What are the best odds for matched betting?

To understand what the best odds are for matched betting its worthwhile first making sure you understand what odds are, how betting odds work, what different types of odds there are and how odds can affect liability at a betting exchange.

If you’re up to date on all this then feel free to skip ahead to the final sections where we discuss the best odds to use for matched betting. Within this section we consider the best odds to use for doing a Qualifying Bet, Free Bet or Mug Bet and for keeping your bookmaker accounts healthy to prevent them from being offer restricted.

What are Odds?

Odds are simply a measure of how likely an event is to happen.

If an event is thought very likely to happen – it will have lower odds. Lower odds give fewer winnings to a bettor per £10 staked if the event does occur.

If an event is thought to be unlikely to happen – it will have higher odds. Higher odds will give more winnings to a bettor per £10 staked if the event does occur.

For example, a top Premier League club, such as Manchester City, when facing a lower-level club, such as Milwall, during an FA Cup game, at the bookmaker will have very low odds because they will be expected to win the game easily. A bettor therefore won’t get much in winnings for betting on City in this instance.

On the other-hand Millwall would not be expected to win, or have much hope of winning at all, so their odds at the bookmaker would be very high. A bettor would get loads of winnings if they bet on Milwall to win the game and they did so.

Types of Odds: Fractional and Decimal Odds

Betting odds explained is one of the most frequently asked questions by both punters and matched bettors alike. This is especially the case in the UK where bookmakers often use fractional odds. This is because fractional odds can be very confusing for betting beginners to understand because they rarely correspond to common bet stake amounts being placed.

3/4, for example, means for every £4 you bet you win £3. OK, that’s fine and makes sense, but working out quickly what your winnings are if you bet £5, £10, £15 or £20 – which are all common bet stake amounts - can then be quite confusing. Most people would need a calculator to figure it out.

In comparison decimal odds are much easier to understand because they can always be easily multiplied by 10 – or by just moving the decimal point one place to the right. This allows anyone to work out the returns for a £10 stake very quickly. From there it’s then relatively easy to work out the returns for £15 or £20 stakes too as you have a much clearer mathematical base to work things out from.

For example, 1.75 multiplied by 10 is 17.5. For a £10 stake you get £17.50 back - or your £10 stake plus £7.50 in winnings. Once you have these winnings worked out for £10 it’s then easy to work out what your winnings would be for a variety of other common stake amounts:

  • for a £5 bet, which is half a £10 stake, you’d half the winnings to £3.75
  • for a £15 bet, which is 1 and a half of a £10 stake, you’d do one and a half of the winnings too – so £7.50 plus £3.25, which is £11.25
  • for a £20, which is twice the £10 stake, you’d just double the £7.50 winnings to £15.

This is so much simpler to understand!

It’s also much simpler to compare outcomes using decimal odds too. Here’s an example of fractional odds displayed for a football game:

Home Team Win:  3/4

Draw: 5/6

Away Team Win:  4/5

Now, unless you’re an experienced bettor who regularly uses fractions you’ll need a bit of time to tell which outcome has the lowest odds or the highest odds, or which team is the favourite.

Now compare this to the decimal version:

Home Team Win:  1.75

Draw: 1.83

Away Team Win:  1.80

You can tell instantly which outcome has the lowest or highest odds, or which team is the favourite!

In matched betting we always use decimal odds – not only because they are easier for us to understand, but also because they are the odds preferred by our matched betting calculators.

How to Convert Fractional Odds to Decimal Odds for Matched Betting

Although the majority of UK bookmakers offer the option to switch odds format on their websites from fractional to decimal, or from American odds to decimal odds, there are a few that don’t.

On these websites we have to convert the fractional odds to decimal odds. If you’re a Platinum Member with us you can do this super-quick using our odds converter matched betting calculator.

Alternatively, if you have a normal calculator handy, all you have to do to convert a fractional odd to its decimal version is divide the fraction by itself then add 1.

3/4 would be 3 divided by 4, which is 0.75. Then add 1. So, 1.75 in decimal format.

4/5 would be 4 divided by 5, which is 0.80. Then add 1. So, 1.80 in decimal format.

Now we understand what odds are, how they work, the main types of odds and how to convert them for matched betting, all we need to know now is how odds can affect liability at the exchange. This is important to know about as it has quite an impact on how you can select the best odds to use when matched betting.

Liability and the best odds to use in matched betting

Liability is the amount we need in our betting exchange account to be able to place our lay bet successfully when doing a matched bet.

How do odds affect the liability of a lay bet though?

The higher the odds are the higher the liability will be – or the higher the amount you’ll need in your betting exchange account balance.

Here’s an example based on using a £10 back stake at the bookmaker for a Qualifying Matched Bet (with a 0% commission at the betting exchange):


You can see from this table how liability increases as the lay odds increase.

If you are relatively new to matched betting, or just getting started, liability is a very important factor to consider when choosing the best odds to use for your matched betting.

Although for more experienced matched bettors, the best odds might be those of 6.0 or higher – if you don’t have £50 in your betting exchange account to cover the lay bet then these aren’t actually the best odds for you. Instead, the best odds for you will be lower and completely determined by the balance in your betting exchange.

If you try to place a lay bet at higher odds when you don’t have enough balance in your exchange the lay bet won’t go through and you won’t be able to complete your matched bet. You should always check you have enough liability available in your exchange before placing any lay bet.

What if balance in your exchange is not a problem though?

What then are the best odds to use for matched betting?

If liability is no object what are the best odds to use in matched betting?

If you have a hefty balance in your exchange, choosing the best odds for your matched betting is dependent on several combined factors:

  1. The type of matched bet you are doing
  2. The sport and/or game you are betting on
  3. Your betting history (or profile) at the bookmaker you are betting with
  4. The stake amount you are using at the bookmaker
  5. Availability of decent matches between odds at the bookmaker and the betting exchanges you have available

Let's look at each of these factors in turn

1) The type of matched bet you are doing

The typical matched betting approach is to choose lower odds for Qualifying Bets, as this keeps your Qualifying Loss as low as possible, then higher odds for Free Bets, as this keeps your Profits as high as possible. Doing this consistently for every offer you do month in month out is a sure-fire way to lose your best and most profitable matched betting bookmaker accounts pretty quickly though (a.k.a. being gubbed).

Once you’ve got the hang of matched betting it’s much better to adopt a more varied approach to the odds you are using for doing Qualifying, Free and Mug matched bets.

If a bookmaker is recommending minimum odds of 1.50 for a Qualifying Bet – then use our Oddsmatching, or automatcher software, to find a Qualifying Bet to do between odds of 2.50 and 3.50 instead of on the lowest odds possible. Every now and again go even higher than this too!

For Free Bets don’t always go for really high odds – go a bit lower every now and again – down to odds of 3.0 for example. Yes, we know it does cost you a bit in profits in the short-term but boy does it help keep your accounts healthy - which for long-term profit making is by far more the important thing

Basically you want your bookmaker betting profile not to look like this:

Qualifying Bet: 1.60

Free Bet: 6.0

Qualifying Bet: 1.53

Free Bet: 7.0

Qualifying Bet: 1.67

Free Bet: 6.5

But more like this:

Qualifying Bet: 2.60

Free Bet: 4.20

Qualifying Bet: 3.50

Free Bet: 6.50

Qualifying Bet: 3.80

Free Bet: 5.50

The best odds to use for mug bets in matched betting are the same as those advised above for Qualifying Bets.

Long-story short - for each type of matched bet variety in the odds you choose is key!

The sport you are betting on also has a part to play though.

2) How the sport you are betting on influences which odds are the best to use

Statistics show that around 60% of games in UK Premier League football are won by the team marked as the favourite, or which have the lowest odds, at the bookmakers.  In comparison, only around 30-35% of horses which the bookmakers mark as the favourite with the lowest odds win.

How does this information help us choose which odds are best for matched betting on these sports though?

Well basically, it means for football, in most cases you should avoid betting on underdogs in match winner markets with really high odds – as it’s unlikely that punters would do this on a regular basis. If you are doing a Free Bet – instead look for higher odds in different markets, such as the over/under total goals markets, or first player to score markets. This is easy to do if you use the Market Filter on our Oddsmatching software.

Horse racing is a completely different beast though – because favourites only tend to win every now and again punters don’t always choose them. You can therefore get away with choosing higher odds on horse racing winner markets more often as it doesn’t look suspicious to do that. Obviously don’t go mad choosing horses with odds of 20.0 and above or anything, but any with odds up to 20.0 are pretty much fair game for any types of matched bet you are doing.

Before you start using all your free bets on horses though, you also need to consider your betting profile at a bookmaker – as this also influences which odds may be the best for you to use for a particular matched bet.

3) How your betting profile or history influences the best odds to choose for a specific matched bet.

We started considering betting profiles above, and the need to avoid consistently going from very low odds for Qualifying Bets to very high odds for Free Bets. The same goes for switching between sports as well.

If you’ve done a Qualifying Bet on football, don’t then go and do the Free Bet on horse racing (unless specified to in the offer you are doing). Try to stick to the same sport where possible.

Your betting history (or profile) with a bookmaker can influence which odds are best for you to use on your next matched bet too. Gamblers tend to be creatures of habit, staying within a certain range of odds. As matched bettors we are therefore also best to choose odds within a certain range the majority of the time.

Once you build up your matched betting bankroll you may be tempted to start doing free bets on much higher odds to get better profits. If you look at your betting profile at a bookmaker and see that you have tended to use odds from 4.0 to 6.0, suddenly starting to use odds from 9.0 and 10.0 may look a bit suspicious to a bookie. You need to expand your range slowly over time instead – use 6.5 odds instead, then creep up to 7.0 and so on.

As you do this though you also need to take account of the back stake amounts you are using at the bookies as well and how they can affect which odds are best to use for your matched bets.

4) Bookmaker back stake amounts can also affect what the best odds are for you to use

Punters don’t tend to place small bet stakes, such as £5 on low odds like 1.60 very often. This is because they don’t get much back in winnings. The smaller the back stake you are using for a Qualifying Bet or Mug Bet, the higher the odds you should ideally try to use. The minimum would be at least 2.0 really if you can as then from a punters view you would be ‘doubling your money’.

When it comes to Free Bets – if the free bet amount is small punters might try for higher odds a bit above their normal betting range. If the free bet amount is large (£25 or more for example) they would probably go more midway and upwards within in their normal odds range as they would be wanting to try and win.

For those of us matched betting this is useful to be aware of when doing our Free Bets. The smaller the Free Bet stake is the higher odds you can use, the larger a Free Bet stake the more careful you have to be about how high the odds are that you use.

After considering all these factors which can determine what the best odds are for you to use in matched betting, there is one final factor that can over-rule them all. That factor is the availability of decent matches between the odds at the bookmaker and odds at the betting exchange!

5) Despite all this, the best odds may still be determined by availability

 You can use all the guidance above to plan what your perfect odds will be for a particular matched bet – that will ensure you make good profits whilst keeping your bookmaker accounts healthy. The only issue now is whether those odds are even available to bet on and whether they have a decent match with the odds at the betting exchange!

Fortunately for us our Oddsmatching Tool can tell us this in an instance! By using the Oddsmatching Tool it would be extremely rare for you not to find odds in the region you are looking for that don’t have a good match with those at the betting exchange. This is especially the case for the larger, more profitable bookmakers such as Bet365, Paddy Power and Sky Bet.

This is why our Oddsmatching Tool is essential to have if you always want to find the best odds to use for matched betting quickly and easily.

You can see our Oddsmatching Tool in action and try it for yourself with our matched betting free trial. You will see how it can find the best odds for you to use for a Qualifying Bet, Mug Bet or Free Bet in seconds on any sport.

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