A Comprehensive Guide to the Online Betting Strategy of Matched Betting

Heard about the popular system of matched betting on sports? We're not surprised. It's a very popular system amongst those looking to garner as much advantage as possible for their sports betting. In this betting guide, we will explain how matched betting works and how you can get started, if you decide you want to try it for yourself.

Top Offers for Match Betting can be found at these bookmakers

18+ | New customers only. Min stake €/£10 | 30 days to qualify | Payment method restrictions exist | Play Responsibly | Terms and Conditions apply. http://www.begambleaware.org

Lad​brokes Sports

18+ New UK + IRE customers. Paypal and certain deposit types and bet types excluded. Min 5 bet within 14 days of account reg at min odds 1/2 = 4 x 5 free bets. Free bets valid for 7 days on sports, stake not returned, restrictions apply. www.begambleaware.org

William Hill

18+. Play Safe. New customers using Promo code BB40 only, Min €10/£10 stake, min odds 1/2, free bets paid as 4 x €10/£10, free bets credited after settlement of first qualifying bet, free bets will expire 30 days after the qualifying bet is placed, payment method/player/country restrictions apply. See full Terms & Conditions. gamblingtherapy.org #ad

What is Matched Betting?

matched-betting-guide matched-betting-guide

You probably have a million questions about matched betting. What is it? How does it work? Is it legal? Also known as bonus hunting, matched betting is essentially a system employed by sports bettors to take advantage of a bookmaker's promotional offers - whether a welcome bonus, weekly offer, or a free bet allocated to a punter for some other reason - in order to cover all outcomes of a sporting event and come out with a positive return.

That may sound like a strange idea. Surely the best-betting sites know all about these kinds of systems? - they are on the internet, after all. It is true that they know that matched betting does happen on their sites, which is why they have specialist teams to make sure that they do not end up losing large sums to these kinds of schemes. That doesn't mean that it is impossible to gain a minor advantage, however, but it does mean knowing how it all works.

How Does It Work?

As we already mentioned above, matched betting works by betting on all the possible outcomes of a sporting event. Naturally, you cannot usually make use of matched betting using just betting sites. This is because the prices that bookies set for a particular sporting event have a betting margin or house edge that ensure that the bookmakers make a profit. This means that in order to do matched betting, you need to use a betting exchange. One of the best betting exchanges in Ireland is Ladbrokes exchange.

Before we go ahead and give you an example of matched betting to help give you a better idea as to what it is, we thought it would be a good idea to briefly explain what a betting exchange is. So, what is it exactly? Well, a betting exchange is something that allows gamblers to bet against fellow punters rather than the bookie. At a betting exchange, you request odds from, or offer odds to, fellow bettors. Traditional bookies go head-to-head with sports betting fans on markets, but a betting exchange allows bettors to place stakes against each other, with the betting exchange taking a small commission from the winner.

The major difference with a betting exchange when compared to a bookmaker is that lay betting is possible. A lay bet is when you back a selection to lose instead of to win. Every stake that is made at a betting exchange involves two different bets - someone backing a selection to win and someone else backing the exact same selection to lose. It is the ability to place a lay bet that makes a betting exchange important for matched betting.

Betting exchanges have become popular because they offer punters a much greater choice. Before betting exchanges came into being, if a bookmaker was not willing to offer the odds or markets that you sought, you just had to miss out on your bet. However, with a betting exchange, you just have to find another gambler who wants to take the risk on - or lay your bet. In other words, a betting exchange gives you the ability to find markets and odds that you want. Another reason why they have become so popular is that there is often greater value on offer. Bookies, to make a profit, do not provide their players with true odds - they take a small fraction away from the odds to ensure they always make money. With a betting exchange, the market is not priced by just one person, but by thousands of bets, meaning there is a lot more pressure for layers to give fair prices so that their bets are matched.

Betting Exchange Sites

There are way more traditional bookmakers out there than betting exchange sites, but there are a number of traditional bookies that also have a betting exchange option available to their players. However, just like with your regular sports betting site, not all betting exchange sites have been created equally. We spend a considerable amount of time reviewing a number of the best betting exchanges by making use of their services, and when we have done this, we will publish all that we have learned in some in-depth reviews, so be sure to check back for those.

So, now that you should have a good understanding as to what a betting exchange is, we are now going to provide you with an example of matched betting.

Matched Betting Example

We Irish football fans absolutely love the English Premier League, so we are going to use this in our example. Let us pretend that Liverpool is playing Manchester United. If you were to bet on Liverpool to win the match, you would be backing them. However, if you felt that Liverpool would not win, you could lay a Liverpool win. If Manchester United went on to win or draw the match, laying Liverpool would be a successful bet.

With matched betting, you would go to the betting site that you have an account with and back Liverpool to win. To cover the other possible outcomes, you would go on a betting exchange and lay Liverpool. If Liverpool does go on to win, you will win your back bet. If the game is a draw or a Manchester United win, your lay bet will win. Either way, one of your bets will be a winner.

It is important to note that matched betting only works when you are using free bets and other promotions offered to you by the sportsbook you have an account with. Thankfully, lots of top bookmakers offer free bets and promos in order to entice people to open an account with them. There is so much competition in the sportsbook industry nowadays that betting sites that do not offer regular freebies don't tend to be around for very long. Remember to check the terms and conditions of a free bet or promotion before you start making use of it.

Is Matched Betting Legal in Ireland?

Some sports betting fans are unwilling to try matched betting because they think it is shady, but you do not have to worry. It is completely legal. Betting sites are obviously aware of the fact that matched betting happens, but they do have specialised teams in place to make sure that they do not lose too much money from the bonuses which they offer their players.

Does Matched Betting Work for Irish Punters?

This is a question that many Irish sports fans like to ask. The answer is the same for Irish players using a promotional offer in the more traditional sense: if you are a resident in Ireland, you use a site that accepts Irish players, and you use offers for which you are eligible, then yes.

Matched Betting Free Bets

You can do match betting at any bookmaker, but you obviously want to deposit your hard-earned money at one of the best ones that offer regular free bets. Whenever you are matched betting, you need to keep in mind that it is only works if you are using free bets and promotions, so it is best for you if you register with a bookmaker that offers regular bonuses.

Therefore, in the table below, we have provided you with some of the best bookmakers for sports bettors in Ireland that are currently offering some great bonuses that you can make use of to do some matched betting.

Bet365€30 free bet offerVisit Betfred
William HillPut down a €10 bet and receive free bets worth €30Visit William Hill
888sportMake a €10 bet and receive free bets worth €30 and a €10 casino bonusVisit 888sport
BetVictorMake a €5 bet and get free bet bonuses that are worth €30Visit BetVictor
UnibetGet up to €40 back if you lose your first bet and a €10 casino bonusVisit Unibet

How to Open a Betting Account?

Obviously, in order to do a spot of matched betting, you need to have an account with a bookmaker. Now, nobody wants to waste precious betting time trying to work out how to register with a bookie, which is why you will be glad to hear that signing up with a sportsbook is very simple.

To prove just how easy it is, we are going to give you a step-by-step guide below, and we are going to use Ladbrokes as our example since they are one of the best sports betting sites around. They first came into being back in 1902, so the fact that they are still as popular as ever is a testament to just how good they are. So, without further ado, let us crack on with the registration guide.

  1. Head over to the Ladbrokes website and click the "Join" button
  2. Complete all of the necessary fields in the form that pops up, making sure that you enter all personal details correctly
  3. If you want, you can set yourself a deposit limit by entering the limit amount and the time frame. If you do not want to set up a deposit limit, then simply tick the box that confirms that
  4. Take the time to read the T&Cs, and when you have done that click on the "Create Account" button

N.B. Now, obviously, you might not want to open an account with Labrokes. Maybe you would prefer to register with another top bookmaker like Betway. If this is the case, we just wanted to point out the registration process is pretty much the same, regardless of who you decide to sign up with.

Now that you have a new sportsbook account, then next thing that you will need to do is claim the Welcome Bonus as this is vital when it comes matched betting. Remember that if you do matched betting without using free bets and promos, you are going to lose money. Below we have given a step-by-step guide as to how you can claim the Ladbrokes Welcome Bonus.

  1. Sign into your new Ladbrokes account and head over to the payments option page
  2. Scroll through the different payment options and select the one that suits you the best
  3. Click on it and follow the simple instructions to deposit at least €5 into your new account
  4. Place a €5 bet with minimum odds of at least 1/2, and you will then receive your four free bets worth €5 each
  5. You can then make use of these free bets to do a spot of matched betting

N.B. We should stress here that sports betting sites are changing their bonuses all of the time because they have to keep things nice and fresh and are always trying to stay that one step ahead of their main rivals. Thus, there is a chance that the bonus at Ladbrokes when you go to sign up is not the same as the one that we have spoken about above. Even if this is the case, the process will be pretty much the same.

Best Matched Betting Offers

You can do match betting at any bookmaker, but you obviously want to deposit your hard-earned money at one of the best ones. Below you can find some of the best bookies for sports betting fans in Ireland.


18+ | New customers only. Min stake €/£10 | 30 days to qualify | Payment method restrictions exist | Play Responsibly | Terms and Conditions apply. http://www.begambleaware.org

Lad​brokes Sports

18+ New UK + IRE customers. Paypal and certain deposit types and bet types excluded. Min 5 bet within 14 days of account reg at min odds 1/2 = 4 x 5 free bets. Free bets valid for 7 days on sports, stake not returned, restrictions apply. www.begambleaware.org

William Hill

18+. Play Safe. New customers using Promo code BB40 only, Min €10/£10 stake, min odds 1/2, free bets paid as 4 x €10/£10, free bets credited after settlement of first qualifying bet, free bets will expire 30 days after the qualifying bet is placed, payment method/player/country restrictions apply. See full Terms & Conditions. gamblingtherapy.org #ad

Is Matched Betting No Risk?

A simple question with a simple answer: no. Nothing in sports betting is a guarantee and there is always some risk involved. Yes, following the matched betting system can mean you end up with a winning bet, but then you may have free bet terms and conditions, like a wagering requirement, to fulfil before you can withdraw any winnings, and you could lose your credit on the next bet you place. Offers could also be withdraw as according to the terms of use of a website, which means the only bet you have remaining could lose, leaving you would be out of pocket.

These examples, and others not mentioned, may be a rarity, but they are nevertheless possible. That is why that you should only wager with money you are prepared to lose and which will not lead you to financial difficulties should your bet not come off - the same rule for any form of sports betting.

Is Matched Betting Worth It?

Matched betting can give you an advantage which leads to positive returns, but remember that, at the end of the day, it still involves gambling and there is a risk involved. We recommend setting limits on how much you are willing to try matched betting both in terms of time and money spent. A good way to keep track of this is by using a spreadsheet of your wins and losses.

Understanding Sports Betting Odds

If you happen to be new to gambling, then one of the first things that you need to do is learn how odds work. Understanding betting odds is vital, whether you are doing normal betting or matched betting, because they are what indicate the likelihood of a particular outcome happening as well as what your potential winnings could be.

Although they will look daunting to begin with, you will be able to get to grips with them in no time at all. You should always open an account with a bookmaker that is offering the best odds around as this will ensure you get the most profit whenever you make a bet that goes on to be a winner.

The odds at the majority of sports betting sites in Ireland and the rest of Europe will usually be displayed as Fractional odds or Decimal odds. We are now going to take a look at both these formats as there are some differences between them.

Some sites will display their odds as American odds, but since it is rare that you will come across them when gambling at a sportsbook in Ireland, we are not going to explain them. Besides, if you do come across American odds, which are distinguishable by the fact that they use +/- signs, you can just toggle them to either fractional or decimal odds.

Fractional Odds

These are the most common odds that you will come across in the UK and Ireland. They might look funny to begin with, but when you understand their meaning, they are very easy to calculate.

Let us say that you want to bet on the Grand National and come across odds of 5/1, but what does it mean? Well, the number that appears on the left (5) is the number of times that the bookmaker expects the related outcome to fail, while the number that appears on the right (5), indicates the number of times the outcome should happen.

Calculating your potential payout from fractional odds is pretty simple. You just have to multiply your wager by the left number and then divide by the right number. So, if you were betting €50 on a horse with odds of 5/1, your calculation would be as follows:

(50x5)/1 = €250 will be coming your way, for a profit of €200.

Decimal Odds

Out of the three formats, decimal odds are the simplest to learn and they are common with European bookies. Calculating your potential winnings when using decimal odds is very simple - all you need to do is multiply your wager by the odds that are attached to the market that you are betting on.

For example, if you are betting €10 on Liverpool to beat Manchester United at decimal odds of 2.10, your equation would simply be:

2.10 x €10 = €21.00 - meaning that you would make an €11 profit if Liverpool did go on to win.

Tips for Matched Betting

Making use of a matched betting calculator is a great idea as it makes the whole process a lot easier. This type of calculator tells you how much you can make if you go ahead and bet with a certain amount. As we mentioned earlier, matched betting is not illegal, but bookmakers have been known to shut accounts of those they believe are using this strategy. Therefore, it is best only to use matched betting sparingly.

Pros and Cons of Matched Betting

To round up this article, we are going to take a look at the pros and cons of matched betting.


One of the major pros of matched betting is that there is a lot of information out there to help you understand the mechanics of how it all works. Like with any betting, it is important to understand exactly what you are doing before giving it a try.


Matched betting often leads to having accounts with lots of betting sites, which can become confusing and overwhelming. Make sure, like with any form of betting, that you understand everything you need to know, including the money you are able to spend, the sports on which you would like to place bets, and more. Matched betting is not something that can be done on a whim, so make sure that you are clued up before attempting to use the system.


What Is a Back Bet?

This is the most traditional kind of wager that you can place. When you place such a bet, what you are basically saying is that you think your chosen selection will go on to win the sport event, whatever sporting event that may be. If your selection does go on to win, then you will win your wager and make a profit. It is called a back bet because if, for example, you choose a horse to win the Grand National, you have backed that horse to win.

What Is a Lay Bet?

This bet type has become popular due to popular betting exchanges like Betfair. This is the opposite to a back bet since with this kind of bet you are basically saying that your selection will not win the sport event in question. If your choice that you lay bet ends up not winning the event, you win your bet. If the match ends with a draw, you still win your lay bet since your selection did not win anything.

What Is Lay Commission?

When you are laying bets, you have to pay a small percentage of your profits as commission. Remember to calculate how much this will be before placing any bets or you could still end up making a loss.

What Is Liability?

This is the amount of money that you stand to "lose" from your lay bet. For instance, if you place €25 with a bookie on odds of 3.00, you will make a profit of €50 if your bet goes in. The bookie's liability in this scenario is €50. When you lay a bet, you become the bookie and the liability becomes yours.

What Is a Qualifying Loss?

When you are matched betting, you need to use free bets and other bonus money. Sometimes, in order to claim a free bet, you will need to place a first wager. So, you will back a selection with your bookmaker and lay the same selection at a betting exchange. You will always end up losing a small amount of money, and this is known as a qualifying loss.

Author: Orla Byrne,

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