How To Get Started With Matched Betting

Have you heard of matched betting?

It’s one of those things that sounds silly when you first hear about it, then after a few more times it sounds intriguing, then once you finally look into it you realise it should have made sense all along.

So while researching new side hustles recently, I decided to give it a try.

It didn’t even feel like work. It was like a game, and heaps of fun (if you enjoy following sports, you will love it).

I cleared $700 USD profit in my first week.

With more practise, I then cleared $2,700 in my first month.

Let me show you how it works.


What you’re thinking: There’s no such thing as a guaranteed profit in gambling!

But despite the name, this is not gambling. If you do it right, it is 100% risk free, and you will win every time.

Stay with me.

You probably know that bookmaking is super competitive. In Australia, there’s about 20 different major bookies. In the UK, there’s hundreds. Because it’s so competitive, most bookies give out promos every week.

For example, they will say, after your first bet of $100, we’ll give you a second $100 bonus bet free!

If you bet regularly, you’ve probably seen these specials often.

Why do they do this?

First, to get your business. Second, it’s low risk to them.

We know the odds are always stacked in the favour of the house. That means the house always wins, so they know there’s a good chance you’ll lose one or both of those bets anyway. And then you’ll try and win that money back, so you’ll bet even more, and lose even more. Again, the odds aren’t in your favour, so over the long run, you always lose.

This is how the TAB makes profit. It’s impossible for them to lose when you bet the regular way.

With matched betting, we can turn this equation around. With simple mathematics, we can turn the odds into our favour. Meaning over the long run, we always win.


In betting, you have two types of bets.

Let’s say New Zealand is playing Australia in rugby.

If I bet on New Zealand to win, that is known as backing New Zealand.

If I bet on New Zealand not to win, that is known as laying New Zealand.

We’re going to bet on both sides.

Let’s say we’ve gotten a free $100 bet at the TAB. We use that bet to back New Zealand.

Then we’re going to lay New Zealand on another betting site.

Now that we’ve bet on both outcomes, it doesn’t matter what happens.

Let’s say the odds for New Zealand to win are 1.5, and the odds for them not to win are 1.6.

If New Zealand wins, we’ll win $150. If New Zealand doesn’t win, we’ll win $160.

Since the back bet was free, we only had to fund the lay bet, which was $100.

Amount put up: $100
Guaranteed winnings: $150-$160
Guaranteed profit: $50-$60

What if it’s a draw, you ask? A draw is the same as New Zealand not winning, so we’ll win the lay bet.

Note: I’ve simplified those numbers a lot to make the idea easier to understand. In an actual matched bet, the numbers will look different, but the result will be the same.


Now that you know the concept, let me show you how to turn it into regular profits.

Matched betting is extremely popular, and it’s 100% legal.

There are many blogs and matched betting sites out there for us to learn from. There are people who do it as a full time job, mostly using more advanced strategies, especially around horse racing. And because betting is so popular and competitive, most bookmakers put out new bonuses every week in the form of double ups, boosts and free bets, so there’s never a shortage of promotions to leverage off.

In my first two weeks, I was using mostly 3 sites, and I had more free bets than I had time to use.

This also means there are plenty of matched betting sites that have already worked the maths out for you.

This means you don’t need to be a maths genius to make matched betting work. Pre-made matched betting calculators will tell you exactly how much to back and lay and how much profit you will get in every type of matched bet. You just need to fill in the boxes.

I’m currently using Bonusbank. Here’s an example of a full matched bet, using their calculators.

We’ll start with the standard sign up bonus at a betting site:

This is a great offer, because we don’t even need to place any bets to qualify. Some bookies will say, “Deposit and bet $100, and you get $100 free”, but in this case, we just need to make the deposit.

So, we deposit $100. As soon as we make our deposit, we’ll get given a $100 free bet. This will be pretty standard at most big bookies.

Now, let’s say we’re going to use $50 of that to bet on Liverpool vs Chelsea.

In this case, I can see the odds to back Chelsea are 3.50:

And the odds to lay Chelsea at Betfair are 3.85:

So this is easy. Just punch these figures into the calculator and it will tell us what to do:

The blue section of the calculator is telling us we need to back Chelsea for $50 at odds of 3.50, so we’ll place that bet at the bookie:

The pink section of the calculator is telling us to lay Chelsea for $32.89 at odds of 3.85, so we’ll place that bet at the betting exchange:

The calculator summary below is telling us if Chelsea wins, we make a $31.25 profit. If Chelsea doesn’t win, we still make a $31.25 profit:

Because we’ve leveraged the free bet in our favour to bet on both sides, we can’t lose.

What happens when you run out of free bets?

You will never run out of free bets. Bookies give out free bets every week. It’s how they keep you betting. I placed around 75 bets in my first week. Half of them were free bets.

Here are two really common examples:


They might say something like, bet on any NRL game this weekend, and we’ll give you a bonus bet of equal value for free!

This is perfect. We just need to place a dummy bet, again betting on both sides so we can’t lose any money. In matched betting, this is called a “qualifying bet”.

For example, at the TAB let’s back the NZ Warriors with $50. Then on the other site, we’ll lay the NZ Warriors for the same amount. The process is exactly the same as the Chelsea bet above, except in this case, we’re not using a free bet. We have to pay for both bets ourselves.

Since we’ve bet on both sides though, this bet is safe. If the Warriors win, we break even, and if the Warriors lose, we break even (in reality we will probably lose $2 or so, because the odds never line up perfectly). But now we qualify to get a $50 free bet!

Then we take that $50 bonus bet, and turn it into cash like we did in my first example. Do this a handful of times and you rack up hundreds in profits super quickly.


Another common one is on horse racing. The promotion might be, back a horse to win, and if they come 2nd or 3rd, we’ll refund your stake as a bonus bet:

Again, you can play this so you never lose, which I’ve done hundreds of times. You will need to place three separate bets. Here’s the play:

Possible outcomes:

These are the only 3 possible outcomes, and we profit on all of them.

Let me show you how.

For more complicated bets like this, you definitely need a matched betting calculator. This is the horse racing calculator from Bonusbank:

Don’t be overwhelmed by all the numbers because it’s simple once you understand it.

First, you put in the odds.

In this case, odds for our back bet are 6.0 (for the horse to win), our lay odds are 6.5 (for the horse not to win), and lay odds are 2.0 (for the horse not to place). So you can see I’ve punched all those into the calculator.

Then in the red circles, you can see it tells you exactly how much you should place for each bet. So we simply back the horse for $50, lay the win for $40.31, and lay the place for $20.51. All the maths is done for you.

Then you can see at the bottom, it tells you all the outcomes. No matter what happens, we win $7.78 (highlighted in green). It might not sound like much, but place 100 bets, and you’ve won $778 risk free.

Why does this work?

The maths works because of the possibility of winning the free bet. As I showed you above, we know we can turn free bets into a guaranteed profit at any time.

In Outcome #2 (horse doesn’t win, but places), we would normally lose all our money. But, because of the free bet bonus when our horse places, this puts us back into profit.

Still doubtful how this is possible? It took me a while to sit down and connect all the dots to why and how this can work too. In the end it comes down to two key pieces that make it possible:


You can’t do matched betting without the bonuses. The only reason you are able to bet on both sides and still make a profit is because one of the bets is free, or you are going to win a bonus bet afterwards.

If you had to fund all the bets with your own money, you would lose overall (obviously). Using a free bet cuts your risk in half, which allows you to beat the odds.


You can’t place lay bets at a bookmaker. In fact, the bookmaker is the lay bettor. Every time you back someone at the bookie, the bookie is laying them against you.

Therefore, we need to use a betting exchange to place lay bets.

A betting exchange is a site where people bet against each other, rather than against the house. The betting exchange is the middleman, and simply takes a commission on each bet.

For example, I can go on the betting exchange and say I want to back New Zealand for at odds of 2.5.

Then if you also go on the betting exchange and want to lay New Zealand at 2.5, we get matched. A bit like how the stock market works.

The betting exchange is a key piece of the puzzle, because the ability to place a lay bet is what allows you to effectively bet on both sides. If we can bet on both sides, we attain the ability to place as many bets as we want (risk free) to qualify for bonus bets.


While going through this process, what I found was there are a lot of speed bumps you run into while trying to set up a matched betting system. It’s risk free, but it does require some diligence, and some resources.

The first is capital. You actually need quite a bit of capital to get started. I would say, at least $500, but $1,000 is ideal.

For example, one of the bonuses I got was deposit $250 and get a free $250. That meant I needed to have $250 available to be tied up in a betting account.

Then to cover the subsquent lay bets at Betfair, I needed around $300 in Betfair.

Example: If you place a $50 bet at 10:1 odds, you can potentially win $500 at the bookie. However, since it’s a matched bet you’ll lose around $450 at Betfair.

Of course you are still in profit, because you won $500 on one bet and lost $450 on the other (giving you $50 profit overall). But you still need to have $450 in your Betfair account to cover the losing side.

This meant after a few days I was up around $500, but I had around $1,000 in my Betfair account, and around $200 in various bookies, which was quite a lot of cash to be tied up in betting sites. I was never at risk of losing any of it, so it was fine, but just be aware you will need some level of capital to make the system work. Matched bettors refer to this chunk of capital as their “float”.

Another thing is fine print. Lots of bookmakers have shitty fine print, for example, it might say you need to place at least 4 bets before you can withdraw any winnings. This isn’t a huge issue, you can just place 4 dummy bets and hit the quota. But it is annoying. Note: This doesn’t happen in Australia, as Australian gambling laws are quite strict on bookies.

Then you have the red tape. This is the other side of strict gambling laws. Lots of bookies are required to verify accounts with utility statements or passports before you’re allowed to withdraw any funds. Again it’s not a dealbreaker but it’s kind of annoying sending a power bill and a copy of your drivers license to every bookie you sign up for.

And finally, you need to learn how to bet! There’s actually quite a lot to learn, and if you’re not really into sports it might be hard for you to understand everything right away. On the other hand, if you love betting on sports, this will probably be the most fun (and profitable) hobby you’ve ever had. I know I got addicted super quickly!


Hopefully this has all made sense. I can vouch that it is certainly legit and I have real cash in my bank account from this. I also meticulously tracked every bet and know my exact profit.

After 1 week: $717 USD.
After 1 month: $2,797 USD.

(note: I’m quoting in USD to keep things simple; most of my bets were actually in EUR, GBP or AUD).

Here’s a step by step guide to getting started (exactly the steps I took):


The first thing you need is an account at Betfair. This is the biggest betting exchange in the world, and is the best place for you to place your lay bets.

Take note — everything runs through Betfair! You will be backing different bets with various bookies, but your lay bet will always be at Betfair.

Since it’s much more common for you to win the lay bet, most of your winnings end up in Betfair too. It’s the first thing you should have set up before getting started.

Note: When you sign up at Betfair, make sure you choose the right currency. For example if you’re in NZ, I would choose AUD over NZD. There’s only one bookie in NZ and that’s TAB, so you will probably place most bets in AUD if you sign up with Aussie bookies. Aussie bookies have way better bonuses too.

Matched betting service

The second thing you will want is a matched betting service. These are not essential but will save you a ton of time and almost certainly increase your profits.

I learned everything through a matched betting service and would highly recommend it. Both the ones I used have free accounts.

What do they do? First, they teach you how to matched bet. Matched betting is not difficult, but you do need to learn properly. The only way you can lose money on matched betting is if you do it wrong. Otherwise, it’s 100% risk free and guaranteed profit. A matched betting service holds your hand through the first few bets with active tutorials, so you know you’re doing it right.

Then what they do is collect all the odds from different bookies, and find profitable bets for you to make on your own. For a matched bet to be as profitable as possible, the back bets and lay bets odds need to be reasonably close together. You could probably find these bets on your own, but it would take you a really long time. For example, finding a high profit matched bet with the right odds and calculating your stake might take you up to an hour or more on your own, but with a matched betting service it will take you less than 10 seconds.

You can simply pull up the odds table, and find the most profitable bets instantly.

Here’s what the standard odds table at Bonusbank looks like:

These places are also really good for asking questions — people have been doing this for decades and if you’re not sure of a bet, just ask and the community will help you.

The two best places for matched betting are UK/Ireland/EU and Australia/New Zealand. It’s harder in America and Canada, as gambling is still illegal in a lot of states, and Asia too.

If you’re based in Australia/New Zealand, I would use BonusBank. This is the service I’m currently using. The free account is more than enough to get you started. The beginner tutorials are excellent and will give you video walkthroughs of everything. If you want to start matched betting with multis and horses, you will probably need a premium account, but you can still make massive profits with just the free account.

You can sign up for a free Bonusbank account here.

Update: Nico from Bonusbank has kindly offered all readers of this guide a discount if you later decide to go premium. Use the code BL123 and get 25% off your first month! Premium gives you full access to all odds calculators and saves you so much time. It probably tripled my profits in the first month.

If you’re based in UK, I would use Profit Accumulator. I actually signed up for their free trial first, not realising the bookies they recommend were only for UK/Ireland. But I went through their tutorials anyway, and they were superb. They also walk you through your first 2 matched bets, which are guaranteed to earn you around £50. Literally, you’ll have made £50 within an hour of signing up. A lot of their content will be suitable for EU residents too.

You can sign up for a free Profit Accumulator account here.

If you’re based outside these countries, these sites will only be partially useful. But the tutorials in the free accounts will still be good for you to learn how everything works.

Which bookie accounts?

This will vary country to country. I can’t write a list of 500 bookie accounts here. The best resource will be the matched betting services I mentioned above — they will recommend the best bookies for you, and their available bonuses.

For example, I just signed up for every site recommended by Bonusbank, and followed their instructions for getting the maximum bonuses.

Another good tip is to not sign up for bookies straight away, simply visit their sites and click around a little. That will get their cookies in your browser, and when you go on Facebook, they’ll start showing you ads with big bonus offers.

Good luck!

Enjoyed this? My course Simple Bets contains 39 in-depth lessons on matched betting strategies, including a step-by-step walkthrough of how I made my first $10k. Learn more here.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.