What is a Free Bet in Sports Betting? How do Free Bets work at Sportsbooks?

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March 9, 2022, 08:25 PM

What is a Free Bet?

Free bets are promotional giveaways that sportsbooks give to users in the form of a “token” or “bonus” for a specific amount of money where the sportsbook is paying the stake of the bet. Free bets aren’t just for new users. Books may reward frequent users with occasional free bet credits. As always, we encourage users to sign up for as many books as possible. The more you can spread your money around, the more you can take advantage of free bet promos. 

How do Free Bets Work?

Free bet credits will typically be small increments ($10-$25). Additionally free bets are inherently worse than cash because if you win you do not receive your stake back, just the profit of the bet. For example, if you place a $25 free bet on +100 odds your payout would only be the $25 profit, not $50 ($25 stake + $25 profit). 

Can I Withdraw my Free Bet?

Free bet credits are not withdrawable for cash, however once you bet them the winnings you receive are withdrawable as cash. Note: again, only your winnings will be added to your cash balance, not the original stake, when a free bet credit is used.

Check the fine print to see all the terms of the free bet credit as they can have expiration dates (don’t let your free bets expire!), restrictions on the types of wagers you can place them on, etc.

Strategies for Using Free Bet Credits

You may be thinking that you should use your Free Bet on a sure-fire favorite, that way there’s a really high likelihood you don’t lose. However this is a bit of a trap, because of the key difference of not getting your stake back with the bet. If you have a $250 free bet and you place it on the Golden State Warriors, who are -450 favorites to beat the Knicks your payout will only be $62.50. The downside is that while you won your bet, you are only getting $62.50 out of your one time use $250 free bet. By doing this you’re not maximizing your potential winnings from this credit.

It is best to place free bets on longer odds to maximize the expected value of the credit.

-500 odds, $25 free bet expected value = 5/6 x 1/5 x $25 = $4.17

-200 odds, $25 free bet expected value = 2/3 x 1/2 x $25 = $8.33

+200 odds, $25 free bet expected value = 1/3 x 2 x $25 = $16.67

+500 odds, $25 free bet expected value = 1/6 x 5 x $25 = $20.83

The math here can certainly look intimidating, but let’s break it down further:

Expected Value Calculation: EV = Implied Probability x Payout x Stake

When we plug in all the values from our examples above, we can see that longer odds bets have a higher expected value. 

With longer odds bets, the implied probability of the bet decreases. Over time, you will be profitable betting longer odds with free bets. But, what if you want to guarantee yourself profit for a particular free bet? OddsJam has a dedicated section to provide free bet conversion opportunities. First, head to the Low Holds page. Here, you can enter the book in which you have the free bet. Then, sort by Conversion %. You will find the most profitable opportunities to use your free bet. 

How to use a Free Bet:

In the example below, you are placing $100 on u4.5 Goals (+325). Remember: we ALWAYS bet the underdog side of the wager with our free bet. If you hedge this bet on o4.5 Goals on another book, you are locking in $72.22 in profit. Let’s break down that math:

Free Bet Credit: $100

If the Under Wins: You win $325 in profit from your free bet (remember you do not win back your stake with a free bet). You then lose your stake in the hedge bet ($252.78). You profit is $325-252.78 = $72.22

If the Over Wins: Your hedge bet nets $72.22 in profit. Since you bet the other side in a free bet, you lose no cash balance on that side. Your total profit remains $72.22

The Bottom Line: Your expected value on the straight wager with the $100 free bet would be $76.47 (1/4.25 x 3.25 x $25). So, hedging your bet is a lower expected value, but the profits are locked in when you make the hedge bet. 

Be sure to check out all the sports books available to you in your state. The more books you are registered with, the more you will receive these free bet promotions. As you can see above, OddsJam has tools that allow you to guarantee profits from Free Bets. So, don’t miss out on profits by sticking with just 1 or 2 sports books! You’re now ready to start maximizing your profitability the next time you receive a free bet. 

Check out also what is a betting exchange!

Happy Betting!