If you're an experienced matched bettor then you'll probably know the risks that come with it. However, for people just starting out matched betting, it is a method which is often sold to them as risk-free. You may have seen advertisements claiming that you can make £500-£1,000 a month with no risk matched betting and that you simply can't lose money doing it. However, is matched betting really risk free? In this article, we're going to look at the pros and cons of matched betting and the potential risks to your own money that come with it.
is matched betting risk free?
The quick answer is no. There are risks when it comes to matched betting which we are going to cover in this article. However, the main risk with matched betting is human error which means it is essential that you fully understand how matched betting works, the terms and conditions of the offer you are completing and have the correct guide on how to complete and profit from it.
what are the risks of matched betting?
There are a few potential risks when matched betting. Some can prove to be very costly if they happen so it is important to know what the risks are and how to prevent them from happening.
RISK 1: HUMAN ERROR
Human error is the biggest risk when matched betting and happens when you make a mistake. As you become more familiar with matched betting, the various kinds of offers that are available and how betting exchanges work, the likelihood of you making an error will reduced. However, it can and does happen.
For example, let's say we are placing a qualifying bet of £30 to receive a free bet. The image on the left below shows us that we should lay our selection with a stake of £30.51 which would give us a qualifying loss of £1.02. However, if we selected the 'Free Bet' option from the drop down list by mistake, the calculator shows us that our lay stake should be £20.34.
If we don't notice that the 'Free Bet' option is selected on the calculator, we would proceed to place a lay bet on £20.34.
If we did, then we'd actually make a loss of £10.68 if our selection didn't win as shown in the calculator below.
This is an example on a small scale and the potential losses can be a lot bigger when placing higher stakes which you may do when completing some reload offers such as William Hill's 2Clear or the Bet365 Early Payout offer.
Always double check your calculations. It may take a little longer but will reduce the chance of you making a mistake. Follow the guides provided by a reputable matched betting site and contact support if you are not sure about something.
RISK 2: FLUCTUATING ODDS
Fluctuating odds can have a big impact on your potential profits and can cause you to lose money if they don't swing in your favour.
Bookmakers offer a number of in-play promotions which may allow you to claim a free bet if you place an in-play bet on a specific game. These are generally great offers which can return an easy profit. However, there are risks involved.
If you are placing a back and lay bet a day or two in advance of an event, the odds are unlikely to fluctuate very quickly. However, if you are placing your back and lay bets during an event, odds can change quickly.
For example, let's say that Manchester United are playing Arsenal and a bookmaker if offering you a £5 free bet if you place a £5 bet during the game.
You may find a close match for Arsenal to win at odds of 3.0 and 3.1. You would place your back bet with the bookmaker and then head to the betting exchange to place your lay bet.
However, what happens if Man Utd score after you have placed your back bet on Arsenal but before you have had a chance to lay them? The lay odds on Arsenal would shorten dramatically as they are now more unlikely to win the game.
If the odds were, for example, to move from 3.1 to 11.0, your qualifying loss would increase from £0.33 to £3.47.
Again, this is an example of a bet at very low stakes and the potential of much greater losses is increased with higher stakes.
Fluctuating odds are especially dangerous if you are arbing or trading as stakes will likely be much higher and you will not receive a free bet to compensate for your losses.
RISK 3: BOOKMAKER ERRORS
This doesn't happen very often but it can and is worth mentioning. Every now and again bookmakers will display the wrong odds. It's pretty easy to spot when they do this but for inexperienced matched bettors it can seem like an easy opportunity to make some quick cash.
Let's say that you notice Arsenal are odds of 15/1 to beat Man Utd on a bookmaker site. You think these are good odds and so check what the lay odds are on the exchange. Upon checking, you see that the odds to lay Arsenal are only 3.1 which would give you a profit of around £40 from just a £10 bet!
However, if you see back and lay odds with huge differences, it's likely the bookmaker has made a mistake. Arbing opportunities happen all the time but the difference in the back and lay odds are generally quite small which can still produce a profit, but a much smaller one with relatively low stakes.
If you place a bet on odds which have been incorrectly offered by a bookmaker they are more than likely to either cancel your bet and return your stake or pay out at the correct odds which may be lower than the lay odds you placed. Therefore, giving you an overall loss on your bets.
It is strongly advised that you stay away from bets which you think may be displayed incorrectly. A good indication is to check other bookmaker sites to see what their odds on the same market is. If there is a big difference, it's likely one of the bookmakers has got it wrong.
RISK 4: ERRORS IN THE OFFER GUIDES
It's likely that you'll be using a matched betting site to find the profitable offers and to learn how to generate a profit from them. The majority of matched betting sites provide well-written step-by-step guides on how to profit from offers and are double checked and tried before going live.
There is an increased amount of matched betting services online these days and not all of them have proven themselves to be reputable. It's important to know that you are receiving information which is correct and up to date and so we'd strongly recommend sticking with one of the bigger matched betting sites out there to minimise the risk of badly written guides or incorrect offers.
So we've determined that matched betting isn't risk-free. So should you stay clear?
Matched betting isn't for everyone but if you have taken the time to read this article then you have shown an interest in it. It's important that you understand how matched betting works and the potential risks to try and avoid. However, despite matched betting not being risk-free, the risks are generally very low and the potential profits are huge.
The majority of matched betting risks are down to human error which means it is up to you to do your research into each bookmaker offer you complete to ensure you are doing it correctly.
Most matched betting sites advise you to start with the easier bookmaker offers which require a small bank and provide relatively high returns. These offers are great to help you to learn the ropes and you will become more comfortable with completing more advanced offers further down the line which will reduce your chance of making an error.