Expert Guides : What Is Lay Betting? | Betting Gods Logo
Expert Guides : What Is Lay Betting?
Betting Advice

Expert Guides : What Is Lay Betting?

Love betting on horse racing and interested in learning more about lay betting? If so, you have come to the right place. We’re going to take a good look at lay betting and reveal everything you need to know in today’s guide. Let’s get started right away with a brief explanation of the basics.

What Is Lay Betting?

Typically when you make a bet, you usually bet on something to happen. So, you might say that Horse A will win, or be placed. Or that a football match will be a draw, or there will be more – or less – than 2.5 goals in the game. When you lay a bet, however, things are a little different, You are, in fact, betting on something not to happen. In essence, you are becoming the bookmaker – betting against the market to win.

Let’s take horse racing as an example. The bookmakers love a favourite, as everyone puts their money on them, even when the odds suggest they are far too short. But which horse will win instead? With a vast field to choose from, even a seasoned, professional gambler is going to struggle to pick a winner against a strong favourite. But if you are convinced the favourite isn’t going to win, you can place a lay bet on them – betting on the rest of the field and hoping that one of them will come through.

Where Can I Use Lay Betting?

Because you are assuming the role of the bookmaker in a lay betting scenario, it stands to reason that you won’t be able to use this technique in a traditional bookie. Instead, you will need to look at platforms like betting exchanges – Smarkets, Betdaq, Betfair for example. Betting exchanges are, essentially, marketplaces for gamblers – a little similar to the stock market, but instead of buying and selling shares, you are dealing with winners and losers.

In a betting exchange, you are allowed to bet on the outcome of any sporting event – including choosing to lay a horse. Trading in or out at any time is also a key feature of betting exchanges, and many punters use these features to maximise their profits.

The difference between an exchange and a traditional bookmaker is that you are betting against other gamblers, not a bookie. In short, you can dictate the price you want to pay (or lay), and there are many fluctuations in prices available. As we mentioned above, you become the bookmaker, because you (as a group of customers) are setting your own odds and accepting bets from other users.

Sounds Good – any problems?

Yes – lay betting increases your liability so certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted. When you back something to lose, you might have to pay more than your original liability, whereas backing something to win, your only liability is your stake. For example, let’s say you lay a 2/1 favourite, and throw on £20. You’ll win the same as your stake if it loses. But what happens if the horse you laid wins? You end up losing your stake, plus the odds, coming out at £40.

At this point, it’s probably worth stating that when you place a lay bet, you will have to pay your liability first – as it’s your worst possible outcome. For example, let’s say you are backing a 8/1 horse to lose after a backer has placed £10 for the win. Your liability will be £80. If the horse loses, you will be paid £10, which is the backer’s original stake. It’s also important to understand that you can only win the other person’s stake, so it’s critical to monitor your stakes carefully. A decimal point in the wrong place could end up being incredibly expensive.

The Importance Of Experience

As you can probably tell, betting exchanges and lay betting are not the ideal starting point for newcomers to the gambling world. Because of the many complexities of betting exchanges, it can be hard to make a decent profit without using a lay betting system. However, in horse racing, there is an opportunity for even newbies to turn a profit – and lay betting is incredibly popular with horse racing fans.

It’s easy to see why – even backing a winner in a race with a firm favourite can be incredibly difficult. And if you see a horse that looks a little short on odds to win, it’s possible to get a decent win if you lay that horse. Don’t forget, the shorter the odds to win, the better profit you will earn if it loses and you lay.

Why Is It So Popular?

With all these complications and complexities, you might be asking why lay betting is so popular. The truth is that although the returns can be low compared to your initial outlay, you can often find better value in lay betting. In fact, favourites in a race meet often have terrible odds, that most pro punters would never even touch.

The odds tend to be more favourable when you bet against, and, of course, it is easier to beat the bookies this way. We all know how hard it can be to pick a winner, and the bookmakers make their profit from everyone betting on the favourite. Lay betting, then, is a great way t improve your profit margins and show the bookie you are not to be messed with!


We hope that this brief guide has shown you a little bit about lay betting and that you find it useful. To conclude, you should do a lot of research and study the form guides before entering the lay betting market. It’s a great way to turn a larger amount of profit than standard betting, sure. But it also comes with a lot of risks – and when you lose, you can lose big.

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