There are two sides to every bet when you play on the Betfair Exchange. When you place a back bet you are betting on an outcome to happen, whereas if you place a lay bet, you are betting on an outcome not to happen – in opposition to the back bettors. Typically, bookmakers represent the lay side of a bet, so they will offer customers odds which they are willing to lay. However, on the Exchange, customers can play the role of both back and lay bettors themselves, meaning you will be 'matching' bets with fellow bettors, rather than a bookmaker.
How does it work?
If you are placing a back bet that means you are putting your money on something to happen - a horse or a team or a player to win, for example. Placing a Lay bet means you are betting on something not to happen - for example, if you lay a football team to win your bet will be settled as a winner if the team loses or if the game ends in a draw - so two outcomes are playing in your favour.
How to place a lay bet
1. Find the market you want to bet on
2. Select the event
3. Select the pink box to place a lay bet
4. Consider your liability and potential returns
5. Hit ‘confirm bet’
Your 'liability' is the amount that, in your worst-case scenario, you could lose. Your return for a win is effectively your stake (minus commission).
A lot of people prefer to lay at odds-on as your liability is then reduced. For example, if you lay a bet at 1.50 for £10 you are liable for £5 and will win £10 if the bet wins.
However, if you lay a bet a [3.5] for £10, you are risking a liability of £25 for the chance to win £10.
It is important to ensure you monitor how much you are liable for and to be very careful of where you put the decimal point. If you want to lay a bet at 4.20 make sure it is just that and not 42, otherwise it will be an expensive mistake should your selection win as you will be laying the bet at odds of 42, rather than 4.20, ten times the intended odds.
Betfair will only let you risk as much as is in your account and at the best available odds for you as a backer or a layer.
You can use the dutching calculator to ensure an equal payout or liability on all selections. Click ‘Payout’ or ‘Liability’ then enter the maximum you would want to risk before clicking ok. You will then see how much you need to stake on each selection in order to get an equal payout or liability.
Betfair Starting Price (BSP)
You can lay your selections at BSP. If you can’t already see the option for BSP, you’ll need to turn it on in ‘Settings’. Just like with any other bookie, you won’t know what the Betfair SP is until the race goes off. However you can get a guide to the expected BSP by enabling BSP in your settings and then the forecast prices will appear on your market view. If you think your horse’s price is likely to drift before the race, and you don’t want to miss getting your bet on, this could be the way to go. BSP offers tremendous value and tends to offer around 90%+ better prices than official SP returns on all UK and IRE horseracing.