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Lay betting explained – How to place winning lay bets in 2020

Lay betting is an interesting betting format that a lot of punters still don’t know about in 2020.

We aim to change that with this article and more specifically, we’ll look at:

  • What is lay betting
  • How lay betting differs from other betting formats
  • Benefits of lay betting

And much much more!

Let’s get started.

What is lay betting?

Lay betting may be a new term to some of you out there, so here’s an introduction.

Lay betting or laying refers to when you’re backing an outcome NOT to happen

It’s the same as saying Man City won’t beat Chelsea in their next Premier League game or Andy Murray won’t beat Roger Federer in the US Open.

Lay betting is a less well-known method of placing bets when compared to the more traditional back betting method.

What do I mean by back betting?

This is the usual, more common type of betting and one that you’d likely place with your mates. With back betting, you back a certain outcome.

Nonetheless, lay betting is still incredibly popular with punters around the world.

It allows for more flexibility and excitement and means you can take advantage of strategies such as matched betting (more on this later).

Lay betting is only possible at betting exchanges like Smarkets and Betdaq. You can’t open a bookmaker account like Coral and place a lay bet.

Betting exchanges and lay betting

If you’re new to betting, you may not know what an exchange is.

Betting exchanges are online marketplaces which match gamblers together

They take on no bets like traditional bookmakers and simply provide the technology to match bets.

This is where back and lay betting comes in.

At an exchange, there are two types of punter. One looking to back an outcome (back betting) and the other looking to bet against an outcome (lay betting).

For a bet to be matched at a betting exchange, both a back bet and a lay bet need to be placed on the same market.

Betting exchanges make money by charging a commission on players’ net winnings rather than building a profit margin into the odds as a bookmaker does.

This commission varies between 2% and 5%. Below is a list of popular betting exchanges with their current commission rates:

Popular betting exchange commission rates

Smarkets – 2%
Betfair – 2% – 5%
Betdaq – 2%

It’s important to understand that when you place lay bets, you effectively act as the bookmaker. You take on the liability of a bet and if you lose, you pay the winning punter.

Overall, betting exchanges are an inherent part of lay betting so it’s important you understand what they are and how they work.

Check out this article for more information on betting exchanges.

How do lay bets differ from back bets?

There are a number of differences between lay betting and back betting which we’ll look at below:

  • Backing the opposite outcome
  • Paying out the winner

Backing the opposite outcome

As we looked at above, backing and laying are opposite bets. With back betting, you’re backing a certain outcome to happen.

Let’s say, Chelsea to beat Aston Villa in the Premier League.

Smarkets - Chelsea vs Aston Villa

With lay betting, the opposite is true. You’re betting that Chelsea will NOT beat Aston Villa.

Paying out the winner

Another major difference between back and lay betting is how returns are calculated.

As the lay bettor effectively acts as the bookmaker and takes the bet on, they are the ones to pay out any winnings should they lose the bet.

However, they receive the back stake should the lay bet win.

Whilst lay betting may seem a little confusing at first, you’ll soon get the hang of it with a little practice.

Benefits of lay betting

So what are the benefits of lay betting in 2020? Here are just some:

  • Betting against the underdog
  • Matched betting
  • More excitement
  • Wide range of markets

Let’s check out each of these in more detail.

Betting against the underdog

Lay betting is great for punters who don’t rate the chances of a certain team, usually the underdog.

In this scenario, you may want to place a lay bet against them winning.

Matched betting

Another benefit of lay betting is being able to take advantage of strategies such as matched betting.

For those of you who are new to match betting, it’s a way of making a guaranteed profit from bookmakers free bets and other promotions.

Punters make up to £1500 per month with this strategy so it’s certainly worth considering.

With each offer you complete, bettors place both a back bet and a lay bet to cancel out any risk from their bets.

Without lay betting and betting exchanges, matched betting wouldn’t be possible and thousands of punters wouldn’t be able to use this strategy.

More excitement

Do you ever get bored of placing back bets at traditional bookmakers like Coral and Ladbrokes?

Of course, you do… Who doesn’t?

Well by adding lay betting into the mix you can increase the excitement of your gambling in 2020.

Lay betting is exciting

As we’ve seen above, lay bets work completely differently to back bets so it will certainly make things more interesting.

Overall, the more you mix things up, the better.

Wide range of markets

One of the great things about lay betting is that you can place your bets on pretty much any market you fancy.

Thanks to Betfair, betting exchanges have grown massively over the last few years meaning they now offer a huge range of markets to punters.

In 2020, you can often find a lay market on any event or category where back betting is available.

How does lay betting work?

As I mentioned earlier, it may take some time to get your head around lay betting and how it works, but this explanation will certainly help.

In terms of placing a lay bet, it’s incredibly easy. You follow the same process you would if you were placing a back bet.

When working out your potential returns or losses, the betting exchanges come in quite handy. When you enter your stake, they show you the exact profit or loss you’ll make.

Here’s an example to help explain:

If you bet £10 backing Chelsea to beat Aston Villa, here’s what the Smarkets platform would tell you.

Placing lay bets at Smarkets

The platform calculates that you’ll win £3.10 if your back bet wins. You can also see that you’ll lose £10 (in red) if your bet loses.

Here’s what the platform tells you if you place a £10 lay bet:

Placing lay bet on Chelsea

With the lay bet, you can see that you’ll lose £3.20 if your bet loses and you’ll win £10 if it wins.

Remember, with a lay bet you’re effectively paying out the winning punter if your bet loses. You’re taking the position of a bookmaker at a betting exchange.

How to get started with lay betting in 2020

It’s incredibly easy to get started with lay betting in 2020. You just need a betting exchange account and you’re away.

Below are the three most popular betting exchanges you should consider.

For more information and reviews, check out this article.

Lay betting explained

Lay betting is relatively new to the betting world and a large number of punters still aren’t aware that it even exists.

However, if you’re not taking advantage of lay bets you’re missing out for the following reasons:

Whilst traditional back betting will still remain popular, lay betting is certainly something you should consider in your 2020 betting strategy.

Do you use lay betting? Let me know by leaving a comment below right now.