We're not messing about with this one! Ladbrokes have a great sign-up offer promotion - F50 means they'll match your first bet (as a free bet) up to £50.
That's a great offer - but it also means needing to have some proper money available to lay off the bet(s). It also means that you really need to have confidence in the whole matched-betting thing, and to be absolutely comfortable with throwing fifty quid at a bookies - even a reputable one like Mr Ladbrokes!
But, filled with a bellyful of fire from previous bets, I stuck £50 into Ladbrokes and banged the whole lot on Burnley (against Bournemouth) at 12/5 (decimal 3.4). Then, over at Betfair, I bet against Burnley, putting £51.52 at odds of 3.35.
To the untrained eye, that looks like over a hundred quid in one go. But it's not that bad. It's even worse! You see, when you place a lay bet on the exchange, you need to prove that you can pay out if the exchange bet loses. That means putting up 2.35 x 51.52 = £121.07 - a total of £170 blown in a single matched bet. Sometimes you just need to hold your nerve....
Like all good bookies, Ladbrokes honour the free bet offer as soon as the first bet is placed. And with £50 in free bets burning a hole in my pocket, I couldn't help but try to push it through quickly. So I stuck my free £50 on a horse called Tambour at 4/1 (odds 5.0 decimal). Then headed over to Betfair and bet against Tambour for £40.40 and odds also of 5.0 (decimal).
Having stumped up £50 for the qualifier, £121 laying the qualifying bet off and £161 laying off the second (free bet) it was time to call it a day and let the dust settle - at least until the £332 on this one single promotion had worked itself out and I could work out where all my money had gone!
EDIT: (3 days later)
Burnley beat Bournemouth 3 - 2
That meant my Betfair account took a massive hit, and my Ladbrokes account now has £170 sitting in it! Luckily Tambour turned out to be a nag, finishing second from last, otherwise all my money would have ended up in Ladbrokes, and my Betfair account would be empty by now!
Luckily, Ladbrokes don't mess about (unlike William Hills who really made me work to get my money out at the weekend). I put in a withdrawal request, and after a few days, £170 appeared in my bank account.
All that's left to do is take it out of there and put it back into the Betfair exchange (yes, that's how the whole matched betting thing works - just keep shovelling cash into Betfair and hope that all the bets lose at the bookies. When you're finally done with all the offers, the Betfair balance should be substantially higher than when you started - then withdraw the cash. There's nothing worse than ending up with all you money in a bookies account, nothing in the betting exchange, and you've run out of cash to get it out of the bookies! Not all bookies let you simply withdraw your ill-gotten winnings....)
Anyway, after all that, I lost the £121.07 at Betfair on Burnley not to win (but won £170 at Ladbrokes). Given than £50 of that was mine in the first place, that means I was 170 - 50 - 121.07 = £1.07 down after the first bet. The second bet cost me nothing to place at Ladbrokes (it was a £50 free bet) and returned £40.40 at Betfair (£38.38 after commission).
Total profit on this promotion: £37.31