What is Matched Betting? | Comprehensive Matched Betting Guide

Let me guess… You have been scouring the internet for hours trying to find some sort of way to make money online or for a new side hustle and stumbled across the phrase ‘matched betting’.

You got curious and dug a little deeper only to find dozens of articles claiming that you can make thousands of dollars from matched betting every month. At that point, you probably started to question if it was too good to be true and why you had never heard of it before.

The good news is that matched betting is a legitimate side hustle that anybody can get started on from the comfort of their own couch. You don’t need to be an expert with numbers, you don’t need to have a degree and you don’t need to invest large amounts of time to get started.

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Debunking the Matched Betting Myths

Ok, so before we get into the good stuff, I think it is extremely important to address a few questions that are probably on your mind by now.

  1. Matched Betting is not illegal
  2. Matched Betting is not gambling
  3. Matched betting does not require any knowledge about sports, horse racing or maths to get started
  4. Matched betting is not a scam or get rich quick scheme
  5. Matched betting is not difficult to get started with
  6. Matched betting income is completely tax free

What is Matched Betting?

Alright, this is the part where you find out exactly what matched betting is and how it can make you thousands of dollars a month. Let’s get into it!

As you probably already know, with most common types of gambling such as the pokies, the casino, horse racing and sports betting, the odds are completely stacked against you. You might get lucky here or there and have a few wins in the short term, but the more you gamble the more likely you are to loose money in the long run.

No one likes losing money. It sucks. Matched betting is not the same as gambling. Matched betting involves using the special offers and promotions that bookmakers offer, to completely turn the odds in your favour.

Common promotions that bookmakers offer include: deposit matches, horse racing promotions where if your horse runs 2nd or 3rd you get your money back in bonus bets, multi promotions where if one leg fails you get your money back and odds boosts. There are many more but these are just some of the many promotions that can be exploited.

Gambling (Odds are against you = long term losses) vs Matched Betting (Odds are in your favour = long term profits)

Let’s take a look at a basic example. It is quite common for bookmakers to offer deposit matches or some sort of welcome bonus in order to entice customers into depositing their cash. So you deposit $100 into a betting account that is offering you a deposit match. The end result is that you have $100 and a $100 bonus bet. Of course you could just whack this $100 bonus bet on any sporting match, but that would be gambling as it could lose.

Matched betting removes the risk that exists with conventional gambling through ensuring there is mathematically no risk of losing. Bonusbank explain this perfectly. You bet on a coin toss, putting $100 on it to be heads and your $100 bonus bet on it to be tails. If its heads you win $200 and if its tails… you win $200. In both cases you end up with $100 more than what you started with.

Matched Betting is slightly more complicated than that but that is the basic principle. The odds are in your favour so that you cannot lose. Now that you have a basic idea of what matched betting is let’s explain some key terms that will pop up frequently.

Matched Betting Glossary

If you’re new to matched betting you might seem some unfamiliar terms at first. I have compiled a list of terms and their meanings that may be confusing to someone new to matched betting to help you on your way.

Back Bet: When you place a bet on that a particular outcome will occur. If I place $5 on Team A to win, that is a back bet.

Lay Bet: When you place a bet on a particular outcome not occurring. If I place a $5 lay bet on Team A, I am that Team A will not win (Team B win or draw)

The Qualifier Bet: A bet made in order to attain a bonus bet.

Qualifying Loss: A small loss made in the process of attaining a bonus bet (that will result in a bigger gain)

SR: Stake Returned. Refers to when the original stake of a bet is returned upon winning the bet.

SNR: Stake Not Returned: Refers to when the original stake of a bet is not returned upon winning the bet (often how bonus bets work)

ATM: Bonusbanks advanced software which will show you exactly what sporting events to bet on

Phase 1 – Getting Set Up

Now I know that you probably want to crack in and start making money. But before you start opening accounts and placing bets you need to lay the foundation for what is to come. There are three main accounts you need to set up.

Bonusbank Account: Bonusbank is an Australian organisation that offer tutorials, matched betting calculators and matched betting software to make matched betting easier for Australians. There are two main reasons why I believe this is necessary. Firstly, Bonusbank’s incredibly well crafted tutorials explain every aspect of matched betting in a way that is extremely beginner friendly and easy to understand. I mean it when I say that no where else will you find such an all in one matched betting resource.

Secondly, a very key aspect of matched betting is knowing exactly what events to place your bets on to achieve maximum profit. There are thousands of sporting events daily, making it realistically impossible to browse through them all. Bonusbank does this all for you and more.

They have a free account option which is perfect for anyone just wanting to dip their toes in matched betting. I can personally say that I would not have made nearly as much as I have made through matched betting if it wasn’t for Bonusbank, I cannot recommend them highly enough.

Betting Exchange Account: A betting exchange is not the same as a regular bookmaker. A betting exchange will allow you to place ‘lay bets’. We will explore what these are in detail later. At the time of writing, Betfair is the only betting exchange in Australia. Signing up with Betfair is quick, free and easy and can be done here.

Betting Account: You are probably familiar with this one. It is the final account that you will need to create before you can get started making money. Which Bookmaker should you choose you might ask? Honestly, any are fine. You will end up having accounts with multiple bookmakers but to start with, just pick one and sign up.

Phase 2 – Deposit Matches

Now that you are all set up, it’s time to make some money. In the world of matched betting there are multiple different ways to make money. The best place to start is through exploiting deposit matches or welcome bonuses that are given by bookmakers.

Essentially what you are going to do here is go through as many bookmakers as you can that offer these deposit bonuses, and turn the bonus bets into cash. All completely risk free.

I will explain how to do this with one bookmaker and you can repeat the process with the rest.

Let’s use Sportsbet as an example. You sign up with them and verify your betting account. Often they will offer you an offer whereby you deposit a certain amount and they will match your deposit in bonus bets.

These bonus bets are not withdraw-able at this stage, they are essentially just a free bet.

You want to deposit the maximum amount that they offer to match in bonus bets. If you were to deposit $100 and the deposit match was 100%, you would now have $100 in your account and $100 in bonus bets.

The reason bookmakers do this is to entice you to deposit and place bets. Whilst they may lose a small amount of money initially, they know that over the long term they are likely to recoup this money and more from you. With matched betting, we are able to turn bonus bets into cold hard withdraw-able cash.

Lets start with the $100 that you deposited.

Bookmakers are sneaky. They require you to turn over deposits before you can withdraw. This prevents you from being able to deposit, earn a bonus bet and withdraw. So the first step is to turn over your initial deposit so that you can withdraw it. To determine what sporting event to use the bet on, you can go to Bonusbanks ATM.

Matched Betting

All you need to do is enter the stake of the bet, which in this case is $100 and click SR (stake returned) to sort by the smallest number. In this example, it shows the soccer match between Celtic vs Dundee Utd and shows you that the bet you need to place is on Celtic (draw no bet).

The red and blue shaded columns show the back odds as well as the lay odds. The back odds are the odds on Sportsbet and the lay odds are from Betfair. The -$5.00 shows that this bet will loose us $5. Losing money? That can’t be good. Don’t panic, this is called the qualifying bet. We make a qualifying loss in the process of attaining the bonus bet.

Now that we know what sporting event the bet will go on, as well as the current back and lay odds. We can use Bonusbanks matched betting calculator to show exactly how much to place on these bets.

Matched Betting Calculator

All you need to do in Bonusbanks calculator is plug in the stake, odds and lay commission which in Betfair is 5%. It will then tell you exactly how big the lay bet on Betfair will need to be. Now all you need to do is to place those two bets, the back bet on Sportsbet and the lay bet on Betfair. No matter the sporting result, you will lose $5.

But, you have now turned over the $100 so will be able to withdraw it. The next step is to move onto converting the bonusbet into cash. This is the fun bit and probably the part where you will start to see how worthwhile and profitable matched betting can be.

So to turn over your bonus bet, you firstly need to head back to Bonusbank’s ATM. Enter your stake amount, but this time click on the SNR (stake not returned) button and sort from highest to lowest.

Matched Betting

As you can see here, it shows us. that we should place the bonus bet on KV Oostende vs Gent for the correct score to be 0-1, also shows you that you will make $79.50 from the bet. Pretty good!

Now you can head back to Bonusbanks matched betting calculator, change the bet type to Bonus Bet (SNR) and enter the odds, commission and stake. It will look like this.

Matched Betting Calculator

If the bet at the bookmaker wins you profit $79.50 and if it wins at Betfair you win $79.50. Guaranteed profit. There is no mathematical way that you can lose. None.

So lets run the number, you deposited $100 of your own money. You used this on the first bet and lost $5, meaning your balance is $95. However, you managed to convert the bonus bet, completely risk free into $79.50, which is all pure profit. $95 + $79.50 = $174.50. By placing two matched bets you have just made a completely risk free $74.50

The exciting this is there are dozens of bookmakers that you can repeat this with. You should also note that some deposit matches are capped at more than $100 meaning that the bookmaker will match a larger deposit in bonus bet… The result is even bigger profits.

Rinse and repeat this process with as many bookmakers as you can find and enjoy the profits! If you aren’t immediately given an offer when opening an account, leave it for a few days and it is likely that the bookmaker will reach out with an offer.

Phase 3 – Plays of The Day

So as you can imagine, at any one time there are multiple promotions being offered by different bookmakers. Sometimes these promotions can be played off against each other.

What do I mean by this? Take a look at the below example found by Bonusbank.

Risk Free Matched Betting

Firstly, you can see that regardless of which team wins, you will make a profit. Secondly, a list of possible bonuses are show below. These are special promotions that the bookmakers are offering on this game. These bonuses give you the chance to win even more.

For example, if the Roosters lead by 4+ points at half time but lose the game, Pointsbet will still pay you out as if they had won. This means both bets on the Sharks would win as well as the bet on the Roosters with Pointsbet. The end result is a profit of $171.

These opportunities are extremely difficult to find by yourself as there are so many bookmakers and so many different sporting events. Luckily for you, Bonusbank provides these plays of the day on a daily basis. They are extremely simple to follow and take minimal time to execute.

Just to show you how profitable these plays of the day are, Bonusbank have a profit graph displayed on their website. Since they have launched plays of the day in April 2017, they have made upwards of $40,000 profit. This is quite astonishing considering it would take about 5 minutes a day to place their suggested bets.

Matched Betting

Phase 4 – Profiting from Horse Racing

Ok so by now you should have a couple thousand dollars under your belt. But sadly you have probably run out of bookmakers and deposit matches. Worry not! We are just getting started. The next avenue to make money through matched betting is through horse racing.

It is by no means complicated but it may take slightly more time to wrap your head around than phase 2. First of all I will explain the basic principles behind matched betting on the horse racing and then I will get into exactly how you can get started.

So as you know the key to matched betting is bonus bets, but how can you get bonus bets back from matched betting? Most bookmakers offer a promotion whereby if you bet on a horse and it comes second or third you get your money back in bonus bets.

Here is a simple formula for profiting from the horse racing. You place a back bet on a horse, you then place a lay bet on a horse. The result, no matter the result, you make a small qualifying loss. However, if the horse comes second or third you will get a bonus bet and make a net profit.

The key to this being profitable is the back and lay odds of a horse being extremely close together, meaning that the qualifying loss will be quite small. Small qualifying losses allow you to recoup these losses in the long term from the bonus bets. On the other hand, if your qualifying losses are too large, you will not be able to recoup these losses.

A little confusing I know. But bare with me and all of the pieces of the puzzle will start to come together.

Firstly, this only works on races where the bookmaker is offering this promotion. It is quite common for most bookmakers to offer this on Saturdays, but make sure you check before placing any bets. Secondly, I recommend you use Bonusbank’s ‘Horsepower’ software to help you decide exactly which horse to place your bets on.

Below is what you can expect from Bonusbank’s Horsepower.

Matched Betting Horsepower

The example snippet shows a race at Hawkesbury. The mode is set to SR and the stake to $50 (this is usually the max that will be refunded for the 2nd, 3rd money back promo).

The horsepower software then shows all horses within this race as well as bookie odds, lay odds, lay stake, return % and EV. Now let’s walk through what those of these things mean.

Bookie odds are the odds that are being offered for that horse to win and lay odds are the odds being offered for the horse to not win. Lay stake is the stake that you are required to place on the lay bet on Betfair. Return % is the percentage that you will lose no matter whether the horse wins or loses. Finally, EV (expected value) shows the long term value of that bet.

So why are we doing this if we are losing money? The aim is to make the small qualifying loss, with the hope that the horse finishes the race in 2nd or 3rd position.

When the horse finishes 2nd or 3rd, the following things will happen. Your bet with the bookmaker will lose, your lay bet will win and you will receive a bonus bet from the bookmaker.

The next step is to convert this bonus bet into cold hard cash. You can do this through following the same steps outlined in phase 2. Use Bonusbank’s ATM, set it to SNR as it is a bonus bet, find the sporting event and odds, enter these into Bonusbank’s calculator and place the back bet and lay bet.

Assuming that we convert our bonus bets to cash at a rate of 80% (which is extremely realistic with the help of the ATM) this is what it would look like every time a horse finished 2nd or 3rd. Our $50 bonus bet is converted into cash at 80% so we now have $40.

We now need to deduct the qualifying loss we made on that race. Deduct the qualifying loss (usually 10%-20%) so we will use 15% for the example. 15% of $50 is $7.5.

Therefore, for every horse that runs 2nd or 3rd, you make $32.5 pure profit. Now I know exactly what you are thinking, not every horse is going to finish is going to finish 2nd or 3rd. That is completely ok, when the EV is above 0 the qualifying loss is small enough to make this mathematically profitable in the long run.

On a Saturday it is not uncommon for there to be 30 races offering this promotion. Lets say 10 out of 30 horses run 2nd or 3rd. 10x $50 bonus bets converted at 80% = $400. Now subtract the qualifying losses on each race: 30 x $7.5 (assuming 15% qualifying loss) = $225.

$400 – $225 = $175 profit for a few hours on the couch. Not bad at all.

Take note that the numbers used above were extremely conservative. It would not be uncommon to make quite a bit more than this on a Saturday.

The reasons are as follows; you will likely hit more than 10 2nd’s or 3rd’s, you will likely be able to keep your qualifying losses below 15% per race and some bookmakers offer this promotion where even 4th place gets you your money back.

When the odds are against you, you can expect to loose in the long run, when the EV is positive it means that mathematically the odds are in your favour. From this you can expect long term profits.

Phase 5 – Matched Betting Mastery

Once you have mastered the ability to exploit deposit bonuses, reap profits from the horse racing and cash in on the plays of the day, you are well on your way. In my experience, these three methods offered incredible returns for a reasonably small amount of effort.

For most people, those three methods will allows you to fulfil your matched betting income goals as they did mine. But what if you want to make more? Well, you’re in luck. There are a dozen other ways that you can make money through matched betting.

Whilst they do step up slightly in complexity, Bonusbanks tutorials do an amazing job of simplifying them.

I have listed some other ways you can make money through matched betting below.

  • Exploiting multi’s with promotions attached
  • Exploiting odds boosts
  • Arbitrage betting


  1. Occasionally place a mug bet to make it look like you are a mug punter. Bookmakers may ban you from promotions if they believe you are matched betting
  2. Track your earnings on a spreadsheet. This will give you a better insight into how much money you are making from your matched betting
  3. Take it slow. There is no need to rush with matched betting. It is mathematically risk-free, yet if you rush and make a mistake, you risk losing money
  4. Don’t get sucked in to gambling. Spending time on gambling platforms can increase the likelihood of gambling. Don’t get sucked into this – it is a sure-fire way to reduce your profits from matched betting
  5. Use a matched betting resource like Bonusbank. Without one, matched betting can become a real headache. Without their tutorials, calculators, the ATM & horsepower, matched betting can get pretty tricky


I truly believe matched betting is one of the most lucrative side hustles that exists. It can be done from the comfort of your own home, takes minimal time and offers incredible returns. It is entirely possible to make $1000 a month through matched betting with many people reporting to have earned significantly more .

Whilst I would strongly recommend matched betting to anybody who is looking for a new side hustle or to make some tax free income, if you have experienced gambling problems in the past, despite matched betting not being the same as gambling, the exposure to gambling sites may not be optimal for you and may entice you into gambling.

If this is you, I recommend staying away from matched betting. for everyone else, I recommend getting starting as soon as you can.

I thoroughly hope this guide helped you in any way shape or form.

Good luck on your matched betting journey!

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    1. OMG well worth reading ! The word ‘betting’ always put me off but this calculated method actually worked. Very smart thank you 🙂


    Aussie FI
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