More free money - betting without the risk

Gambling is a fool's game, no? The chances of you doing anything other than losing everything you earn are obviously so low that bookies will actually pay you seriousish money to sign up and play away. Except, upon closer inspection, it turns out that there is a pretty fool-proof method to consistently take the large pots of free money and run. It is mostly risk-free, understandable to someone not from Mensa, and best of all in no way dodgy.

The technique is that of matched betting. The crux of the method is that, as previously mentioned, bookies on the Internet will often give you a free bet (usually between £5-50) as an incentive for signing up to their site. Of course, you have to qualify for it by putting some of your own money up for grabs, and you have to stake it on some likely-to-fail event before you can retrieve the free money. So "all" that is needed is a plan to allow you to play through the money without losing it until you have fulfilled the criteria to extract it out into the real world of hard currency.

Consider this:

  1. You stake £10 on team X winning match Y at odds of Z.
  2. Acting as a bookie yourself, you accept a bet of £10 from someone saying team X will win match Y at odds of Z.

Overall effect? Simple mathematics. Either team X will win (and you win bet 1 and lose bet 2) - or team X will not win, in which case you lose bet 1 and win bet 2. Either way, all other things being equal, the two bets cancel each other out at you lose and gain nothing.

Factor in the fact that you can get given a free bet from many places, so the initial £10 was essentially a gift from someone else. It becomes clear that the above situation would end up with you risk-free receiving the £10. Repeat to fade, become a millionaire without putting any real work in.

Betfair: placing a layBetfair: placing a layOf course things aren't quite that simple. Firstly, the chances are that you yourself do not own a bookies and people aren't queuing up to place bets against you. But, dear reader, this isn't the dark ages - there are several Betting Exchange sites around that allow people to bet against each other to the same effect. One player acts as a bookie and lays the bet, the other player acts as a gambler and takes the bet. Otherwise the rules remain the same. Perhaps the most famous such site, and easy enough to use that even the Poorhouse can manage, is Betfair. The word you need to remember is lay. To lay a bet is the opposite of taking a bet. A bookie lays bets, you take them by backing them.

Naturally you can't realise just hope to pick some odds and make people bet against you on them, but you can often with just a little searching find somewhere were the bookies has odds that are really quite close to those at the exchange. Looking at high-profile football matches might be a good start.

Secondly naturally Betfair et al. want to make some profit themselves. They do this by taking commission on the winnings; in Betfair's case this is often 5% for a new sign-up. Check the rules on each site if you're not sure. This isn't a problem; yes on average you'll lose a bit of each bet you place, but as long as you're not losing more than the free money you're still making a profit. Who cares if you only get £9.95 free as opposed to the full £10?

Lastly there are also often a pile of terms and conditions on the bookie's side, especially for the free bets. This makes sense - they don't want to be handing out free money really after all - but it means you should read them. Sometimes you have to bet on certain things, or stake the money a certain number of times or to a certain level before you can convert it into cash. Sometimes, unlike "normal" betting, you do not get the stake returned with your winnings - that is to say taking a £10 bet at odds of 3.0 will pay you out £20 (winnings of £30 minus the free stake of £10), instead of the usual £30. If you don't understand what you have to do, go look somewhere else for a simpler offer.

All these little complications will lead to you losing bits and pieces of the free money here and there, but the main thing is to play the appropriate stakes in the appropriate places to get as much of it as possible back. So how do you know how much to put where and whether the stakes are good enough? Well you could solve some simultaneous equations if you wanted, or better yet get a spreadsheet to do it for you. In fact, the Poorhouse is proud to present an online javascript matched bet calculator for you to quickly work out what to put where. It is based entirely on the information and files gleaned from the moneysavingexpert forums so all credit to the extremely helpful and generously informative netizens who hang out there.


  • to locate these free bet offers, just search for something along the lines of "free bet" on the Internet. Other good sources are the moneysavingexpert forums and Betrescue
  • you need to back a bet at the bookies and lay a bet on the exact same thing at the betting exchange. Do not inadvertently back the bet at both places, or you stand to lose all of your money.
  • the backing odds should be as near as possible to the laying odds
  • odds can change very rapidly, within seconds. Do not make the assumption that you can faff around for 10 minutes and the situation on offer will be the same.
  • it only works if the bookies and the betting exchange have the same rules on what constitutes a win and a loss in your event. Read the small print to find this out, especially if you are not familiar with the event you're betting on
  • do not take risks. This technique works, but not if you get too overenthusiastic and start doing standard, non-matched, uninformed betting
  • one as yet unmentioned risk is that you will be ripped off by a scam site posing as a legit bookmakers. To avoid this, go for the well-known reputable (well, as reputable as it gets in this business) names and/or ask around to see what other people think of them before investing any money. Do not stake any money you absolutely could not afford to lose no matter how good the offer.

Final note: if you're a Quidco (or equivalent referral-based money making scheme) fan be sure to check out if you can sign up to each gambling site through them. Often they will pay you up to £20 or so extra if you fulfil certain basic criteria.

Obligatory credit: you know it, Kat is the source of this fantistico information. Both her and the Money Saving Experts will get a mention in the less-than-extravagant Poorhouse Will.




I know it sounds a bit

I know it sounds a bit unlikely....but it works! I'm slightly reluctant to post my bank statement for all to view, but I promise I have financial evidence it works :-) You shouldn't go into it thinking you'll make a decent living from it (people do apparently using this and other techniques, but it's gotta be a full time job and requires big capital to start!) but you get a decent bonus to whatever you'd normally have now and then.


You total and utter fucking stigs. Anything for a couple of extra quid that you didn't have to actually work for, just like the rest of the pointless whiners at the MSE site. "I ran up £35,000 in debts and now I'm going to whine and complain and try to get my bank charges back because I didn't pay my bills and went overdrawn by two grand every week."


Thanks for the comment, but

Thanks for the comment, but I am not sure what relation this has to running up debts. There's nothing in my post to suggest borrowing money or getting credit to do this. My opinion is that, no matter how certain any income you might get off this (entirely legal) method is, you should not put up as stakes any amount of money that, should something however unlikely go wrong, you could not afford to lose. Bills first, entertainment second.

As for bank charges, I've not followed the debate in great detail or had any experience of dealing with them, but I understand the point about reclaiming them is not that they exist at all, but that the regulators concerned have ruled that some banks are charging irrationally high amounts for dealing with something that legally they should only be charging an amount reflecting the cost to themselves of a customer's overdrafts etc. For instance, charging £25 for a computer to send a customer an automated letter to say they're overdrawn by 10p seems a little excessive. However I certainly do take the point that for people that are reclaiming thousands and thousands of pounds of these it is not a good sign of financial management on their part. I'm sure there are some valid, if sad, reasons some people have such problems, but if anyone is incurring a pile of bank charges through say online gambling that is either irresponsible and foolish on their part, or possibly a medical problem in the form of addiction which organisations like Gamcare might be able to help with.

what's a stig??

what's a stig??

what a bizarre little anonymous man.

Can't say I ever heard of it

Can't say I ever heard of it either. According to google though:

Definitions of stig on the Web: * A Northern English slang term for a tramp

Based on Stig of the Dump, which holds special memories for me, not that I can remember what it's about, but it was the only book one of my ex-colleagues had read in 40-something years of life. Now that is a impressive / depressive achievement. I'm sure even if I tried my hardest I might read a book just by accident more than once a year.

Another very helpful site

Another very helpful site for Matched Betting is

It has a step by step guide to earn money using free bets and I have made £600 in just 1 week so far!


i know someone else who has only ever read stig of the dump and the hobbit.

i wonder if the book holds some kind of special attraction for people who aren´t big readers. a book for people who don´t like books. how bizarre!


Weird, I wonder if it's because "stig" is such a funny word, as is "hobbit". Or is the book so bad that if you read it you never want to read another book again? Hmm...

On the subject of "of the dump", there's a reality programme just been on TV about people who had to live on a landfill site for a while. Only saw about a half of one episode, but it seemed OK, probably nicer for the average person than staying at my house for any lengthy period. Good food for one. It cannot have been like the landfill I accidentally found myself on once insomuch as they would have died of inability to breathe in about 20 seconds.


you do watch some terrible TV adam.

i have barely watched TV since May... the recent reintroduction to TV didn´t go well. This Morning is even more dreadful than i remember. Bet Jeremy Kyle is still good though.

1. Your house is lovely. I hope to come invade your life for a weekend again pretty soon.

2. what were you doing on a landfill??

They make some terrible TV,

They make some terrible TV, I am just a idiot passive consumer!

Am slightly confused. Do they really pipe This Morning to Spain? I would understand the need for international Kyle, but This Morning? It isn't even about anything.

1) You're very kind, and very welcome. It's dirtier than when you last saw it I imagine.
2) Interesting story, went to try and find a nice pleasant council tip to chuck some stuff away in. Got very lost. Followed some person-given directions that sounded plausible. Started driving up the edge of a security-protected massive landfill that for some reason they let us through. About 50m above land level, when we could no longer breathe and it seemed we were on a massive grey endless volcano of awful filth, probably explosive fumes and dirt realised this was probably not the right place but big filthy lorries and blokes in gas masks forced us up further until we could make a break for it. Unfortunately it was so horrendous to breathe in I could not leave the car and actually throw anything away. It was an experience mind.

I used the following site for its step by step guide and have since made over a grand matched betting..

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