How I Make Money with Matched Betting While Travelling

This article may contain compensated links. Please read the disclosure for more info here

If you’ve ever heard of people who make money with matched betting, you might think ‘scam’. I admit I did when I first heard of it.

But when Andrew shared his experience with matched betting in a Facebook group I belong to, I paid attention. 

I know Andrew personally (he was a bike mechanic at my local bike shop before he left to go travelling) so I asked him to write about his experience so I could share it on the blog.

I, much like you and anyone else who doesn’t reply to Nigerian prince’s emails, am a sceptic when it comes to money-making ‘schemes’.

We’ve all seen the cheesy ads inviting us to ‘stop working the 9 to 5’ or ‘make money from home’ and such other questionable uses of our time and capital.

Recently, however, a random youtube comment has brought a whole new stream of income to my wife and me.

We have been looking for a second stream of income as we left New Zealand 6 months ago and are currently travelling the UK in our van.

Gambling in NZ is an accepted but sidelined vice, the TAB is there but it’s pretty subtle. Sure it causes harm but it’s not advertised and only a fool would surely think they’ve beaten the system.

When we first got to the UK, whilst having a cup of tea with my family with the telly on in the background, I became aware of how many gambling adverts there were on TV.

And it feels anachronistic and a bit unclean, much like watching Fred Flinstone and Barney sharing a Winston’s cigarette.

Nonetheless, Brian Blessed’s voice booms the odds and potential winnings at the viewers in the ad breaks, bingo is relentlessly plugged on the Chase, not just in the ad breaks but by the Chasers themselves before and after every segment of the programme.

The high street, lined with failing or empty shops but a row of gleaming bookies, every shopping row has the effect of a scooby doo baddie chase, repeating itself in every town.

Paddy Power, Will Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral with a few charity shops. Next town, same story.

Now if you bite, just to add to that each one has an app you can download which will light up and ping with special offers and the latest odds. There’s not just one TAB but hundreds of bookies and online casinos.

And you know, it kind of stings a bit. I can’t imagine how much willpower it must take for, what the industry calls, ‘problem gamblers’ (because they don’t want to be associated with words like addiction) to say no to these, day in day out.

My theory in life so far has been to simply avoid them. If the casino can afford marble pillars and gold bannisters then there’s a good reason for it. Therefore, my gambling knowledge was very limited and my knowledge of sports even less.

Now the hooks they use to draw people in go beyond simply offering good odds. William Hill offers £30 ($60) in free bets when you bet £10 ($20). Bet 365 offers £100 in free bets.

Anyway, a couple of months back, I was watching a BBC documentary called ‘How to beat the bookies’.

Some were self-titled professional gamblers but they made little during the programme. One did very well from online poker.

Another was a courtsider, a complex but effective way of making money from tennis.

I decided to do the one thing no one should ever do and read the comments.

One person said something along the lines of ‘There’s only one way to consistently beat the bookies – matched betting’.

So I googled it and it sounded so dodgy I nearly clicked off. I’m really glad I didn’t.

After much reading, I found it to be a potential income and sticking it to the bookies in one! And it’s 100% legal!

So I watched a video on the subject by a company, which went in-depth into how it works.

How does matched betting work?

Matched betting uk

Here’s the short version.

Bookie A offers ‘Bet £5, get £20 in free bets’

So I signed up to Bookie A and deposit £5. I used a calculator provided by the company, in which they walked me through it, practically clicking for me. This found the best bet possible for my situation.

Now we go on to the exchange. Very similar to a bookie for our purposes so we’ll call them Bookie B.

On bookie A we bet the £5 on, let’s say Burnley vs Everton, backing (betting on) Burnley.

On bookie B we bet AGAINST Burnley winning. Note this isn’t the same as betting on Everton as a draw would mean you lose both bets.

You will be guaranteed to lose a certain amount, whichever way the best falls. In the case of £5, after costs and differences in odds, maybe 20-50p.

But this bet now unlocks £20 of free bets. I go back onto the calculator and input the details to come out with a range of bets I could make and their respective profits.

Now we make a second bet, let’s say, Aston Villa vs Liverpool, backing a draw at bookie A and against a draw at bookie B.

Whatever happens in the match, you win. It’s a draw, you win at Bookie A and take your money. It’s not a draw, you win at bookie B and take your money.

With decent odds, you’re likely to make 70-90 % of the original free bet amount back in cash. So we’ve got something like a £14-18 profit! In time you can put a simple deal like this together in 10 minutes or so.

If you understood that from reading it the first time, perhaps matched betting isn’t for you, maybe try designing algorithms for investment banks or even the bookies themselves.

For me, it took a few hours to get my head around it and a further hour or two to place the bets on the first deal.

All I could grasp was that the mathematical principle made sense and I dutifully followed the instructions on the matched betting website. It will make more sense quite quickly, by deal 5 or 6 it starts to become routine.

By doing more and more of these offers, in the last 24 days, I’ve made a grand total of £621.60! And as you get faster and better at it, you make more. In the last 4 days, I’ve made £146.69.

Not bad really, covers all our travel costs and it’s quite fun too. I tend to pop to the pub with the laptop, they do a cheap bottomless tea/coffee and that’s my work office. Not a bad life!

It turns out gambling’s quite exciting when you know you’re going to win. I still know nothing about sports but I have been learning a lot about gambling.

It’s opened up some other doors to a gambling based income which I’m currently exploring.

The Downsides to Matched Betting

Matched betting

Now, it’s not all roses. I’d like to run through the downsides.

    • If you have the sort of personality where you may be susceptible to issues around gambling, do not attempt. These companies design their products to be addictive and the point where you will have the most willpower is before you start. I really really don’t want to be responsible for making misery.
    • The old saying it takes money to make money has never been truer. Due to the way betting exchanges work, if you want to bet against a £20 bet, you may need over £100 in the exchange, or accept a much lower return PLUS the money you have to put in to make the bet at Bookie A. I started with £500, it’s now grown to £1000. The ideal amount would be £2000.
    • It’s not a social thing. You can’t discuss this with others as you may end up introducing them to bad gambling habits or they may disapprove of what you’re doing. The work is solitary and I often find myself hiding my laptop screen from others. Not for security but I suppose I don’t want to be judged as a ‘gambler’.
    • The bank will block your card that you’re making deposits with. I’m assuming putting money into bookies is something a money launderer or other crook may do so my bank, Nationwide, have blocked my card the best part of 10 times over 24 days. It’s often quick to resolve but frustrating, especially if the odds of a deal change whilst you’re sorting it out. I know when I’ve applied for mortgages in the past, the bank will scrutinise your statements to make sure you’re good with money. I can’t imagine reams of bookies on your statement will help your chances.
    • The bookies may block you. With matched betting, in the business, it’s called ‘gubbing’. For matched betters, they will usually pay you out but black any further bets being made on your account. If you’re doing anything illegal or fraudulent, they will likely take your money too (so no making multiple accounts!).
    • The good offers run out. Making money out of it at first is super easy, 20,30,50,100 quid a time. This is to get you to sign up to their platforms. However, once these are exhausted, you’re back to making ‘reload bets’. These might be, bet £25 in a week, get a £5 free bet. Profitable but you’ve got to be quick to make it worth your time. I’m yet to find out if it’s worthwhile to make the vaunted £1000 per month as promoted on matched betting sites. It’s definitely possible but worthwhile is another thing.


But having said all that we’ve found it really worthwhile so far. It’s paid for some nice upgrades to our van, relieved a bit of stress around money and allowed us to enjoy travelling that bit more.

If you go down this route, be careful, it’s littered with catches and snags but you could just be the person that beat the bookies at their own game. Not many can say that.

Editors note: As far as I know it’s only possible to make money from matched betting if you are based in the UK or Australia. 

About Emma Healey

Emma is a recognised family finance and budgeting expert and founder of Mum's Money. Her advice has been featured in Readers Digest, Yahoo Finance, Lifehacker, The Simple Dollar, MSN Money and more.