Betting exchanges have revolutionised the way people bet online. Bookmakers like Betfair offer more choice than a traditional bookmaker as they allow you to bet against other punters. This means that you will find on average 20% better odds at where you can bet on a team to win (back), draw OR lose (lay). The option to bet on a team losing is another major feature of betting exchanges. But how does this work and how do you get started using a betting exchange?
Backing & Laying
Normally when you place a bet the transaction is between you and the bookmaker. You are betting on the outcome of the result whilst the bookie hopes that this doesn't happen. With a betting exchange you can choose to take either role. For example, if someone thinks Team A will win a competition, he may wish to back that selection. A bookmaker offering the punter that bet would be laying that selection. The two parties will agree the backer's stake and the odds. If the team loses, the layer/bookmaker keeps the backer's stake. If the team wins, the layer will pay the backer the winnings based on the odds agreed.
As every bet transacted requires a backer and a layer, and the betting exchange is not a party to the bets transacted on it, any betting exchange requires both backers and layers. At a betting exchange you will often find Odds Betting, Asian Handicap Betting and In-play Betting. In-Play betting was very popular at Betfair during the recent Ashes series. According to reports (some years ago now) over "£30m was matched on the fifth Test on Betfair alone".
For many a betting exchange is a new experience and you may want to take a step into this realm carefully. Betfair have put together some really useful videos and guides to explain the process. When you visit Betfair make sure you select "Exchange" and not "Sportsbook" as the latter is your usual bookies bets. You will find help guides and forum in the Exchange section. We do advise you study these first as it could be expensive if you dive right in and start placing bets. Betfair did used to have a free game where you could practice your betting exchange bets but this no longer seems to be available.
As well as the Betfair Exchange there are other ways to bet online. Many bookies now offer you the option to create your own bet. For example #PickYourPunt at Betfred, #YourOdds at William Hill and Build Your Be at Coral. You might also want to look at Matched Betting which involves betting on events happening and not happening as a way of trying to beat the bookies.