Matched betting involves covering all outcomes which is done by placing a back bet with a bookmaker and a lay bet on a betting exchange. By placing both a back bet and a lay bet, one of the two are guaranteed to win and providing your stakes are correct, you will break even minus any qualifying loss due to exchange commission and difference between the back and lay odds.
It's a pretty simple process but there may be a time when you come across a slight problem - unmatched or partially matched bets.
Unless you know what to do when you have an unmatched or partially matched bet, you may panic. Especially if you don't have much time before the event starts.
Placing back bets are simple. These are generally done on a bookmaker website and you simply enter your stake and place your bet. Providing your account isn't restricted in any way, your bet will be accepted automatically and will be paid out if it wins.
Lay bets however, are placed on a betting exchange which work slightly differently to bookmakers. When placing bets on an exchange, your not betting against the bookmaker, you're betting against other users' bets. In order for your lay bet to be valid, there must be enough liquidity in the market at the odds you have selected. If there isn't, then your bet will either be unmatched or partially matched.
what are unmatched bets?
Unmatched bets are when there is not enough money available in the market you are betting on and so your lay bet hasn't been confirmed.
If your bet is unmatched, it will be displayed in your open bets. It's important to check that your bet has been matched every time you place a lay bet as having an unmatched or partially matched bet could cost you money should your lay bet win.
Each exchange will display the status of your bets differently and so it's worth taking a quick look at the exchanges which you use to see where it shows whether the bet has been matched or not. The image above shows an unmatched bet from Betfair which you can view in the 'open bets' section.
The image below shows an unmatched bet on Smarkets. You can view your bets in Smarkets by either clicking on 'All Active Bets' and checking that the matched amount is complete or by selecting 'Unmatched Bets' from the drop down menu.
You may find that there is enough liquidity in the market when you first calculate your lay stakes. However, if other people have placed the same bet before you do, the liquidity may be taken for the odds you used in your calculations. If this happens, the odds may increase, leaving your bet unmatched.
what are partially matched bets?
Partially matched bets are, as the name suggests, bets which have only been partially matched. This happens when there is not enough money in the market to cover your entire lay bet but there is enough to cover some of it.
Having a bet partially matched can be daunting when it first happens if you don't know how to correct it. If a bet partially matched then your returns on the bookmaker and exchange won't be even and so you could lose money if your bookmaker bet loses.
what to do when a bet is unmatched
Having a bet unmatched isn't as much of a problem as you may first imagine. All you have to do is recalculate your lay stakes with the new odds. Before doing so, there are a few things to consider.
1. Remember to cancel your original unmatched lay bet before placing another one. If you don't, there's a chance that your unmatched lay bet may be matched if the odds shorten, leaving you with two separate lay bets.
2. Check that there is enough liquidity in the market at the new odds. The available money in the market needs to be equal to or greater than the liability of your lay bet for it to be matched.
If there is enough liquidity then you simply have to recalculate your new lay stakes using the new odds. You can use a matched betting calculator to do this.
what to do when a bet is partially matched
Fixing partially matched bets isn't as simple as unmatched bets as you have had part of your bet matched already.
So what happens to the other part of your bet?
To ensure that our lay bet is fully matched and with the correct stakes, we need to cancel the unmatched part of our lay bet and place another one at the new odds. To determine the stake for the new lay bet, we need to use a matched betting calculator which has a 'partial match' function. Thankfully, most of the top matched betting sites such as MatchedBets, OddsMonkey and ProfitSquad all provide this feature in their calculators, making fixing a partially matched bet quick and easy. Take a look at our OddsMonkey review to find out more.
The image above shows the calculations for a standard matched bet. Using a £10 stake for our back bet, we need to place a lay bet with a £10.26 stake at odds of 2.0. However, if our bet is only partially matched, we may only be able to play a £5 stake at odds of 2.0 with the lay odds changing to something like 2.1 afterwards.
To calculate what stake to use for the remainder of our lay bet at odds of 2.1, click on the 'Add partial lay' button.
Note: This example is using the matched betting calculator from MatchedBets.com. Other calculators may have a similar feature but there may be a different process to access it.
After selecting the partial lay option, you're able to enter additional details such as the new odds and the amount which has been matched. By doing so, the calculator will display the ideal lay stake which you should place at the current odds.
In the example above, we placed a £10.26 lay stake but only £5 of it was matched. The lay odds then changed from 2.0 to 2.1. The calculator shows us that we now need to place a £5 lay bet using the new odds which will fully cover our bet.
The only difference is that instead of initially making a £0.25 qualifying loss, we will now make a £0.50 loss. However, our bet is now fully matched.
steps to avoid unmatched & partially matched bets
Having a bet unmatched or partially matched can be a pain. Although it can be relatively simple to correct when you know how, it takes additional time and so steps should be taken to avoid it happening when possible.
To avoid having your bets unmatched or partially matched, simply check that the liquidity in the market isn't less than the liability of your bet. A matched betting calculator will show you the liability of your lay bet and the available money in the market will be displayed on the betting exchange.
Taking the game above as an example, there is not much liquidity in the markets.If we were placing a lay bet on this match then our liability should not exceed the available funds as displayed below the odds.
If we were laying Burnley, the liability of our bet should not exceed £16
If we were laying Everton, the liability of our bet should not exceed £6
If we were laying the draw, the liability of our bet should not exceed £5
If our liability did exceed these amounts then we would end up with a partially matched bet.