Betfair Exchange lets you place both Back and Lay Bets against other people online.
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Betfair Exchange offer thousands of sport markets every single day helping you to get better odds in comparison to those offered by bookmakers whilst letting you also cash out in-play.
Spawning out of a hobby project, Betfair (now officially known as Paddy Power Betfair) was launched in 2000 by Andrew Black and Edward Wray and have today amassed +1.1 million active customers worldwide.
Odds are not set directly by Betfair unlike they are at Bookmakers. Instead, they are presented on the Betfair Exchange having been formed by the cumulative beliefs of customers who have an interest in that particular event.
If the odds on Betfair Exchange are unrealistic then they’ll never be accepted by another player and no bets will be agreed. In conjunction, the entire betting industry monitors all available odds offered by all Bookmakers and Betting Exchanges and most are quick to react and adjust their odds to be more comparative to those being offered elsewhere.
Betting on Betfair Exchange is anonymous as all customer accounts are created with an alias/username and a secure password. Your personal details are not disclosed to the other person you’re betting against so neither party will know who is involved behind the bet.
Betfair Exchange vs. Sportsbook
Betfair Exchange is available via www.betfair.com/exchange or applications that can directly interface with the exchange (such as Bet Angel).
It’s not always obvious when visiting the Betfair homepage (www.betfair.com) but you'll need to click on the “Exchange” link to navigate to the Betfair Exchange homepage. This is because the initial Betfair homepage typically maximises the space to advertise New Player sign up offers and bonus promotions.
For awareness, Betfair Sportsbook is a competing offering to Betfair Exchange and acts just like a traditional Bookmaker setup.
Betfair Sportsbook does not allow you to place Lay Bets so you’ll need to navigate to the Betfair Exchange to perform these. See What is a Lay Bet? to find out more.
Inside Betfair Exchange
On the Betfair Exchange homepage you'll be presented with a list of all possible markets. Scroll down the list towards the left-hand side to filter through available sports markets and specials. Specials are non-sports related events like betting on whether it’ll snow on Christmas Day or who’ll win X-Factor.
Once inside the Betfair Exchange it can be quite an intimidating experience at first but over time it’ll become easy to navigate and fulfil your desired bets.
Once you’ve located your desired sports event you will be presented with the market selection and an option to bookmark the event.
Click image to zoom in
Each market selection offers a choice of possible outcomes and listed against each are 1 x blue box (representing the best available Back odds) and 1 x pink box (representing the best available Lay odds).
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If available, there may be a "live" stream option and some stats relating to the previous form of the sports event.
Backing and Laying on Betfair Exchange
The additional white/blank boxes either side of the blue and pink boxes represent the next best available Back (blue) or Lay (pink) odds.
These additional boxes are known as the market depth and will only become available should the stake amounts or liquidity (available money) within the blue or pink boxes be exhausted.
If the market depth is not initially shown simply select the “Market depth” under the Settings option towards the right-hand side.
The match odds screen therefore reflects a queue of desired odds and the associated liquidity. Turn this entire queue 90 degrees to the left so that the odds are stacked and now you have something akin to a Price Ladder which is used by traders who buy and sell shares via Bids (Back) and Asks (Lay).
Odds are always presented in decimal format on the Betfair Exchange and underneath the odds are the maximum amounts of liquidity to Back or Lay. For example, if there is £200 available the associated odds will not move until this is either taken (Backed) or better odds offered (Layed).
The blue and pink boxes represent the odds which can only be Backed or Layed at that particular moment in time. Odds tend to change leading up to the start of each sport event so clicking the “Refresh” button will return the current best Back and Lay odds on offer.
Matched versus Unmatched Bets
A bet is “Matched” when two parties agree on both the associated odds and the amount of money that can be wagered.
For example, the current maximum liquidity for the Home win is £29 at odds of 2.34. If you desire to place a Back Bet of £30 on the Home Win at these specific odds then the first £29 will be able to be Matched and the remaining £1 will go Unmatched.
This £1 will remain Unmatched until there is sufficient liquidity at odds of 2.34. It's quite possible that the market will never re-visit these odds again either pre-match or during In-Play so check there is sufficient liquidity before confirming your bet.
Because you've demanded more than the liquidity can currently support at such odds what typically happens next is your remaining £1 moves across and is offered on the Lay side of the market.
Your desired odds of 2.34 become the best available Lay odds and moves across into the pink box. The next best available odds of 2.32 moves up the queue and into the blue box to become now the best available Back odds. Your entire £30 Back Bet will be Matched 100% when somebody chooses to Lay your remaining £1 Bet at odds of 2.34.
The minimum Lay stake on Betfair must be £2 or greater which equates to a cumulative liability of £2.68 at odds of 2.34. In this example, you'll need to wait until a minimum accepted Lay bet has been placed in order for your £1 to be Matched.
In summary, the offer of a Back bet on the Betfair Exchange at odds of 2.34 only exists because another person has placed a corresponding Lay Bet with these exact same odds whilst putting up the required liquidity.
To expand more on our example, and an early warning that this can get complex, Laying £29 at odds of 2.34 means that the Layer will hypothetically need to risk a total of £38.86 (£29 * (2.34 - 1)) to cover a winning Lay result (equivalent to Stake * (Decimal odds – 1)). The reason we subtract “1” from the equation is that Decimal odds are a reflection of Fractional odds and they already include the Stake within the odds. 2.34 in Decimal is therefore equivalent to 67/50 in Fractional odds.
We also said “hypothetically” in the previous paragaph because this scenario has yet to take into account the typical Betfair Exchange commission charged on all winning bets.
Betfair Exchange commission is calculated as the Market Base Rate minus your Discount Rate.
Across the UK, Ireland, Italy, Gibraltar and Malta the Market Base Rate is 5%.
Discount Rates vary and are dependent upon how many Betfair Points you’ve earned through betting on the Betfair Exchange. With sufficient Betfair Points you could whittle your Betfair Exchange commission down to as low as 2%.
Find your Betfair Points statement within your Account upon login.
To compensate for the Betfair Exchange commission let’s now factor this into our calculations.
If the Lay bet (with an original Liability of £38.86) were to win then this would only return £27.55, not the full £29 as desired, as Betfair Commission equates to £1.45 in this example. We'd need to actually return £30.52 to cover Betfair’s commission charges (at the standard 5% commission rate and with no Betfair Discount applied). Therefore, the actual Liability must be £40.90 on the Lay bet in order to return £29 net profit from this bet.
This helps demonstrate how Betfair can proclaim to offer better odds than Bookmakers.
Bookmakers don't typically charge commission yet their perceived “lower” odds may not be that low in comparison once you determine the net returns you would have received at the Bookmaker versus Betfair Exchange.
Always factor in the Betfair Commission % into the odds offered on Betfair Exchange to avoid any surprise commission fees upon settlement of winning bets (losing bets pay no commission).
Betfair Premium Charges
Persistently profitable accounts will be subject to a Betfair Premium Charge. Those Betfair accounts which meet the following conditions will be subject to Betfair Premium Charges:
Account is in profit over the course of its lifetime.
Total charges are less than 20% of the gross profits.
Account has bet on at least 250 markets on Betfair.
Betfair will contact customers should they meet the conditions above and become liable for Betfair Premium Charges.
Example Bet at Betfair Exchange
Coming back to our example bet, assuming the Backer could only manage to Bet £29 at odds of 2.34 here are the possible outcomes:
You’ll notice that the Commission payable to Betfair varies depending if the Back Bet or Lay Bet wins. This is because Betfair Exchange Commission is based off the Stake amount of which there was £29 from the Backers perspective but £38.86 from the Layers perspective. Betfair are always in a Win/Win scenario irrespective of the result.
Click the graph icon ( ) to show a graph detailing the historic odds and volume of money traded per selection.
Click image to zoom in
Inverse the axis to determine the historic "% Chance" of the selection.
Click image to zoom in
View the total amount of money "Matched" to give you an indication of the overall liquidity. The higher this amount the more chance you have of a Back or Lay bet being accepted.
Markets are suspended on the Betfair Exchange when significant events occur.
In Football this could be when Kick Off occurs, a goal has been scored, a penalty given or a red card shown.
Market suspensions can occur both pre-event and during In-Play. Where In-Play betting is available any “Unmatched bets” made pre-match will be cancelled and the market turned In-Play.
During In-Play betting ( ), if a confirmed significant event occurs (e.g. a goal in Football), then the market is suspended and any “Unmatched” bets cancelled aside from those which have the “keep” option selected.
The market will re-open shortly afterwards and remain open until the next significant event or until the completion of the sport event occurs.
Betfair Exchange have more in-depth policies regarding the provision of In-Play betting as there are often unforeseen circumstances which may result in limiting the availability of In-Play betting or the cancelling it entirely.
Refer to the Betfair Help pages for more detailed information and to search for answers to common issues.
During In-Play, the Back and Lay odds adjust throughout the course of the sport event. Odds will move less so pre-match but during In-Play odds fluctuate until the very end of the sports event as the result becomes a certainty.