What Is Lay Betting?

Lay betting is a type of bet that is placed when you are selling a bet, rather than buying a bet. It is generally placed by punters who play the role of bookmaker, hence “lay betting”. It also goes by the terms of matched betting, arbitration or arb betting.

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Lay Betting Explained

Lay betting (also known as lay bet matching, arb betting, double betting and matched betting), is a betting technique used by individuals to profit from free bets and incentives offered by bookmakers. It allows punters to sell bets instead of the usual odds in backing a bet. Lay Betting is an option on exchanges where betters play the role of a bookmaker, but offers odds to sell a bet instead of the odds to back a bet. Laying a bet offers a method of betting against the odds of an outcome, instead of for it. It is also known as a “back bet”.

  1. Example Of Lay Betting

    For example, instead of betting on (backing) Chelsea to win the Premier League, you lay Chelsea. This means you would win your bet if anyone other than Chelsea wins the title. Essentially, when you lay an outcome, you act like a bookmaker. You are betting against other users.

  2. Lay Betting

    Lay Betting is the option on Exchanges such as Betfair where punters can play the role of a traditional bookmaker but offering odds to sell a bet instead of the usual odds to back a bet. “I bet you won’t get a bullseye”; “I bet you won’t finish all that”; “They’ll never win if he plays.”

  3. Learn About Betting Exchanges

    Lay Betting is the option on Exchanges such as Betfair where punters can play the role of a traditional bookmaker but offering odds to sell a bet instead of the usual odds to back a bet. “I bet you won’t get a bullseye”; “I bet you won’t finish all that”; “They’ll never win if he plays.” The emergence of betting exchanges such as Smarkets have made lay betting more popular and helped change the way people gamble. Exchanges have paved the way for cash-out options, an in-play markets, which almost every major sportsbook now offers.

  4. Learn About Profit, Liability And Liquidity

    The most important thing to understand about laying a bet is that the profit (amount you could win) and liability (how much you could lose) are different to a traditional bet.

    Placing £10 on a 5/1 shot will win you a profit of £50. Straightforward.

    In effect, the formula is reversed when it comes to laying.

    To make a profit of £10, the layer would have to be willing to risk £50.

    Liquidity is the amount of money available to back or lay in a given market.

    This is because exchange betting is between users, rather than a better and bookmaker.

  5. A Premier League game has high liquidity:
  6. Whereas a Handball market has low liquidity

    The amounts available will depend on how popular the markets are. For example, the amounts available on a Premier League football match are likely to be higher than a minority sport. When backing or laying, it is important to check there is enough liquidity in the market at the price you desire, otherwise some or all of your bet might not be ‘matched’.

    If you are new to exchange betting, Betfair have a very useful beginners’ guide available as an ebook.

    Betfair also has a ‘what if’ option, to allow you to test the outcomes of a bet and see whether your selection would return a profit or a loss.

  7. Learn About Decimal Odds

    Lay betting odds on exchanges are often displayed as decimals, rather than fractions favoured by most British bookmakers. Decimal odds are used because they are more accurate than fractional odds and offer more transparency to the user. If you are not used to dealing with decimal odds, they can look a little confusing.

    One aspect of decimal odds to understand is that the backer’s stake is included. So odds of 2.00 are evens (1/1), with the stake counting as 1.00 and odds of 3.00 is 2/1. To convert fractional odds to decimal, divide the first figure by the second figure and then add 1.00. For example, 11/4 is 11 divided by four, which is 2.75, plus 1.00, equals 3.75. To convert decimal odds to fractional, subtract 1.00 and convert to a fraction, reducing to the simplest form. For example, 1.75-1 = 75/100 or 3/4.