Matched betting is not for everyone. If you have an addictive personality or have had a gambling problem in the past, close the page right now. This is an advanced strategy that is susceptible to human error which could cost you a lot of money.
Earlier this year I published a podcast to chat about a peculiar way to make money online that I’d never heard of… matched betting.
If you want to learn more about how matched betting works go listen to the podcast. In today’s article, I wanted to highlight some of the feedback I’ve received since that episode and clear up issues that arose from it. It’s been a good 6 months since that pod and I felt like that episode needed a follow up because many of you out there have reached out and there were a few keys things missing from that initial discussion that really needs to be brought to attention.
The Blow Back
I received some criticisms for the matched betting podcast from both my audience and other online forums.
I want to address some of the main criticisms.
Matched betting is a scam and doesn’t work
This is just straight-up wrong. You’ll see in the feedback below that people are using this technique with success. It’s not perfect and there are things that can go wrong. But to say it doesn’t work is no different from someone saying that the stock market is a scam because they lost money.
AFB didn’t highlight the negatives of matched betting well enough
This was probably the one criticism that, upon reflection, was not addressed well enough at all. We did speak about human error in the pod but after listening back to it a few times, we (Nico and I) could have spent more time on it and highlighted the traps and pitfalls. You can lose money if you don’t execute correctly and there are plenty of points where you could make a mistake.
The other major negative that we didn’t touch on at all is matched betting could be considered a gateway into gambling and/or re-traping a person who’s already had gambling issues. I have updated my resources page and that podcast to highlight this more but in hindsight, gambling is a major issue Australia is facing in general and I dropped the ball here.
If you’re reading this right now and are thinking about trying matched betting please please please stop and think if this advanced side hustle will cause you more damage than it’s worth. If you’ve had issues gambling with anything at all in the past, skip this. If you’ve got an addictive personality, skip this.
I’d even go as far as to say that this technique is only really suited for people who are good at learning something new. Because if you make a mistake, it can cost you a lot of money. And mistakes can and are made by pretty switched on people all the time.
AFB made more money through his affiliate relationship with Bonusbank than he did actually using matched betting
But I don’t see the issue even though I know there will always be people who don’t like affiliate relationships.
I ended up making a touch over $2K from matched betting but received a lot more through affiliates from that podcast. I can’t give the exact dollar figures or details of the contract because that’s against the terms and conditions (although you’re free to speculate using my 18/19 income review), but know this:
Matched betting, regardless of whether you used my affiliate or not is a legitimate and legal strategy for Australians to make some extra money on the side.
Once you have exhausted the sign-up bonuses, matched betting isn’t worth it
This is such a strange criticism.
Like… so what?
If you’ve got the time to put into learning how matched betting works, going after the low hanging fruit makes the most sense to me. If you feel like the time to reward ratio is off after that, cool, stop doing it.
If done right, you should have made a nice little tax free profit. How is that a negative?
I was extremely time poor when I tried matched betting earlier this year so it wasn’t worth it for me to continue after that. And I’d rather spend my time on other projects (AFB being one of them) than to do matched betting right now, but not everyone is like this. There’s plenty of people who have the time and an internet connection that can continue to make money online (a tad harder mind you) through matched betting. Examples of this are below.
Although I didn’t cover everything, those were the main ones that kept coming up in one form or another.
Ok, now the good stuff.
I can’t describe how happy it makes me feel when I receive positive feedback from readers. It’s been a decent chunk of time since I published the podcast and I’ve reached out to my audience through emails and the Australian FIRE Facebook Group to get some feedback from their experience.
Below are just a tiny per cent of emails I received that was positive (I couldn’t publish all of them).
*I’ve removed names for privacy reasons
Profit: >$11K. Continued past the signup bonuses
I signed up to Bonusbank after hearing your podcast. I’d always enjoyed a punt but had backed off quite significantly in recent years as I’ve been saving to retire early. It’s nice to have a team or a horse to cheer for again in each game and race again now.
I’d had prior experience using betfair to lay bets which helped immensely. Some of the people I’ve introduced to the site have not been able to get their heads around laying on betfair and have stopped matched betting thinking it’s too difficult.
When I first started it was football season so I did a lot of betting on the NRL and AFL, it was quick and very simple. Would take me 15 mins per week and I was making around $250 per week in profit on average. That lasted for a few months before some of the lesser-known bookies banned me (Bluebet, Palmerbet). This had little impact as their promos were few and far between. Then I lost Ladbrokes and Sportsbet a few weeks later. They both had amazing sport promos and after that my winnings dropped to $100 a week on average. Then I decided to give racing promos a go, these are much more difficult and the markets change quickly. Often by the time you use the bonusbank calculators the odds have changed and you’ve missed the boat. After a few weeks of using the calculators I got an idea of roughly what they’d say so just started using estimates to put the lay bets on. That made it much quicker and although you can get a slightly better or worse result on a race it seems to even out over the course of many hundred bets in the past 6 months. Once I got the hang of race betting my winnings increased dramatically to around $500 per week and over the spring carnival when there were many additional promos around I was routinely making $1,000 per week. Time invested was around 5-6 hours per week to get this level of winnings.
It’s important to put “Mug bets” on to keep your accounts alive. These are bets on non promotional markets that make it look less like you are matched betting. Pointsbet seem to offer the best promos but are quick to ban, my account is more than 6 months old and still going strong due to mug bets. You can often put several hundered dollars of mug bets on an have it only cost you $5 in losses. Obviously this is a tiny amount compared to what you are winning so well worthwhile. I have accounts left at only 3 major bookies now after losing Bet Easy today. I’ll still make $300-$400 per week I’d imagine from those accounts as long as they last.
Total profit now is over $11k. Biggest challenge is funding betfair. My total balance across the accounts is $21k so I’ve needed to lock up $10k of my own money in the past 6 months to keep rolling. Many people may not be able to afford to do this.
Interesting enough I’m always putting money into betfair – meaning my bookie bets are winning regularly. I’d be up $18k if I just bet with the bookies and never laid a horse on betfair. This would be stressful though as there are times I’d have lost several thousand in a day if I hadn’t laid.
I am starting a trial of non matched betting now as I believe I’ve identified a pattern in horses that have betfair odds close to the bookie odds that win enough to make it profitable. I’ll be starting with $5 per race though rather than $50 per race I’ve been betting to manage downside risk whilst I trial the idea.
Next I’ve got a friend who is opening some accounts for me to play with, will probably take it slower and use it to top up my cash flow when needed. Just bet a little to pay for a game of golf, a carton of beer each week etc rather than going hard at it again. Would be nice to see if I could keep those accounts open for years and just slowly milk them.
Thanks for the amazing podcasts – I commute a 6 hour round trip once per week and it’s always great when I see a new podcast from you pop up before I get in the car.
Profit: $3K from the sign up bonuses
I’m a really big fan of your blog/podcast. I cannot thank you enough for providing such high quality Australian FIRE content.
Anyways, onto my personal thoughts about matched betting.
For me, the matched betting podcast couldn’t have come at a better time. Due to my partner taking on a 6-month work contract at short notice earlier this year, I had to move my work from Sydney to Newcastle during this time. Since I run my own services business (locum health practitioner), I initially didn’t have many contacts in the area and hence didn’t have too much work lined up in the first month. I was, on average, working about 2-3 days a week.
It was during this time that I listened to the podcast and decided to give matched betting a shot as I had more free time on my hands. I signed up to the free 1 month trial at BonusBank, made multiple betting accounts under my own name as well as my partner’s and just did all the sign up bonuses. I made just under $3000 tax free and that was with some mistakes on my end (inputting the wrong numbers into the back/lay calculator). It was enough for me to make up for the shortage of work/income I had during the month and only took about 15 hours of my time. Most of this time was spent learning how it all worked, signing up to the various bookies and doing ID/bank account verifications.
There was also a weird sense of productivity that came about when I was watching sports and also matched betting. I remember enjoying a NBA playoff game knowing that no matter what the outcome would be, I would be pocketing a few hundred dollars. It definitely reduced the guilt of me sleeping in on a day off to watch the playoffs.
After the sign up bonuses, matched betting gets much more complex and the effort/hours required is significantly higher especially if you wanted to sustain it as a steady side income. Also, most bookies tend to pick up when you’re matched betting and I have been banned from quite a few of them. Luckily, by this point, my usual work picked up again and I didn’t feel that the increased effort/time involved with matched betting (beyond just the simple sign up bonuses) yielded enough income for me to continue.
Overall, it worked out well for me and I’m very thankful for you publishing the podcast. I feel most people should give it a try as it’s effectively just free money with very little effort especially if you just do the sign up bonuses. However, they should also be wary that errors can cause some huge losses if they’re not careful.
As a side note, despite matched betting being the main subject of the podcast, I think we can take a step back and look at the bigger picture. I viewed the episode as offering one of many ways to make a “side income”, which I’m sure some FIRE enthusiasts would definitely consider to accelerate their journey. Perhaps this can be the first in a new series of podcasts which focus on how various people create and sustain “side incomes” or “side hustles” (just to add to your already long list of things to do). Or perhaps, we as your audience could simply view the episode as a story about how the guest found his own unconventional path to FIRE through turning his own niche skills into a profitable business model, which I’m sure of us in the FIRE community will find interesting and perhaps even inspiring.
Nonetheless, I love your podcast/blog and thanks again for the amazing content (sorry for the long e-mail).
All the best
Profit: $14K knew nothing about matched betting beforehand
I have probably made the most money out of all your listeners from Matched betting. I knew nothing about matched betting before your podcast and joined bonus bank and started matched betting about 1 week after your podcast. So far I have made 14k profit after taking off all costs like bonus bank monthly fee and cost of a separate device I got to use for matched betting.
I could have made more money but lost about 1k worth with some silly mistakes. My overall profit got boosted due to me getting access to one of my family member accounts about 2 months back as well. Most of my profit is made in the last 3 months once I got the hang of racing promos and took advantages of all those spring racing offers. I have lost most of my own bookies but still got 80% bookies on my family member accounts so hopefully I can make a bit more money before calling it quit.
My end goal is to make 20k profit and my grand plan is to invest all the profit I made from matched betting to an ETF or LIC I don’t currently have in my portfolio currently(most likely argo) and turn on DRP and just watch this part of my portfolio grow over the next decade or so.
Thanks a lot to you for doing this podcast as well as putting lot of quality content on your blog. I have learnt a lot from your blog posts and podcasts.
Profit: $4.2K but was promo banned from nearly every bookie
Hi Aussie Firebug,
Just wanted to reach out and say thanks for all the great financial tips and inspiration over the last couple of years, particularly for getting me on to matched betting. I’ve made $4200 in the last couple of months and counting – that’ll go straight to buying LICs!
I managed to get promo banned from nearly every bookie in Australia in the process though so I’m gonna wrap it up now that footy season is over.
Keep up the good work and good luck in the race to FIRE!
Profit: $5K in three months. Money was in the horses but the time commitment was too much in the end
Hope UK is treating you well?
Matched betting. The first time I heard the term was on your podcast with Nico. My initial thoughts were this is s bit left of centre and suspicious. Nico however, came across as down to earth and genuine enough to spark my interest to explore further.
I read bonusbank in detail and researched more from other sources which all appeared to align. I decided to give it a crack. Chucking in $500+ into betfair was a bit scary initially but this soon was eased when I started to see the concept working.
I quickly learned that after sign up bonuses, the money is in horses. As experienced by everyone, horses were initially daunting however, if you stick at it you’ll grasp the concept and then go on to perfect it, which is what I did.
I started off making roughly $50 a week to quickly smashing up to $500 per week. I became more proficient in doing the betting on my phone and not requiring calculators to figure out the correct lays etc. This was great as I was able to access mid day promos whilest at work and then convert the bonuses on weekends. My biggest day was making x17 $50 bonus bets across multiple bookies in one day which roughly worked out to $600 after conversion. How crazy is that?
The main negative that I experienced with all this is time required. All the best promos are on Saturdays with all main races happening then and to access majority of them you have to devote most of your day to it. This was exciting initially however, quickly weaned. Over time I was doing less and less focused Saturdays and mainly doing few races on my phone whilst out and about. This was a bit annoying to my partner and anti social as we would be enjoying the days activity but I quickly had to pull out my phone to put a bet on. She loved it though when we would cover whole days expenses in a couple of bets!
The other negative is getting promo banned. There is plenty of tales on bonus bank forum and chat of how people try and prevent getting gubbed however, I saw majority of them required even more time to properly play the game. They may work but were not guaranteed. I did get gubbed by three bookies so far but there is still plenty of fish in the sea.
Overall, in a period of approx. three month I made $5,000. I was very happy with this! I could have made more if I tried harder but have been losing interest slowly over time mainly because of time required on the weekends which I was unwilling to sell.
Nico and his team have done a fabulous job in setting up the site and all the calculators. They are always there to answer any questions and I love how Nico is always on chat on Saturday mornings going through the race line ups with everyone and celebrating their achievements.
I have no negative comments to say about bonusbank or your decision to associat with them The concept and idea was nothing short of genius. It’s sad to see you’ve copped some criticism but as with anything there will always be people who see the glass half empty and want to critique others for their failures. The main issue I would see turning people off, as highlighted by Nico in his podcast, is human error. It’s very easy to make mistakes especially with horses and people may rather blame the system then themselves. This can be learned and mistakes minimized.
Thank you for bringing light to matched betting and for everything you do. I’ve said it before but it has to be said again, you’ve done a fabulous job with your blog and podcast! Be proud and I look forward to reading and listening to more of your content.
Enjoy the UK winter and if you can, visit Ireland and Scotland. Beautiful places!
Profit: $1K. Avoid if you’re bad at maths
Sue here. I tried it after your podcast. I live in Vic so not all sign up bonuses were allowed. Still made $1000 easy off the experience. Quit after all bonuses were used up. I would advise people who are bad with math to avoid it, it takes a bit to wrap your head around what’s going on with your money. Mistakes can be made and can be costly even with the help of the bonus bets website. I had a good experience and thanks for introducing me to it.
A lot of the negative emails I received were from people who made human error mistakes and lost money. Or they only made <$200 and were angry (lolwut?). I’ve tried to include the more serious and unique ones below. As a percentage, I roughly received one negative email for every 20 positive.
Potential identity theft
I tried out match betting and decided it wasn’t for me. I did find that while trying to close my accounts, Betfair asked me for a selfie holding my driver’s license as confirmation of my identity. Two weeks later my identity was used to open a Sportsbet account and a CBA transaction account.
The only reason this was discovered was the CBA sent a bank card to my address.
Both accounts were flagged by Sportsbet and CBA as potentially fraudulent before I received the card, but it still cost me almost a full day between dealing with CBA, Sportsbet and advising other agencies (Betfair didn’t seem particularly concerned that they were the most recent company to have my details, IDCARE, notifying the credit score agencies, and making a report to ACORN takes time).
I can’t say that I can recommend match betting after my experience, but I do acknowledge that identity theft isn’t unique to their industry, and far from the only source of it occurring. My issue stemmed from trying to close my accounts rather than the use of them.
Thanks for all the work you do with the blog and keep up the fantastic work!
Profit: $6.5K but impacted re-financing application
I have been match betting since Feb this year and have made $6500 so far. I have two mates that have been doing it for about 3 years and they would be about 20k up in total.
One of the issues is that match betting is that sign up bonuses have legally stopped so where I could get a $500 sign up bonus then convert it to $375 risk free these opportunities are limited. Also the agencies are on to people betting like this and they are quick to ban you off there promos that are required for this type of betting. Basically now I have only two agencies left to bet with. It probably makes it easier for people who are actually interested in sports and horse racing as I have been, otherwise it would be dead boring. But even if I only ever make this amount, who wouldn’t take 6.5 K free cash?
Other thing that people may need to be wary of as you have to shuffle money around at times, I recently applied to re finance my loan to a lower rate, but was knocked back even though I wanted to borrow only $200 k against a house worth 480 K and have a holiday house worth 350K that is owned outright plus 75K in shares!!! So people should consider this before getting into it.
Profit: $2.5 not worth the time
I jumped on the matched betting bandwagon after your podcast. As it was right about the time that the welcome bonuses were drying up, I joined a whole heap of bookies all at once and had a lot of bonuses to work through in a short space of time. I found it pretty easy to get the hang of, I settled for some lower returns due to the time constraints, made a few mistakes not reading the T&C properly on some of the bets.
Once I had used all of my bonus bets, I found that the time involved vs the payout just not worth it to me. I tried as many different techniques as I could but it seems that horse racing is about the only way to continue beyond the initial profits and it was too time-consuming and less set and forget. Plus you are competing with all the other software users to jump on the horses once they hit the sweet spot so you don’t have long to get on board. I found the assorted matched betting websites quite helpful and there were lots of good how to guides.
All in all I enjoyed it and made about $2500 but have cashed out of all my accounts now. But thanks to your podcast as I had never heard of it before that.
Profit: $430 BB software is good but not worth the time and effort. Better to spend it on another side hustle
I gave matched betting a go with bonus bank after your podcast and made ~$500 from converting signup bonuses into cash and then extracting it which was about ~$430 after a couple months of bonus bank fees to use their calculators…
My honest feedback is that the site is really well set up, tutorials are fantastic and calculators work brilliantly.
However, the time and effort involved to extract a pretty small return in my view was just really not worth the effort – plenty of other side hustles or optimisation efforts you can make for a far greater return. I was based in NSW too which I think was one of the more restrictive states…
I gave up after the signup bonuses as they were supposed to be the low hanging fruit… I can totally see that if you are living in south east asia or something with all the time in the world on your hands and a cost of living <$50 a day or something that it isn’t a bad idea to play around with for a bit of extra cash… however if you are working full time, optimising your investments, living your life and looking for a high value side hustle – this isn’t it.
Hope that’s useful mate. Love your work – keep it up!
A few months after the podcast was released I worked with Nico to survey some of the members that had signed up with BB to see what results they were getting.
We surveyed a total of 66 people and found the following
The ‘count’ is how many people recorded their matched betting profits.
The splits are broken down like so (in ascending order of count)
- $1000 – $2500 – 39.3%
- $500 – $1,000 – 23%
- $2500 – $5,000 – 21.3%
- $250 – $500 – 9.8%
- $5,000+ – 4.9%
- $0 – $250 – 1.6%
Nearly 40% of people made between $1,000 – $2,500!
These stats were only after a few months as well. After I posted in the Australian FIRE Facebook Group I was swamped with emails, mostly positive but some negative.
I went through a heap and roughly added up the figures and calculated that my audience has made in excess of $100K through matched betting. Probably a lot more considering most people can’t be bothered with surveys and responding to my emails 😅. I can’t take the credit for that as many had been doing it for years and there are many factors involved but still.
To think that my podcast could have collectively helped that many people is mind-boggling to me. I’d imagine that these numbers are absolute pittance compared to someone like the Peter Thornhill or the Barefoot Investor. It’d be impossible to measure but could you imagine if we knew how much money Thornhill or Pape has not only saved people but also helped them make through investing/debt recycling/side hustles etc. It could honestly be in the $100M+ mark… maybe even >$1B.
And now we finally come to the big question.
Is matched betting worth it…
And like most things in life… it depends.
It’s been a good chunk of time since the original matched betting pod and after reading 100+ emails (not even kidding) from my audiences I’ve come to the following conclusions.
- Dangerous for some individuals who are susceptible to gambling or have an addictive personality – Don’t try
- Risky for people who have a hard time understanding a new concept that involves maths – Don’t try
- Time intensive after the signup bonuses. Effort/reward ratio wears off for some
- Depending on how aggressive you are, you may need to float a very large amount of cash in your betting accounts, this involves risk
- You can be banned from the bookies and have your account closed. If you’re someone who extrapolates entertainment through these types of accounts, separate from matched betting, you could be banned permanently
- The low hanging fruit of the signup bonuses is relatively easy money for people who execute the technique correctly
- The longer-term income is in the horses. It requires a lot more effort but depending on circumstances, you may deem this effort to still be worth it and it can provide a nice little tax-free side income
If there’s one thing you take away from today’s article let it be this.
Matched betting works… for the right person
People have a negative experience with matched betting when applying the technique incorrectly. It’s complex and mistakes can be made.
But I still stand by my original conclusion.
Matched betting, when done right, is a valid form of income for any Aussie on the path to FIRE. I, like many others, went after the low hanging fruit and was richer for it. But the required time commitment after that wasn’t worth it for me personally. That’s not to say it won’t be for you, however:
Never Stop Learning
I’d expect nothing less from the astute Australian FIRE community to meet, what I’d consider to be a relatively unknown technique, with scepticism and caution. I myself even ignored matched betting a few times before taking a closer look.
But what I don’t want to happen is that we, as a community, don’t allow ourselves to be open to new ideas and techniques that can help us along the journey. Some of the best ideas I know of were discovered by reading about different and weird strategies others were using to save/make money like CC points, debt recycling, trusts, credit card tarting/stoozing etc.
Hell, for the majority of my life even the stock market was seen to be no more than a casino.
My point is that whilst we should be sceptical we can’t shut ourselves off completely to new ideas and be forever stuck in the echo chamber of ‘Vanguard ETFs everything else is a scam or not as good’.
I think a major part of the FIRE culture is looking for legal ways to ‘hack’ the system and being really clever by thinking outside the box.
I’m always interested in new strategies and techniques and from what I gathered by a whole bunch of emails, most of you guys out there are too!
If you’ve got an unconventional way to make money on the side I’d love to hear about below in the comments 👇
Spark that 🔥