Following the huge success of our Student Income Article, a guest post by sonyhamster with a whole new insight to matched betting. Manual or automatic?, this is the Ultimate guide: (Read the original article here)
MATCHED BETTING AS A STUDENT
For a student, I have always considered myself to be financially savvy, conjuring up with innovative ways of making some extra money. For example, when I learnt that I would be receiving a £2,000 interest-free overdraft, I immediately put my money (including £1,000 of the overdraft) into interest paying accounts.
However it was during my final year of uni, when my enterprising take on money took a whole new level when I discovered matched betting. In short, matched betting is a loophole that enables anyone with a computer to earn a bit of extra cash, by turning the free bets offered by bookmakers into guaranteed cash.
Personally, I have made over £600 profit, from a modest investment of around £50. Whilst this may seem like a substantial amount for a student, I must admit that I have been lazy. A quick trawl on the internet would suggest that individuals can make in excess £1,000 through matched betting. Albeit, since matched betting is based on free bookmaker offers which come and go, the potential earnings can vary at any given time.
For the benefit of those who are new to the concept, matched betting can be approached manually, or completely automatically. However, during my research I discovered a debate that has dominated the online forums - that of which approach is best. In this article, I seek to discover whether automated matched betting really do deliver lower returns and explore the additional advantages of doing it automatically.
Matched betting professionals have always maintained that "fully automated" matched betting services produce less of a profit than doing it by hand or with assistance from some form of software - be that a simple spreadsheet or more advanced tools.
At present, Fixtheodds.com claims to be the only "fully automated" matched betting website, and is one that I am familiar with, having used the website for almost 6 months. The website is completely free to use and has proved to be a hit at my university. Therefore I caught up with Carl Scott-Brown, the website's founder to ask him what he thought of this long-standing debate.
Surprisingly, Mr Scott-Brown said "Actually, we concur. However the question is whether the additional time and experience required by non-automatic methods is worth it."
According to Mr Scott-Brown's data, which is based on an impressive 5,000 offers advised upon over the last 8 months, the average return on the value of an offer by his users is a little above 60%, whilst more traditional methodologies argue anywhere between 80-95% (pre any bookmaker or betting exchange commission) as being acceptable.
However this begs the question - Is Mr Scott-Brown shooting himself in the foot? Perhaps not.
Automatic Matched betting - Average Returns
Simple offers: 71% - 99%
Complex offers: 40% - 80%
As most experienced matched bettors will know, bookmaker offers range from simple (e.g. place a £15 bet and get a £25 free bet), through to the very complex offers - such as those with rollover conditions (e.g. place a £25 bet and 'roll' the winnings eight times to withdraw). It is commonly held that the more complex the offer, the less profit you are likely to make from it.
Therefore based on their statistics, automated systems are not limited and it is possible to maximise potential returns, achieving 80%+ profit.
Now professional matched betters reading this are likely to be exclaiming at this point about their ability to generate yields on offers above 100%. Whilst it is possible to do this, you are then stepping into the realm of "arbitrage betting", a method that seeks errors or highly favourable odds to gain a guaranteed percentage profit.
Whilst Mr Scott-Brown admitted that his website has, at present, disregarded arbitrage, his team are working on a prototype of an 'advanced arbing system', however was unable to comment any further. Without digressing into another subject matter, I will to return to the question in hand - So, if it is possible to get good offer yields from using automatic methods, why is Fixtheodds.com's average only 60%?
Well, according to Mr Scott-Brown, there are two main reasons:
"Firstly, automated system users tend to be less inclined to hunt (or wait) for the best odds. By definition, users of 'FTO' (FixTheOdds) are on the whole disinterested in wasting their time for a few more percentile points. Secondly, FTO attempts to offer users every offer currently available that its systems can handle - as a result, there are usually many more complex offers available on the site than simple ones".
Having initially used Fixtheodds, I eventually began experimenting with manual methods of which my experience was generally positive albeit unnerving at times. The point should be made here, that perhaps without having done matched betting automatically, I probably would not have done matched betting at all.
According to Mr Scott-Brown, the average return on investment (ROI) on his website for straightforward offers sit at around 21% on an average of 8 days, whilst more complex offers run 15% over a 21 day average.
I asked Mr Scott-Brown for his thoughts on whether he could see his users using his website as a platform to move on to manual methods; "The annualised return on investment for simple offers you are referring to is over 960%. Whilst it is true that the complex offers don't compare, being only around 260%, that's still a substantial ROI. In my opinion, if you want to become a professional, you should probably do it yourself â€“ and perhaps better. If however, like most people, you want to take advantage of this loophole with ease, then I would suggest doing it through our website."
In addition, Mr Scott-Brown was also keen to add that he's launched a new money-back guarantee, whereby if in the unlikely event that his instructions are incorrect, he will refund you with the loss that may have incurred. As a student who values his money, this guarantee is certainly a 'no-brainer'.
In concluding this debate it would seem that the final answer is a decision of personal preference. As a student, I value my time as well as my money. In my experience, matched betting by hand can typically take anywhere from 45-60 minutes per offer, as opposed to 5-10 minutes automatically. Given Fixtheodds' money-back guarantee and the site's statistics, it would probably suggest that unless you are prepared to learn the process and invest vast amounts of time, it is probably not worth the extra profit doing matched betting by hand.