I was barely 18 and had not long been legally allowed to step inside a bookmaker when I discovered a phrase that unknowingly at the time was about to change my fortunes – matched betting.
My Dad had grown up impartial to a flutter on the Grand National but was not a betting man. The same was true to the rest of my family. My closest friends were huge football fans and some might say this is where many relationships with the betting world begin as here in the UK we absorb such a huge number of gambling related advertisements pre and post build up and between halves throughout the course of a regular Soccer Saturday or Super Sunday as Sky famously branded its coverage of the English Premier League. Still though – only one of them had ever been inclined to pass through the revolving door of rags and riches into the realms of the bookie and this was never much an influence on me.
With this in mind, it strikes me odd that I ever gave matched betting a shot in the first instance and if you asked me how I actually initially discovered the term I actually struggle to remember.
I guess I was probably looking for information on how to make money online as many young lads at that age no doubt do and somehow stumbled on to a goldmine of information discussing everyday regular folk consistently snatching money out of bookmaker and casino owners hands through implementing a method of arbitrage.
Admittedly when my eyes first set on this feast of information I was a bit dumbfounded by it all. I understood the principles but actually undertaking any of calculations myself seemed a bit scary. More so for somebody who had never actually staked a bet at a bookmaker before! In fact I think I can say with confidence that I never actually physically stepped inside a bookie and placed a bet over the counter until I had already extracted thousands of pounds worth of easy coin through matched betting.
I’m a bookmaker’s nightmare!
For those of you reading this little discourse down memory lane then you’re probably wondering what on earth I’m talking about when I raise the phrase matched betting?
Simply put – matched betting is the process by which you match any bet you place at a bookmaker with an opposing bet at a betting exchange to ensure you cover all outcomes.
In taking a classic football match by way of example let’s suppose Manchester United are taking on Liverpool in no doubt bitterly, heated local derby at Old Trafford.
A normal punter of whom have contributed to the continued success and endless riches of bookmakers all around the world would undoubtedly just stake their money on a single outcome and then hope that within the event that their prediction comes to fruition.
A matched better on the above hand is for the most part not entirely bothered by the final outcome of a game because they will have covered every scenario.
Again – an example of matched betting would be to stake a bet of £10 on Manchester United to beat Liverpool at odds of 2/1 but then head on over to a betting exchange such as Betfair and bet against Man United to win at odds of 2/1.
Are you confused yet? Good! Because I sure was – and partly because on the face of it carrying out the process of matched betting seems to hold little value at all! What’s the point in betting to win at a bookmaker and betting against the bet you’ve just placed at a betting exchange right!?
On foundation of the above bets I have identified you would for sure be right that I have little to gain from them unless the odds represented an arbitrage opportunity. In this instance I’d have nothing to gain from them. From the bets I have exemplified I wouldn’t make a single penny.
My purpose of carrying this out however lies in the finer details and the fact that with the abundance of online bookmakers situated all around the world we find ourselves in an advantageous situation whereby we can choose where we bet and therefore the bookmakers must make us a convincing special offer to get us to play with them – they give us free bets (or bonuses!).
If I am to sign up with a bookmaker that wants to match my deposit and offer me a free bet of up to £50 after I first place a bet then consider that that first bet can be a matched bet like the one I specified above.
I might make nothing from this bet alone but importantly I would have qualified for the bookmakers sign up bonus and will be rewarded with a £50 free bet for my troubles!
This is free money that I can then – again through the principles of matched betting – extract and keep for myself.
Rather than gamble my money in the purest sense I have invested it through method of risk-free staking. Sure you could argue that I could have put my £50 free bet on a long odds 10/1 shot, cross my fingers and hope for the best. And sure you’d be right that if that were to come in I’d be laughing but the reality is that it’s a 10/1 shot for the reason that it’s unlikely to occur and I’d be far better off collecting the tidy, guaranteed sum of £50 instead.
That’s a far better interest rate than a bank or building society is ever going to give you and essentially only takes a few minutes work!
So this is how matched betting changed the way I think about gambling. The phrase ‘gambling is a mugs game’ still resonates well with many and that’s for good reason. It kind of is – unless you think outside the box and turn the odds in your favour through advantage play like that I’ve described.
My time matched betting nearly spans over a decade now (that’s scary in considering how much I’ve aged) and with the profits I’ve generated from it I’ve survived university without having to get a job, travelled the world and banked considerable funds to look after my future. I can honestly say hand on heart that I could not have done many things I have done in life without the support of the gambling industry who have genuinely gifted me thousands and thousands of pounds