What is matched betting?
Online betting sites regularly run promotions to attract new customers and retain existing ones. These promotions typically give you free bets and/or other benefits if you meet certain requirements. A matched betting strategy aims to make guaranteed profits from these free bets and offers. This is done by placing a back bet (i.e. betting on a selection to win the market) with a bookmaker, and then using a betting exchange to lay that outcome. In other words, placing a bet that covers every other outcome in the market. The overall result is that whatever happens, you will have a winning bet in one place and a losing bet in the other.
When placing bets to qualify for bonus offers, matched bets are placed to minimize your qualifying loss. When placing free or boosted bets, your matched bets are placed to give you the best possible profit. Matched bettors use a mathematical equation to find the best bets to maximize the value of promotions. Whilst this can be a complicated equation to work out, there are matched betting calculators and matched betting sites that find the best matched betting markets for you and tell you the exact amount to bet at the exchange.
Matched betting example
Here is matched betting explained in the form of an example:
- A bookmaker is offering new customers a $20 free bet if they open an account and place a $10 bet.
- The bookmaker has odds of 200 on the Dallas Cowboys beating the Buffalo Bills. At a betting exchange, you can find lay odds of 202 on the Cowboys.
- You place a $10 back bet on the Cowboys at the bookmaker. At the exchange, you place a lay bet on the Cowboys with a stake of $9.90. This will mean you are liable to lose $10.10 if the Cowboys win.
- If the Cowboys win, you will make a $10 profit at the bookmaker, but be $10.10 down at the exchange.
- If the Bills win you will lose your $10 at the bookmakers but win $9.90 at the exchange.
- Whatever the outcome, you will have made a loss of $0.10 (this is known as your qualifying loss), but qualified for the $20 free bet.
- You then complete the same process with the $20 free bet.
- This time, a specific horse is valued at 1000 to win a race, whilst the same horse can be laid at 1100 at an exchange.
- If you place your $20 free bet at the bookmakers and place a lay bet of $16.36 at the exchange, you will be guaranteed a profit of $16.36 regardless of whether the horse wins.
Overall, your profit from this matched betting football offer will be a guaranteed $16.26 ($16.36 - $0.10) irrespective of what happens in the two markets.
Why is matched betting not possible in the United States?
The big problem for anybody interested in matched betting in the United States is that the 1961 Federal Wire Act makes it illegal to bet across state lines. This Act means that exchanges can only operate within a single state. Somebody betting in (e.g.) Nevada, would only be able to bet against another player (or betting exchange) in Nevada. In other words, the betting exchange would have to exist within the same state. Clearly, this severely limits the amount of liquidity in the market, to the extent that a betting exchange would not have enough money to be able to cover all of the bets being placed.
This all means that there are no betting exchanges legally operating in the United States, so conventional matched betting is not currently possible. Whilst it is not inconceivable for this situation to change in the future, it would require a key change in federal law. Given that there are no existing plans for these laws to change, it seems extremely unlikely that any betting exchanges will be opening in the United States in the near future.
What is EV betting?
In the absence of matched betting as an option, EV (Expected Value) betting is a close equivalent that many gamblers in the United States use. The term Expected Value refers to the amount you can expect to win on average if you bet the same amount an infinite number of times at the same odds. EV takes luck and short term variance out of the equation and focuses on the true long term value of a betting option.
If the EV of a betting option is positive, then you can expect to make money on it in the long term. However, it could still lose in the short term. On the flip side, negative EV indicates that a bet will lose in the long term, but may win in the short term. By using EV betting, you can establish which bets are the most profitable and which betting promotions are most likely to make profits. Although, it is important to acknowledge that whilst EV can be fixed when applied to casino games such as blackjack or roulette, when it comes to sports betting, EV is variable.
How to find positive EV in sports betting
When bookmakers put together markets that calculate the expected value of each option. They do this by weighing up all of the available information they have, relating to factors such as form, injuries, conditions, tactics, etc. They also apply a small commission to the odds (known as vig or juice), which is how they make their profits. Vig makes it a lot harder for players to find positive EV and this is why EV betting predominantly focuses on promotions and odds boosts.
The first step in finding positive EV betting options involves studying the markets and looking for betting options that appear advantageous. This could be because of your gut instinct, certain statistical factors you have discovered and/or inside information you may have acquired that is not reflected in the odds. For example, if you are aware of an injury to a key player, it may lead you to believe that a market has been priced incorrectly.
Next, you need to work out the optimum amount to wager. To do this you need to factor in the odds, the probability of the outcome winning and (if applicable) the maximum amount you can bet. Remember - you are claiming a promotion so there will be an enhancement in the form of an odds boost or a free bet. This will significantly improve the EV of the bet. It is a complicated equation, but the good news is that there are calculators and EV betting experts who can do the hard work for you!
Conclusion - Matched betting
Clearly, EV betting is not an exact science and does not provide the same guarantee of profits as no risk matched betting. However, finding positive EV can present a very good way for gamblers in the United States to increase their chances of profiting from free bet offers and promotions.
An EV betting strategy requires plenty of research and sporting knowledge. It is not easy to consistently find positive EV and winning bets. That is why it is recommended that you use EV betting sites and let the experts to do the hard work for you.
Matched betting FAQ
Betting strategies can really take your sports betting to a whole new level. For those interested in matched betting USA, some background is useful to understand the landscape here in the US and how it affects your strategy options. Luckily, our experts at CaptainGambling.com can explain it all - check out our informative guides for all you need to know.
You will find all kinds of offers available to you at most online betting sites. These offers generally include sign-up offers, matched deposit bonuses, free bets and/or boosted odds. By using EV betting you can improve your chances of making the most from these offers. The expert guides at CaptainGambling.com provide full details of all online betting welcome offers so you can choose the best for your needs.
If you’re interested in EV betting, you’ll naturally want to know how you might apply the strategy to the many offers and promotions that sportsbooks are offering. Many sites run loyalty clubs and VIP schemes that reward repeat players with free bets and other rewards. CaptainGambling.com has full details on how you can use EV betting strategies with offers, so visit the site to learn more!