Back & Lay betting for dummies

back and lay betting guide from TheTrader

A detailed explanation of Lay and Back betting.

In the following article you will learn:

  • What are Back and Lay bets?
  • What are the advantages of Lay betting?
  • How do I place a Lay bet?
  • How do I trade to make a profit?

And we will show you our trader’s decalogue!

Let the lesson begin!

Harry TheTrader 9 minutes

Chapter 1

Betfair Exchange in a nutshell

Betfair Exchange in a nutshell

The simplest introduction to the Betfair exchange.

Want to learn more about the basics?

Check out the link below!

Playing on a Betfair betting exchange is nothing more than placing bets against other members of the exchange.

Simply put, you bet against other people just like you.

If you want to find more about it, go ahead and check our article HERE. In this article, we will focus on backing and laying and explain terms such as BACK and LAY betting.

Chapter 2

Difference between Back and Lay Betting

Difference between Back and Lay Betting

A detailed comparison and demonstration of how work:

• Back bets
• Lay bets

Check out the differences in the example below!

Every gambler who wants to become as professional as possible and make money from betting will come to a point when they need to learn how the Betfair Betting Exchange works and what are the differences between back vs lay bet.

Mastering this skill is not easy, but it is essential for further development.

Man city vs chelsea screen 1

Trading on Betfair has many exciting advantages, which are provided by BACK and LAY betting strategies. While in a Man City – Chelsea match, you would be able to replicate this with a regular bookmaker by betting “1” and “X2”.

Yet, when trading on Betfair, you can use this for other markets, such as the exact score. So you can bet LAY 1:2, which means that you bet that the result 1:2 will not happen! No bookmaker offers this possibility.

When you play BACK bet, it is the same as if you were playing “traditional betting.” The higher the odds, the more you can win, and the stake reflects your risk.

When you play LAY bets, it’s the same as if you were a bookmaker (you have to pay out your potential winnings, but you can win the stake).

The stake reflects your potential winnings and the odds reflect the size of your risk (the higher, the more you can lose).

We assume that you play BACK Man City at odds of 1.95, and the stake is £100.

If Man City wins, you will get £95.

If Man City loses or draws, you will lose £100.

Let’s assume you play LAY Man City at odds of 1.97, and the stake is £100.

If Man City wins, you will lose £97.

If Man City loses or draws, you win £100.

Alert Green icon

For reference: the one who bets BACK is a player known as a bettor. The one who bets LAY is a bookmaker.

Chapter 3

Advantage of LAY betting on Betfair

Advantage of LAY betting on Betfair

Lay bets have a huge advantage!

What is it?

Check it out!

Despite the huge offers or very high odds, Betfair has another very significant advantage. We’re talking about a benefit of LAY betting on Betfair that you won’t find anywhere else. Someone may say that playing against Man City (draw or loss) is nothing more than playing X2 on the traditional bookmaker, and that is true.

However, the advantage of placing a LAY bet on Betfair is the possibility to bet LAY on all markets, for example, LAY on the exact result 1:0. You can’t play such a bet anywhere else.

Man city vs chelsea screen 2

It means that we can use very different playing methods that were not available before.

Moreover, those methods can be based on LAYing bets on other markets, such as the exact score or even corners market!

Chapter 4

Trading on Betfair is all about making a profit

Trading on Betfair is all about making a profit

Every trader strives for the Greenbook.

What exactly is it and why is it so important?

Let’s find out!

Regardless of whether you initially play BACK or LAY, trading on Betfair is all about making a profit, i.e., your goal is to produce a green book with any technique or a particular profit regardless of the outcome of the market.

To get a green book bet, we have to assess the direction in which the odds will go. If we think that Man City’s odds will go up, we should play LAY. If we believe that Man City will gain in the eyes of the experts and the odds will go down, then we should play BACK bet.

The trader’s goal is the green book, and in order to achieve it, we have to use back to lay strategy with an opposite option.

This means that if we initially played LAY bets and the odds went up, we resell by taking a BACK bet.

In contrast, if we initially played BACK and the odds went down, we resell by choosing LAY bets.

In both cases, we end up in a situation where we have made a profit with the so-called green book -i.e., profit regardless of the match’s final result. (This is because we have covered both options – BACK and LAY betting, where BACK means Man City wins, and LAY means Man City loses or draws).

Man city vs Chelsea Betting slip

Chapter 5

Trading on Betfair – How to make a fortune?

Trading on Betfair – How to make a fortune?

Now that we know what a greenbook is, how do we achieve it?

What kind of trades should we place?

Everything based on a solid example!

Let’s go!

Sports trading has an entirely different view of sporting events and has completely different assumptions to “traditional betting.” We distinguish between pre-event and in-event trading. The former means trading and closing the market before the match has even started. The latter refers to traders who play the markets during the match.

But let’s get to the point: how can we make money on the Betfair Exchange? Our task is to buy the bet and resell it with more favorable odds. This can be done in two ways:

  • We place a LAY bet when we think that the odds are too low and the possibility of the result is higher.
  • We place a BACK bet when we think that the odds are too high, and then they will fall when other players and bookmakers realize that the odds should be lowered.

Why does this happen? Well, suppose Manchester City plays against Lincoln City, and the odds for its victory are 1.5. We see that someone has made a huge mistake because the chances of Lincoln City winning are not that high after all. So, we quickly place a LAY bet (i.e., we bet that Lincoln City will not win). Other players will soon realize the mistake, the odds will go up, and we will resell it with a profit by placing a BACK Lincoln City bet.

Manchester city logo

The situation is similar in the opposite case. Let’s imagine that in the match between Lincoln City and Manchester City, the BACK odds for The Citizens to score a goal is 1.8.

We rapidly notice that the odds are very high, and we know they will start falling, so we buy them. When they begin to fall, we LAY bet to make money.

Lincoln city logo

These are somewhat unrealistic examples that aren’t likely to happen in real life. Still, we wanted to give you an idea of what trading on Betfair looks like.

Why is this way of earning 100% profit guaranteed? Because backing and laying let us bet on all possibilities. First, we place a LAY bet on Lincoln City (betting on a draw or Man City winning). Then we put a BACK bet on Lincoln City (betting on Lincoln City winning). It is also known as each-way betting because we have bet on all possibilities!

It works the same way with any other sports, including horse racing.

The Betfair Exchange is quite complicated, but it does offer incredible chances to earn money, especially if you know what you’re doing. That’s why it’s worth watching our valuable tutorials and reading our informative articles and guides!

Chapter 6

How to lay a bet on Betfair: a step-by-step guide from TheTrader

How to lay a bet on Betfair: a step-by-step guide from TheTrader

We will teach you how to place a Lay bet.

You will learn what a liability is, and how winnings vary depending on the odds.

Here we go!

Betfair is one of the most popular back and lay betting sites so it will be used as an example. Let’s start with the upcoming Champions League football match between Manchester City and Chelsea, where we’ll show you how to place a LAY bet.

Chelsea vs Man City Champions League final

Given Man City’s history of losing to Chelsea, you may want to LAY bet them to avoid a loss. If this is your preference, you have two choices. The first choice is to visit a traditional bookmaker and put a double-chance bet on Chelsea/Draw.

The problem is that the bookies have no intention of throwing their money away, so the chances on your pick would not be very appealing. So instead, LAYing bets on Manchester City on a betting exchange will be a far more lucrative choice.

Man city vs Chelsea Odds at Betfair

To lay Manchester City, choose the box in the ‘LAY’ column that shows 1.94. These odds mean that someone else has placed a  BACK bet on Manchester City (Man City to win). The number under the odds represents the sum of money bet on Manchester City on this price (£1915 in this case).

Current odds bets

In this particular example, we need at least £94 in our account for this bet to be accepted because that is the size of the liability.

So if we go with the odds above or smaller, our bet will be instantly matched. However, if we want to make more money by placing higher odds, we’ll have to wait until a backer matches our bet.

The term liability in the field of betting exchanges applies to the amount of money a LAY bettor (layer) will have to pay out to a BACK bettor (backer).

Essentially, by LAYing bets on Man City, we are risking £94 in exchange for a possible return of £100.

Now we can simply click on the orange button ‘Place bets’ to complete the process.

Chapter 7

Back & Lay betting tips

Back & Lay betting tips

Basic things you need to pay attention to!

Treat the following tips like a decalogue 🙂

And the God said…

Betfair, of course, has its own rules. Therefore, we present a special decalogue of crucial points that you should take note of. 

  1. The market favours those who are patient.
  2. Do not chase losses.
  3. Understand the flaws.
  4. It pays to be confident.
  5. Trade only what you can afford.
  6. Possess the proper mentality.
  7. Have your expectations in check.
  8. Mastering one sport at a time is the only way to go.
  9. Research pays off.
  10. Stick with what you know.

Chapter 8

Main mistakes of beginners in trading and ways to prevent them

Main mistakes of beginners in trading and ways to prevent them

Back and Lay betting may seem like simple bets to people who have never used a sports betting exchange before. However, with trading and betting on the exchange comes an understanding of the basic concepts and, above all, distinguishing between the different bets. While at a traditional bookmaker a player can only bet over or under, at a sports exchange there are more betting options.

So how to avoid making a mistake?

Let’s find out.

Mistake 1: Improper differentiation of bets

  • Description of the mistake: Players can’t distinguish between basic back and lay bets.
  • Solution: Note that back bets are equivalent to traditional bookmaker bets, while lay bets are opposite. Example: Back Over = Lay Under, Back Under = Lay Over.

Mistake 2: Misunderstanding of basic differences

  • Description of the mistake: Players can’t point out the differences between the various bets.
  • Solution: Back betting means betting that a given situation will take place, while LAY betting means betting that a given situation will not take place.

Mistake 3: Placing bets at the displayed odds

  • Description of the mistake: Players click Back or Lay and immediately place a bet.
  • Solution: The advantage of the exchange is that you can place a bet at any odds, as long as it is matched. If you want a slightly higher percentage return, place back bets at odds 0.01 higher than those displayed, while lay bets at odds 0.01 lower than those displayed.

Mistake 4: Using the Cash-Out feature

  • Description of the mistake: When a player wants to exit the market, he clicks the “Cash-Out” feature to do so.
  • Solution: Using the Cash-Out feature in the vast majority of cases results in exiting the market with less profit than possible. Instead of using the Cash-Out function, place a counter bet at a marginally better odds to make a bigger profit.

Mistake 5: Lack of response depending on the events of the match

  • Description of the mistake: Players do not react to individual events in the match such as. red cards, goals, or weather in horse racing.
  • Solution: Proper adaptation of your bets is a key aspect to make more profit or prevent potential losses. Keep an eye on all the events in a match or race that can affect the behavior of the odds so that you will be able to make a profit or exit the market at the right time.

Chapter 9

Successful trading with analytics and statistics

Successful trading with analytics and statistics

Keeping track of statistics and analyzing sporting events before placing any bets is a key factor that not only allows you to become more familiar with the sport and learn more about the sport, but will also improve the effectiveness of your bets.

After all, where to get information about the horses in the upcoming race, if not from specialized sites that collect such data?

Analytics Services – A site with a huge database of past, present and future horse racing. An indispensable and extremely useful tool for any person who bets and trades on the horse racing markets. You’ll find more than just information about individual race participants, but also extensive statistics, race history, results, race distances and even video replays.

Key featuresAdvantages
Huge databaseQuick and easy access
Statistics of horsesAvailable 24h/7
Horse racing resultsNo login required – If you prefer other sports, such as Football, Basketball, Tennis, or Baseball, then Nowgoal will be the perfect site for you. You’ll find a schedule of upcoming and finished sports events, as well as check the behavior of Asian odds in each market. This way you will be able to estimate the behavior of the Betfair exchange odds or compare the volatility of the odds to the events in the match.

Key featuresAdvantages
Multiple sports availableIntuitive and transparent interface
Many Asian marketsResponsive website
Live odds trackingCustomizable notifications

Resources for tracking statistics – One of the most popular sites and apps that allows you to track statistics from a variety of sports. Users have access to a wide range of statistics, such as goals, corner kicks, cards, passes, possession percentage, dangerous attacks, goalie defenses, shots, shots on target and plenty of other statistics from other sports, as well as official announcements. The app is available for mobile phones and allows you to turn on notifications for events of interest.

Types of DataUsefulness for traders
Lots of match statsMatch statistics analysis
Player statsComparing stats to odds
Match historyPre-match analysis – It’s a similar app and website to Flashscore. The difference is that the app and site is less responsive than Flashscore. On the other hand, the database and number of matches is much larger. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you use both apps. It may happen that some sporting events are not available on Flashscore and then Aiscore will be a great alternative.

Types of DataUsefulness for traders
More matches from lower leaguesAbility to check Live and pre-match odds
Extensive trackerLive and pre-match notifications
More sports availablePre-match analysis


Using both apps and websites with statistics and odds will allow you to make better decisions about your bets. You will have a clear and transparent view of individual match issues related to odds and statistics, which will result in more successful outcomes.

Chapter 10

How to use a back and lay calculator for betting calculations?

How to use a back and lay calculator for betting calculations?

While the betting exchange will do basic calculations and show the implied profit when placing a bet on a single event, the back and lay calculator will be extremely useful for calculating more advanced bets or taking into account and calculating the potential profit from several bets. 

Therefore, traders and bettors using the back and lay betting calculator can estimate potential profits and losses taking into account a wider number of bets. This will make the situation about profits and losses very clear and transparent. 

What’s more, players won’t have to place these bets, and everything will be calculated by the calculator. In addition, players can also calculate how much and at what odds they need to bet in order to achieve their profit goals.

Chapter 11



Do you still have any doubts after reading the article?

We will dispel them!

Check out the most frequently asked questions and read the answers!

1. What does lay mean in betting?

Lay bets are about to back something not to happen. So, for example, if you LAY bet Manchester City, you would win your bet if they either lost or drew their match.

2. How to profit from lay betting?

There are many ways! Let’s take horse racing as an example. It’s possible to make money by laying bets on the first favourite in the betting rather than backing it to win. And, as we all know, bookmakers benefit from losers, especially a losing favourite. Favorites win about 35% of horse races on average.

3. How to lay off a bet?

You can simply cash out your bet, but in order to secure the highest profit, it would be much better to play another lay bet against your main bet. Use our lay bet calculator to find out how much you need to bet.

4. Is lay betting legal?

The answer to this question is yes. Backing and Laying, Matched betting, and any other kinds of betting are legal.

5 thoughts on “Back & Lay betting for dummies

  1. Thanks! managed to place my first LAY bet on Man. City. I didn’t place the bet at the displayed odds but entered a lower one. It was matched after one second, and thanks to the lower odds I was able to make a marginally higher profit. Well done!!!

  2. I placed a back bet based on match statistics for over 2.5 goals in the match. Within 4 minutes there was a goal and I was able to place a lay bet on the market for over 2.5. This way I made a profit of several pounds without any risk, TY! Will try to withdraw some money soon.

  3. That was quick: Lay bet on the favorite of the horse race cause recent performance has been bad. The very beginning of the race allowed me to exit the market with a profit, that was fun 😀

  4. didn’t manage to come out with a profit but left at the right time cause someone randomly accepted bet at heavily inflated odds and managed to get my stake back.

  5. Thank you! I’ve learned some basics, for now I’m just training. I will test my knowledge during the European Championship this summer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Top Betting Offer from Thetrader!

Have you just startied your betting adventure?
Get an exclusive bonus available on the market!
£50 Sports Bonus and £50 + 50 spins casino bonus