Mаtched bеtting (also known as back bet matching, lay bet matching or double bеtting) is a bеtting technique used by individuals to profit from the free bets and incentives offered by bookmakers. It is generally considered risk-free as it is based on the application of a mathematical equation rather than chance. Moreover, matched betting is considered risk-free as it negates the liability of the bet by laying the same outcome. A typical return for a matched bet where the stake is returned is 85%+ of the free bet offer amount, and 70%+ where the stake is not returned. Most free bets are stake not returned.
The concept of matched betting requires an account with two or more bookmakers or betting exchanges where at least one offers the user a free bet. When the free bet is placed the other bookmakers or betting exchanges are used to hedge all the possible outcomes so that no matter what happens the value of the free bet is retained. At its simplest, a matched bet involves placing a back bet using the free bet at a bookmaker while placing the opposing lay bet at a betting exchange. More advanced versions involve placing the bets on multiple bookmakers (dutching) to avoid the commission charged for using an exchange. Generally, bookmakers incorporate terms by which bettors must first place a bet using their own money in order to qualify for the free bet. For this, a bet is placed on particular results occurring with the bookmaker and a second bet placed on the same result not occurring at the betting exchange. The latter is required to offset any loss in the event that the result does not occur; for instance, if a team loses. Once the free bet has been qualified, the same process is followed with the exception that a free bet is being used. No matter which result occurs, there will always be a guaranteed profit because the bet was made free of charge. Online betting outlets, betting exchanges, have become popular in recent years for they allow betters to bet without official odds-makers. In essence, the person placing the lay bet acts as a bookmaker.
Continued matched betting taking advantage of existing customer reload offers doesn't work quite the same way. Rather than backing and laying on the exchange to guarantee a free bet no matter what the outcome the person will back on the bookmaker, lay on the exchange and hope for the desired outcome to occur and reward a free bet. Calculators can help work out if the qualifying cost and potential reward from the free bet is enough to justify the potential risk of not getting a free bet. Similar to playing poker it's considered profitable in the long term to continue making these low risk wagers where the qualifier might be pennies compared to the potentially hundreds made if the refund event occurs for a free bet.
There are several common strategies for matched betting including assisted and manual betting:
Assisted matched betting refers to websites or software packages which provide comparison tables of markets for individuals to bet on. These are commonly known as 'auto-matchers'. Auto-matchers are usually used by individuals who have an understanding of matched betting. Auto-matchers will usually provide the individual with a matched betting calculator to be used in conjunction with the comparison table, in which the user can select the type of bet, stake, bonus and time-frame.
Matched betting manually is where the individual finds the offers, markets and odds themselves and also makes the relevant calculations. Matching the right odds can be time consuming and may require a high level of numeracy and betting knowledge. Where there is a potential for loss this is more akin to advantage play gambling.
Most bookmakers have people on their staff looking for bettors 'taking too much value', something which tends to happen with matched betting. They will place restrictions on the accounts of bettors who may be taking advantage of promotions too often, such as preventing them from placing very large bets. Bettors whose betting behavior is unacceptable to a given bookmaker risk being banned from that bookmaker's site, this can also be referred to as 'getting gubbed' within the industry.
Matched betting services
The growth of matched betting has led to the formation of matched betting services - usually subscription-based businesses established to make the process easier with step-by-step instructions and bespoke software, such as oddsmatching.
Matched betting, along with all other betting, is tax-free in the UK.
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