Most (actually all) of the betting was done in the run-up to Xmas - but I had to wait until the entire bet had resolved (all the money was gone from the bookies) before posting on the blog here; bookies are quick to annul accounts these days and can even cancel free bets if you're not careful.
Anyway, in the weeks running up to Xmas, I managed to release free bets from
- Stan James
- William Hill
- William Hill
(I've since been rather pre-occupied with the big day itself, travelling up and down the country to visit family and even a bit of real-world work squeezed in too).
Many of my bets "lost" at the bookies, and I managed to get about 70% of the free bet value to appear in my BetFair account. But on occasion, I would hit a "lucky break" and win at the bookies. They weren't always best pleased about this. To be honest, neither was I as it just meant more hassle, trying to release the funds.
Ladbrokes were quick enough to return the £170 I won over the course of the qualifying and free bets. William Hill were less so (after three failed attempts to withdraw my winnings, I put the whole lot on a nag of a horse and laid it off in Betfair; it cost me a couple of quid to do this, but it got the money out quickly and easily).
Neither I nor Betway were particularly pleased when a couple of my bets won and I ended up with £242 in that account! Although they did (eventually) pay the full amount back to my bank account, it took them just 45 minutes to send me a "you're gubbed" email and politely invited me to never again take part in any of their promotions or free bet offers!
But whether the bookies think I lost or won, each one returned an overall profit; after about a dozen or so bookies offers, I was £250 up overall. It was tempting to continue going and collecting about the same again in free bets (there are loads of online free bet offers still available that I hadn't even looked at). But this whole endeavour was always about pulling in a few hundred quid, quickly and easily.
None of the offers were particularly difficult to do, each taking around 10-15 minutes to put all the bets on. And I managed to achieve my initial aim - to put a half-decent family spread on the table this Christmas.
We had 14 over for dinner this year (thanks to my mum hosting us all) with ham, turkey, pork, beef and all the trimmings. We had fancy canapes and plenty of spirits for afterwards. And thanks to matched betting, it didn't cost us a penny....