Matched Betting Guide, Tips & Examples

A guide to matched betting. How to complete matched bets and earn free profits from online bookmakers.


This is it. Your comprehensive guide to matched betting. Here we go through the ins and outs; the theory and the practice; the processes and how to extract profits. It’s well worthy of the capitals. And it’s going to be emotional.

But before we start, let’s begin by asking a simple question: have you ever made a bet?

The Guardian Matched Betting Article

Now, this doesn’t have to be a bet on a sporting or cultural event with a bookmaker. This could be a bet with a friend, family member or colleague. Your best friend might have bet you that you couldn’t climb the big scary tree in the bottom of the back field. You might have bet your boyfriend that he can’t eat a whole packet of habanero chillies without experiencing serious digestive issues.

Bets are basically challenges. Challenges that we choose to accept or not. And, whether or not you agree with placing bets on sporting outcomes (which is essentially gambling), these bets are basically challenges thrown down by bookmakers to punters.

And if you’re not a gambler, matched betting is for you. Because guess what? Matched betting isn’t gambling. It’s placing bets on both outcomes to make sure we make profits.

You might say, “No thanks. I don’t want to climb that big scary tree.”

Risk Free Profit Every Time

So your best friend ups the ante. She offers you a ride on her brand new scooter. The one she got for her birthday and hasn’t let anybody ride yet. If you can climb the tree. The one that is supposedly haunted by a three-headed ogre.

It’s still a challenge. But there is also an incentive. You really want a ride on that scooter.

Now what if someone offered you the opportunity to get your go of the scooter whether you managed to climb the tree or not. This somebody guarantees you the profit - the ride on the scooter - whether you do or don’t make it up the tree.

It doesn’t matter if you agree with the principle of the challenge. The risk has been taken away. 

Yesbets is that somebody offering that guarantee. With its matched betting software Yesbets offers you a selection of matched bets. You choose the bet you fancy and follow the step-by-step process and, in a few simple clicks, you have made your matched bet and locked in free profit.

The Matched Betting Process

The Guardian Matched Betting Article

Let’s rewind a second. We’ve said that Yesbets is taking the risk away from making bets. How does it do this?

The risk at bookmakers comes from losing the stake we bet on any event. For example, you’re pretty convinced that Liverpool are going to beat Crystal Palace at home. They have the stronger team and the bookies have them as favourites. But Reds fans will be able to cite numerous examples of how the Eagles have got the better of them, even on their own turf.

If we were to place a £10 bet on Liverpool to win at an online bookmaker - a back bet - and Palace actually come away with the three points we have risked £10 and lost it.

But if we have also placed a bet on Liverpool not to win at a betting exchange - a lay bet - we have matched the bet and guaranteed ourselves against the risk.

Now, an important distinction needs to be made here. The lay bet is not backing Palace to win. It is a bet that Liverpool won’t win. We are betting against an outcome. In this example a Palace win or a draw would mean our lay bet has won. We are guaranteeing a successful outcome from our bet, because we are matching the bets.

When we place a lay bet at a betting exchange we are effectively offering a bet to other members of the exchange. In this example, we are offering a bet that Liverpool won’t win. Someone else on the exchange is waiting for just such a bet because they are thinking, “No chance. The Reds have got this one.” The betting exchange matches the two bets up against each other to match the bets.

Liverpool Win

Liverpool Win

Back Bet Wins

Lay Bet Loses



Back Bet Loses

Lay Bet Wins

Crystal Palace Win

Crystal Palace Win

Back Bet Loses 

Lay Bet Wins

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Making a Matched Bet

Yesbets Dashboard

So you like the sound of matched betting and making risk free profits. You have taken the first step of setting up a free Yesbets account. Now what?

Well, for someone completely new to matched betting the first step is to take advantage of sign-up offers. These are bonuses offered by online bookies to new players. They usually take the form of free bet offers, e.g. place a bet on a certain outcome and receive a bet on any market for free. They are the equivalent of walking along a street populated by bars and restaurants and being enticed by promotional people outside to haul our hunger or thirst into that eatery or drinking establishment.

As soon as we log into our accounts we can see the Sign-Up Bonuses tab at the top of our screens. Clicking it will reveal all of the sign-up offers available to us. Once we complete the sign-up offers, they disappear from our screens to reveal further offers.

Once we have completed all of the sign-up offers - and remember, there are hundreds of bookmakers - we can move on to the reload bonuses. These are promotions that bookies offer us to keep us betting at their site.

But back to the sign-ups.

Coral currently offers new customers a £20 Free Bet sign-up deal. Selecting this deal in our Yesbets dashboard brings up the Coral offer. On the left we see we need an exchange account - Betfair, Smarkets, etc. - and on the right we see we need a Coral account.

Now, as this is our first attempt at matched betting we will need to click the orange links to Open Accounts for both the bookie and the betting exchange. But while we will have to open an account for each bookie, we can use the same betting exchange and will only need to open this account once. And once we have opened our bookie accounts we will be good to go for the subsequent reload bonuses.

Coral Sign Up Offer

Does this seem laborious? In fact, this takes seconds to do. Remember, the bookies want to get us betting as soon as possible so keep the registration process as streamlined as they can.

Once we have opened an account and deposited we will need to select the Add Balance button for the bookie and the exchange to let Yesbets know that we have the required funds in the accounts. We can now see that the blue coloured Bookie Account and Exchange Accounts have turned green.

Yesbets uses this green colour coding throughout its site to help us keep track of our progress for each offer.

Adding Coral Balance 

We now move to the next step: the qualifying bet.

Qualifying Bets

We need to make qualifying bets in order to receive the free bet from, in this case, Coral. The Yesbets OddsMatcher - automatically brought up when we have activated any of the sign-up offers or reloads - trawls through the millions of potential matches and delivers a list of sporting outcomes that qualify for the relevant bet.

Promotional offers from bookies will often require us to place bets at odds of 2.0 or greater in order to qualify for the free bets. Yesbets reminds us of this when we activate the sign-up offer and the OddsMatcher automatically brings up markets that meet these requirements to ensure we don’t miss out on free bet profits.

Qualifying Bet Loss

The OddsMatcher lists all of the outcomes in order of profit. Don’t be alarmed if we see negative profit from this first qualifying bet. In order to see an instant profit from this first qualifying bet the odds at the bookie will need to be higher than the odds at the exchange. This doesn’t happen often.

Remember: we are looking to make our real profits from the free bets, not the qualifying bets.

So if we had signed up and activated this Coral offer on the day of the Manchester derby we would have seen the OddsMatcher bring up the market of Manchester City v Manchester United. The OddsMatcher has scanned through all of the odds for this match like Johnny 5 reading an encyclopedia and found that the outcome that offers the best profit for this match is the Draw.

Before we head gung-ho for this market, we must change our odds format in our Coral account from fractions to decimals. Decimals are much easier to understand and easier to match. Hence why bookmakers use fractions as their default odds format. They wouldn’t want us understanding things easily, now would they?

Yesbets includes a tutorial on how to change from fractions to decimals for almost every sign up offer. Simply click on the orange link in the Qualifying Bet section to watch each tutorial.

Change Odds to Decimal on Coral

Clicking on the blue plus symbol to the right of our Manchester City v Manchester United market brings up the Betting Calculator window. We can see the market, the date and time of the event and the back and lay bets we will need to place in order to make this bet.

Now we hit the GO TO CORAL link which takes us to our Coral account and helpfully adds our selection to a betslip. We input our qualifying stake - £10 - and can see that at odds of 3.6 our potential returns for this bet will be £36.

At this point you will be eager to hit “Confirm” to place this bet. But don’t! Hold your horses, Leslie.

Before we confirm it at Coral let’s go back to our Betting Calculator and click the GO TO SMARKETS link.

(It might be worth saying that to begin with it’s probably worth sticking to Betfair, but the principle is the same only slightly different colouring and style. For now just take it as a “do as we say not as we do” and prepare yourself to receive a winking emoji with its tongue out.)

Coral Matched Bet Example

Now, remember our back and lay bets? In a betting exchange the back and lay bets are placed next to each other, with the back bet sitting on the left and the lay bet snuggling next to it on the right. In Betfair back bets are blue and lay bets are pink. We click the lay bet to bring up the exchange betslip.

Hold your horses again, Leslie! You’re rearing up enough to compete in a dressage. 

Note that the lay bet will rarely be the same as the back bet. In this case, the Matched Betting Calculator is advising to input a bet of £9.65 at odds of 3.75. We update this amount in our exchange betslip and note with a curious glance that the exchange is taking more than £9.65 off us - £26.53, to be exact. This is because of our exchange liability.

Get up and running in less than 15 minutes, with profits coming soon after.

What is Liability?

Liability is the amount of money we will pay out if our back bet wins at the bookmakers and our lay bet loses at the exchange.

When we place a lay bet we are effectively offering that bet up to someone on the exchange who is waiting to back that same outcome. Beneath the back and lay bets in the betting exchange we can see figures of bets waiting to be matched - often vast sums depending on the game or race. When we place a lay bet we just want to make sure that the amount that we are laying is less than the amount underneath the lay in the exchange.

If we don’t, we could be looking at an unmatched bet. This won’t be a problem for a huge match like the Manchester derby, potentially watched by billions of masochists… I mean football fans around the world. Big games like these will have thousands of people betting on them and we should have no problem getting our bets matched.

Liability & Liquidity

But back to our example. Having entered our stakes for our back and lay bets and double checked that they match with the Betting Calculator, we can click the Place Bets buttons.

Should we do the “Whoa there Leslie!” thing again? Third time’s a charm? Okay, maybe not.

There’s a golden rule here. Always, always place your back bet and check it’s been accepted before you place your lay bet. Remember the betslip we left open and unconfirmed back over at Coral? It’s time to head back over to it, click the buttons and wait for confirmation (which is instant). Once Coral has accepted our back bet, we can switch back to the exchange again and place the lay bet.

When placing our lay bets on the betting exchange we must make sure we click Confirm after we have clicked Place Bet. If we don’t we may think we have made the bet when we haven’t, so to save ourselves any heartache this simple check works a treat, like a sundae on a summer’s day. 

All we need do now is hit Confirm & Save in the Betting Calculator window and boom! Our matched bet appears in the My Bets tab.

Free Bet Profits

Once the dust has settled on the Manchester derby we can dry our eyes (depending on who’s won and whether or not we give a monkeys) and Settle our bet in the My Bets tab in the Yesbets dashboard. If our back bet has won we will see £36.00 in our Coral account. If our lay bet has won we will see an extra £9.65 in our exchange account.

But buckle your seatbelt. Here comes the free bet fun. And this is how we we will cream sheer profit out of this escapade.

Free Bet Profits

As an incentive to join, Coral has offered us a 4x £5 free bets if we place a £5 bet at the required odds. We have done that, and whether our bet won or not Coral are going to give us this £20 free.

Can you now see how, if we follow this same matched betting process - but with free money given to us by Coral - whatever we gain from this next bet will be nothing but profit?

And there are scores of bookies falling over themselves to give us free money in the hope that we will become cash cows and bet our life savings on horse races and sports matches across the world. And all the time they will be encouraging us to gamble responsibly.

And we will. That’s exactly what we’ll do. Because we’ll be matched betting to ensure that we will never lose.

Start profiting from free bets every day.