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Back-to-lay and lay-to-back betting on the Betfair Exchange

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There’s something that sets the Betfair Exchange aside from the rest of the betting industry and that’s the ability to give punters a chance to guarantee profit on a trade. This is known as having a green book, essentially meaning any outcome will result in a positive outcome on the bet. There are a few different ways to do this, the most common are the Back-to-lay and Lay-to-back methods, both of which are effective ways on ensuring a green book.

You can check out all the differences in my Betfair Exchange Betting Guide.

What is Back-to-Lay Betting?

Back-to-lay betting involves placing a back bet on a selection at a higher price than you lay it off at a lower price later. The idea behind this strategy is to back a selection when the odds are high, and then lay it off at a lower price when the odds shorten. This enables you to lock in a profit before the event has even started, regardless of the outcome of the event.

Benefits of Back-to-Lay Betting

One of the most significant benefits of back-to-lay betting is the ability to guarantee profit on a trade. This strategy allows you to take advantage of fluctuations in the market and make a profit regardless of the outcome of the event. Additionally, back-to-lay betting enables you to minimize your risk by laying off your back bet at a lower price.

What is Lay-to-Back Betting?

Lay-to-back betting is the opposite of back-to-lay betting. In this strategy, you lay a selection at a low price and back it at a higher price later. The idea is to lay a selection when the odds are low and then back it at a higher price when the odds drift. This strategy also allows you to lock in a profit before the event has even started, regardless of the outcome of the event.

Benefits of Lay-to-Back Betting

Like back-to-lay betting, lay-to-back betting allows you to lock in a profit before the event has even started. This means that you can capitalise on the fluctuations in the market, making a profit whatever the result of an event. Further backing your lay bet at a higher price could reduce the risk.

Implementing Back-to-Lay and Lay-to-Back Betting

It is crucial to have knowledge of both the market and selection you plan on betting on in a back to lay or lay to back scenario. Odds must be monitored, fluctuations spotted and a plan should be in place in the event that the odds do not move in the expected direction. When utilised successfully, the strategies allow you to lock in a profit no matter the outcome of an event.

Prepare and understand how to adjust your position in the market, in that you can then lay bets at shorter prices than you’ve backed them. This is essentially beating how the market has moved and getting into a position prior to the market moving. In the example of Over 2.5 Goals, an early goal coming and moving the market massively, giving you the opportunity to lay the selection at much ‘higher value’ odds than your initial trade.

These methods have different variations based upon the number of selections in a market, such as Binary (Over/Under) and three or more outcomes.

The first of those would be a Binary outcome, I’ll use Over/Under as the example. It’s as simple as it gets with just two possible outcomes.

Binary Outcome back-to-lay and Lay-To-Back Betting

For example, a match may have Over 2.5 at 3.00 and Under at 1.50 for Over 2.5 Goals, so you’d back Over 2.5 Goals at 3.00 with £10.

The match begins and there’s an early goal, with the odds on Over 2.5 Goals now dropping to 1.50, essentially switching with the original odds. You then have two options of what you can do to guarantee a profit on this trade and give yourself a green book.

The first method is to lay Over 2.5 Goals with £10, at odds of 1.50 that will cost you £5, this essentially gives you a £15 free punt on Over 2.5 Goals landing, with zero liability on whether or not the matches finishes with Over 2.5 Goals.

The other option available to you is to lay for a larger amount than your original trade. If you lay Over 2.5 Goals at 1.5 for £15, you’d then have a green book with both selections giving you a profit on your stakes. It’s seeing these opportunities, which is crucial in trading, by taking advantage of the events of the match.

back-to-lay and Lay-To-Back Betting with more than two outcomes

The second of the variations is a market with three or more selections, the easiest example would be a football match (1X2).

With the increasing number of outcomes, it becomes tougher to guarantee a green book. You’re essentially spreading the risk by including more possible outcomes.

You’ve got a football match, with Team A priced up at 2.62, the draw at 3.20 and 3.20 for Team B. The simplest way I can explain this is to use the draw market example, where you’d back the draw at the odds of 3.20, hoping that when the match is coming to a close, the score remains level. You could lay the draw at 1.70 in the 70th minute and guarantee a profit across the three selections. With the added outcomes, the probability and risk spreads more and this makes it tougher to establish yourself a green book.


In conclusion, you’re using these methods in order to remove the risk and the chance of losing. It’s the dream for all bettors and specifically traders, eliminating all risk associated with the trade. As I mentioned above, the more outcomes possible, the more the risk is spread, but you can still apply these methods to other events, such as a horse race.

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