What is an Unmatched Bet or Partially Matched Bet?

Unmatched bets or partially matched bets can be really annoying. For Betfair trading and matched betting, it’s just not something you want to deal with manually…

Most bettors will have to deal with partially matched bets at some point unless they’re betting into high liquidity markets. Casual punters often get caught out by partially matched bets when they’re looking to hedge their bets (cash-out).

In this article, we’re going to explain what to do with an unmatched or partially matched bet, when they crop up, and the best way to deal with them from a matched betting point of view.

What Is An Unmatched Or Partially Matched Bet?

An unmatched or partially matched bet will occur on an exchange. When betting with a bookmaker, unless your account is restricted, you place a bet for the amount you want, and it is taken by the bookmaker. Because an Exchange is a platform where essentially it’s person v person betting, unmatched or partially matched bettors can occur.

We can break this down into three parts. Let’s say you want to place a £100 bet.

  • Option 1; the bet is fully matched and your £100 is placed.
  • Option 2: the bet is partially matched – £55 has been matched on the exchange, and the other £45 is waiting in the market for someone to match it.
  • Option 3: the bet is unmatched – your £100 is waiting on the exchange to be matched, and no one has taken the bet.

There can be many reasons why you get unmatched or partially matched bets within any market. As always, the best way to understand why is to break things down with examples.

Partially Matched Bets…

You can see how much money is available at each price when betting on an Exchange..

In the above photo, you can see there is £71 available at 6.6 on the top selection. If you placed a back bet of £100 at 6.6, you would get £71 matched and £29 would be unmatched – that £29 would then go to the lay side in pink – where you can see £218 waiting to get matched at 6.8. This is because you need someone else to bet against you on an Exchange. Partially matched bets can be very difficult for Matched Bettors because when you use the calculator you get the exact stakes. If you change the prices, it does cause problems. Your profit or loss figure will change too.

From a matched betting point of view, it is always good practice to get fully matched. However, sometimes that’s not always possible. If you do get a partially matched bet, the best thing to do is to put the new price and figures into your matched betting calculator, and start again to get the right figure.

Unmatched Bets:

After a partially matched bet, next is a totally unmatched bet. This can happen for a number of reasons; the main one being the odds have changed and someone has beaten you to the price. Let’s look at a good example; imagine you are placing a bet to qualify for a free bet. You pick a very popular market so it’s easy to get matched in theory, however things happen! You back Manchester United at 6/4 (2.5) with a bookmaker, and then you try to lay betting Manchester United at 2.54 on an Exchange. Just as you go to place your bet, someone places a large lay bet at 2.54 to move the price. Now the price in the lay box (usually pink) is 2.56 which is the next price up.

Because you placed your lay at 2.54 right after the bigger bet, your bet is unmatched. If this happens, you have two choices; you can leave your bet in the system and hope it gets matched – ie someone backs Manchester United at 2.54 for all the money in the market. The other option is cancelling your lay bet at 2.54, and placing another one at 2.56. There isn’t much difference – for example if you lay 2.54 for £100 the liability is £154, and if you lay £100 at 2.56 the liability is £156 – so only £2. However, when your matched betting every penny counts – it’s always best practice to try and get the best value and odds.

Although, the most important thing when matched betting is that you do get matched! You cannot just leave your bet in the system and “hope for the best”  – you must actively manage your position and make sure your bet gets matched. Having an unmatched bet on an exchange effectively means you have placed a £100 bet with the bookmaker, and stand to lose the £100 should that bet lose.

How To Avoid Unmatched And Partially Matched Bets?

The honest answer is that there is no certain way to avoid unmatched or partially matched bets. It is very important to try and avoid them however, especially when matched betting. While the market can move at any time, there are some helpful pointers to avoid having unmatched or partially matched bets;

  • Always check the liquidity in the market before placing your bet.
  • It’s generally best practice to find popular/high liquidity markets when doing qualifying bets – ie Premier League match odds.
  • On horse racing, try to bet close to post time rather than in the morning – unless it’s an ITV race.
  • Stick to popular markets. Side markets on less popular sports are more likely to have less money in the market.

After all that, you should be set to go! Unmatched and partially matched bets are going to be a theme when matched betting so you have to deal with it when the times comes. Always manage your position and remember matched betting isn’t the same as gambling – you are not relying on an outcome. It’s important to make sure your exchange bets are fully matched once you have your bet placed with the bookmaker.

Related: What is Liability in Betting? Full Explanation

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