Punters have had a whole new world opened up to them over the past decade thanks to the creation of betting exchanges. This gives punters the ability to lay a horse to lose a race, and effectively it allows any punter the opportunity to act as a bookmaker and take any bet they want to on the exchanges. Although the exchanges have been around for a while and firmly established their place amongst traditional betting websites, this is still a growing area and one that I expect to see many more new people drawn to over. This will happen over the next few years as they continue to expand and that will only go towards helping liquidity on the exchanges, making them a better place to play.
The Basics of Laying
When you lay a selection on the betting exchanges what you are doing is you are accepting a bet from someone else on an outcome that you think will not happen. They are backing the selection, so they think it will win, while you are laying and acting like the bookmaker because you believe the selection will lose. As you are the bookmaker, in the transaction that takes place, if the punter wins against you then you will have to pay them out at the odds give, just like the bookmaker would.
Being able to lay a selection on the betting exchanges gives everyone the opportunity to take a horse or team on they do not fancy, and this is much easier than picking something to beat it. This is especially the case when betting on horse racing, if you lay one horse then you have the rest of the field running for you, whereas if you back one to win, you only have that one horse running for you. If you have studied a race and your opinion is that you think one horse will not be winning, then laying that horse instead of backing something against it give you much more in your favour, and a better chance of winning. In the past, all you would have been able to do was to back something else in the same race, but now thanks to the exchanges, laying the horse is possible.
When you lay a bet on the exchanges, everything is put together in one pot so you do not actually take a specific bet amount of a specific person. If, as an example, you lay a selection for £10 on the exchanges, that could be someone betting £10, it could be five people each betting £2, or it could even be part of a £100 bet that has been placed by someone. This means that all punters out there, both big and small, can play on the same level playing field and you really have no idea who you are up against when you are on the exchanges.
Laying Odds On
Many smaller punters out there simply do not have the betting bank available to lay big priced runners out there so they tend to focus on the short-priced favourites that they do not fancy. When laying favourites at odds on, the odds are actually in the favour of the person laying, despite being the bookmaker. You will receive more back if you win than what you will pay out if you lose the bet.
For example, if you lay a £10 bet at 1.5 (1/2 in fractional odds) then you would have to pay out £5 if you lose the bet. However, if the selection loses which means your bet is a winner then you will win the stake money which is £10. By being on the other side of the fence and acting as the bookmaker, you will see how odds-on favourites become your most profitable result and you will be looking to them more often.
Many smaller players stair their laying careers by looking at the odds on favourites we have just spoken about and they can lay these without needing a big betting bank behind them. To lay the 1.5 favourite for a bet of £40, you would still only need £20 in your account to pay out if needed. When you compare that to a selection that is a much bigger price, you will see the difference needed in your bank. If you wanted to lay something at 5.0 (4/1 in fractional odds) you would need £160 spare money in your betting account to be able to lay the same £40 bet.
Managing Your Betting Bank
One of the most common mistakes people make when turning to laying on the exchanges is that they struggle to manage their betting bank, a vital mistake that will cost you money. This can eventually lead to trouble and give you a loss total of much more than you were expecting if you are not careful. When you are backing horses, managing your betting bank if very easy and you know what is going out of the account if you back a loser. Most people have a value per betting point and if for example, their normal bet is 1 point, which may equate to £10 so everyone point they stake is actually £10.
When you lay a selection though, managing your bank is completely different and much tougher to do. If you take a bet off someone at £10 then you are managing your bank in a completely different was as your losses will be different every time. A £10 bet laid at 2.00 (evens in fractional odds) will give you the same winnings as a £10 bet laid at 5.00 (4/1 in fractional odds) but because you are acting the bookmakers, the pay-out is hugely different.
Managing your bank when you are laying is all about setting a maximum liability that you are happy to stand by and lose. This is the same as you choosing a stake amount and sticking to that when backing, but it can be harder to track and stick to. If you are happy to have a liability of £20 on every single event that you take bets on when you take the bets accordingly to give yourself a potential loss of £20. This approach means that the stakes you are accepting will vary all the time, so your winnings will, but you will be able to limit your losses as a layer and that is the most important part of managing your bank. Some races you may find yourself laying just £2 at 11.0 (10/1 in fractional odds), while other you may find yourself laying £40 at 1.5 (1/2 in fractional odds).
This method will yield very different returns each time, and the example above ranges from making £2 to making £40, which goes to show how much things can vary. However, it is a great way to keep your betting bank intact and in control, cutting out any potential mistakes you would make when laying.
Start Small, Manage Expectations and Learn
When you move from backing to laying, no matter what sport it is you will need a lot of time to adjust. Even the most seasoned punters will need this time because it is something completely different and a whole new way of looking at things. The biggest piece of advice I can give to those who are trying laying for the first time is to learn as much as possible while you are laying. You will have good moments and bad moments, but try your best to make sure you learn from both of those and take your knowledge forward with you.
A key part of the learning process is to not go in with both feet, take your time when you are adjusting and lower your stakes straight away because that is a vital part of the learning process. The
last piece of advice I will give to you is to manage your expectations when you begin to lay selections. This is not an easy thing to you, otherwise, everyone would be getting involved and making a living from it. Laying selections takes skill, it takes very tough bank management and a good eye for when to accept a bet and take something on, and when to leave it alone.
Don’t expect to become a laying pro overnight, the people who are successful at laying took years to get into the position where they are now. You will have to go on the same learning curve as them and you will have to more than likely make the same mistakes that they did when they were learning. When you do get to a position where you are comfortable with laying and you can make the correct decisions time after time, you will be able to leave backing behind and concentrate on making money from laying horses.
Laying horses takes time and effort, but if you can get up to speed with laying you will find yourself in a very good gambling position, making money.