All You Need To know About Betting Exchanges

With a packed sporting calendar ahead for summer 2021, it’s an exciting time for sports betting – and as we welcome back some of the season’s finest events after widespread cancellations last year, there’s no better time to start preparing to place yours. For those who like to win big, the opportunities are endless – and while many of this year’s biggest games and matches are set to take place without an audience due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, there’s still plenty of fun to be had from further afield. When money is no object, you may well be looking for the best ways to splash – and grow – your cash this year, and if you’re not afraid of a little risk then there are plenty of potential ways to do so.

Although placing your bets through a traditional bookmaker might be your usual way to go, if you’re craving a more social way to play then you might like to consider a betting exchange. This alternative means of backing an outcome on your favourite sports has been gathering momentum in recent years, and UK betting exchanges have since won itself a legion of loyal fans. For many, it’s an unfamiliar concept, but for those who play regularly, there are more than enough reasons to keep them coming back for more. To help demystify the subject, we’ve broken down all you need to know about betting exchanges – including how to get the most out of them.

With a packed sporting calendar ahead for summer 2021, it’s an exciting time for sports betting

What is a betting exchange?

Betting exchanges such Betfair (here are some great alternatives to Betfair) differ from more traditional betting sites in that they allow players to bet directly against one another. Perhaps more excitingly, it also allows them to set the odds themselves, making them a fun alternative – if you can get your head around it. Betting exchanges have a reputation for being more complicated than traditional betting, but in actual fact, they are far simpler than they seem. Although they might appear complex at first glance, they can actually give you a better chance of winning – so taking the time to understand how they work could pay off in the long-run.

The first player places their bet, opting to back an outcome and deciding upon their stake for doing so – the same as you would do when betting with a more traditional bookmaker. The next player then ‘lays’ a bet – essentially, betting against the outcome.

Lay betting

Let’s take, for example, a tennis match between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, where you believe that Djokovic is likely to win. To play, you would simply find this match on a betting exchange and look at the odds for each player. You’ll see a blue column for backing a bet and a pink column for laying one. If you wish to lay a bet, then you might place one on Nadal to lose (rather than Djokovic to win) in the pink column, and this will then be matched with another player in the exchange. However, it’s important to be aware here that should you lose the bet you have placed, then it is you yourself who will be liable to pay out the required stake to the winner, as opposed to a traditional bookmaker, who acts as a middleman. Since winning stakes on back bets are returned to the victorious player, you’ll only need to pay them their profit, which is known as your ‘liability’.

Don’t want to risk a huge liability? You don’t have to – you’ll always be given the option before committing to the stake you’re willing to commit, and will only be allowed to accept stakes when the amount in your exchange account is sufficient to cover your liability. But if you’re looking to win big and aren’t afraid to take a risk to do it, then you’re able to do so, too.
Before a game or match you have laid a bet on begins, be sure to check whether or not it has been backed by another player – if not, then your own lay bet will become invalid.

Betting exchanges differ from more traditional betting sites in that they allow players to bet directly against one another.

Why betting exchange?

For many, playing through a betting change makes the whole process more exciting, and if you like to play with friends or other acquaintances as well as complete strangers, then it offers a great opportunity to do so. Prices at betting exchanges tend to be better, and since they offer the unique ability to lay bets where bookmakers don’t, they have won themselves a legion of loyal fans who prefer to play in such a way. For experienced players, using a betting exchange is a great way to guarantee profit from more advanced techniques. If you’re looking to get really technical, then you could try laying off a bet or acting as an arbitrageur – but it’s wise to get some experience under your belt before trying anything too complicated.

If you’re feeling flush, then you may well be better received by a betting exchange than a bookmaker, too. Although the bookies certainly don’t shy away from potentially large profits, they do have some limits, and have been known, on occasion, to shy away from accepting a particularly large bet. Only this month, it was reported that a UK football fan was on course to scoop a hefty £500,000 win as the result of a successful accumulator bet – and that the bookmaker involved was offering him £250,000 to settle early, and before the final outcome was revealed. Despite their obvious advantages however, betting exchanges aren’t always the best choice. For starters, there are fewer markets on offer, which can make choice limited – and considering a laid bet that is left unbacked is automatically rendered invalid, it can lead to disappointment, too. And the football fan who was due to receive a sizable windfall from his accumulator bet wouldn’t have got far here either, since betting exchanges don’t usually accept this type.

The bottom line

Betting exchanges have been enjoying increasing popularity in recent years, and are a great opportunity to raise the stakes and increase your chances of a bigger and better win. But as with all gambling, be careful when placing your bets – and never put down more than you can afford to lose.

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