Lay Betting – A Beginner’s Guide

| November 17, 2010 | Reply

In a nutshell

Lay betting is backing a selection to lose. In other words you are playing the role of the bookmaker and have the opportunity to choose the odds that you want to offer and the stake that you’re willing to accept.

Advantages and disadvantages

If there’s one thing that bookmakers are good at and I mean really good at it’s making money, so if given the opportunity to replicate that, why wouldn’t you?!

Lay betting enables you to oppose just one participant in a field of 10’s or even 100’s, thus greatly improving your chances of winning. Furthermore it can be used to guarantee a profit if the odds on your initial selection decrease sufficiently. This is particularly useful during tournaments, where odds can decrease significantly after the early rounds have been played.

On the down side, you often have to risk large amounts of money in order to make a decent profit. Because you are backing a selection to lose, it’s unlikely that you will lay too many really strong favourites. Therefore a lot of the time your liability will be greater than the potential payout.

Another small disadvantage is that lay betting is only available with exchanges, such as Betfair. This means that your terms are never certain to be matched and you will be charged a commission on any net profit – usually around 5%.

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Step by step

1. Head over to a betting exchange.
2. Select the market that you’re interested in.
3. Select ‘lay’ on the selection that you want to bet against.
4. Enter the odds that you are willing to offer bettors (the best currently accepted price will be displayed automatically).
5. Enter the stake that you are willing to accept and you will now be able to see your liability and your potential payout (your profit will always be the same as the stake, providing the entire stake is matched by a bettor).
6. Place bet. You will be informed by the exchange as and when a bettor matches your terms.


Example one:

England play Pakistan at cricket in a test match and you think England will lose. You lay England at 2.02 with a £200 stake.

Your liability is £204, so if England win the match, you lose your £204…

But if England lose or draw the match, you get your liability back (£204) plus the stake (£200), less commission (5% of 200 = 10), so you make an overall profit of £190.

Example two:

You back Mark Allen to win the snooker World Championship with a bookmaker at 16/1. Your stake is £50, thus setting up a potential profit of £800.

After making it through to the semi-final, Mark is now available to lay on the exchanges at 3.45. You would now have the option to lay him and secure a guaranteed profit.

By laying Allen to win the tournament at 3.45 for a stake of £200, you will be guaranteed a minimum profit of £140.

If he loses in either the semi or the final, you will make an overall profit of £140 (200 minus 5% commission, minus the initial £50 outlay) and if he wins the tournament you will make an overall profit of £310 (800 minus the exchange liability of £490).

Where can I use this technique?

Betfair is the most popular betting exchange currently in existence and they offer a multitude of markets for a wide range of sports.

New customers also receive a free bet of up to £25 if their first bet is a losing one.

The other main exchanges are:



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