The Simple (But Definitive) Guide To Match Betting Systems, Strategies & Why We Don’t Recommend It.

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For those of you that aren’t familiar with matched betting, it’s a technique that people use as a way to make, so-called ‘free’ money from sports betting.

Many people and companies claim that matched betting is risk-free which, at first glance, is very appealing.

After all, who wouldn’t want free money, right?

But, like all things that sound too good to be true, don’t jump the gun and go all-in on matched betting just yet.

This article will discuss the ins and outs and whether it really is a risk-free sports betting strategy.

Before going any further, let’s first talk about what matched betting is.

What Is Matched Betting?

Matched betting is a term that describes signing up to different bookmakers and using free bets, promotions and other incentives in order to unlock more free bets.

The idea behind it is that you back and lay the same bet; you back with a bookmaker and you lay with a betting exchange.

After the event has finished, you should have further free bets to use and also make a profit from your bets.

Here’s how it works.

First of all, you must sign up to a new bookmaker and create an account. Here’s an example from Bet365:

Example of signing up for matched betting

Now, once the account has been opened, you must follow all the terms and conditions to be eligible for the free bets.

Assuming you are eligible for the signup bonus, you’ll receive your free bet.

Pay attention to the terms and conditions though.

To use the free bet, it’s likely you’ll have to place the bet on an event with minimum odds of around 1/2 ie -200. 

For example, you may wish to bet on the Red Wings to win on the moneyline:

Backing an event in a bookmaker

You would then use the free bet as the stake.

Pretty standard so far.

This is where the matched betting system comes in.

You then head over to a betting exchange website, create a new account, deposit funds and lay the event you backed with the bookmaker.

For example, if you bet on the Red Wings to win on the moneyline, you would bet against them winning:

Laying a bet in a betting exchange

This means that you have covered both sides of the betting line.

This is also known as arbitrage betting.


It’s important to remember the aim of matched betting: unlocking more free bets.

With this in mind, after the match has concluded, no matter the result and assuming you were eligible, you unlock further free bets to wager with the original bookmaker.

You would then repeat this process using the extra free bets in an attempt to make some money.

That’s how matched betting works.

Let’s now look into some FAQs:

Yes, matched betting is completely legal. You are utilizing free bets and signup offers to unlock more.

It doesn’t matter. The purpose of matched betting is to unlock extra free bets.

Matched betting leans towards people that like to enjoy casual gambling on the side of their regular income. Placing a free bet here and there adds that extra bit of excitement to a Saturday and Sunday afternoon, especially for those new to sports betting!

It always helps to know what you’re betting on but most matched betting sites simply tell you what to bet on. Of course, this then requires on you following their instructions to the letter.

Most importantly:

Is Matched Betting Risk-Free?

Contrary to what many people claim, matched betting is not risk-free.

Let us explain why.

Matched Betting Is Not Risk-Free

Think about it like this.

In order to lay on the betting exchange, you must have had to deposit money into your account and wager it.

On a betting exchange, you act as the bookmaker. You give another bettor odds to bet against you at a certain price.

Using the previous example, you can see that someone laid Detroit for £20 at odds of 2.46.

Imagine we then had a £20 free bet and placed it on the Detroit with the same odds.

Let’s go through each winning scenario:

Bookmaker Loss, Betting Exchange Win

For this scenario, your free bet in the bookmaker loses but your bet on the betting exchange wins.

In the bookmaker, the free bet loses, but you haven’t lost real money; just the free bet – and you’ve unlocked further free bets to use going forward.

In the betting exchange, you win the £20 in withdrawable cash.

Bookmaker Win, Betting Exchange Loss

For this scenario, your free bet wins in the bookmaker but your bet on the betting exchange loses.

In the bookmaker, the free bet wins £20 at +125, so £45.

However, free bets only give you the profit back, so in this example, it would be £25.

In the betting exchange, the bet loses so you have to pay out £20 at 2.46 ie +146 so the payout is £49.20.

So, in actual fact, you’d be £24.20 worse off.

Verdict? There certainly are risks when it comes to matched betting.

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Show your friends why matched betting is not all that it's made out to be

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Show your friends why matched betting is not all that it's made out to be

Why We Don’t Use Matched Betting

Further to not being free of risk, there are certainly other disadvantages to matched betting that prevent us from using it as part of our sports betting strategies.

Firstly, bookmakers becoming increasingly more aware of matched betting techniques and are starting to pay a lot more attention to how they distribute free bets.

If they see that you’re only making use of their special offers, they will limit your accounts and potentially prevent you from making further bets altogether.

There are also only a limited number of bookmakers and free bets to take advantage of.

While great for the short term, once the free bets have been used, that’s it; you can’t use that bookmaker again and will have search for other promotions.

In essence, if you were to use matched betting, it’s only viable for making short-term gains.

Finally, matched betting limits the amount you can win to the value of the free bets.

The winnings are small and compared to the time it takes to set all it all up, it’s a lot of effort.


From experience, most people get into sports betting because they want to look for an easy way to make money for as little effort as possible.

But, just like every other method of making money, there is no such thing as the ‘easy way’.

With this in mind, the only proven way to make money from sports betting is with data-driven strategies.

Back-tested and proven theories across provide an efficient, long-term solution to sports investing that will grow your bankroll, rather than just focusing on a very short term, low earning solution.

Here’s how you can do it:

How To Create Data-Driven Sports Betting Strategies

How to design data-driven sports betting strategies

Step 1 – Create A Theory

This can be anything, such as simply backing a team away from home.

You just need to base it around a tracked stat that can be traced back a few seasons.

Step 2 – Evolve The Theory

This is where you start adding variations to your initial theory.

So, if your initial theory was based around backing a team away from home, your variation could be something like backing that team away from home after they’ve just played at home.

Alternately, you could change it to backing them to win away from home after also playing the previous match away from home.

It doesn’t matter if these theories are profitable at this stage.

Step 3 – Back-Test The Theory

Back-testing is the single most important element to creating any theory in the previous steps.

You need to gather as much data as you can from the past few seasons and test it as if you would have bet it over the course of one season.

It’s the most time-consuming part of the process but it tells you if your theory would have been profitable.

This information is very valuable and gives you the confidence to bet it for the current/upcoming season.

Step 4 – Bet The Strategy

This is where you bet your strategy and track the results.

At the end of the season, look at the results and decide if you can use it again or if it needs reworking.

Step 5 – Scale Up

Once you have found a profitable strategy, the work doesn’t stop here.

You need to create another 4 or 5 to avoid making a loss in case your original theory goes through a brief losing streak.

Read More About Creating Data-Driven Sports Betting Strategies

We have covered these five steps in much greater detail in a separate article.

Read More About Creating Data-Driven Sports Betting Strategies

We have covered these five steps in much greater detail in a separate article.


While matched betting sounds like the perfect method to win from sports betting,  it’s just a limited, finite solution, and hence not scalable for long term profit (or any real money to be made).

Stick to creating data-driven strategies and you’ll make more money over a longer period of time.

If you have any questions about this article, be sure to contact us on Twitter.

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