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What is in-play matched betting?

In-play matched betting refers to betting when an event has started. Live betting is popular at bookmakers and exchanges alike.

in-play football

Bookmakers offer in-play odds on all major sports. Betting exchanges also offer live markets with the option to lay in-play bets.

In-play matched betting offers involve placing an in-play bet at a bookmaker, then laying the same selection at the exchange to qualify for a free bet.

In-play matched betting is different from placing bets before an event starts. You need to consider several factors.

Placing in-play bets

In-play betting differs from pre-match betting because in-play bets are not immediately placed. There is a five to ten second period before a bet is confirmed, as the odds are constantly changing.

If the odds change while you’re trying to place an in-play bet, you can accept the changing odds or reject and wait for a better odds match.

In-play odds

The majority of in-play markets offer poorer odds compared to pre-match odds. It is still possible to find a close odds match, especially on football match odds.

The odds of live sports betting markets can move very quickly. The action is unpredictable and a goal scored in football would make matched betting very difficult. Therefore, in-play matched bet at half-time. For example, wait until half-time to place your football matched bets, as the odds will be more stable.


In-play betting is less predictable than pre-match betting, so prepare to react to changing odds.

Expect to re-calculate your lay stakes to reflect the moving odds, but ideally lay at the exchange immediately after your bookie back bet is confirmed.

Never lay first. Always wait for your back bet confirmation at the bookie.

If lay odds change

You may be in a position where your back bet is placed, you’re about to confirm the lay – then the odds move. Well, don’t panic.

If the lay odds decrease, then the exchange automatically adjusts your lay at the lower odds and your liability is reduced.

If the lay odds increase and your intended lay is unmatched, then cancel the old lay bet, go to the Trickybet calculator and recalculate the lay stake that will now be slightly lower.

In-play matched betting offers

Bookies like to run in-play offers as live betting is a fast-growing market.

Bet365 and Unibet are two in-play markets leaders.

Bet365 in-play offer

Bet365’s regular reload offer is the football in-play promotion. Place a pre-match bet, you’ll then receive an in-play free bet.

The value of the free bet depends on your customer profile. I usually receive up to £25.

Bet365 free in-play bet offer

Bet365 in-play qualifying bet

Place a pre-match back bet (up to £25) at Bet365. The qualifying bet has no minimum odds requirement, but I usually bet at odds of Evens or above (2.00+).

Then simply lay at the exchange for minimal qualifying loss.

Bet365 in-play free bet

You have now qualified for a £25 in-play Stake Not Returned free bet.

Wait until half-time, then use match odds, correct score, or over/under goals markets. Select the free bet in the betting slip and click “Place Bet”. As with all live betting, there’s a short wait for bet confirmation.

Then, lay off the free bet at the exchange. As a rule of thumb – lay 60-70% of your back stake.

Unibet in-play free bet club

(This is a historical promotion, information for reference only)

Unibet previously ran a weekly free bet club for in-play bets. Here is a good strategy for this offer:

  • a). Firstly, opt-in to this promotion on the “Special Offers page.
  • b). From Monday to Sunday each week, place five £10 in-play bets at odds of Evens (2.00) or higher on football, cricket or tennis.
  • c). You will then receive a £10 in-play free bet the following Monday.

Hints: Use Saturday Premier League football for qualifying bets. Wait until half-time on a Saturday at 1545-1600hrs to find 5 close odds matches.

Look for a back and lay odds match of 0.1 to 0.15 margin, i.e. 2.0/2.1, 3.0/3.15.

Simply back £10 at Unibet and lay around £9.50 for each selection. This will result in £2.50-£3.00 of qualifying losses to gain your £10 free in-play bet, which makes this offer worth £5+ each week.

Other in-play offers

Other bookies like Betfred and Coral often run offers on live betting events. Keep an eye on the respective promotions pages.

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