5 Mistakes Matched Betting Beginners Make

matched betting mistakes

The process of matched betting is pretty simple but it can be easy to make mistakes. When you're doing multiple offers a day, it's just a matter of time before you slip up in some shape or form and it doesn't matter if you're a complete beginner or have been matched betting for years, the odds mistake is inevitable. However, what we can do is make sure these mistakes are kept to a minimum and by doing so, the pros of matched betting far outweigh the cons.

Even though you can make mistakes when you're an experienced matched bettor, it's more likely that you know what to look out for. When you're just starting out, things can seem a little confusing and so mistakes are more likely to happen. Here are 5 common mistakes matched betting beginners make and how to avoid them.

1. Check your calculations. Then check them again

Matched betting generally involves placing two bets. A back bet, which is placed at a bookmaker and a lay bet, which is placed at a betting exchange such as Betfair Exchange or Smarkets. Many people are familiar with placing bets at a bookmaker and even if you're not, it's pretty simple to understand.

For example, if the odds are 4.0 Man Utd to beat Liverpool and you place a £10 bet on it, you'd get 4 x £10 back if they win. Or, if the odds on Newcastle to beat Southampton were 2.6 and you bet placed a £20 bet, you'd get back 2.6 x £20 if Newcastle won. Simple! 

However, placing lay bets at a betting exchange is new to most people and getting your head around lay stake and liability can understandably be confusing. 

Thankfully, matched betting sites provide calculators which help you calculate your ideal lay stake and will display the liability. All you have to do is enter your stake, the back & lay odds, bet type and exchange commission. However, as you have to enter these details, there is room for error.

It is essential that you double, triple and quadruple check that the information you enter into the calculator is correct as a mistake in this process could be very costly. 

Check that the back odds you have entered are the same on the bookmaker site and that the lay odds are the same as on the exchange. Also remember to check that you are using the correct calculator or have selected the correct bet type. For example, some matched betting sites have separate calculators for different bet types such as qualifying bets, free bets, free bet on loss etc where some allow you to select the bet type from within the calculator. 

Double check all these details before placing your bets to minimise the chance of making a mistake.

2. Check the T&C's of each offer carefully

As you get more experienced with matched betting you'll start to understand the general terms you'll come across in a lot of offers. However, when your a newbie, it's important to read the T&C's carefully so that you understand exactly what you can and can't do in order to qualify for a particular offer. 

Here are a few examples of common terms you'll find in matched betting offers:

  • Minimum Odds - Minimum odds generally apply to the qualifying bet and is a very common term. Many bookies require you to place your qualifying bet at the stated minimum odds or above in order to qualify for the free bet or promotion. 
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    Maximum odds - Sometimes bookmakers include maximum odds into the T&C's of an offer and they usually apply to free bets. Make sure to place your bets under the stated maximum odds in order to qualify.
  • Eligible Markets - Some bets may only be eligible on specific markets. For example, in order to receive a free bet, you may have to place a bet on the first goalscorer in a specific match or on the winner or a specific horse race.
  • Free Bet Expiry Date - Free bets usually have an expiry time and this time varies from offer to offer. It's important to know when you'll receive your free bet and how long your free bet is valid for so that it doesn't expire before you have the chance to use it. By letting your free bets expire, you could end up with an overall loss for the offer.
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    Wagering Requirements - Occasionally, some offers require you to wager your deposit or bonus a specific amount of times before your funds are able to be withdrawn. It's important to know when this is a requirement as if your bets keep winning at the bookmaker, you will need additional funds to lay your bets until the wagering requirements have been met. If you re unable to lay your bets due to lack of funds, it's possible that your bonus will expire before you're able to meet the wagering requirements and you could end up with an overall loss.
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    Opt In Requirements - Some promotions require you to opt-in in order to qualify. It's easy to miss this step as not all promotions require you to do so. The T&C's should state if you are required to opt-in prior to placing your qualifying bets so always read them carefully.

3. unmatched or partially matched bets

This is unfortunately a common issue with beginners who do not properly understand liquidity on the betting exchange. The liquidity is the available funds on any given market on the betting exchange and is the maximum amount a customer can place on that market. 

The liquidity available on a market is displayed on the betting exchange but if you're not careful, you can overlook this and it may mean that your lay bet remains unmatched or partially matched. 


For example, the image above shows the market for Both Teams to Score in the football match between Newcastle & Nottingham Forest on the betting exchange Smarkets. If you were to place a lay bet on Both Teams To Score, your stake can be anywhere up to £43. If you place a stake greater than this, your bet would only be partially matched. 

Similarly, if you were to place a lay bet on Bot Teams NOT to Score, your lay stake could be any amount up to £53. Anything above this amount would be unmatched. 

If your bet is unmatched or partially matched it means that you have not fully covered your back bet with the bookmaker. Therefore, if your bet loses at the bookmaker you may make a loss as you will not receive your required amount from your exchange bet as your bet hasn't been fully matched.

Always check that the liquidity exceeds your lay stake amount before placing either of your back or your lay bets.

4.  protecting accounts

Matched betting can be extremely profitable and possibly some of the easiest money you have ever made. However, in order to make money from matched betting, you need the use of your bookmaker accounts and the free bets and bonuses in which they offer to customers.

It's no secret that bookmakers are not keen on customers matched betting. Matched betting isn't in any way illegal but it does take value away from bookmakers which is something they don't like. If you take too much value away from them, it's likely that you'll eventually have your account restricted and either be unable to participate in promotions or be stake restricted. Therefore, it is essential that you do everything you can to seem like a normal punter to the bookmakers in order to keep your betting accounts in good order and open for as long as possible.

There are various ways you can stay under the radar from bookies but one of the best ways is mug betting. Mug betting is placing bets when there is no offer or promotion involved. An example of mug betting would be to place the occasional bet on your home town football team or play a few hands of blackjack every now and again. You can still lay your bets where possible in order to minimise any possible losses. Although you won't see any immediate financial gain from mug bets and will likely make a small qualifying loss on each one, you're much more likely to keep your bookmaker accounts unrestricted and therefore make a much bigger profit in the long term.

Another way to avoid having your accounts restricted is to not participate in every offer available. It's tempting to, I know, but by only placing bets where there is a free bet or bonus to gain, it's a clear sign you're matched betting. Miss an offer every day or two to help protect your accounts.

Here is an article on how to protect your bookmaker accounts which has some handy tips. 

5.  gambling is a no-no

When you have a lot of money in your betting accounts it can be tempting to place some bets without laying them. However, this is a slippery slope and not what matched betting is about at all. Matched betting is a mathematically proven way to generate a profit and beat the bookies. Gambling is the opposite. The bookmakers always have the edge when gambling and it's easy to lose all of the profits which you have worked hard to accumulate.

The point above mentioned mug betting which is essentially acting like a gambler. Gamblers are what bookmakers want as they will lose in the long run. If you're placing mug bets, lay them on the exchange to minimise any losses. 

Matched betting can sometimes become a bit boring as unlike gambling, there is no excitement when a team you have bet on wins or loses as you have covered all outcomes. However, hopefully the profit you make will be the excitement you need to stick with matched betting and away from gambling. Therefore, it is a good idea to track your profits so that you know exactly how much you have made on any given day, week, month or over the year. By doing so, it can be a great motivational boost!


As well as keeping a spreadsheet with all your bets recorded, it can be a good idea to create a graph of your profits. The visual representation of your profits can give you a great motivational boost when you see how much all those small profits have added up to.

MatchedBets and Profit Squad are two matched betting sites which have very good profit tracking features for members. All bets can be tracked from within your account and are displayed in graph form for you to view. You can sign up to either service for 14 days for just £1 and get full access to all features, tools and offers they provide.