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The growing popularity of exchange betting has moved the goalposts forever, allowing punters like you to bet on sporting events with even greater confidence. Lay Betting is one of the main reasons, and when used well, it can completely transform your approach to betting.

They say the bookies always win, and lay betting enables you to experience that first hand. While it may sound confusing if you’ve never tried it before, this guide aims to clear up everything and show you how it can be used to take your betting bankroll to greater heights than ever before.

What Does The Term Lay Betting Mean?

As a punter with experience in traditional sportsbook betting, you’ll be used to backing outcomes. Whether it be predicting a team to win, a player to score, or a club to beat the Asian handicap doesn’t matter. Even if you bet on a market such as ‘both teams to score: no’, you’re hoping for an event to happen.

Conversely, lay means that you are betting on an event NOT to occur. Every bet is a trade. When you choose to ‘back’, you are buying into a market. When you ‘lay’, however, you sell the market.

The best way to think about it is to consider yourself the bookmaker taking another punter’s bet. You will still be matching bets with other members, as that is the basic principle of the exchange betting model. This time, however, you are on the opposite side of the deal than what you’d be used to from sportsbook betting.

Just remember that you want the market to lose when taking the ‘lay’ option, and you won’t go wrong with regard to selections. However, you need to ensure that.

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Working Out The Odds When Becoming The Bookie

Lay betting isn’t difficult to understand, at least in terms of the selections, but you also need to consider the mathematics when working out the potential risk and returns. The role reversal isn’t limited to your mindset regarding an event’s outcome; you must remember these key points when you use the lay option.

  • You offer the punter the odds that the bet is matched. They are NOT the odds you gain
  • The punter’s stake is your potential winnings (minus commission) for if their bet loses
  • Potential losses (exposure) are calculated by multiplying the stake by the odds. Known as ‘liability.’

Calculating your potential winnings is as easy as looking at the ‘backer’s’ stake. When wanting to know how much you could potentially lose, the equation is:

Backer’s Stake x Odds – Stake = Potential Liability

The easiest way to dissect those points is to put them into practice.

Example 1: Standard Odds

Arsenal is playing Spurs, and you think Tottenham will win or draw. As such, you want to lay Arsenal as you don’t think they will win. Conversely, the person who matches your bet thinks Arsenal will win.

We already know that you’ll lose money if Arsenal wins, but gain a profit if they fail to get the victory. But how much do you stand to win or lose?

If the bet is matched at odds of 2.1 (11/10) and the ‘backer’ has staked £20, which is theoretically handed to you in your role as the bookmaker, the following outcomes are possible.

  1. Arsenal fails to win. As the ‘layer’, you win the £20 stake (minus commission) from the ‘backer’.
  2. Arsenal win. As the ‘layer,’ you must pay out the ‘backer’s’ winnings. Their £20 stake is multiplied by the odds offered. So, that becomes £20 x 2.1 = £42. However, you have to factor in that they have effectively given you £20 as their stake for the bet. Your bankroll will actually reduce by £22.

Example 2: Odds On

Manchester City is the heavy favourite to beat Swansea City. You offer the backer odds of 1.2 (1/5), and they stake £100. So they are essentially risking £100 in hopes of winning £20. To work out your situation, reverse it.

  1. Manchester City win, so you lose £20. The figure is calculated by using £100 x 1.2 – £100. You’ve essentially paid out £120, but £100 of that was the backer’s stake.
  2. Manchester City doesn’t win, and the £100 stake (minus commission) stays in your account.

Example 3: Big Odds

Newcastle United are away at Chelsea. DeAndre Yedlin’s scoring chances are slim, so you offer big odds to entice backers. A backer places £10 on odds of 51.0 (50/1) in hopes of gaining a return of £510. From your perspective as the layer, you flip the script.

  1. Yedlin scores first. You lose £500 as you have to pay the backer £510, which includes their £10 stake.
  2. Yedlin isn’t the first goalscorer. The £10 (minus commission) that the backer placed on the event stays in your account.

How To Utilise The Lay Betting Markets To Your Advantage

As is clearly visible from the three examples above, the contrast between potential winnings and liability can be huge depending on the market and the odds offered to backers. Ultimately, your bankroll will increase as long as the events you lay don’t happen. Nonetheless, it’s essential to build a winning strategy.

Here are some of the best ways to generate steady returns from the concept of laying on the Premier League exchange markets and other football events and sporting occasions.


Little & Often: Many punters are happy to throw a few pounds away in hopes of shooting for the big jackpot. If the odds are good enough, they may even back something as unlikely as Huddersfield Town to beat Manchester City by a 5-0 scoreline. The liabilities can be huge, but the likelihood is that you’ll have huge runs without losing a single trade. Besides, you can always reduce potential losses during the match if things get a little worrying.

Small Losses, Big Payouts: While you don’t want to chase almost impossible bets, you can still use odds-on backers to boost your winnings. Arsenal is the only team to have ever gone a Premier League season unbeaten and drew 12 of 38 games.

Picking a favourite and laying them until they fail to win is a tried and tested method, especially as the individual losses on each match will be relatively small. This technique should produce positive results as long as the bankroll and staking plan is in place.

Beat The Momentum: Have you found out that a star player is unavailable for selection before it has become common knowledge? That may severely impact the chances of that team scoring, so you could lay them on various markets.

Once that information becomes public knowledge, others will start betting accordingly. As the odds on the back market increase, you’ll be able to trade out for a guaranteed profit regardless of the outcome.

Laying Goals: Another option, which plays on a similar idea of trading out, revolves around laying the ‘Overs’ goal market. Statistics show that goals are more frequent in the latter stages of matches. Therefore, laying this market at the start of a game can work wonders.

As time ticks without a goal, the odds of backing the goals will increase. While it can be a risky tactic, this is one that many use to great effect. Embrace those philosophies in the second half of matches; the odds will change even sooner.

Back To Lay: In addition to lay betting to back, later on, you can try the opposite. Using the lay option to “green up” by guaranteeing profits no matter what happens can be highly rewarding. Similarly, when things don’t develop as expected, you’ll be able to minimise your losses.

Both of those factors will lead to long-term productivity for high ROIs.

5 Rules to Lay Betting

The idea of lay betting opens the door to a whole new world of betting opportunities and helps you become a sports trader than a traditional bettor. However, irresponsible behaviour can lead to major problems. Keep the following five statements in mind, and you won’t go far wrong.

  1. Your liability can be far greater than the potential winners. If you wouldn’t be prepared to bet £200 on a 1/100 shot with a bookmaker, do not offer someone odds of 101.0 to win £2 from them.
  2. The betting exchange platform will take a small commission from winnings. An important thing to remember.
  3. Only matched trades impact bankroll. No bet is confirmed if nobody backs the outcome you’re trying to lay.
  4. Depending on how things develop during the match, you may reduce your potential liability by backing the outcome. In some cases, it may be possible to do this in a way that guarantees profits.
  5. Laying a bet means that you expect an outcome NOT to happen.

With those tips, a smart strategy, and a solid staking plan, your hopes of winning are greater than ever!

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