UK bookmakers: Free bets guide

When placing a bet with a bookmaker, you place what is know as a stake (your bet amount) on the outcome of an event at particular odds. Take a football match for example, if you were to place £10 on Team A winning the football match at 3/1 (4.0 in decimal odds) you would win £40 (your stake of £10 plus the winnings of £30), now if you lost the bet, the bookmaker would keep your £10 and you would receive nothing.
Taking the above example, imagine you are the bookmaker offering the same odds to someone for the same outcome, if the bet loses you gain their £10, however if the bet wins you have to pay out £40 (£10 of their money back, plus £30 of your money). This is known as 'laying' a bet and is something which can be done on a betting exchange.

Now if you were to place the bet above and then lay the same bet at the same odds (by using a betting exchange and acting as the bookmaker) whatever the outcome of the match you would not lose any money, the bets would cancel each other out.
With football there are two possible outcomes. Below are the potential outcomes of placing the above bet/lay (matched bet):

Qualifying bet
Team A wins
You win £40 (your stake of £10 plus the winnings of £30).
Your 'lay' bet loses (with the betting exchange) meaning you lose £30.
Therefore you would be left with the following £40-£10 (stake) - £30 ('lay' bet) = £0

Team A does not win (loses or draw's match)
You lose £10 (your stake)
Your 'lay' bet wins (with the betting exchange) meaning you win £10
Therefore you would be left with the following £10 ('lay' bet) - £10 (stake) = £0
So by placing your bet and 'lay' you neither win nor lose any money.

Now lets look at the same scenario as above but with a bookmakers free £10 bet

Free bookmaker bet
Team A wins
You use the free bet of £10 at 3/1 (4.0). You win £40 without risking your own money on the stake.
Your 'lay' bet loses (with the betting exchange) meaning you lose £30.
Therefore you would be left with the following £40 - £30 ('lay' bet) = £10 profit

Team A does not win (loses or draw's match)
You use the free bet of £10 at 3/1 (4.0). You lose the £10 free bet.
Your 'lay' bet wins (with the betting exchange) meaning you win £10
Therefore you would be left with the following £10 ('lay' bet) = £10 profit

This means you can place a qualifying bet as above with a bookmaker with no risk whatsoever, in return you will be given a free opening account bet which if used in the second example will generate a guaranteed £10 profit. Once you get the hang of matched betting this can be done many times for each of the bookmakers with opening offers.

Things however are not quite as simple as the example above. Betting exchanges charge commission on winnings made at the exchange (usually 5%), also it is fairly difficult to 'lay' bets at the same odds as the bookmakers, there is always a small difference. Taking these factors into account it is still possible to make 95% profit on the free bet without much difficulty and without any risk.

Step by Step process
Once you understand the above examples its time to follow the below step by step guide and place your first matched bet.

Step 1
Find a bookmaker with a free bet (use the bookmakers uk list for current free bets).

Step 2
Open an account and read the terms and conditions to determine the type of free bet and the conditions of using it, some bookmakers have stake returned bets other may require the free bet to be placed on a particular sport for example. If you are unsure then email customer service and ask what the conditions of the free bet are.

Step 3
Open a betting exchange account, there is a link to Betfair on the here which will also give you a free £20 bet.

Step 4
If you haven't already, download a copy of this spreadsheet which will help calculate how much to back/lay when placing matched bets. The spreadsheet also has the advantage of being able to record the bets placed and keep a record of your username for future reference.

Step 5
You now need to find a good match to use for the qualifying bet, the aim being to place a back bet that has the closest 'lay' odds at the betting exchange. This will produce the lowest loss in the qualifying bet. Enter the bet odds and 'lay' odds into the spreadsheet to obtain the loss you would make on the qualifying bet, play around with the spreadsheet so that you can understand how it works.
You will need to look at the amount below the lay odds at the exchange, this is the amount available to lay and should always be more than the bet you are placing.
For example you may have entered something similar to the following:

This qualifying bet would result in a £1.25 loss with the free bet to follow. It is important to make sure you back and lay the same event and try to get as close a match as possible in order to reduce the loss of the qualifying bet. There may be a rare occasion when the odds at the bookmaker are higher than the 'lay' odds at the betting exchange, this means you would make a small profit regardless of the outcome.

Step 6
The next step is to deposit money at the bookmaker and deposit money at the betting exchange which is more than the lay risk liability amount in the spreadsheet.

Step 7
Once you have money in both accounts you now need to place the bet. Take time when doing this until you get the hang of it in order to reduce the risk of making a mistake. First place the bet at the bookmaker double checking you have put the right odds into the spreadsheet. Then click on the lay odds at the betting exchange and place the amount in the lay stake cell of the spreadsheet into the betting exchange lay box (the risk should match that of the spreadsheet). Both the bet and the 'lay' bet have now been placed.

Step 8
Repeat the process detailed above using the free bet to extract the free bet money.
That's the process complete and the free bet has been extracted. Now all that's left is to repeat the process to extract another bookmakers free bet bonus!

Tips and Advice
Below I have listed some tips/advice that you may find useful.

Why choose football?
Football is an easy market to choose when placing matched bets, this is because the rules are easy to understand and also there is a lot more money available to 'lay' at the betting exchange.

What are the best markets for qualifying bets?
The best markets to choose when placing a qualifying bet are:
Under/Over 2.5 Goals
Half Time Result
First team to score
The reason for choosing the above are that they usually contain fairly low odds and usually attract the most money making it easier to 'lay' at the betting exchange.

Why use decimal odds?
Decimal odds are easier to work with as they include the stake money in any return, therefore meaning they are easier to calculate with.

Stake not returned bets
Some bookmakers offer free bets where the stake is not returned. The key to extracting the free bet is to place a bet and 'lay' at slightly higher odds than the qualifying bet (above 4.0 decimal).




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