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Smarkets or Betfair – Which Betting Exchange to use in 2017?

Smarkets or Betfair?

It’s a question matched bettors get asked a lot but which one should we really use, Smarkets or Betfair? Betting exchanges are arguably the most important part of matched betting.

We’ll use them to place a lot of bets so it’s important we pick the best platform for our needs. In this guide we’ll go through the benefits and drawbacks to each platform and how this fits in with our matched betting goals.


Betfair was founded in 2000 and it was the first platform where customers could place bets against each other, what we know as a betting exchange. Since then its popularity has grown massively and is arguably the driving force behind the online betting industry. It is now one of the biggest online betting companies in the world and has been the go to exchange for the majority of matched bettors.


Smarkets is the new kid on the block in comparison with its older rivals. It was founded in 2008 by a team of finance and software engineers who spotted an opportunity to bring the financial trading platform into the betting industry. Since then the company has grown hugely and is now a big competitor to the older more established betting exchanges.

But the question is which one should we use for our matched betting, Smarkets or Betfair? Below are a few key considerations to think about when picking:

Markets Available:

Betfair beats Smarkets in terms of markets available. Just take a look at the Betfair website and you can instantly tell they have a huge range of markets, many more than we’ll need for matched betting. This is not to say Smarkets don’t have plenty of markets to choose from. More often than not they’ll also have more than we need.

Whenever there’s a price boost on multiple markets we’ll head straight to Betfair to lay our accumulator. At the time of writing, Smarkets don’t offer accumulators on their site. It’s therefore much easier to lay the exact market all at once rather than work out the individual lay stake for each game.

This is an important consideration to take in mind. However, in terms of matched betting, we usually stick to the more popular markets like Win/Draw/Win or Half Time/Full Time which all the betting exchange companies have.

Winner: Betfair


This is another area where Betfair beats the competition. Due to their age and size, Betfair has more users than other betting exchanges. Therefore the liquidity, the amount of money waiting to be matched, is usually higher than Smarkets.

An important strategy in matched betting is to blend in with regular gamblers. Therefore we should place our qualifying bets on large games where the liquidity is high no matter which betting exchange we use.

Winner: Betfair


The amount we pay on our net winnings at the exchange is an important aspect of matched betting. It ultimately decides how much profit we make. Smarkets only charge 2% commission whereas Betfair and other competitors charge 5%.

Betfair also runs a points system which rewards loyal customers by reducing their commission rate based on the amount they stake each week. However, we’ve never used Betfair enough to lower our commission rate.

How the commission alters our profit:
It’s best to have a look at some numbers to help explain this.

Smarkets – 2% commission
If you’re placing £100 worth of bets each day we can assume you’re laying the same amount off at an exchange. If £100 of your daily bets win at the exchange we’ll be charged 2% which is equal to £2. Multiply this by 30 to get a month’s worth of bets and that’s £60.

Betfair – 5% commission
Now let’s compare this to Betfair. They would charge us £5 for the same daily winnings of £100. Multiply this by 30 again to give us a months worth of bets and that’s £150. This works out to be a £90 difference in profit each month. Over a year that’s £1080. That’s quite a large premium to pay to use the Betfair trading platform instead of Smarkets.

Winner: Smarkets


Reliability is very important for matched bettors. Placing a back and lay bet only to realise one bet didn’t actually place is not a good outcome. We’re basically resorting to chance in this scenario. In my time matched betting I’ve never had a problem with Betfair. In terms of Smarkets, I’ve only had minor issues with their platform however they soon resolved any issues so I can’t fault them.

On busy events like the Grand National and big football games etc. Betfair are more likely to cope better with the increased traffic than Smarkets due to better servers and tech support. Again this comes down to the age and size of the company.

Winner: Betfair

Site Usability:

Smarkets vs Betfair
Which is better? Smarkets or Betfair

Above are the homepages for both Smarkets and Betfair.

In terms of usability, I find the Smarkets site much easier to use. I think the Betfair site is overly busy with too many links to different markets etc. The Smarkets site has a very simple user interface and a very powerful search bar to help you find the market you’re looking for. You can even place bets within the search bar which is a nice feature.

You probably have a different opinion about which site is easier to use and which layout you prefer so you can choose the winner here but I’m going with Smarkets.

Winner: Smarkets

Other Exchanges:

There are a number of other betting exchanges that you might want to check out. Mainly Betdaq and Matchbook. Betdaq are a similar alternative to Betfair however they have less to provide as they are a much smaller company. I advise you stick to Betfair.
Matchbook are a good alternative to use if you want a low commission rate. They have an industry leading commission of only 1%. However this commission applies to losses as well as wins. So overall your net commission will be similar to that of Smarkets. Matchbook is still worth a look though.

With the growth of the online betting industry there are more and more betting exchanges opening all the time. Many traditional betting companies like Ladbrokes are opening their own betting exchanges to compete with the existing companies and take a bit of the action.


So which betting exchange should we use, Smarkets or Betfair?

Here at The Sure Bettor we’ve always recommended members use Smarkets. We love their site and find it much easier to use than that of Betfair. Their customer support is second to none and they have resolved every issue very promptly. Having said that we always use Betfair to lay an accumulator or a less popular market as the liquidity is always much higher.

I hope this post has helped you make the decision between Smarkets or Betfair easier. Let us know which one you’re going to use for your matched betting and don’t forget to share on social media.