Matched betting isn’t what I thought it would be.
It’s been over 3 months since I tried matched betting as a student, and last month I decided it was time to stop and evaluate the results. And they’ve been… interesting.
Here’s a bit of a rundown of what happened:
There is a difference between betting, and matched betting. The largest difference being… you never lose. If you follow the exact steps, you can never lose money, only gain. Sound too good to be true? Yes, that’s why I did an experiment on it.
What is matched betting?
First of all, matched betting is pretty much only available in the UK. In most other countries, betting on sports is illegal, so unless you live on our little island, this probably won’t interest you.
Matched betting is to do with the betting on sports, whether it’s football, horse racing, tennis, etc. Websites online allow you to bet for or against a certain match, and depending on your stake, you can win a lot or lose a lot. In order to get more people to gamble, these websites offer free bonuses to encourage you to deposit some cash. For example, Betfred’s bonus is ‘Deposit £10 and get £30 of free bets!’
A great marketing a tactic, and the reason why matched betting works. You use these free bonuses to bet on either for or against a match, so that either way you don’t lose money.
Confused? Let’s say Player A puts in £10 for Barcelona in a Barcelona Madrid match with odds of 5/1 (which means they get £60 total back), and uses a £10 bonus to bet against Barcelona winning the match. If Barcelona wins, Player A will gain back their £10 + £50, but if Barcelona does not win (draw or Madrid wins), they will also gain back their £10 + £50 since they used a free bonus to bet against.
It can get quite hard to explain, so here’s a video that explains in much more detail
Is it a lot of work?
I started with Profit Accumulator because they have great training videos which explain to you step by step what to do to use the offers and earn a profit. However, Oddsmonkey is just as good.
How do you make money?
It’s not a get quick rich scheme. Placing these bets and putting the effort is required, and you won’t make a ton of money (Foxy Monkey makes £500 to £600 a month approximately), but it’s enough for a small side-income which doesn’t require too many hours of work.
There are some people who earn a full time income from matched betting (see interview with Josh, who earns £2,000 on matched betting), but of course they spend much more than a few hours every week on it. The strategy is very simple: you just have to place a lot of bets, repeating the process hundreds of times to always get a maximum profit. Also it’s interesting to note that the money is completely tax free, so yes, more ca$h.
Is it risky?
I was very sceptical at the beginning, but as a professional money scientist (that’s a thing now) I had to try it out. From what I investigated it seemed to be quite safe and not risky. The only thing that will make you losses is making a human mistake, so as long as you keep your wits about you it should absolutely fine.
The other thing is that the more popular matched betting gets, the more bookies will be clamping down and closing down accounts which look suspicious. That’s why it’s better to start now, before the tax office comes along and takes their cut.
There is no catch to matched betting. It’s a legit and safe way to make some money. In fact, in the interview Josh says the hardest part about matched betting is convincing people that it’s not gambling!
I am a very careful person when it comes to money, which means I have to be in complete control of what goes where in when. In order to not get confused, I created a separate account in my bank which I will use as my ‘experiment/betting money’, so I can properly keep track of the profit. I also keep track of every bet I make.
I started with £40 in my experiment account, and then as I continuously placed bets and learnt the ways round the bookies, I ended up with a little over £150. But that’s not the end of the story…
Main takeaways as a student doing matched betting
3 months later, here are the main takeaways from my amazing matched betting experience:
1. It does take time
Although matched betting is rather simple and doesn’t require a lot of skills, it does take time to understand exactly how the system works: what time to put your money in the bookies, waiting for matches to take place, signing up to platforms, sending in verifications, accounting, etc. Because of this you need to spend 15-30 min a day making sure everything is in place and you’re ready for the matches. Yes it’s not very long, but you have to actually do those 30 min.
2. You need to start well
I realised this one month into doing matched betting – you gotta start with something. As mentioned before, I started with £40. Not enough. I kept putting £10 here, £30 there, and then waiting to withdraw so I could put the money in another bookie. This meant it took me ages before I was accumulating any kind of cash – rookie mistake.
To get started with matched betting I’d say you need at least £100. After that the money accumulates faster and you don’t have to keep withdrawing. The amount can get pretty sweet, just don’t make the same mistake I did!
3. It is easy money
It really is the definition of easy money. You start with a little, place your bets, and bam, you get more. I couldn’t really believe it. Although I didn’t manage to get to the £500 mark, I can totally see how some people do and why it’s not too hard. All you’re doing is following the instructions from Oddsmonkey or Profit Accumulator, putting money into bookies, placing bets and then gathering the returns. Just make sure you put the right numbers in…
Another great benefit is that it’s tax free money! That means you can’t include it as income and it helps keep you below the £11,500 threshold – great for university students.
4. But a little boring
Yep, I’m not going to lie here. Just like the surveys, matched betting does get a little monotonous. I’ve spent way too much time squinting at the screen trying to figure out if it was a 9.8 or 9.9 I had to put into the LAY box, or sending endless verifications to bookies, or figuring out which teams are from which Premiere/National/I don’t know league.
The flip side: I now know my debit card number off by heart.
At the beginning of the experiment I was excited that I was making money (as one does), but after a month or two it did feel more like a chore. Not only was I not getting the returns I was hoping for, but I kinda felt I was wasting my time inserting numbers everywhere and waiting for things to happen. Maybe I was doing something wrong or I’m just too picky – but that’s how I felt.
5. A lot of accounting
No need to get an accounting degree, just do some matched betting instead!
I’m someone who needs to know exactly where my money is going, how much I’m getting back and what’s happening to it. It wasn’t that simple with matched betting. You put £30 in Betfred and then £20 in Ladbrokes, then you earn some £20 but you have to keep it in the bookie to bet another £30. It can get confusing as hell and it’s not easy to keep track of all your money. I had tons of those little papers littered around and it was driving me crazy. Why did I get back £5 if Profit Accumulator said I’d get £10? Where is the lost £5? Why is this bookie not letting me withdraw!!!?
I eventually turned to Excel and that made it a bit easier. But the constant tracking is not easy – you need to find a good system to make sure you know what you’re doing (aka accounting).
6. Not a lot of skills
Although not as bad as surveys, you don’t gain many skills when doing matched betting. Sure, you learn a bit of accounting, but that’s only if you’re like me and need to control every bit of money going in and out. Sure, you learn which football teams plays against who and who gets to win, but who really cares anyway?
The reason why it’s easy money is because it doesn’t require much skill, which is why you don’t gain many skills in return. Although you could argue that that shouldn’t matter, the lack of skill-making makes it feel like a waste of time to me. Sure, I’m earning a bit of money, but in the long run this won’t help me much.
Just some thoughts.
7. Be ready for the EMAILS!
I still haven’t been able to get rid of all the marketing emails I now receive from all the bookies. I also get the occasional text message, trying to get me to bet on the next match. Annoying as hell. If you want to get started with matched betting, create a new email specifically for the bookies so you don’t get their spam for the rest of your life!
8. Only for UK residents
This was pretty much a deal breaker for me. December rolled around and I was back home in Spain for 3 weeks. For 3 weeks I couldn’t do any matched betting at all – which made it harder to get back to when I got to the UK.
If you don’t move around much, then there’s no problem. But for students who don’t spend that much time in the UK or are constantly traveling… matched betting isn’t always a viable income.
8. It could affect what the bank thinks
Although gambling won’t affect your credit score, there is a small possibility it could affect your mortgage application. For this reason it’s recommended to open a separate bank account (maybe even an online-only bank such as Revolut) specifically for matched betting – it’s easier to keep track of and you don’t have to show it to mortgage lenders.
Just make sure you’re ready for your mortgage application!
9. It’s feeding the gambling problem
There is then the ethical side to it. I’m still shocked every time I walk down a street here in the UK – there are bookies absolutely everywhere. You don’t realise how much people gamble until you start noticing these shops popping up on every single street. And of course, if there is such a huge supply, there must be a huge demand. And I find it scary. To me, gambling is literally just throwing money out the window, I would never consider it a way to earn money. And yet people (mostly low income and struggling) will go these shops and gamble the little money they already have.
Aren’t we helping out these bookies by using them? Even if we’re kind of exploiting them and making our own profit?
Personally, I won’t be going back to matched betting as a student. The constant traveling means everything keeps getting disrupted, and it adds a bit of time to my working day (no I don’t consider matched betting ‘chill time’). Instead, I prefer focusing on building skills, multiple income streams and exploring career options so that I work on something that fits be best and makes money.
However! I honestly do believe matched betting is a good side-income for university students who plan on staying quite some time in the UK and want to make quick and easy bucks.
It doesn’t take up that much time, it doesn’t require much skill and I know students could really do with an extra £200 a month. And hey, you learn a bit of accounting and how to keep track of your money – so it’s a definitely good to try.
What do you think? Have you ever tried matched betting? Let me know your thoughts…