But be ware that you may lose quite a bit of money if you act as a bookmaker, and that you therefore need to have some funds in your account to cover all your potential loss when making a “lay-order”.
Another thing is that, even if you don’t want to act as a bookmaker (don’t want to “lay” bets), you can act as a normal punter, and bet on the offers other have “layed” ! And the best thing: you’ll most likely get better odds on a bet exchange than with a bookmaker, because on bet exchanges, there is no profitmargin calculated in the odds presented.
Most betting exchanges operate to around a 101 per cent book on most high-profile events, which compares favourably to a typical 105-110 per cent overround when comparing the best prices on fixed-odds firms on most football matches.
The back/lay prices on a particular event are determined by punters themselves – players can attempt to place a bet at any price they wish so the equilibrium is effectively created by supply and demand.
Because commission is only charged on net profits on a single market, exchange players are able to hedge positions and benefit or suffer from swings in the market.
If a punter places a bet on Arsenal at 5/6 and the price moves into 4/5, he or she can lay off their bet, locking in profit, but if the price drifts to 9/10 to close off the book would involve accepting a loss.
Alternatively, if the punter changes his or her mind for whatever reason, he or she can manoeuvre the position on the market without being affected by the margins of standard bookies.
Most big events are extremely competitive – nearly £10 million was matched on Betfair’s outright Premiership market last season for example, while live games regularly see over £1 million changing hands.
Exchanges tend to offer prices in the European decimal format.
Decimal odds incorporate the stake into the price, so evens becomes 2.0 (1/1 plus the single unit stake) and 2/1 becomes 3.0 etc.
To take a specific example, let’s say we wish to oppose Tiger Woods in The Open and the exchange shows a current ‘to back’ price of 2.98 and a ‘to lay’ price of 3.0.
If we are willing to trade at those prices we would have to be prepared to lay at 3.0, or 2/1. This is effectively the same as backing ‘the field’ at 1/2, so to win £10 we would have to risk £20 by laying at 3.0.
If Woods wins, we lose £20; if he fails we pocket a tenner.
Of course we could ask to lay at a shorter price, say 2.96, in which case to win £10 we would only need to risk £19.60.
However, unless the price on Woods shifts downwards the price would not be matched and no bets would be placed.
Most exchanges bet in-running on most televised events so this gives us the opportunity to find value as the event is in progress.
In the above example if Woods bogeys the first two holes his price is likely to lengthen, perhaps to 3.6, in which case we can hedge our position by ‘backing back’ at this price. Backing Woods for another £10 at this price would net us £26 were he to win, so we are locking in profits.
It is imperative that inexperienced users double-check their stakes and liabilities before confirming their bets, and we definitely advise that small stakes are used at least until players are familiar with the concepts.
However once players have got used to playing the markets it is clear they can be very rewarding – indeed big players who have been capped by the bookmakers can bet with virtually unlimited stakes on the exchanges.
Ready to start your career as a smart punter? Try Betfair today.