Back Bets and Lay Bets Explained!

back and lay bets

Matched Betting revolves around placing back bets and lay bets.  To the experienced sports fanatic or matched better these terms are both easy to understand and follow. But to anybody who is new or interested in the matched betting world, it can be another overwhelming process that can put you off deciding to dive into matched betting. I will explain how to place back bets and a lay bets easily.

To place either a back or lay bet there has to be an event of some sort taking place to be able to bet on.  The most common events are sporting events like a football match against two teams.  Back bets and lay bets can both be placed on the run up and also during the even taking place.

Back Bets

These bets are the more common type of bet out there, and the one that most people have heard of.  They are used in both matched betting and standard betting. Back bets are placed when you want to back a certain event happening. An example of this would be to back a team winning a football match. A football match could have three possible outcomes, a win for team A, a win for team B, or a draw between both teams.  When placing a back bet you can bet for any one of these outcomes.  If the outcome you bet on was correct, you would win the bet placed.  If the outcome was incorrect you would lose the bet.

Lay Bets

Lay Bets are a type of bet that can be placed with what is known as an exchange bookmaker.  Unlike a normal bookmaker who allows you to place a bet on a certain outcome of an event happening, an exchange will allow you to place a bet on an outcome not happening. To explain this using a football match again, you would be able to bet on team A not winning.  This means you would win your bet placed if team A drew with team B or if team A lost against team B. Placing a Lay Bet gives you a higher possibility of winning.  Because of this the exchange bookmaker will charge you a whats called a liability meaning you could lose more money that you initially bet if the outcome was in their favour, something i will explain in more detail further on.

Betting Odds

Odds is the term used to describe the chances a person placing a bet has of winning.  Bookmakers use odds to calculate the outcome events and ultimately, how much the person placing the bet can win. They can be shown as both fractional or decimal. Decimal odds are more commonly used with matched betting so for this example i will use odds displayed as decimal.

Back Bets Explained Using Odds

When placing a back bet to calculate your potential winnings, the odds would need to be taken into account.  The example in the picture below shows odds a bookmaker has placed on a football match between Everton and Burnley.  The odds of Everton winning is 1.57, this means for every £1 placed you would receive £1.57 back if Everton won.  A £10 back bet placed on Everton would give you a return of £15.70 if they won, meaning a total profit of £5.70.  If Everton lost or drew with Burnley you would lose the £10 that was placed.

Back Bet

Lay Bets Explained Using Odds

A Lay bet is a little different than a back bet.  The example in the picture below is taken from the Smarkets exchange website.  Smarkets allows you to place both back bets and lay bets. The back bet on Smarkets for Everton to win is 1.63 shown in green.  Placing £10 on Everton to win means you would receive £16.30 in return, your £10 bet returned and £6.30 profit.  Lay bets are shown in blue, placing the lay bet means you are betting on Everton either drawing or losing, the odds are 1.68 meaning your return on a £10 bet would be £16.80 if the bet won. 

The difference with a lay bet is if the bet lost, you would not only lose the £10 placed, but also whats called the liability.  In the example below this would be £6.80, meaning a total loss of £16.80. The liability is calculated by the bookmaker.  To place a lay bet you would need enough money to cover both the bet being paced and the liability.  The reason bookmakers add liability to lay bets is due to the increased possibility of the bet winning.


Using Back and Lay Bets with Matched Betting

When Matched Betting you place back bets and lay bets to unlock online bookmakers free bet offers, and repeat the process to make money.  By matching back and lay bets as close as possible, you cancel out the risk of losing money. 

To explain in a little more detail lets break this down into five stages:

  1. Find a bookmakers offer like Coral’s “bet £5 get £20 in free bets”.
  2. Place a £5 back bet on the bookmakers site for England to win their next game, this is called the “qualifying bet”.
  3. Place a lay bet on a betting exchange.  This means betting against England winning their next game, balancing the odds and stake to match the back bet. 
  4. England play their game, and either your back bet or lay bet wins. You should have won a similar amount of money as you staked, but also unlocked the £20 free bet with Coral. 
  5. You repeat the process using the £20 free bet. The slight differences between the back and lay odds means profit on the offer is around 75–80% of the free bet amount. So a £20 free bet turns into around £17 profit.  
Coral free bet matched betting


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