An Epic Matched Betting Mistake

August 8, 2011

As I skimmed through some matched betting forums earlier today, there was a post that caught my attention. I will quote it here, leaving the author anonymous.

I think/am pretty sure I just f**** up big time. Instead of placing safe bets in a way I would only have to roll over free bet winnings a sensible amount of times, I decided to place on high odds (15) and risk 300 odd quid, with only 50 odd left in my float, hoping to win on betfair so the wagering requirement wouldn’t matter. Bayern Munich only went and lost! So now I have to rollover £1750 before withdrawing anything from my youwin account, with only £50 in my float until thursday when I get £200.

There are several things that we can learn from the poster’s misfortune.

First, the poster made the mistake of believing that his selection would lose just because it had really high odds. Apparently he was aware of the rollover requirement, but thought it would not matter since his selection could never win. Of course, it does not happen very often, but even hopeless underdogs do win every once in a while.

Second, he broke one of the main rules of extracting SR bonuses: always choose small odds (2.0-3.0) for extracting SR free bets. This rule has been repeatedly stated in our matched betting guide, thus showing how a proper understanding of matched betting is a must before you place any bets. The point of this rule is to be able to meet the wagering requirement easily and to avoid what happened to the unlucky poster.

Third, the poster chose a very though SR free bet despite his lack of experience with matched betting. The rollover of this free bet was close to £2000 and a beginner with a bank of just £350 should have clearly stayed away from it.

Obviously, it is very easy to criticize the poster for betting so irresponsibly, but it is more important to help him get out of the troublesome situation. At the time of posting, he still had about £50 in Betfair that he could use for matched betting. Unfortunately, that money ended up with the bookmaker as well and now he has to wager another £1700 with no money left in Betfair.

The poster went on to suggest borrowing money, but this idea was quickly dismissed by the forum community. Indeed, should the poster place the wrong bet or make another mistake, he would end up not just financially ruined, but also severely indebted. Placing bets with money that is not yours is always a bad idea, even if you are doing something as innocent as matched betting.

The other suggestion, which was a way more reasonable, was to place a bunch of £5 bets on a variety of events that have reasonably low odds (2.0-3.0). With a bank of £350 the poster could place 70 such bets. By the law of large numbers, some of these bets should lose and some should win, eventually leaving the poster close to what he started with.

This way the poster could meet the rollover with practically no risk, but there is one problem. On average, the bettor can expect to lose 5-10% of his stakes. Since the poster has to bet with another £1700, he can expect to lose roughly £85-£170 before he is able to make any withdrawals. While this sounds like a really bad idea, it is still better than giving up the £350 he has with the bookmaker altogether.

I hope this example helps everyone realize that it is always a bad idea to relay on chance and that matched betting is a risk-free strategy only if done properly. I really hope this will never happen to you!

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