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Betting on the Betfair Exchange

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You’ll likely have seen more and more coverage around the Betfair Exchange recently as Betfair look to get more traction behind this platform by upping their advertising as well as offering more incentives to use it – such as free bets. It can be quite daunting if you’ve never used it before or if you’re unfamiliar with matched betting.

I’ve covered all the Differences between the Betfair Exchange and Betfair Sportsbook too.

What is the Betfair Exchange and how does it work?

The Exchange is about betting against someone else – another punter, rather than going against the bookmaker as you would on a traditional sportsbook. The Exchange then offers the option to ‘lay’ bets as opposed to backing them, this means betting on something not to happen.

If I was to offer to you the idea of a bet, say I fancied Ronaldo to score in a Champions League game for example, but you thought he wouldn’t, then there is your two markets. I’d be a ‘backer’ and you’d be a ‘layer’ as I’d be backing him to score and you’d be laying the bet, saying it wouldn’t happen.

‘Backing’ a bet on the Betfair Exchange

This is the simplest form of gambling on the Exchange, choosing to back something is the most traditional form of gambling. You’re staking your money and saying something is going to happen. These are the prices in blue, that’s the column you’re interested in if you’re choosing to be a ‘backer’.

Say you’re going for over 2.5 goals in Arsenal vs Chelsea, the price shown in the blue column is what you’re backing at. That price will most likely be matched but if you’re not happy with it, you can increase the odds and see if a layer is happy to match your bet. Once you’ve chosen your odds you just need to select your stake, as you would with a regular bet and wait to see if you’ve been matched.

‘Laying’ a bet on the Betfair Exchange

This is the flip side of backing, this is for those who don’t think an outcome will happen. SO if you thought there would be under 2.5 goals in the Arsenal vs Chelsea game, you could lay that bet. This is the role that is normally assumed by the bookmaker themselves, the layers can offer the odds that they are willing to lay the bet at.

This can make for something very interesting markets, such as laying a player to score. So you could lay Aubameyang to score against Chelsea, which means if he doesn’t find the net then you’re a winner. However if he does, you’ll lose your stake as well as having to pay out the winnings to the backer, this is known as liability and applies when you’re laying a bet.

You can find out even more about lay-to-back and back-to-lay betting in my Betting Guide.

What is liability?

An easy way to look at liability is what you stand to lose in the worst case scenario, you’ll never be able to lay a bet with liability that is higher than what is available in your account. Make sue you’re checking your liability before placing a bet and you’re not making any mistakes with your odds.

Liability is reduced the lower the odds are, if you lay a bet for £10 at 1.5 then you are liable for £5 and will win £10 if your selection lands. This is one of the main differences from traditional betting and something you need to get a grasp of to ensure you don’t make any mistakes. Be thorough and careful when first laying bets, a mistake could be very costly if you get something wrong, so don’t just jump on and start laying bets with no thought and little concentration.

Betting at your own odds

As I touched up on before, you can submit your own odds when placing a bet simply by increasing the odds using the plus and minus buttons and then submitting those odds, if your bet is accepted by another user it’ll be matched at the odds that you submitted.

When you submit your odds there’s no guarantee that your bet will be matched, it’s dependant on another customer taking you up on your offer of those odds. Requesting higher odds gives you the opportunity to get more value than you would on a traditional bookmakers and is one of many reasons people have been using the Betfair Exchange.


When it comes to the Exchange you’ll see a cash value listed alongside the odds when scrolling through the markets, this is the amount of money available for you to bet on a selection. If you choose to bet more than that numerical value then the extra portion will be left as an unmatched bet which can be taken by other customers.

The Exchange takes some getting used to, particularly if you’re used to traditional betting. There’s a lot to learn but there is no end to the help and guides that are available, Betfair have a plethora on their website too. There’s a multitude of different trading tactics you can use as well, which differ from traditional betting. It’s definitely worth looking in to if it’s something that peaks your interest. The Exchange is only going to keep getting bigger so it’s a good time to learn the ropes.

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