In-play offers are when you are required to place your qualifying bet, your free bet or both, live, during a specific event. They work just like standard ‘Bet & Get’ offers but are slightly more restrictive as the bets have to be placed during a certain time period.

Some examples of in-play bet offers are:

  • Place a £10 pre-match bet on Liverpool v Arsenal and get a £5 free bet to use in-play
  • Bet £10 in-play on West Ham v Everton and get a £10 free bet to use in-play on Newcastle v Leicester

You can place in-play bets just like you would with any other bets when matched betting. You place your back bet with the bookmaker and your lay bet on the betting exchange. However, there are a few key differences with in-play bets which we will cover below.

Finding Manual Matches

The majority of odds matchers do not display odds for in-play events and so you will have to find a match manually. This can be more time consuming and sometimes hard work if you’re not used to it. Finding matches manually involves comparing the odds at the bookmaker to those on the exchange.

Poor Matches

Bookmakers’ in-play odds are generally a lot poorer than their pre-match odds meaning that it is more difficult to find a good match. With pre-match bets, we tend to aim for a 95% match for qualifying bets or 80% for free bets. This means that we would incur a £0.50 loss on qualifying bets and make £8 profit from free bets with a £10 stake. However, when placing in-play bets, we usually have to settle for a bit lower than this.

Fluctuating Odds

Odds can move very fast when an event is live. Various factors such as a goal being scored, a red card, a penalty, an injury etc can all have an effect on odds. 

In-Play Bet Delays

In-play bets are generally delayed by around 5 seconds from the time you place them. If something happens which causes the odds to change during those 5 seconds, your bet may not be placed. Always confirm that your back bet if fully placed before leaving the bookmaker website to place your lay bet on the exchange.

Matched Betting In-Play Tips

Here are some handy tips to ensure you get the most out of your in-play bets.

Place your bets during a break in play

As odds can fluctuate in-play, it is a good idea to place your bets during a break in play. In a football match, this would be at half-time or in a tennis match, between sets. As there generally isn’t anything going on during this time which would cause the odds to change, you stand a better chance of placing your back and lay bets at the calculated odds. The 15 minutes during half-time will also give you a chance to look at markets which have acceptable odds. If you are using a free bet in-play then you will want to manually look on the bookmakers’ site for markets with odds of around 5.0. You can then compare these odds to the same market on the exchange.

Be Prepared

Although odds are less likely to fluctuate at half-time, they still can. Lots of punters are placing bets during this period which can cause the bookmaker to adjust their odds. Therefore, it is best to be prepared for this by being ready to place your back and lay bets without delay. It is a good idea to have the event page up on both the bookmaker and the betting exchange using separate tabs or windows. Once you have found a suitable match, enter the details into a matched betting calculator, go back to both sites and enter your stakes and double check that both odds haven’t changed. If they haven’t, then click to place the bookmaker bet followed immediately by a click to place the exchange bet. This minimises the time between both bets being placed which in turn minimises the chance of the odds changing during that time.

Odds Change before you lay your bet

If you do in-play offers regularly, it’s inevitable that you’ll come across a situation where you have placed your back bet with the bookmaker and go to place your lay bet only to find that the odds have changed. If this happens, don’t panic. Simply head back to the calculator, enter the new lay odds and place your lay bet with the correct stake. 

Partial Matches

If the odds are fluctuating frequently, it’s possible that you place your lay bet but it is not fully matched at the price you want. This can be a little daunting when it first happens but is relatively simple to correct with a matched betting calculator which has a partial lay function such as the one on Profit Squad.


In the example above, we are placing a £10 free bet in-play.

We have placed our £10 free bet with the bookmaker at odds of 6.0.

The lay odds on the exchange were 6.1 when we placed our lay bet but only £4 of our stake was matched and the lay odds have now drifted to 6.2.

We simply enter these details into the calculator and it tells us that we need to place a second lay bet with a stake of £4.16 at the new lay odds of 6.2 in order to return a profit of around £8.

If your lay bet is partially matched, always remember to cancel the unmatched part of your lay bet before placing your second lay bet at the new odds. Otherwise, there is a chance that the odds may shorten again and your original lay bet is fully matched along with your second lay bet resulting in overlaying your bet.