Overlaying and Underlaying

Overlaying and Underlaying

Overlaying and underlaying are terms you may have come across when reading about matched betting and they are generally used as a more advanced technique alongside reload offers to make them risk-free.

Despite underlaying and overlaying being slightly more advanced methods, they are still pretty easy to understand and carry out. In this article we’ll take a look at what overlaying and underlaying are, when to use them and why you may want to use them to increase your profits when matched betting.



Overlaying is when you adjust your bets so that you lay more than you usually would in order to win more on the exchange. As you will win more on the exchange, you will win less at the bookmaker.


When to overlay

You may have seen offers from bookmakers such as :

Receive a £10 free bet if you pick a winning horse

In order to receive the free bet we must pick a winner. But what happens if we don’t? Usually when we lay our pick there would still be a small qualifying loss and as we’re not guaranteed the free bet, we could be out of pocket overall.

This is an example of when we would overlay.


How to overlay

Thankfully, most of the top matched betting sites have an overlay function built into their calculators and so they do the hard work for us. To understand overlaying a bit more we’ll take a look at an example.

Our aim with overlaying is to break even if our selection doesn’t win and make a small qualifying loss if our selection does win as we would then receive the free bet. This makes these bookmakers offers 100% risk-free every time.

Example : Bet365 offer you your stake back as a free bet if you pick a winning horse at odds of 4/1 or more.

To make this offer risk free we want to lose nothing if our horse doesn’t win and lose less than 80% of the free bet value if our horse does win. (80% is usually what you should aim to retain as cash from a standard free bet when matched betting).

First, enter the bet details into a matched betting calculator as shown below. In this example we are using odds of 5.1 for our back bet and 5.2 for our lay bet, with a 2% commission at the exchange.



overlay exampleYou’ll see that a standard lay bet would return a loss of 35p if your horse loses and a loss of 37p if it wins. As we want to make this offer 100% risk-free we need to overlay at the exchange so that there is no loss if the horse fails to win.

By overlaying, which increases our lay stake from £9.85 to £10.20, we will break even if the horse fails to win and make a loss of £1.84 if the horse wins. You’ll notice that the loss at the bookmaker has increased if the horse wins but this is OK as we then have a £10 free bet which we should be able to turn into an £8 profit with regular matched betting.

This gives an overall profit of just over £6 with no risk at all.


Underlaying is the opposite of overlaying and it is when you lay less on the exchange in order to make certain bookmaker offers risk-free.


When to underlay

Many bookmakers offer you your money back as a free bet on losing bets. These are popular offers as at first they seem risk free. You win, great! You lose, money back! However, as your refund is as a free bet and you usually retain around 80% of the free bet value as cash when matched betting, there is still risk. We would use the underlay method in this instance to guarantee this offer is 100% risk-free.

Example : Ladbrokes offer you your money back as a free bet if your team doesn’t win in the Arsenal v Liverpool game.

This time, we want to make sure that if our team wins, we don’t incur any losses and if they don’t win that our losses are below 80% of the free bet value.

We have chose to back Arsenal at odds of 2.5 and lay them at odds of 2.65. We then enter these odds into a matched betting calculator as shown below.



underlaying exampleIn this example, a standard matched bet would return a loss of 69p if Arsenal win and a 68p loss if Arsenal lose. Again, as we only receive the free bet if Arsenal lose, there is a risk of making a loss overall. However, if we underlay, we will break even if Arsenal win and make a loss of £1.09 if they lose but with the addition of a £10 free bet.

If we aim to make £8 from the free bet then we could profit around £7 from this offer with no risk of losing any money.


Hopefully this article will have given you a better understanding of how to overlay and underlay bets and when to do it. They’re important methods to learn as they can make certain bookmaker offers 100% risk-free and therefore increase your matched betting profits.

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