One of the great online claims of how to make a lot of cash pretty quickly for free (or words to that effect) is ‘Matched Betting’. One website dispensing tips on how to make free money online says, and I quote “If you know an easier way to make £30 an hour I’d love to hear it.” It all sounds very promising. I mean £30 an hour. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to earn that if it was, as claimed, ‘easy’?
Now if something seems too good to be true then the chances are pretty much that it is. When you get that mutual like on Tinder or a similar dating app from an absolute stone cold fox who could grace any magazine cover then your bullshit radar should be bleeping like crazy and red flags waving all around. I mean life just isn’t that kind. And rather inevitably within a matter of minutes said dream woman will likely be sending you the link to a subscription sex website as opposed to her actual mobile number. However as much as the internet is a great desert of deception, lies, too good to be true get rich quick schemes and long-lost millionaire Nigerian relatives who recently died in plane crashes, it’s also a great portal for truth. Literally google any scheme and the chances are that if it is nonsense there will be plenty of web pages, forums, newspaper articles etc debunking or exposing it. So much so you wonder why they still persist when the cat is clearly not just out of the bag but is perched up on the dining room table and staring you straight in the face. I guess they endure as there is always one more sucker left out there to be taken advantage of. Whether it be desperation or just sheer ignorance of the ways of the world wide web who knows. Alas, endure many do.
With all that in mind, I thought it would be quite easy to expose Matched betting as a scam. Just fire it into google alongside the word ‘scam’ and there should be your evidence. So I was pretty surprised to be met with a lot of online chat discussing it’s legitimacy and indeed the theory behind it. There was even a Wikipedia page to validate it. Not that wiki is by any means gospel but you know what I mean.
One online article from the Guardian, in particular, caught my eye and seemed to break down rather plausibly how matched betting was a workable formula. So on that basis, I took the plunge and invested £99 in a one-year membership of one of the biggest service providers. There are a few out of there but the one I went for was www.matchedbets.com.
Now you can get a few days free to try the service or even do it on a monthly subscription fee basis which whilst being more expensive in the long term doesn’t tie you to it for any longer than the month you’ve paid for. Why did I not do this? Well, I wasn’t destitute and having been rather convinced by the research I’d done online I decided to take the plunge as it were and just commit to a full year of the thing.
What now follows is my odyssey through this experience which whilst by no means turned out to be a scam certainly proved to be far more challenging and time-consuming than advertised or revealed in any of my research going in.
So to begin with you require two things. Firstly is money. Yep if you want to make money you have to have some to make money from. In this case the more the better. Of course, if you already had loads of money there’s no chance you’d be even considering doing match betting when there are far more interesting things to do like going on holiday’s and giving £50 notes to lap dancers. But you will need a decent amount in order to be able to actually deposit funds in the betting accounts. Secondly, you’ll also need a betting exchange account. There are loads out there. In the end, I went for Smarkets as they charge the lowest commission. And again you’ll need to deposit a fair whack of cash into the betting exchange so that you actually have something to lay against your bets with the bookies. If you’re going to get into marched betting then you must and I stress MUST know what you’re doing with betting exchanges. The matched bets site I used actually had a guide but being a man I decided to forgo this and just chance my arm. I wouldn’t recommend this. Not unless you want to find out how they work like I did: ie: The Hard Way. Anyway, it would take too long to try and explain to you how betting exchanges and indeed matched betting itself works so for that info better get googling. Let’s just say a betting exchange effectively allows you to set yourself up as the bookie so to speak.
Anyway in the hope that you either already know what betting exchanges are or have bothered to familiarise yourself with them let’s move onto my individual experiences with a sample of the online betting providers targeted by the matched betting system.
So to start the system targets bookies doing new customer promos. This can be rather tricky if you’ve already used the bookie before. It means you have to create a new account using a different email, username and in some cases even payment details ie: Paypal instead of debit card details or vice versa or even a completely different card. Of course, you could just move onto one you haven’t used before but depending on how many you have used in the past this can severely limit your earning potential especially as the bigger bookies tend to have the most straightforward and financially rewarding promo offers.
So let us begin……………….
BetBright : Turns out the Smarkets exchange never actually matched my underlay and cancelled it. They politely informed me after the event by which time I’d already lost my £100 initial deposit with BetBright. If I’d known what I was doing with exchanges there’s no way I’d have screwed this up but like I said I decided to learn the hard way as opposed to just using the guide. I did get a £50 free bet off of them though and tried to claw my losses back as all good gamblers do. Put the full £50 bet on Arsenal to beat Crystal Palace. I temporarily forgot that Arsenal are crap and lost the free bet as the Gunners were crushed 3-0 by relegation-threatened Palace.
They did give me 10 free spins of an online slot machine called ‘Motorhead’ though. From this, accompanied by a hard rock soundtrack, I was able to recover 62 p of my losses. However, as you need a minimum of £1 to play the game again and need a minimum of £5 in your account to withdraw so that 62 p will just occupy cyberspace for the rest of time. Unless some genius like Richard Pryor’s character in Superman III can find some way of getting it out.
BetFred: They wouldn’t honour their sign up bonus as the Grand National was on that weekend. Online support told me to message back the following day rather than cancelling my account and that ‘they would get something sorted’. I did. No one was interested. Basically, I was told ‘No!’. So never bothered depositing and cancelled the account. I’ve had a previous experience with Betfred years previously and I can safely say they are the worst online bookmakers for honouring sign up offers and for customer experience. So be warned.
X-Tip: Deposit and bet £100 to get £100 in free bets.
They withdrew the offer. I now can’t withdraw my £100 as they claim you have to bet with it first.
A shrug of the shoulders by the Match Betting team on chat. I eventually got the money back after finding a game where one team was being hammered with 10 mins to play and backing the side 3-0 up to win for minimal odds.
I also had to verify myself by sending in a picture of my passport as it turns out these guys are based in Malta. Very iffy. Approach these guys with great caution.
10Bet : Believe it or not but this one is still ongoing after a month. So you deposit £400 to get £200. Sounds simple enough but you have to gamble that £600 total toward 3K’s worth of bets in order to be able to cash out. The Matchedbets site offer says you can make well over 100 quid with this. In reality what with all of the matched bet’s you would have to put on plus the fact the Matchedbets site’s calculator doesn’t include 10Bet added to the fact 10Bet’s odds are always way below the market average you’re more likely to make around 50 quid. This belief was supported by the Matchedbets team themselves on chat. They say they’ll alter the instructions accordingly. It should come with a notice reading “WARNING: This will take ages to complete.”
It also leads to the temptation born out of frustration and tedium to just start gambling on ‘sure things’ with the overall amount. And we all know how that generally ends.
McBookie: Another one where you are left to find the games and try and calculate the odds for yourself. It turns out the game I backed threw up the result to win the initial bet but based on the odds I lost around 147 on Smarkets so now with my free £25 bet (which I haven’t received yet) I stand to only recover the money I’ve made. Lovely. And a complete waste of time. Alas, another example of what happens if you are somewhat green to how a betting exchange works.
Betsafe: below is a chat I had with the ‘Matchedbets’ team in regards to the Betsafe offer.
“57.90 in my Betsafe account is MY money (30 deposit and 27.90 won which was lost in Smarkets when it was matched) so can’t be wagered as a Free bet. 30 is the free bet. If I just put the whole 87.90 there definitely would be a risk. The guides only help if the lay bet wins. If the offer bet wins the vibe seems to be “you’re on your own.”
The guide says that if your bet wins with the bookmaker you will have to keep betting until you meet the wagering requirements.
Could you tell me where the risk is when turning over the bonus please Paul?
Yeah, I understand that. That makes sense. But it doesn’t take you through what to do. It just says ‘keep betting’. There is no risk when turning over the bonus but there is with the full account balance which if you look back was the initial query. The answer could have been from your 87.90…….just bet the 30 bonus. We’ve got there in the end. Just imagine though if you put that in the guide.
After what was quite a frustrating first week I was asked to give feedback:
Feedback: “Where would I start. I paid £99 for the premium service. There isn’t anything premium about it. The guys on chat are pretty good but I’ve spent most of my time on there. So many offers aren’t in your calculator leaving you to have to find bets, try to get them matched on decent odds etc, etc. Most of the work gets done by me. I’m new to exchanges. Some instructions in the drop down would have helped but no you have to check through a guide. Also, offers like X-tip who withdrew the offer the day I deposited £100, won’t let me withdraw until I bet it and all this after having to send them a copy of my passport which was never mentioned anywhere. So far I’m down big time. Have spent countless hours on your page. Also, you recommend choosing games between 95 and 100 to select and then show a load of games lasting for days that don’t go above 83. Anyway, it seemed too good to be true and it most certainly is.”
Boylesport : Whilst not getting near to Betfred’s level of ‘arseholeness‘ Boylesports is another shower of ingrates when it comes to their sign-up offer. This sees you get a free £10 bet for every £10 bet you place on odds of 1.5 or more. As I found out you can’t place the same qualifying bet on the same thing more than once. I actually found one at 5.5 odds and placed the same bet 4 times. But despite the bets all losing ( I was covered on the betting exchange) Boylesports would only allow one to qualify towards the offer. I also made the mistake of placing a bit that was well above a tenner. Think it was £50 plus (again I was covered in the exchange) and they told me that it would only stand as one towards the qualifying bets despite being five times the required amount. This was all confirmed in a chat session. They were apologetic about it unlike BetFred who remain king of crap promos and customer service. But unlike the numerous good bookies who appreciate the fact you’re you know actually giving them money and betting with them they offered nothing in the way of a gesture. If you’re looking just for a general bookmaker to bet with, I wouldn’t recommend these guys. Their casino never worked either. They kept on telling me I had a free fiver to use on roulette etc but anytime I logged into a live game the connection got lost. Another first. I emailed them about it and they never responded. The website is also God-awful. It looks like it’s based on quite an arcane web template. Another reason to stay away.
Leo-Vegas : The sign offer gives price boosts which using a formula you can make a small profit on. About £8. The only problem is on sign up apparently I went with the casino sign-up offer. I didn’t even see an option to choose your new customer sign-up bonus type. The casino one is pre-selected. Of course, it makes more sense not to pre-select any so as to force the user to choose one before completing the sign-up but that would have been far too sensible. What also reinforces the confusion is you get a confirmation of sign up email which even has a section confirming you’re entitled to the price boost and an activation tab underneath. Pressing this makes no difference apparently. Anyway, I told their chat team (the chat option isn’t easy to find) and they say it will be amended. When exactly is anyone’s guess. So I’d probably avoid LeoVegas for sports betting. It clearly isn’t their forte.
Bet 365: For me, BET 365 is the best online bookmaker and by some distance too. They usually have strong odds, good promos and there’s no nonsense as well as sterling customer service. I’ve been a customer with them for some time. To be honest, before I got into matched betting they were pretty much the only online bookmaker I ever used regularly and I’ve very much your run of the mill weekend football coupon type better. Already being a customer I wasn’t entitled to a sign-up offer but did receive a reload offer of deposit £100 and receive £100 in free bets. Using the matched betting system I actually got my money back, the full £100 bonus and a slight extra of about £8 on top of that. Easy as pie. If only they were all that easy.
A lot of hassle and stress for relatively low reward. Online claims of earning £30 an hour or 2K a month are fanciable at best and to be honest more or less downright lies. Ultimately you’d be better putting on a line, backing 4 or 5 favourites each weekend as part of your accumulator and hoping for the best. But if you do decide to give it a go I’d recommend you familiarise yourself with the ins and out of a betting exchange, do several of the smaller reward opening offers to get used to the whole system and hope that the bet you’re backing with the bookie (and against with the betting exchange) losses as this is the easiest way to get your money out rather than go through the tedium of constant rollovers.
Either way……….good luck!