What Are Unmatched Bets?

6 min read

1 Jul 2024


An unmatched bet is when your bet at a betting exchange is not placed due to insufficient money being available at the odds you attempted to place the bet.

This can cause concern and worry when it happens for the first time, however, it’s something that can be resolved easily with no problems.

When Matched Betting, this will typically be when you’re placing lay bets. Your lay bets must be fully matched so you’ve covered all outcomes and locked in your overall position before the event begins.

In this article, you’ll learn why unmatched bets occur, how to deal with any unmatched bets and discover the best practices to avoid simple mistakes.

Why Do Unmatched Bets Happen?

Betting exchanges like Matchbook allows users to either back (bet for) or lay (bet against) a particular outcome in a betting market.

When you place a back or lay bet, it can only be matched if another user is willing to take the opposite side of that bet at the same odds.

Unmatched bets happen when no one else currently wants to take the opposite side of your bet at the odds you have selected.

If you look at this example from Matchbook exchange and focus on the dark pink lay boxes which you use when you bet against an event happening. The light pink odds are known as the market depth and show the next best available odds where opposite back bettors are waiting and hoping for their back bets to match at slightly higher odds.

The dark pink odds are the best available lay odds so these are the odds you want to focus on.

Below the odds are monetary values. These values indicate how much money is available for the particular market at that time for those odds.

You can see that the DRAW lay odds of 3.35 for this match have £40 available to lay.

This amount available (also known as the liquidity) can vary widely depending on how high profile an event is and how soon the event will be taking place.

An unmatched bet occurs when your lay stake required is greater than the amount available in the market.

If you attempted to place a lay bet on the DRAW at lower odds of 3.3 using a lay stake of £10 for example, you’re bet would be completely unmatched as the best available lay odds are currently 3.35.

Your £10 unmatched lay stake would appear on the dark blue back side and join the queue of money waiting to be matched at those 3.3 back odds.

Doing this means you might get your lay bet matched at slightly lower odds saving you some money, as someone may come along and place an opposite back bet and take your 3.3 odds.

However, you run the risk of your bet not being matched at all which would leave your bookmaker bet open with your full back stake at risk without having a matched bet.

How To Fix An Unmatched Bet

If you have an unmatched bet, the good news is that they’re very simple to sort. You have two options:

1. Cancel your unmatched bet and lay again - If your bet is 100% unmatched, you can just cancel it by selecting the cancel unmatched bet option on the exchange. Then move back to the Matched Betting calculator, enter the current available lay odds and recalculate to find out your lay stake at those new odds.

2. Wait to see if your bet matched - If there are a few hours left until the event takes place you can also consider waiting in the queue and see if your stake is matched. You can look at the open bets tab in your exchange to see if your bets have matched. It may resolve itself, however, you have no idea which way the odds may move so you could end up having to take much worse odds if they move against you - use this method with caution and be sure not to leave it until the last minute in the hope that your bet will be matched.

The safest way is to cancel your bet and lay again at the current available lay odds so you know you’ve locked in your position and can move on with confidence knowing that all outcomes are covered.

There may be times when only part of your bet matches and the other part is unmatched, this is known as a partially matched bet.

What Are Partially Matched Bets?

Partially matched bets are when a part of your bet placed at a betting exchange is matched and part is unmatched due to not enough money being available at the odds you selected.

If in another example you needed to place a £50 lay stake on the DRAW and you were using the available lay odds of 3.35 with only £40 available.

£40 out of £50 would match and you would be left with £10 unmatched - leaving you with a partially matched bet.

This means that the part of your bet is exposed and could potentially lead to losing money if a particular outcome happens.

How To Fix A Partially Matched Bet

Fixing a partially matched bet is again a simple process using the betting calculator. Using the same example, you would need to select the “Part Lay Active” option.

This allows you to enter the current lay bet(s) matched so far. In this case, it's £40 at lay odds of 3.35.

Let’s say the current available lay odds are now 3.4, so you can enter this into the lay odds section and the calculator will show you exactly what to lay in the “Results” section to fix your partially matched bet.

Top Tips To Avoid Unmatched And Partially Matched Bets?

You should always do your best to avoid unmatched or partially matched bets. However, you can’t avoid this occurring every single time, as odds can drift and market values change which are both out of your control.

There are some important steps you can take to ensure that you reduce the frequency of times an unmatched or partially matched bet occurs.

Utilising Filters

You can utilise the “Availability” filter on the Oddsmatcher software to set a minimum availability amount. This means the software will only show results above a certain figure.

For example, you could set the minimum availability to £100 and the software will only show results with lay bets that have at least £100 available.

Check Liquidity Before Placing Bets

If you’re required to place a £50 lay stake and at the time of placing your lay bet there is only £20 available in the market - don’t place the lay stake!

Simply look at the next odds in the queue and head back to the calculator to reconfigure and calculate your lay stake. If you’re not happy with the new match then look for another. With that in mind, it’s always best to check liquidity prior to placing your back bet.

You can also get into a good habit of always checking the “Avial.” (availability) column on the software that shows you the amount of money available at the current lay odds.

Allow Time

Finally, always allow enough time prior to an event starting to ensure you are not rushed, you’ll think a lot clearer if you do not have the added pressure of lack of time working against you.

These tips will help you avoid a regular occurrence of unmatched bets but at some point you will encounter this.


You’ll now understand and be able to deal with fully unmatched and partially matched bets when you come across them on your Matched Betting journey.

To learn more about how betting exchanges work you can read about two important terms to understand in our liquidity guide and liability guide.

Updated: 4 Jul 2024

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The Author

Ben is an expert in Matched Betting with nearly a decade of hands-on experience. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and is dedicated to creating high-quality, beginner-friendly content that educates and informs readers about the amazing opportunity that Matched Betting is.

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