Qualifying Bets

qualifying bet strategy

There are various types of betting offers but the majority of them will require you to place a bet with your own money in order to receive a free bet or bonus.

This initial bet is called a 'Qualifying Bet'.

When matched betting, we aim to cover all outcomes so that we will win one of our bets regardless of the result. We do this by placing a back bet and a lay bet. 

Placing a back and lay bet usually results in a small loss. This is usually acceptable though as we will receive a free bet for placing our qualifying bet from which we can make a profit.

The loss we incur on our qualifying bet is called the 'Qualifying Loss'.

Basically, this is how much it will cost us to receive the free bet.

We can usually expect to extract around 80% of the value of a free bet into cash eg. £8 from a £10 free bet etc, and so providing our qualifying loss is less than 80% of the value of the free bet, it should be a profitable offer.

Qualifying Bet Strategy

We know that we need to place both a back bet and a lay bet for our qualifying bet. The back bet enables us to qualify for the free bet and the lay bet ensure that we don't lose all of our initial stake.

The next step is to find something to bet on. 

Can you bet on anything? Well, that depends on the terms of the offer. Here are a few things to look out for:

  1. Minimum Odds - These are common in betting offer terms and require you to place a bet with the bookmaker at odds of or greater than a specific amount. If you place a bet at odds lower than the set amount, you will not qualify for the offer.
  2. Excluded sports - Some offers only apply to specific sports or events and some exclude certain ones. Be sure to read the terms of each offer to find out.

By far the easiest way to find a qualifying bet is to use an Odds Matcher tool. You'll find these at all the top matched betting sites such as ProfitSquad and OddsMonkey and they will find the best matches based on your criteria.

For example, if the minimum odds for a qualifying bet were 1.5 and it had to be placed on football, you would simply add these criteria to the Odds Matcher and it will display a list of suitable matches.

What do odds matchers do?

The aim of a qualifying bet is to qualify for a free bet for as little cost as possible. The qualifying loss comes from the difference between the back odds at the bookmaker and the lay odds on the betting exchange and so to keep your qualifying losses to a minimum, you need to find a bet where the back and lay odds are very close. This is where Odds Matcher tools come in.

An Odds Matcher will automatically compare the back odds at a bookmaker to the lay odds at a betting exchange and display a list of bets which will incur the lowest qualifying loss. 

what makes a good match

Using an Odds Matcher takes a lot of the hard work away fro you but there may be a time where you have to find a match manually without an Odds Matcher. For example, most Odds Matchers can't find matches in-play and so you will have to search manually for a close match. Therefore, it's important to know what makes a good match and what factors will contribute to a minimal qualifying loss.

There are two main factors which should help you keep qualifying losses to a minimum.

  1. Choosing a bet where the back odds are close to the lay odds
  2. Choosing a bet at low odds (providing they're not below the minimum odds for the offer)

Let's take a look at a few examples of how different odds can effect qualifying losses.

Here are three examples of back and lay odds based on a £20 stake and a 5% commission charge.

back odds

lay odds

exchange liability

qualifying loss

Example 1





Example 2





Example 3





You can see that if we had the option to back and lay one of the bets above, we should choose example 1 as it has the lowest qualifying loss.

Generally, you should look for lower odds when placing qualifying bets as the back and lay odds tend to be tighter. That's not to say that you won't find a better match at higher odds but it's usually a good starting point.

You can use our free matched betting calculator for some examples to get used to qualifying bets and get an idea of how the odds effect the qualifying loss.

Another reason to choose a bet with lower odds is that they you will need less money available in your exchange account. The amount you need to cover your lay bet is called the 'liability' and the higher the odds, the more the liability will be for your bet.

You can see that for example 1 in the table above, we need just £11 to cover our lay bet. However, for example 3 which is at higher odds, we need £173.50. If you have the funds available and higher odds means a lower qualifying loss, then you may opt for that bet. However, if your liability is lower, it means that you have additional funds free which can be used for other offers at the same time.


It's a good idea to use an odds matcher tool when you can to find close matches for your qualifying bets. This will save you time and you will more than likely find a better match than you would manually which will result in a lower qualifying loss. If you have to find a match manually, look for bets where the back odds at the bookmaker are close to the lay odds of a betting exchange.

Lower odds are generally the better choice. The difference between the back and lay odds are usually much closer which again will result in a lower qualifying loss. Lower odds also means a lower liability and so you will need less available funds in your exchange account.