Matched betting is simple. Place 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.

Step 1 (qualifying bet)

A): Place a back bet (backing) at a bookmaker. Say, Man Utd to win

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

What is Matched Betting? 1

B): 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.

What is Matched Betting? 2

Backing and laying unlocks free bets and bonuses. Use this technique again with the free bet. You can make cash profit whatever outcome happens.

You’ve covered all outcomes with your first back and lay bets. This qualifies you for a free bet.

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. This will guarantee profit from your free bet.

The free bet gets turned into cash by covering both sides of an event:

  • For (placing a back bet with your free bet), and
  • Against (the 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 in fractional or decimal format. Fractional odds are like “two to one” (2/1) and decimal odds such as 2.0 and 3.0.

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 = 3.0 decimal odds

Lower odds means an outcome is more likely to happen. Higher odds suggest 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 5.0 = £5.

Betting Exchanges

A betting exchange is an online platform. Customers 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, 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 matches your winning bookmaker bet.

Is it too good to be true?

Matched betting is a great strategy to earn tax-free profits. Check out mainstream media articles:

The Guardian newspaper

The Telegraph newspaper


How much can I make from matched betting?

Your earnings from matched betting will depend on how much time you have available. Earnings can vary from month to month.

It’s possible to make a few hundred pounds per month* with many 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 £50 to £100 bankroll for basic free bet offers.

Then, build your bankroll for more advanced offers.

Where next?

Look through the football guides and horse racing guides for matched betting tutorials.

Our free bets page contains the best free bets and bonus offers.

Confused by matched betting jargon? See our handy matched betting glossary.

Any questions? Connect with us on Twitter or Instagram.