Matched betting is one of the best ways to make money online. But it would be irresponsible of us to say it is completely without risk. Sometimes things don’t go completely as planned. And sometimes we can come across some major matched betting problems.
But it is a different type of risk to general gambling. Your fate doesn’t rest on a team winning or losing. Your fate mostly rests on ensuring you don’t make any mistakes.
We try our best to walk our customers through the matched betting process, and warn of the potential pitfalls. But sometimes, avoiding these things just comes with experience.
So what better way of helping you avoid the biggest problems than asking our community of experienced matched bettors. We’ve selected three of the largest pitfalls from the answers we received:
3 matched betting problems
#1 Bookmakers terms and conditions
This is probably the biggest problem that is facing matched bettors, and there’s a logical reason behind it.
While matched betting is completely legal, but it’s a loophole that the bookmakers don’t like. I’m not sure many matched bettors will be making it onto the Christmas card list of the bookies… let’s put it that way.
Terms and conditions are put in place to protect the bookies. And in most cases it could be argued that they’re put in place to not just protect them from losing money, but help them profit.
Often the headline offer in a free bet is nowhere near as attractive once you read the terms and conditions. When you’re new to betting, you see the “£50 FREE BET” headline, and you think “Wow, free money”.
But then you read the terms and conditions and realise that coming away with a profit is harder than cracking the enigma code. Hence the need for matched betting.
In OddsMonkey’s guides we are always thorough and stay up to date with the terms and conditions relating to each offer. Where the difficulty comes in, is that a lot of people go freestyle with their matched betting.
Without the help and support of a matched betting service such as OddsMonkey, and a helpful Community, these fine print in the terms and conditions can be hard to spot.
Difficulty also comes along with daily, unique, or new offers not recommended by OddsMonkey. Often people take risks by trying to bag bonuses that are too risky. Bookmakers can (and have) confiscated funds on the basis of their terms and conditions being broken.
So our advice?
Read the terms and conditions of each offer, regardless of whether they’re outlined in one of our guides. Just get into the habit of reading them, understanding them, and covering your own back. Your bank balance will thank you for it.
#2 Promotions which carry a high risk
So this links in with the previous issue, and can sometimes be avoided by reading the terms and conditions. However, that is not always the case.
That is because quite often, the maths behind an offer can be quite difficult to work out. It’s not immediately obvious that it is a poor offer, and the huge free bet that is advertised is extremely tempting.
As you get onto the harder offers, a profit may not be guaranteed. But because they have a positive expected value, we still recommend them.
Expected Value is the term given to the value we expect to get from an offer over time.
If the offer has a positive expected value, that means the cards are in our favour. If we completed this offer an infinite number of times, we expect to make a 20% profit, for example.
Negative expected value offers, which Scot is referring to, have a house edge, and will see you lose if you complete the offer an infinite number of times.
The basic formula to follow to work out whether a game has a positive or negative expected value is as follows:
(Probability of Winning x Amount Won per Bet) – (Probability of Losing x Amount Lost per Bet)
We’ll use a coin toss as an example. In a fair and equal coin toss, the probability of it landing as a heads is 50%, and the same for tails. As a result, the fair odds for both heads and tails would be 2.0 (evens).
A coin toss with these odds would result in a positive expected value of zero, given that if you tossed the coin an infinite number of times, you wouldn’t expect to either make or lose money.
However let’s say, a bookmaker ran a promotion on this coin toss. They decided to offer new customers 3.0 on the coin landing as a heads. Expected value calculation (assuming a £10 bet stake):
( 0.5 x 20) – (0.5 x 10) = 5
So in the long run, you would expect to make a profit of £5 for every £10 that you bet.
That’s a very simplistic look at expected value to help you understand the mechanics. The best way to calculate whether the expected value of an offer is positive is our EV calculator.
Simply input the bonus amount, the wagering requirements, and the house edge. The tool then tells you whether the offer is expected to return a profit over time.
The key thing is to remember that it may not return a profit on that exact occasion, but the more you complete these offers, the more likely you are to profit. Because the numbers are on your side!
#3 Remember that you’re matched betting, not gambling.
Matched betting requires a completely different mindset to gambling. And if you have been a gambler before, it can be a difficult to switch between the two mindsets.
Gambling companies thrive on people that have the “easy money” mentality. The thought that someone can put on a £10 accumulator and win £10,000 is what makes the gambling industry lucrative.
If you bet for long enough, chasing and winning huge amounts, your brain becomes numb to bigger numbers. Actually, many people don’t even realise that they’re not betting to win money, they’re betting to experience a hit of dopamine.
Which is why it takes time for some to switch to matched betting. Small, incremental profits, even though they’re guaranteed, aren’t as sexy a proposition for our dopamine-craving brain, as that £10,000 accumulator win.
Profits soon build up with matched betting, but you have to be patient. It takes a little more work than placing a £10 accumulator. But the odds of profiting are massively better.
There is the obvious point that if you’re matched betting, you’ll be exposed to a lot of marketing from gambling companies. So, if you have a history of gambling addiction, matched betting isn’t the side hustle for you.
When you start to matched bet, and you learn about how poor a deal gamblers get, the idea of placing a bet becomes extremely unattractive.
If you find it becoming attractive, you have to remind yourself of this…
The betting company always wins when you play them at their own game. They have margins built into unfair odds, and if you gamble with negative expected value odds, you WILL lose in the long run.
So maintain your mindset of patience and safe, incremental gains. When you see the fruits of that mindset, you’ll never want to gamble ever again.
But if you ever find the constant exposure to gambling sites and marketing getting too much, just take a break. Matched betting and OddsMonkey will still be around when you get back.