How To Use Free Bets From Bookmakers

Updated: 4160 Other

As a member of OLBG for five years now, I know fromconversing with other members of the site that we are alwayslooking for an edge, something to help us make a profit. Onething to consider in all that is using

How To Use Free Bets From Bookmakers
Darren Brett Tipster Competition Manager

Horse Racing, greyhounds and snooker specialist with thirty years experience of writing about sport across multiple platforms. A QPR and Snooker fan

As a member of OLBG for five years now, I know from conversing with other members of the site that we are always looking for an edge, something to help us make a profit.  

The betting school articles go a long way in helping us learn but we should also consider bookmaker free bets.


I felt it would be good to offer my opinion on the advantages and pitfalls of free bets. 

You can then check out all the free bet offers that you can acquire via OLBG.

We all like something for nothing. 

At the same time, we all appreciate that you usually have to put something in to get a return.  

This sums up betting perfectly.  

Speculate to accumulate. 

Well, that’s the hope for most punters as we all seek to make a profit.


However, it’s always that bit nicer if you can make something from nothing and occasionally that opportunity arises.  

One of the common perks that many bookmakers try to offer us punters is free bets.  Who doesn’t want a free bet?  A chance to win some dosh with no risk to our betting bank!  

But are they all that they seem?  What’s the catch? 

I felt a guide to the acquiring and use of free bets would be useful to OLBG members and readers of this blog so please read on


I’m sorry if this appears a really stupid question but I do think for anyone who is relatively new to betting it is worth explaining.

Basically, a free bet is a token a bookmaker will give you to use on a betting market with them. So, you can bet on something with no risk.Risk

The main difference in using a free bet token as to a regular bet with cash is that the stake is not returned.  

So in the case of a 1pt free bet on a 10/1 chance your returns would be 10pts if it wins rather than 11pts (10pts win, 1pt returned stake) as with a cash bet.


Nearly always most free bets are offered by online bookmakers for meeting certain criteria or for betting on certain events.  

You can also acquire in-shop free bet tokens or some online bookmakers will offer a free bet in-shop incentive as part of a promotion but in the majority, most free bets are to be found online.  

They aren’t just given away though.  

Here are some examples of how free bets can be acquired:

1. New betting accounts: 

Upon opening a new account, a bookmaker may offer a certain amount of free bets (or a certain amount of credit to use as free bets) for new customers to use.

2. Bet Clubs: 

Some firms offer a “club”. This usually involves the account holder “opting in” and then being required to bet a certain amount in a designated period of time or to bet a certain amount a certain number of times (also usually within a designated period of time).

bet online

3. Televised events offer:

If a very high-profile event is happening it’s common for bookmakers to try and attract you with an offer that may bring you a free bet.

4. Big horse racing events: 

The big festivals and the racing shown on Saturday’s brings many free bets offers.  

5. Sports offers: 

With horse racing, many firms offer things like “faller insurance”, “win/lose by a certain amount”, “lead at the last” or “money-back specials” on a particular meeting or set of races during the week and at weekends. 

These will involve your cash bet failing and providing you have met certain criteria, you will have your stake (or part of your stake) refunded as a free bet). 

These types of offers can also cross into other sports (i.e. a free bet on a football match if no goals scored).

6. Using build-a-bet: 

If you are a user of social media you’ll often see things like #RequestABet, #YourCall, #YourOdds, and others of similar ilk.  

This involves punters designing a bet and asking for odds from certain firms. 

Often, firms will give you a free bet if you place so many qualifying bets of this type.

7. Competition prizes: 

Again, this heavily relates to the use of social media but many firms will post on social media platforms asking for a prediction on a sporting event or the answer to a question, and winners will receive a free bet to use with them.


8. Compensation: 

Have you had an issue with a bookmaker?  Poor customer service or a mistake with a bet? 

As an apology, firms may offer you a free bet.

9. Completing a survey: 

Some firms will offer the incentive to you in order to gain feedback on their services.

10. As an incentive to return to an account: 

Have you not used an account in a while?  

Firms will often target inactive accounts with the offer of a free bet to draw them back in.


Surely free bets are a good thing, aren’t they?  

Well, of course it is nice to have something in return for your business but there are pitfalls that I think it is worth addressing. 

The points below are relevant to each way of gaining a free bet which is referred to in the list in the section above: 

1. Opening a new account:  

Do you need this new account?  Were you joining this firm anyway? What is the offer and is there better offers around?  

To be fair I don’t know a firm that doesn’t offer some kind of welcome package but just be aware of what is required from yourself.

Do you have to bet through so much to be able to withdraw your winnings (this usually applies to welcome bonuses that are a multiplication of your first deposit)? 

Are any free bet tokens to be used on certain markets or within a certain timeframe? 

2. Bet Clubs: 

There is no harm opting into these “clubs” but given they require a certain amount to be spent, usually within a certain timeframe, ask yourself if you need/want to make those bets or are you betting because at least if you don’t win you’ll get a little something back at the end?  Never bet for betting’s sake!!  Also, be fully aware of what’s required in order to obtain your free bet as what would be worse than betting a certain amount that you hadn’t really intended to bet and then finding out you haven’t hit the criteria!

3. TV Specials:

Would you have bet on this market if it wasn’t for the offer?  

Always ask that question or you are playing into the bookies' hands.  

Always be aware of what you be refunded for (i.e. horse racing offers usually only refund the win stake, so if betting each way you would only get half your stake returned).  

The free bet is usually time-stamped and you only have a certain amount of time to use it so do you think, if acquiring it, you would be intending to bet anyway? 

What’s the point of a free bet you don’t really need?

4. Horse Racing Specials:

See point 3.

5. Sports specific offers:

Again, refer to point 3 but also be aware some of these offers only apply if your stake is a certain amount.

6. Build-A-Bet:

See point 3.

7. Competitions:

There is never any harm in entering these as they are usually fun and free.  

Just make sure you have an account with the firm offering the prize as they won’t payout if you open an account after the fact.

8. Compensation:

Is a free bet enough to compensate you for what you have experienced?  A free bet is - in effect - an incentive to try and keep your custom.

9. Surveys:

Is this a fair use of your time and fair compensation?  If it is then there is certainly no harm in doing a survey and you may even deliver some helpful feedback that leads to improvements that make your betting experience better.  

10. Idle account:

Ask yourself why you’ve not used the account for a long time? 

Is a free bet enough to bring your custom back?  

At the least, it likely gets you to look at their website/mobile app and see if it is a better experience.  


I’m not trying to teach your Grandmother to suck eggs here but I do think it’s worth explaining the pitfalls of using a free bet.  

Free Bet T's and C's

Always check the terms and conditions on offer with your free bet. It may not be as lucrative as the headline offer indicates.

Firstly, check (or be aware of) the following:

1: Is the free bet time stamped?

Does it have to be used within a certain amount of time?  My experience if most free bets do have an expiry with some shorter than others so be aware of when it has to be used.

2: Is the free bet event/sport-specific? 

Can it be only used on the sport you bet on to acquire the free bet?

3. Can the bet be used on single or multiple markets? 

Always check as if you do a certain type of bet(s), your free bet may require you to change your style.

4. What if a free bet is refunded?

If you use a bet and it’s a non-runner, your voided bet should be refunded (it’ll be a free bet again) but again, check all the above three points with the refund, especially point 1 as the time stamp likely reverts to when the original free bet was set to expire.

Then we come to the actual use of the bet.  Is there a best way to use a free bet?  I certainly think there are some considerations to make before using a free bet.

5. Are you betting with a free bet for the sake of betting? 

The bookies are happy for you to throw your bet away on an ill-thought-out bet which is likely to have been given less care and consideration by yourself and therefore less likely to win.  

The free bet stake is not refunded. Be aware of what your potential returns are.

6. Each-way betting. 

If betting each way, the free bet stake will be split but both parts are still not refunded in the event of a win/part win.

However, I think the most important piece of advice I can offer in using a free bet is that you are nearly always better using it as a “win only” bet.

If I offer my own style and experience to demonstrate what I mean. 

I enjoy betting on horse racing and a lot of my betting is each way but with a free bet I nearly always use it as a win only bet because the each-way returns on a free bet, even at big odds, are poorer because of the unreturned stake.  

Dice Question Marks

For example, a 2pt free bet on a 16/1 shot would be split each way to 1pt.  

If the selection places and it is a quarter the odds the return is 4pts and not 5pts as it would be with a cash bet.  

That return would be the same on a 20/1 shot at a fifth the odds and for me, this is not a great return as the unreturned stake does make a marked difference.

Of course, you weren’t parting with any cash but from a value perspective, it is still a poor return.

The minimum price I would consider using a free bet on an each-way bet is 25/1 which at a fifth the odds would return 5pts and even then, it feels like a big price isn’t bringing in a great return.  

But backing something at 8/1 for a possible 1.6-2pt return is not worth it.  

For a free bet to have turned out to be worth having win only gives the best return option.

I think the best example I can offer is this...if I had two free 1pt bets and likes two horses in a 16 runner handicap, I’d use the two bets on win singles on each selection.  

Staking With Free Bets

Always remember in most cases your free bet stake is not returned when placing a free bet.

Both could well lose - and at least one will lose - but even if both place, the returns, unless at massive prices, will be insignificant.  If one selection wins you are likely to enjoy a good return!

With that in mind, I personally use free bets on win only markets like first/anytime goalscorer bets in football or as an NFL fan, for first/anytime touchdown scorers.  

But you should choose a market and sport you personally like and use that free bet(s) to give you the maximum enjoyment from it.


With all the above in mind here are my golden rules regarding free bets from bookmakers.

  • Don’t bet for the sake of acquiring a free bet!

  • Be fully aware of the terms and conditions of the free bet and how it is to be used.

  • Use your free bet on something you want to bet on, not on anything just to use it.

  • Shop around!  Look at the different offers and see which promotion suits your style of betting, which in turn, would likely acquire you a free bet without betting for the sake of it.

  • Remember the stake of the free bet is not refunded.

  • The free bet stake is split if betting each way.

  • Consider the odds and possible returns when using your free bet.  It might be worth adapting your style of betting from the norm in order to maximise the value of the free bet.

  • Enjoy it!  Betting should always be fun.  If it isn’t, you’ve wasted a free bet you have more than likely had to earn by losing a bet (or betting a certain amount) in the first place! 

Check out the free bet offers that you can acquire via OLBG. For more discussion on betting and sports, check out the OLBG ForumYou can follow me on Twitter @ChrisJBrophy

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