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Winning Free Bets

Free Bets

There are many ways to bet online, with matched betting using the free bets that online bookies offer new customers being a favourite among many bettors.

All the best bookies that we currently feature on 'Free Bet Offers' offer a sign-up bonus or free bet for new account holders that can be used on sports betting.

Basically matched betting involves backing an event with an online bookie, and then laying the same event with the same odds at a betting exchange like Betfair Exchange.

In doing so, you qualify for the free bet offer with the online bookie you signed up with. The idea is that you do exactly the same thing with your free bet.

Matched Betting Explained

To take advantage of free bets you'll usually have to make a qualifying bet first.

This is where you'll make your first bet. You'll then be able to do the same with the free bet that you'll have just activated - this is where online betting exchanges come in.

Exchanges like Betfair allow you to place bets as usual but they also enable you to lay bets. When you lay a bet, you're basically predicting that an event won't happen.

You set your own odds (the amount you're prepared to lose i.e. your total liability), and then other gamblers can decide whether to accept your bet or not.

Lets say that you lay Arsenal to win their next match at a betting exchange, at odds of 3.0 with a total liability of £200, you will be betting against Arsenal winning the match.

If someone accepted your lay and Arsenal don't win the match then you'll win £300 (minus the betting exchanges commission which is usually around 5%).

If Arsenal do win the match, you'll lose the £200 you used to lay the bet.

Basically betting exchanges allow you to act as the online bookie enabling you to set your own odds and accept bets from other punters around the World.

Matched Betting Example

Lets say we used a bookies offer where you get a £25 free bet when you join and bet £25.

You see odds on Tottenham beating Arsenal at 3/1 and you're able to lay Tottenham to beat Arsenal at equivalent odds (4.0) at a betting exchange like Betfair.

If you back Tottenham by £25 then lay Tottenham by £25 at Betfair, you probably won't lose much as one would more than likely cancel out the other.

Basically if Tottenham win you'll win £100 (£25 returned stake and £75 profit). At Betfair you'll have to pay out £75 (your total liability on the lay bet) meaning a loss of £75.

£75 profit cancels out the £75 loss at Betfair. If Tottenham lost or drew, you'd be in a similar position but would've lost £25 and gained £75 at Betfair (minus 5% commission; roughly £3.75).

Now that you've made your qualifying bets you'll have activated both your £25 free bets.

Next find another match to bet on, lets say Wigan to beat Portsmouth at 2/1 and the same odds (3.0) at Betfair to lay Wigan beating Portsmouth. Now back Wigan with your £25 free bet. Now lay Wigan by £25 at Betfair (total liability).

If Wigan win, you'll receive £50 (free bet stakes aren't usually returned). You'll then have to pay out your 'total liability' of £25 at Betfair.

This leaves you with an overall profit of £25. If Wigan lose, you'll only have lost your free bet stake at William Hill but will have won your bet at Betfair.

Matched Betting Risks

Unfortunately matched betting isn't always as straight forward as the examples above. Most bookies offer free bets where the stake isn't returned with any winnings.

It means that you'll need to place a bet and 'lay' at slightly higher odds than the qualifying bet.

Also betting exchanges like Betfair charge commission on any winning bets (roughly 5%).

Being aware of these small risks and making sure that you take it into account when setting your lay odds will help to ensure that you don't get any nasty surprises!

Even by losing a small amount due to a betting exchange's commission, it's still possible to end up winning from the free bets that you place thanks to matched betting.