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Guide to Unmatched Bets, Partially Matched Bets and How to Fix Them


In this guide we cover:

  • What is an unmatched bet?
  • How to fix an unmatched bet
  • What is a partially matched bet?
  • How to fix a partially matched bet with the part-lay calculator
  • How to avoid unmatched and partially matched bets altogether

We recommend a quick read-through this guide as it is likely at some point during your matched betting journey that you will either have an unmatched bet or a partially matched bet to deal with at the exchange – and we really don’t want you to panic unnecessarily, as they can easily be dealt with!

What is an Unmatched Bet?

Remember, every bet has two sides

The most important thing to remember about a betting exchange is that it is a platform that allows people to exchange bets between themselves. Therefore, for any type of bet to happen on the exchange there needs to be someone else present on the exchange that is willing to take on the other-side of that bet.

(If you haven’t already we’d really recommend watching our matched betting video guides if you’d like to understand better how betting exchanges work and how we use exchanges in matched betting).

So what is happening when we do a lay bet at the exchange then?

Lets pretend we are doing a lay bet against the horse named ‘Bashiyr’ winning at Smarkets, using a £10.20 lay stake.

As a matched bettor at Smarkets, when you put your lay stake in from your matched betting calculator like this and then click place bet what is actually happening?

Well, in ‘exchange language’ what you are actually saying to everyone else on the exchange when you do the lay bet is:

Hi! I’m willing to accept a bet of £10.20 at odds of 2.18 from anyone who wants to back the horse Bashiyr to win. I therefore agree to pay out a total of £12.04 in winnings (my liability) to you if Bashiyr does end up winning the race“.

What happens if there is no one at the exchange that wants to bet £10.20 at odds of 2.18 for Bashiyr to win though? 

Your lay bet will be 'un-matched' if there is no one there willing to take it

Smarkets will take your bet and queue it until there is someone there that agrees to take it.

The lay bet will appear in your ‘Active Bets’ section but you will see in the matched column that £0.00 (in red) has been taken of your £10.20 lay stake.

This lay bet is a fully unmatched bet in this instance.

You can wait a minute or so and see if someone takes it – but all the time your lay bet remains unmatched you are leaving yourself open to risk – which is what we don’t want at all as matched bettors.

We don’t do risk, luck or chance and must therefore fix this situation as quickly as we can. 

How to fix an Unmatched Bet

Help! My bet is fully unmatched!

The first thing to do is not panic! It is very straight forward to fix a fully unmatched bet.

Usually, when a lay bet is fully unmatched it means the lay odds (blue boxes) just changed as you placed your lay bet and there is no one willing to do the bet at the lay odds you used anymore.

Steps to fix an unmatched bet

1. In the ‘Active Bets’ section you need to click the red X to cancel the unmatched bet. As soon as it cancels you will get a pop up confirming the bet has been cancelled.


2. Check what the new lay odds are (blue boxes) for the lay bet you want to do and update your matched betting calculator with the new lay odds.

3. Place your lay bet with the new lay stake the calculator has worked out.

4. Breathe :) – see it was straight forward wasn’t it?

What is a Partially Matched Bet?

What is says on the tin!

Well, we’ve covered unmatched bets – which mean NONE of your lay stake (£0.00 or 0%) has been taken by backers at the exchange.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are then of course fully matched bets – which mean ALL  of your lay stake (100%) has been taken by backers at the exchange. This is what we always want.

So in the middle of these two extremes sit partially matched bets – which mean ONLY PART of your lay stake (20%, 45%, 78% or otherwise) has been taken by backers at the exchange.

What does a partially matched bet look like?

Using our example from above where we tried to place a £10.20 lay stake at odds of 2.18 against the horse ‘Bashiyr’, a partially matched bet would appear similar to the below on Smarkets.


This betslip shows that only £4.46 of our £10.20 lay stake has been ‘matched’ so far.

Basically the backers on Smarkets have only agreed to take £4.46 from us. 

i.e. they have only taken PART of our lay stake

This is a slight problem for us as it leaves £5.74 unmatched (not taken by the backers).

What can we do in this situation?

How to fix a Partially Matched Bet

Help! My bet is partially matched!

Again, there is no need to panic. Although slightly trickier than fixing a fully unmatched bet, it is still pretty straight forward to deal with.

As before, this usually happens when the lay odds (blue boxes) just changed as you placed your lay bet.

Steps to fix a partially matched bet

1. Which-ever matched betting calculator you have been using (either Qualifying or Profit) all you need to do is switch it over from ‘Basic’ to ‘Part-Lay’ using the toggle button at the top of the calculator.


2. Cancel the remaining un-matched portion of the lay bet using the red X in the betslip at Smarkets. (You will be left being able to see the amount that has been matched still but now in white).

3. In the green section of the part-lay calculator you will input the back stake and back odds you used for your bet at the bookmaker. In the grey section input how much has been matched at Smarkets and at what lay odds (in our example this was £4.46 at 2.18). Finally, in the blue section, input what the new lay  odds are at the exchange (in our example the lay odds against Bashiyr had increased to 2.22).


4. The part-lay calculator then shows us the remaining lay stake we need place at the exchange to complete our lay bet. Place this lay bet at Smarkets and you’re done!

5. Breathe again :) – it was simpler than you thought to fix wasn’t it?

A side note

Your Qualifying Loss or Profit (if using a free bet) will change depending on how much the lay odds have moved from the original lay odds. Sometimes the odds move in your favour, sometimes they don’t. Lay the rest of the bet, accept it and move on.

How to Avoid Unmatched & Partially Matched Bets

Follow our guides! Check the liquidity available.

In our video guides and step-by-step guides remember how we always tell you before placing your bets to check those little silver numbers under the blue lay odds boxes – the liquidity – is larger than your stake amount? Well, that’s to help you avoid having unmatched and partially matched bets!


The liquidity (which is just £5 in this example) shows how much money backers at the exchange are willing to bet at those odds. 

The maximum lay stake we can use at lay odds of 2.18 in this example is therefore £5.

If we try to lay £10.20 only £5 will be matched and we will end up with a partially matched bet to deal with. 

So please remember to check that the liquidity is larger than your lay stake before placing any bets. We can fix it, but why give yourself the extra hassle and waste more time than is necessary?

Avoid matched betting right before the start of a game or race

We also mention in our guides that beginners should avoid doing matched bets just before a game or race is about to start. For horse racing especially you should be looking to place your matched bets at least an hour before the race starts.

We say this because the odds at the exchange can start to move a lot at these times making it harder for us to get our lay bet through and fully matched. So we recommend beginners to really avoid placing their matched bets at these times.


If you’ve got any questions about this guide or any other of our matched betting guides, please feel to ask in our Facebook Group, or message us here. We and the community are always happy to help!