The first time I had a go at this - spurred on by Matt - I managed to create about £700 over the course of six or seven weeks. Instead of taking the money out and going off on a holiday or buying something nice (and much to the chagrin of my partner) I re-cycled the cash, repeating the process for other people, friends and family. Matched betting paid for three or four Christmases in 2015. This year, there's only one I want it to pay for - mine!
So while everyone else benefited, I just ended up with a couple of betting exchange accounts. Today they're worth £643.50 (I had a go at "trading" the betting markets and after a promising start, I quickly lost the few hundred quid I made and realised that I was never going to make a gambler!) So between now and Xmas, I'll be doing some matched betting to turn free bets into cash. Here's how it started....
Firstly, my Betfair account had a starting balance of £436.80 (the remaining £206.70 sits in a Smarkets account, ready for use later on). You don't need this kind of balance to do simple matched betting - but a larger balance you can go for higher odds (and thus turn more of the free bet value into cash) or - as I intend to do - have multiple bets on the go at the same time.
I signed up for Coral and deposited a fiver, backing the horse Quaffal in the 17:55 at Chelmsford at 4.33
I then went to Betfair and stuck £4.87 against Quaffal at odds of 4.5
As it turns out, Quaffal lost the race. I lost my initial fiver, but won £4.87 on Betfair. So overall, I was 13p down (actually, it turned out I'm 24+13 = 37p down, because Betfair take 5% of all winnings as commission). Still, 37p down wasn't bad. From a £5 stake, that's 37/500*100 = 7.4% (ok, on reflection, maybe that's not brilliant - a qualifying bet should be around 5% maximum; more on this later).
Anyway, I lost 37p. But, as part of the Coral sign-up promotion, they give me 4 x free bets worth £20. So that's £20 worth of free bets for 37p. Not a bad result!
At this point, there are two ways I could go - stick the free bets on a horse and hope for the best. After all, there's plenty of cash to be won with just one lucky selection, and even if all further bets lose, I'd only be 37p down. Or - my preferred method - turn the free bets into guaranteed, risk-free cash. Obviously the rewards are much less - but there's no risk, it's guaranteed cash. And that sounds like a no-brainer to me! With the four free (£5 each) bets, I placed the following bets at both Coral and Betfair (each pair of bets placed pretty well at the same time):
Coral - £5 on Vimy Ridge at the 17:25 Chelmsford at 8.0
Betfair - £4.19 against Vimy Ridge at 8.4
Coral - £5 on Versant at the 17:55 Chelmsford at 7.0 (free bet)
Betfair - £4.03 against Versant at 7.8
Coral - £5 on Burning Heat at the 17:55 Chelmsford at 5.3 (free bet)
Betfair - £3.87 against Burning Heat at 5.6
Coral - £5 on Burning Heat at the 17:55 Chelmsford at 5.4 (free bet)
Betfair - £3.58 against Burning Heat at 6.05
It's just as well I went for the guaranteed free cash option, rather than hoping for a big win: not a single horse I chose won! On the plus side, I'd only spent a fiver at Coral, and my Betfair statement now reads:
That's 4.87 + 4.19 + 4.03 + 3.58 + 3.87 = £20.54 in winnings.
Which - after Betfair take their 5% commission - means £19.51 more cash in the Betfair account than when I started. Not forgetting I spent a fiver to place a (losing) bet at Coral in the first place, that's £14.51 more in total. And all for about ten minutes work!
If you're thinking of doing something similar, the trick is to have plenty of cash to hand. Trying to do this with limited funds is possible, but much more difficult. Having a decent starting balance in Betfair - and having the cash available to deposit into the bookies to claim the free bets - makes things much easier (and quicker, as you can do multiple sign-up offers at once).
Now, matched betters amongst you reading this might complain that I'm not getting the best value for my selections - but this is all about getting through the offers quickly; and by sticking to races that complete within an hour or two of placing the bets, means everything is settled and all the money is where it needs to end up, much more quickly. It also helps that the bets losing at the bookies means the money appears back in the Betfair account within minutes of the horse race finishing.
So that's where we're up to:
One bookies free bet offer down, £5 "staked" and we're £14.51 up after ten minutes.
On to the next offer.....