What Is Matched Betting – Everything You Need To Know

Matched betting is a popular technique used by gamblers to profit from bookmakers’ free bets and betting offers. In this method, individual bettors place risk-free bets based on probability and an extensive theory.

Our betting experts at SportsTalkPhilly are on hand to explain all the pluses and minuses of matched betting. This includes extensive research into how long it takes to learn and how you can get started. Not to mention how much money you can make from matched betting and helpful tools to aid you on your ‘no-risk’ journey for turning free bets into real money.

What Is Matched Betting?

Matched betting is a term frequently used in the gambling industry. It is a fairly common method of betting, particularly among professional gamblers or more experienced bettors. If you are less knowledgeable about the term, you have come to the right place.

In short, this technique mathematically guarantees profit. How? It’s all about taking advantage of various bookmakers’ free bets and vast sportsbooks’ offers and promotions.

The concept requires multiple accounts with different sportsbooks (at least two). This way, an individual can bet on all outcomes of a certain event using the free bets and incentives offered by their chosen bookmakers.

When it comes to actually placing a matched bet, the process is fairly straightforward. When an individual places a bet using a free bet offer they have claimed from a bookmaker, the other sportsbooks/exchanges are used to hedge all possible outcomes. This means that no matter what happens, the value of the free bet is retained.

Placing a matched bet involves placing a free bet at a bookmaker, and the opposite lay bet at another sportsbook or betting exchange.

Example of Matched Betting

An example of a matched bet could be placing a bet on a boxing fight. Two fighters in the ring will result in one getting their hand raised at the end, whether that be via decision or knockout.

Anthony Joshua vs Francis Ngannou example - Matched Betting

This bet on a boxing match will involve placing a back bet using the free bet at a bookmaker on one fighter. E.g., Backing Anthony Joshua to beat Francis Ngannou on the moneyline at -400.

Consequently, an individual will place the opposite lay bet at a betting exchange or different sportsbooks. So, with the above example, this will involve backing Francis Ngannou to beat Anthony Joshua as the underdog.

Following the fight, this means that no matter what result occurs, there will be a guaranteed profit because the bet was made free of charge. So if Ngannou wins, bettors will profit on one sportsbook. If Joshua wins, the individual will win on their other chosen betting exchange.

Of course, an individual’s winnings will depend on the stake of the bet. Should the underdog win, whether that be a boxer, a soccer team, a football team, or any other sporting event, your winnings will be far bigger.

If the underdog loses and the favorite wins at a shorter price, the beauty of matched betting is that you still win. Yes, it will be less than if the underdog had won. However, you will still profit cash regardless, as both your bets were using bookmakers’ free bets.

No matter the outcome, there will always be a guaranteed profit, as all the wagers were made with free bets.

What Is No Risk Matched Betting?

No-risk matched betting is just another term for this method. Mathematically, matched betting is totally risk-free. It is a strategy that allows individuals to profit from the free bet offers at different sportsbooks.

The strategy is as close as risk-free betting comes. Of course, there is the element of human error. But if the bets are placed correctly and the strategy is followed to a tee, then no risk matched betting really is totally risk-free.

To be successful, you must shop around for the best free bet offers at various sportsbooks.

How Long Does It Take To Learn?

Well, we can guarantee you it doesn’t take long at all. In fact, you can start your matched betting journey in as little as 5-20 minutes by signing up to any US sportsbook offering free bets.

Once you have multiple accounts with various sportsbooks, whether that be just two or even 20, and have met the requirements to be awarded free bets, then you can begin.

The concept is relatively straightforward, and understanding how it all works can take less than an hour. In the long run, an hour is nothing, yet it could be incredibly beneficial and fruitful going forward.

Once you have learned everything about matched betting and fully understand its strategy and tactics, you are good to go.

Of course, depending on the individual, this could be a quick process or a relatively lengthy one. As long as you fully understand matched betting, it will be beneficial in the long run. The whole process is often seen as a marathon, not a sprint, but it can yield big returns for little or no risk.

How To Get Started

Getting started with matched betting is easy once you fully understand the tactics and logic behind it.

  • Sign up to multiple US sportsbooks (2+)
  • Deposit to earn free bets
  • Begin matched betting with your new free bets

It’s as simple as signing up with a new bookmaker who offers free bets upon deposit. It’s advised that you do this with a minimum of two sportsbooks but as many as you like in total. The more sportsbooks you’re with, the more free bets you can claim.

Once you’ve done that, deposit using real money. Don’t fear, though; this is simply to earn free bets. Once the free bets have been credited to your sportsbook account, you can withdraw the money you originally deposited, leaving yourself purely with free bets rather than your own cash.

Pick your event and use your different accounts to place free bets on the same match but on different markets.

Another Matched Betting Example

Matched Betting Example with BetOnline - UFC Holloway vs Gaethje

For example, take a UFC fight such as this. Use your different accounts, in this case, two will do, to place your matched bets on the same fight but on different markets. The first is on one fighter, and another bet on the other.

In this case, the Max Holloway vs. Justin Gaethje fight at UFC 300 sees Gaethje as the favorite. Placing a bet on him at BetOnline and another bet of the same value on Holloway at Everygame, for instance, is an example of matched betting on a UFC fight.

Once the fight is over and a winner has been determined, one of your bets will be a winner, one will be a loser.

As you have wagered using your free bets, you haven’t lost a dime but instead profited from the winning fighter. This is another example of no-risk matched betting.

How Much Money Do You Need To Start Matched Betting In USA?

In short, there is no definitive answer to this question. This method can be achieved using as little or as much money as you like or can afford.

It is worth noting that a smaller initial outlay will take longer to yield serious profits. However, the process is exactly the same whether you deposit $50 or $1,000.

The majority of matched betting experts would advise around $100 as a good starting point. But the answer to that question entirely depends on individual circumstances. There is simply no definitive answer.

What Are The Best US Sports For Matched Betting 

The joy is that it can be done on ANY sport, provided there is a definitive outcome at the end of the event.

Whether this be NFL, boxing, MLB, soccer, NHL, UFC or NBA, matched betting is achievable. The possibilities are endless with no risk matched betting. Not to mention the fact there are a whole host of sports to choose from.

NFL Matched Betting

Matched betting can be done with American football and any NFL match. Simply betting on the outcome of the match is a two-way bet in the NFL.

It is easy to place a bet with one account on Team X and then the other on Team Y on a different bookmaker. In the event of a tie, an NFL match is usually won in overtime.

This means that matched betting can be done as there will always be an end result come the conclusion of a game.

NBA Matched Betting

Just like NFL-matched betting, the same can be done in the NBA. Betting on the money line with one sportsbook on Team X and another sportsbook on Team Y is how you go about NBA matched betting.

If the game ends in a draw at full-time, it will, of course, go into overtime, and a winner will be determined. Thus, you can place risk-free matched bets on basketball.

MLB Matched Betting

As there are two outcomes in MLB matches—either Team X will win, or Team Y will win—matched betting is an option. Just like we have explained for the NBA and NFL, the same rule applies to baseball.

NHL Matched Betting

NHL is another example of a US sport that can be used for matched betting. Two teams compete in a match to see who comes out on top.

In the event of a tie at full-time, there is, of course, sudden-death overtime and a potential shootout. Thus, a winner is always determined in ice hockey which means NHL matched betting is certainly an option for bettors.

Are There Any Risks Attached To Matched Betting?

The risks with matched betting are fairly minimal – human error, reliance on free bets and offers, bans and limitations on accounts,

Like any form of gambling in general, there is, of course, some danger attached.

However, unlike standard betting and wagering, matched betting has far less risk attached to it. This is because, if done correctly, matched betting is completely risk-free – you are covering all outcomes.

Below are some of the most common risks attached to matched betting.

Human Error

The main risk associated with matched betting is human error. Although the actual mathematics and logistics of matched betting are foolproof, individual errors in placing the bets are the main risk.

Of course, you can make mistakes when placing bets. The main risk can be something as simple as selecting the wrong market, staking the wrong amount, or something else that’s very straightforward.

Reliance On Free Bets & Offers

Another risk of matched betting is reliance on free bets and consistent new offers. Although this type of risk isn’t necessarily monetary from the outset, it means you are totally reliant on each sportsbook you sign up with to provide you with a welcome bonus or sign-up offer.

Of course, there are only a certain number of sportsbooks out there, so you can only sign up for a certain number. Once you have used the free bets offered by these bookmakers, you then become reliant on reload offers or existing customer offers.

These are usually less lucrative than the initial free bet offers you claimed when signing up with your chosen bookmaker.

Bans & Limitations On Accounts

Some other risks attached to matched betting include limitations on your account or even bans.

Sportsbooks have the power to completely ban you from their site at any time and can also place some limitations or boundaries on your account.

Though matched betting isn’t illegal, bookmakers don’t like it, and it often results in account bans. Ultimately, the power is in their hands, which is one of the drawbacks.

In some other cases, bookmakers may even withhold your winnings and prevent you from withdrawing them. Although these bans and limitations are fairly rare and unlikely, they are still some of the main risks attached.

One tip is to match bet on as many different sports as possible to go undetected from the Sportsbooks. Or, you could play some of the casino games (small stakes) with your winnings. This will show the betting sites that you like to bet on anything they like.

How Much Money Can You Make?

The earning potential from matched betting varies. Again, this entirely depends on your initial outlay and how much you are willing to put down to kickstart your no-risk wagering journey.

If done correctly, matched betting can provide an individual with an additional steady flow of income. The amount of free bets a bettor has to play with from the outset will give a rough idea of how much money you can make from this way of betting

Of course, the more offers you can claim, the more money you can make through no-risk matched betting. If done right, this method can become somewhat of a ‘side hustle’ for some people, earning them a few hundred dollars extra monthly.

Again, exact figures depend on the number of offers a person has claimed, their initial deposit to receive the free bets, and how many different free bet offers they have claimed through various sportsbooks.

All of this, combined with how many matched bets a person places over a certain period of time, will depend on just how much you can make from matched betting.

The earning potential is there, but many factors can affect the amount of money made with this method.

Is Matched Betting Income Taxable?

Unfortunately, unlike in the UK or some other places around the world, matched betting is income-taxable in the USA.

Income generated from matched betting is taxable in the US as the IRS considers it a form of income through online sports betting. This means that individuals who earn money through matched betting must declare and pay taxes on it.

This is because the government classifies your winnings and profits from matched betting activities as taxable income. In their eyes, it is just the same as earning money through a job, which is, of course, taxable.

The tax rate can vary from 0-37%, roughly based on your matched betting income. This figure entirely depends on factors such as your total income, filing statutes, and other key details on your tax return. In short, the government taxes winnings at the same rate it would tax additional wages.

Tax rates can also vary depending on state and location. However, it should be known that all profits earned through matched betting must be filed like a normal tax return, no matter how large or small.

What Are The Negatives About Matched Betting?

Some of the risks of matched betting have already been explained above. Of course, some of these risks can be considered negatives, but there are some other drawbacks to matched betting, too.

Money Tied Up In Lots Of Different Sportsbooks

One potential downfall of matched betting is the fact that you have money tied up with various bookmakers. Rather than having one or two accounts, you will likely have a considerable amount of different sportsbook accounts with money in each one.

This means you have money all over the show, with little pots tied up with different sportsbooks.

This, in turn, means remembering far more log-in details than you would usually need. Not to mention, you may even forget about some accounts that may have money in them!

However, if you are organized and on top of all your accounts and have details jotted down for each one, this isn’t really a huge negative at all.

Waiting Time On Pay-Outs

Depending on the event you have placed a bet on, pay-out times can vary massively. Some payouts are instant and will be in your account seconds after the conclusion of your bet. However, this isn’t always the case.

Sometimes, waiting time on pay-outs can be long and cumbersome, particularly if the event you have matched bet on is a longer-form bet, such as the soccer World Cup or betting on the Super Bowl champions right at the beginning of the season.

These events take weeks or months in some cases, meaning you could be waiting a long time to be paid out. This form of betting is usually done on day-to-day events such as a soccer match, UFC fight, or NBA match.

Account Getting Shut Down/Banned

As previously mentioned, one of the main risks of matched betting is the potential that your account could get banned or shut down entirely.

This is because sportsbooks don’t like matched betting. Although matched betting is totally risk-free if done correctly, bookmakers don’t like the fact that they are losing money and perhaps paying you out on a regular basis.

This could ultimately result in your account being banned or multiple accounts being shut down. This is not ideal, especially if you have funds you haven’t yet withdrawn in an account that gets closed!


Another potential drawback is that it can be time-consuming. It can be time-consuming in the sense that you are continuously shopping about looking for free bets and appealing offers to take advantage of.

It can also be time-consuming to spend hours per week on different sportsbooks, working out what market to match bet on. Plus, what to stake, which bookmakers to use, etc.

Provided you are patient and don’t mind putting in the work, this might not be seen as a negative. But for the most part, it is a time-consuming task that requires a lot of tolerance and restraint.

Which US States Will Allow Matched Betting?

Don’t panic—matched betting is totally legal. However, to access online sportsbooks and begin matched betting, you must, of course, reside in a state that has legalized online sports betting in the US.

Of the 50 US states, 27 have completely legalized online sports betting. Nine states have legalized physical sports betting in person, and wagering is still against the law in 12 states.

A further two states (Vermont & North Carolina) have online sports betting legalization pending.

US States Where Betting Is Legal

As of April, 2024, these are the 27 states where online sports betting is legal and therefore matched betting too:

Can Matched Betting Still Be Done After Sign-Up?

A common question surrounding matched betting is about whether or not it can still be done after sign-up.

In short, yes. Matched betting can continue to be done via the majority of sportsbooks after sign-up. Provided they continue to provide existing customers with new offers and reloads.

Sometimes it is existing customers who get the short end of the stick, with new customers the ones benefitting from all of the free bets and welcome bonuses on offer. However, this isn’t always the case.

Sometimes, bookmakers will continue or carry on with offers, as well as offer new reload offers too.

Reload offers usually come in different forms, with welcome bonuses solely credited upon sign-up. A reload bonus is when the bookmaker gives you a free bet or bonus funds during a promotional period. This allows you to place a free bet with your own money, which in turn earns you further free bets.

So yes, matched betting can indeed still be done after sign-up.

Matched Betting Calculators Can Help

If you are still confused about matched betting or perhaps need help with certain aspects of it, matched betting calculators could be a useful aid.

There are various matched betting calculators out there. OddsMonkey, Matched Betting Blog, Team Profit, and Outplayed all offer useful matched betting calculators totally free of charge.

How Do You Use Matched Betting Calculators?

Using a matched betting calculator is relatively easy and straightforward. The majority of matched betting calculators are used for making a profit from a range of offer types. The most common offer, of course, is ‘Bet X, Get Y’.

Using a matched betting calculator takes the manual work out of the process. The calculators work out the stake you must place at the sportsbook/betting exchange (your lay stake) to get as close as possible to breaking even on your qualifying bets.

Another useful tool of these matched betting calculators is that they maximize profits when placing your free bets. In short, these are your friends. Particularly if you find a free one online, like one of the four listed above.

Are There Any Tools To Help Find The Best Odds?

There are certainly different tools you can use to your advantage to find the best odds before participating in matched betting.

In essence, the closer your back and lay odds (your two bets), the more money you’ll make from matched betting. As an absolute maximum, the difference between your back and lay odds should be +10%.

For example, if your back bet is at odds of 4.00, your lay bet should be no more than 4.4. The lower the lay odds, the more money you’ll make from your free bet.

One potential tool for matched betting is OddsMonkey’s OddsMatcher. It does all the hard work for you, finding the closest odds possible for you to back and, in turn, maximizing your winnings.

The only catch is that the majority of tools like this are subscription-based and behind a paywall. However, if you are serious about matched betting, then it could be worth paying for one of these tools. It will seemingly pay for itself in the long run and help you maximize your winnings further.

Is Matched Betting Gambling?

A frequently asked question surrounding matched betting is whether or not it is a form of gambling.

In short, yes, – this is still classed as a form of gambling. The name gives it away, really. The word ‘betting’ is in the term.

Is Matched Betting Legal?

Matched betting is totally legal, provided you meet all of the requirements.

Generally, in the US, if you are 21 or older, you are legally allowed to partake in online sports betting and, thus, matched betting. This is provided you are located in one of the 27 states that legalize online wagering. However, several states also allow players to wager from 18 years old and up.

In addition, if you choose to partake in a legalized state such as Massachusetts, you can do so from the age of 18 if you use offshore sportsbooks.

These include the likes of BetOnline, Bovada, and BetWhale, who all operate offshore and are less strict than your fully regulated sportsbooks.

As long as you meet the age requirements and are in a state that has legalized online wagering in the US, then it’s totally legal. Yes.

Will This Affect My Credit Score?

If you partake in this form of betting, you need not worry about your credit score, mortgage application, or loan application.

This is because bookmakers must check a customer’s details, including age and location, before allowing the individual to place a bet with them online. This can be done through ‘soft credit checks’ or ‘know your customer’ checks.

Matched betting will not affect your credit score or have any negative impact on your application for a mortgage or loan.

Contrary to popular belief, gambling activity doesn’t show up on your credit score. Yes, it is there on bank statements, but your credit score will not be directly affected in a negative way by betting this way.

Is Matched Betting Worth It?

In conclusion, it’s entirely up to you whether or not you feel matched betting is for you. Like most things in life, there are both positives and negatives. Although matched betting is totally risk-free if done properly, there is some risk attached due to human error and personal mistakes.

Before you start, ensure you are totally informed about it and understand it fully. There is no point in getting involved with matched betting only to find out a few weeks or months later that you have been doing it wrong.

Know the risks, weigh up the pros and cons, and immerse yourself in thorough, detailed data. You can then make an informed decision after that.

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