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What is matched betting?

Matched betting involves placing a series of bets to profit from free bets and bonuses.

Matched betting is also known as ‘no-risk betting’ or ‘arb betting’.

Backing and Laying

Matched betting is a process of making money from bookmakers offers. Matched betting is NOT gambling. You don’t need betting or sporting knowledge to begin.

Stage 1 (qualifying bet)

STEP 1: Place a back bet (backing) at a bookmaker – Man Utd to win

This is a bet for an outcome to happen with the bookmaker.

STEP 2: Place a lay bet (laying) at a betting exchange – Man Utd not to win

This is a bet against an outcome to happen with a betting exchange.

This technique is called backing and laying, which unlocks free bets and bonuses. You use this technique again with the free bet to make cash profit whatever outcome happens.

By covering all outcomes you qualify for a free bet, which is where your profit comes from.

Stage 2 (free bet)

  1. Place a back bet using your free bet at a bookmaker.
  2. Place a lay bet at a betting exchange to guarantee profit from your free bet.

The free bet is turned in to cash by covering both sides of an event: for (placing a back bet with your free bet) and against (lay bet). Expect to make around 70% of the free bet value as cash profit.

Matched betting odds

Bookmakers use figures to show the chance, or probability, of an outcome occurring. Odds are shown in fractional or decimal format. Fractional odds are like “two to one” (2/1) and decimal odds such as 2.00 and 3.00.

Matched bettors need to convert fractional odds to decimal odds. 

  • Divide the first number of the fractional odds by the second number, then add 1
  • 2/1 is 2 divided by 1 = 2, plus 1 = 3.00 decimal odds

Lower odds means an outcome is more likely to happen. Higher odds mean an outcome is less likely to occur.


The return is the amount of money a backer receives if the back bet wins, which includes the stake.

A £1 bet on fractional odds of 4/1 gives £4 return, plus £1 stake, equals a total return of £5.

With decimal odds, the total return is the stake multiplied by the decimal odds, i.e. £1 x 5.00 = £5.

Betting Exchanges

A betting exchange is an online platform for customers who take two opposing sides of a bet – backers (betting for an outcome) and layers (betting against an outcome).

If you think England won’t win the World Cup, you can lay England at the exchange.

If another customer thinks England will win the World Cup, they can accept the odds offered by the layer.

The two opposing views form a matched bet between backer and layer.


Laying a bet is betting against an outcome to cover your back bet.

The liability is the amount of money you need at the exchange to lay a bet. If your lay bet loses, your liability at the exchange is matched by your winning bookmaker bet.

Is it too good to be true?

Matched betting is a great strategy to earn regular tax-free profit, as detailed in the mainstream media.

The Guardian newspaper

The Telegraph newspaper


How much can I earn?

Earnings from matched betting will depend on how much time you can spare, and earnings can vary from month to month.

You could earn a few hundred pounds a month* with several hours of dedication, as you progress from welcome offers to regular free bets and bonuses (reload offers).

*Profit amounts are not guaranteed*

How much money do I need to start?

Start with a £50 to £100 bankroll for basic free bet offers.

Then, build your bankroll for more advanced offers.

Where next?

Have a look through the football guides and horse racing guides for various tutorials and “how to” guides.

Check out a selection of sports and casino free bets.

Matched jargon is explained in the comprehensive glossary.

You can connect with us on Twitter or Instagram, or email any questions to

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