be bet before you can withdraw the winnings from the freebet.

The wagering requirement will typically be shown as a multiple of deposit (x D) or multiple of deposit plus bonus ( x D+B) and will have minimum odds associated with it. For example an offer might be deposit £50 get a free £50 bet but have a 4 x Deposit plus Bonus wagering requirement at odds of evens (2.0)or higher.

Normally bonuses like this are available as soon as you’ve made a deposit. In this example as soon as you’d made the £50deposit your bonus is added boosting your balance to £100. You can use the £100 balance to place bets however you wish, it can be broken down into smaller bets or the whole balance can be bet in one go. The key to understand is that until you’ve bet £400 on events that have odds over 2.0 you can’t make a withdrawal.

As long as you can find good matches at Betfair these offers can be profitable but to really make the most of them you should familiarise yourself with the concept of underlaying . It’s especially important to read the terms and conditions for SR offers both to understand the wager requirements and to understand any additional terms that may be imposed, at some bookies for instance you can withdraw winnings without sacrificing the bonus (this is unusual) where as at others you have to bet with your deposit before getting the bonus and at some the bet placed with the deposit has to settle before the receive the bonus. This sounds complicated but actually these offers are fairy simple as long as you have the bankroll, don’t assume all bets will lose and that you can move money into Betfair, long shots do come in. As a general rule of thumb you should expect to lose 5% of the bonus each time you have to bet with it, so if you have a 4 x Bonus WR you would expect to lose 20% of the bonus meeting the WR. There are exceptions to this but it’s a good general rule to work with.

Stake not returned

There are a number of key differences between Stake Returned (SR) and Stake not Returned (SNR) bonuses:

  1. They typically have no additional WR meaning that whatever you win you can withdraw immediately


  • The stake is not returned with any winnings. – This is key



When you place a normal bet your return is your stake and any winnings but with a stake not returned free bet the stake part is not returned. As an example, let’s say you place a bet of £10 at odds of 3.5 and it wins: If it’s was placed with cash you get: £10 stake and £25 winnings back, £35 in total If it was placed with a SR bet you get: £10 stake and £25 winnings back, £35 in total If it was placed with a Stake Not Returned (SNR) Bet you get: £0 stake and £25 winnings, £25 in total. Many bookies offer stake not returned bets when you sign up and these are often the easier and quicker ones to do however because the stake is not returned you want to bet at high odds, the higher the odds the smaller the proportion of the return is made up of the stake and thus lost when the stake is not returned. You can see the effect of this in the graph below. SNR Graph You can see from this that the higher the odds the better the return (assuming you can get similar odds at the exchange) however the higher the odds the more cash is required at the exchange to lay the selection, for this reason most people aim for a 75-80% return using odds of 7+, this is of course flexible depending on your personal preference but any return much less than 70% should definitely be taken with caution. High odds can sometimes be hard to find, if you’re struggling check out the Correct score and HT-FT Markets as these generally have high odds available.

Calculating Lay stake

The main principle of Matched Betting is to cover all the outcomes so that whatever the result you get the same amount back. This is straight forward to do when using examples but can be slightly more complicated when trying to factor in commission and odds that run to 2 (or even 3) decimal places. To help combat this we’ve created a calculator that calculates the required lay stake based on the amount you’re betting at the Bookie, the odds at both the Bookie and the Exchange as well as any freebets that you might be using. Try inputting the examples we’ve already talked about to see it

in action   [CP_CALCULATED_FIELDS id=”6″]

What Next?

You can either read our walkthrough of your first Matched Bet which details exactly how to make your first Matched Betting Profit   If you feel confident with Matched Betting you can click the links below, sign up to William Hill and Betfair and make your first Matched Betting Profits.

For our list of over 100 sign up offers that are all profitable via Matched Betting, check this out.


15 thoughts on “An Introduction to Matched Betting

  1. Ok so I’ve read the introduction to matched betting….I understand it..Am thinking that a glossary (at the side of the page or the bottom) for some of the terms used might be useful…such as HT/FT, correct score market, and the more obvious terms such as SR, SNR, Stake, Liability etc….

    1. Good thought, i’ll pull one together, probably include it in the guides as it’s only really needed when you’re first starting out.

    1. Hi Dan,

      I do very little pure arbitrage, almost all of my bets invole the use of some form of bonus to generate a profit however for bookies I do ‘cover all outcomes’ in a similar way to arbitrage.

      I’ve done just done a quick count of my betting records and it looks like I’ve got about 8000 transactions listed. Some of these are manual adjustments for things like bingo bonuses and others are aactual bets, bets come in pairs (for the back and lay). It’s also worth noting some bonuses require multiple bets to complete.

      Sorry I can’t give a straight answer but hopefully this gives an indication at least.


  2. I hear you can make 10% a month doing arbitrage.I don’t remember if that guy used free bets.

    You should do both if you could make 10% without free bets than doing the free bets only helps.

    I live in USA it is harder for us.

    1. 10% a month doing Arbitrage would be hard work. Any ‘arb’ that’s biggerr than 1-2% runs the risk of being a palpable error so I’d personally stay clear of them.

      In the future I may add an arbitrage section to and include some of the more complex combinations of Arb that can be extremely profitable if you can find them.

      I’m hoping to be posting a guide to US bbookies relatively soon so focusing on dutching NHL, NBA and MLB, there are huge profits to be made in the US facing bookies but you need larger stakes and the wagering requirements can be huge.


    This guy has a website about arbitrage.I think he retired or died or it is fake since it is never updated.

    He would use around 3% arbs.I think he said over 5% was risky.

    It does say he gets bonuses which could be free bets or money back.

    He has a free online book

    Alan Seymour’s
    Sports Arbitrage Guide

    I am tired of “normal” betting and want to use both the arb and free bets/bonus to make money.

    1. Well you’ve certainly come to the right place then. I’d personally start with the freebets they’re more profitable when you’ve got a smaller bankroll. Once eyou’ve boosted your bankroll you can look into arbitrage if it suits you. – 3% profit on $100 bet is only $3 but on a $10,000 bet it’s $300.

      I’d broadly agree with that although even at 3% you’re likely to gget limited / accounts closed fairly quickly unless you’re betting on large events.

      Have you tried out any of the bonuses I recommmend? If so how have you found them? – not a problem if not, just keen to get some feedback on my instructions.

  4. I live in USA so many gambling online sites wont accept us for real money.

    I just wanted to know if the numbers Alan Seymour is saying sounds realistic.

    Making 10% a month?

    If it was I would find a way to invest in the UK or Canada or where USA laws wont stop me.

    1. 10% a month certainly sounds realistic if you’re using bonuses AND arbitrage. Straight Arbitrage on it’s own I can’t say unfortunately as I don’t have enough experience with it.

      This is all based on having a float somewhere between £100 – £20,000 I think if you’re much above 20k you’ll struggle to make 10% per month. – Otherss may prove me wrong though!

    1. Unfortunately as I’m from the UK I’m not sure what sites allow US members, all I can suggest is following the recommmendations on this site and checking which sites will allow you to register.

      I have a “guide to US facing bookies” on my to do list and hopefully it will be published relatively and focus on MLB, NHL & NBA, you can subscribe to the mailing list to be notified when it’s published:

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