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Lay Betting Explained

Publish Date:12/03/2020
Fact checked by: Mike McKean

Lay Betting Explained - What Is Lay Betting?

Wager on outcomes you believe will happen: this is the long and short of betting on sports. Whether you're a devoted fan or casual spectator, you'll pick out potential scenarios and put your money where your mouth is. There are online markets for pretty much every commercial sport, not to mention 'specials' selections and outright odds, so you can treat your betslip like a pick-and-mix affair.

Maybe you're a disciple of The Citizens, so your wager is on Manchester City to win the Premier League. Alternatively, you could be betting on Rory McIlroy to triumph in the Open Championship or even Willie Mullins’ latest protégé to prevail in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The list goes on.

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Lay betting explained in simple points

  • Bet on a outcome not to happen
  • The opposite of backing a bet
  • Lay bets at betting exchanges
  • Interesting way to get better value odds
  • Watch out for how much you are liable for

What is lay betting?

However, there's another option worth looking into if you're wanting to spice up your wagers: placing a lay bet with an exchange. This is essentially a bet on the likelihood that something won't happen - for example, what if City are caught in the title race? Or Rory misses some crucial putts?

Rather than backing other teams/players, we're basically acting as a bookmaker ourselves, accepting a bet from another punter who wants to back City, McIlroy, etc. If they win, we lose. But if any other Premier League team wins the title or any other golfer lifts the Claret Jug, our lay bet is a winner.

What is a Lay Bet?

A lay bet flips a conventional outright bet on its head - this is a way to profit when an outcome doesn’t happen. Conveniently, there are a number of exchanges available for punters in the UK keen to give lay betting a try.

How Does Lay Betting Work?

It's worth noting that you’ll often get better odds at a betting exchange as opposed to from a bookmaker because an exchange is peer-to-peer wagering; this means there’s no margin or overround applied to the prices. When you visit a betting exchange like Betdaq or Smarkets, you'll notice that many of their markets will have two coloured buttons – one labelled ‘back’ and the other ‘lay’.

How to Calculate Lay Bet Winnings

The 'back' option allows you to bet on an outcome you think will happen – a traditional bet, in layman’s terms and the status quo for most bettors. In contrast, as we've already highlighted, a 'lay' bet is all about betting on what you think won't happen.

We're going to skip to the good stuff and give you a play-by-play on staking a 'lay' bet.

All you have to do is:

  • Click on the sport you'd like to bet on
  • Select a game of your choosing
  • Click the 'lay' button on one of the teams
  • Enter your stake

Once you've added your wager, you'll benefit from the main advantage of a lay bet via an exchange: you can find out how much you stand to win or lose before actually committing.

Betdaq will highlight your profit and liability clearly on the screen. The team you've laid – the team you don’t think will win – will have a red minus number next to them. This is your liability, which is the maximum amount you could lose. Next to the other team and the 'draw' option, you'll see a green number. This is how much you'll potentially gain in profit (minus commission) if the team you've laid doesn't win.

Remember, your liability when laying can be lower or higher than your potential profit, depending on the odds you take. Oh and another thing, the odds at betting exchanges are typically in the decimal format.

Here’s an example:

  • You lay Arsenal for £5 at odds of 2.50 against Liverpool
  • If Liverpool wins or the game ends in a draw, you win £5
  • If Arsenal win, you lose £7.50 (2.50 x £5)

But if you lay an odds-on favourite, the calculation changes:

  • You lay Man City for £5 at odds of 1.50 against Bournemouth
  • If Bournemouth win or the game ends in a draw, you win £5
  • If Man City win, you lose £2.50 (1.50 x £5)

Of course, winning bets at an exchange means the bets are subject to commission, which will mean that the exchange takes a small percentage of your profit. However, this is offset by the fact that exchanges – in the vast majority of cases – offer better odds than bookmakers because there’s no margin or ‘juice’ applied.

Where to Place Lay Bets?

There are three main betting exchanges available to punters in the UK. We’ve reviewed Betdaq and Smarkets in detail, so you can learn about the advantages of using each platform and the various promotions they have for new customers that register an account.

However, there’s also the Betfair Exchange, which as you may have guessed is the exchange division of the Betfair Sportsbook. This is, for the majority of sports and markets, the most popular exchange to use with the most liquidity. It's worth noting that you’ll often get better odds at a betting exchange as opposed to from a bookmaker because an exchange is peer-to-peer wagering; this means there’s no margin or overround applied to the prices.

If you're up for experimenting with the flexibility of a niche bet type like lay betting, start your journey with us today!

Conclusion

We hope that we’ve answered all questions about ‘What is lay betting?’. By having lay betting explained we can see that it is a great tactic to try when looking for extra value for your sports bets. By effectively betting against other sports fans, you’ll try and anticipate how most people will bet on sport and beat them at their own game.

While lay betting might not be the most straightforward way to enjoy sports betting, it’s definitely one of the more interesting ways to bet on your favourite sport. As long as you remember to factor in your liability, you should definitely enjoy having lay betting explained for great new way to bet.

What other betting guides and strategies are available?

Now that we’ve had lay betting explained and answered the question of ‘What is lay betting?’, it’s worth thinking about what other advanced betting options are available - and you can learn more right here at Betting.co.uk, thanks to our comprehensive range of guides and strategies. You’ll definitely want to have a multiple bet explained as this combines several single bets to give you the chance to make some massive winnings. Whereas if you have an over under bet explained, you’ll discover that this can give you a touch more safety with your sports bets.

Anybody who is a fan of spread betting will need to have backdoor cover explained, and it could be worth having a bad beat explained to try and come to terms with any unexpected sports betting defeats. Just don’t forget to have a halftime bet explained so that you can get more flexibility with your football or rugby bets.

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