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What is lay betting? Learn the lay bet basics

All you need to understand about lay betting basics. How to recognise a good time to lay bet for more consistent bankroll returns.



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Updated on 04 November 2018
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Have you ever wanted to play the role of bookmaker and offer your odds to other punters? If you’ve ever thought about reducing the odds of one outcome in favour of another outcome, then you may have considered lay betting.


Lay betting is when you offer odds based on the probability of an outcome NOT occurring. In so doing, allowing punters to accept your lay betting offer and back the outcome against you lay bet.


Lay betting is a betting option offered on betting exchanges, such as Betfair, Betdaq, Matchbook and Smarkets, which permit punters to exchange bets between each other, based on the outcome of a sporting event or other occasion.


This means that you’re acting like a bookmaker and ‘controlling the book’. Controlling the betting options across the event provides you with control.


Lay betting is ‘selling’ your bet to punters, traders and other sports bettors that wish to take you up on your offer.

How do you decide on your Lay Betting odds?


You can base your odds, on criteria that you consider important and if the market believes your analysis is incorrect, they will bet against you by ‘buying’ your lay offer.


Other punters may believe that your offered odds are attractive or too high for the outcome. Therefore, they will place a bet by backing your lay bet and accepting the terms (i.e. the offered odds) for the outcome.


Lay betting, matched betting and arbitrage


Lay betting goes by many names and it’s used under a variety of circumstances, such as matched betting and arbitrage betting.


The use of Lay betting across the soccer betting market is widespread and you can take advantage of several different factors, by including Lay betting into your betting strategy.


Sometimes teams may have statistics, which suggest they’re more likely to avoid losing than winning their fixture.


Therefore, in different situations, it may be more sensible to spread your Lay betting risk by placing bets across a range of different options. This will allow you to make the best decisions for your bankroll and for the probability within the event.


When and why would you use lay betting instead of backing?



If you can use value betting strategies described across iwinsoccerbets to allocate the best betting options, this can direct your betting towards more profitable selections and help you to identify the most sensible outcomes for your lay betting.

There are countless situations when you may be more confident of an Away team failing to win rather than losing a fixture.


Therefore, instead of choosing to back multiple single bets, such as Draw and Home Win or concentrating your bets on Double Chance bets, it may be more sensible to concentrate on laying the Home win instead.

When would you choose to lay rather than back a Double Chance bet?


Bookmaker odds usually offered for Double Chance bets are often low due to the reduced risk of the betting selection.


Reducing the risk will ultimately reduce the probable winnings and Double Chance removes one of the losing options and therefore provides a lower yield selection.


If your betting strategy is not based on low yield, it may make more sense for you to focus on higher yielding returns, such as Lay Betting.


Remember that when you’re Lay Betting you’re behaving like a bookmaker, so you need to think like a bookmaker.


The odds offered by bookmakers are not necessarily related to the real probability of an outcome occurring, but bookmaker odds are based on a few different factors, such as market forces, probability of the event, the required bookmaker profits, the wider betting markets and ultimately competitors offering more attractive odds.


You need to navigate this mixture of competing elements and offer other betting exchange users something of interest, so they consider backing your lay betting odds rather than competing odds on offer within the betting exchange.

How does lay betting work?


Sometimes lay betting can be a little confusing, but it will become clearer when you think like a bookmaker…


So, let’s say you’re planning to offer a lay bet on the match between Manchester City and Southampton at Etihad (Manchester City’s home stadium) within the English Premier League.


This match would provide some low betting odds for the home win considering the form of Man City in recent years, but the lay betting example may help you to understand the role of lay betting with a practical example.


If we concentrate on the standard 1X2 selections, we can check out how Lay Betting would work and compare this to backing with the liabilities and potential pay outs on both sides.





This is a good example, as it will demonstrate how lay betting could be an interesting option, but all betting contains risk and the liability is where the risk is felt most seriously with lay betting.

How do you calculate lay betting liability using decimal odds?


Lay betting Liability = (Lay Odds - 1) x Lay betting stake


So, if we use the Draw as the example and we risk £10 then we can use the equation above to provide…


Lay betting Liability = (9.69 – 1) x £10

Lay betting Liability = £86.90


Therefore, £8.69 would leave your betting account if you wanted to Lay the Draw and you believed the result would end in a Manchester City home win or a Southampton away win.

How do you calculate lay betting returns using decimal odds?


Unlike normal backing, lay betting returns are calculated by how much you want to risk, rather than the associated odds.


Lay betting Payout = Lay Odds x Lay betting stake


Now, if we use the same Draw example and we want to win £10. This means that the potential payout is simply…

Lay betting Payout = 9.69 x £10

Lay betting Payout = £96.90


You can see that the potential payout would be £96.90, but you would be risking £86.90. Therefore, providing you with a £10 profit for the risk!


All backing liabilities, laying liabilities and returns using decimal odds


Based on the odds above we can calculate the liability and returns for the different betting options. The table below shows the lay betting return and liability alongside the standard return and stake liability for backing the selection.





Another lay betting option to think about...


One thing to quickly note is that the back odds and the lay odds are not usually identical for real betting exchanges. The laying odds are higher than the backing odds, which translates to slightly more risk for the laying selection over the backing selection.


Remember that the betting exchanges are all for profit businesses and you will lose a proportion of your winnings due to the commission rate charged for each successful betting transaction.

How to calculate your lay betting odds?


You may want to use some of the guidance on how bookmakers calculate their odds and if you can trust them? This should help you to choose the most important factors that you’re going to price within your lay betting odds.


Lay Betting and matched betting for the average punter


It’s probably clear that betting exchanges offer laying options for would be bookmakers, but this is not the only consideration.


Lay betting allows you to ‘match’ your bets and reduce the risk (ideally removing large amounts of risk) from the betting process and help you to return a profit (or lose less) from most of your bets. The main issue is deciding on the stake (i.e. risk) on both sides of the bet?


The idea is to create an ideal scenario where you return a profit no matter the result and therefore, ensure you increase your bankroll over time.


Matched betting is one approach, but matched betting does not properly consider trading through betting exchanges, which are also used to return a profit from your betting activities.


The issue is that you will need to understand odds matching services, liquidity and soccer betting arbitrage, so you can choose the best selections for profitable betting strategies.

Odds matching services and betting exchange liquidity


Odds matching services provide automated betting selections, which show you the suitable odds and their availability for matched betting and arbitrage betting opportunities.


Therefore, helping you adjust your stake and your risk across betting options and realise a profit using football mathematics and trading.


Liquidity is the amount of money (i.e. liquid cash) matched within the betting exchange, bookmaker or the wider market. This is where betting exchanges are useful, as their transparency provide the matched betting volume within a selection.


If we understand betting exchange liquidity, we can also understand the likelihood traditional bookmakers may not have the same level of money going through their platforms.


This means you can modify your bets across different betting exchanges and bookmakers to ensure your finding the best odds available for a given selection and you can decide how the arbitrage or trade will take place.

What do you need to help your lay betting strategy?


If you’ve ever looked at odds checking services, it’s clear that odds frequently change. Favourites become less favoured and the underdogs become more fancied.


A change in circumstances, such as injuries or betting patterns can significantly shift odds across an entire event and the in-game changes, which can easily change odds across an entire match if the play is going one way or the other.


This means that the odds could change and allow you to back or lay in-play during the 90 minutes and guarantee profits for your bankroll.


This is a tricky betting strategy, but one that can be followed if you use services that can provide you with the information you need to identify some of the best options for changing odds over time.


Remember that you need to track your bets across all bookmaker and exchange accounts, so you’re certain of your current profit, loss, liability and return for your current lay betting opportunity…


Good luck!



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