Main Menu
Ed's Choice
No.1 2 3 4
No. 5 6 7 8
No. 9 10 11
  | Home   | Index   | Info   | This Week   | Poker   | News   | Email
24/8/2010 No.12
rendspotting Comment
Jason Shearer
Tue 24 Aug 2010
  Free bets mean you can clean up as bookies meet their match

Jason Shearer was curious when he read Guardian Money's article on free bets. Could you really beat the bookies at no risk? He followed our advice, made £770, and reckons it's even simpler than we said

I had never heard of matched betting until I read an article in Guardian Money headed Free World Cup bets offer chance to beat the bookies. Initially it struck me as unlikely. I was a financial adviser for 10 years until I sold the business a year ago. I think I have a more critical and suspicious mind when it comes to money-making schemes, especially ones that purport to be risk free.

There is an old proverb that says: "In a bet there is a fool and a thief", and I'm not inclined to disagree. Could I really sit in front of my screen and make money from the bookies for nothing?

There's nothing like being right when everyone else is wrong. That's why I get a little wistful The answer, to my surprise, was yes. Over the past month I have researched and used every decent online free bet introductory offer from a bookie. I've taken up 31 offers so far – and I've made in the region of £770.

The money I have made has been absolutely risk free, it's not been about gambling but about playing the system – and it was inspired by Guardian Money. I don't even have to pay tax on my winnings.

That said, it has not been completely free. I have had to sit in front of my computer screen, spending an hour or so most days over the past five weeks, working through the offers. But even factoring that in, it works out at around £22 per hour tax free.

But whereas the original article suggested a couple of sports arbitrage websites for further reference this, in my opinion, was of no real practical help. During my research I found matched betting websites that told me which online offers to accept, and worked out all odds, types of bets, and amounts to place. They also gave the exact profit of each trade as well as offering cashback. This eliminated the risk of me getting my own betting figures wrong.

Any Google search will bring up matched betting sites, such as and They will pinpoint virtually every single free bet offer available. They also give you a list of the best qualifying bets related to the various bookmaker promotions. You are told how much to bet, which bookmaker to place the transaction with, how much to "lay" with Betfair, and what your overall profit will be. They will also let you know if your partner can access the free bets, too.

You might be wondering if I work for one of these sites – I don't. I don't really understand what their business model is, but they are a useful resource if you are going to try matched betting.

If you're not sure what matched betting is, you place a bookmaker bet on Team A to win (a "win" bet). You then bet via a betting exchange (such as Betfair) that Team A won't win (that is, loses or draws). This is called a "lay" bet.

Team A's eventual result is mainly irrelevant as you'll always have one bet that wins, and one bet that loses. If you follow correct guidelines you will make the same overall profit regardless of the betting result.

But are there risks that you might get it wrong?

First, it's important to understand that, even with matched betting, you will always lose a small percentage on every bet you make. Bookmakers always slightly load the odds in their favour, and Betfair will take a commission (generally 5%) from any winnings. However, by using the bookie's own money to wager with you can beat them at their own game.

My own experience confirmed that you can expect to convert around 60% of the free bet offered into take-home profit once the qualifying and follow-up free bets have settled.

Promotional deals differ from company to company, but I avoided anyone offering more than a free £50 wager (bigger deals generally have strings attached – such as rollover rules – which prevent you from immediately withdrawing winnings).

Don't ever gamble without having a counterbalancing lay bet. Otherwise this changes a statistical certainty into a basic punt.

Always check terms and conditions. Be wary of any rule preventing you from immediately withdrawing winnings. Make a simple spreadsheet with details of your betting history, and make a note of the user name and password for each bookmaker website you use.

And, crucially, once you have used up all the free bet deals, stop betting. This is a short term opportunity only! It will not make anybody rich. But there is still an easy, and guaranteed £500 or so available to anybody with a little time on their hands.

Fill out your e-mail address
to receive our newsletter!
E-mail address:  
First Name:  
Last Name: