While there is always an element of risk involved in betting, there are a number of strategies that you can employ to minimise the risk that you're exposed to, and even to guarantee yourself a profit.
One such strategy is back-to-lay betting. This is often an in-play betting strategy (although it can be used pre-event if the opportunity presents itself), which involves backing a selection at a relatively high price, then, at a later time, laying the same selection (i.e. betting that it will not happen) to guarantee yourself a return. One of the bets will be successful and it will result in an overall profit or it will help minimise the loss from the losing bet.
Clearly, this is a strategy designed for betting on the exchanges. Bookmakers rarely offer punters the possibility of laying a selection because this is the role that the bookmakers themselves play. However, the exchanges rely on people betting against each other by backing selections and laying selections at varying odds.
With a back-to-lay strategy you’re not necessarily looking for a winning bet, instead you’re searching for a price that’s bigger than you think it should be. When that price shortens, you can take advantage.
If Manchester city are favourites to win the Premier League, you back them at odds of 3.48. So, a £10 stake will give £34.80 (£24.80 profit) if City do it. A lay bet is backing City to fail. If someone else wins the league, your lay bet wins.
With a lay bet you need to factor in liability. In the above example, City are 3.48 to back and let’s say 3.52 to lay. If you decide to lay City for £10, you will win £10 if a team other than City wins the Premier League. If City are successful though, your liability will be determined by the lay price: (£10 x 3.52) - £10 = £25.20. So, overall you are looking at:
This back-to-lay betting strategy can used in almost any sport available on the exchanges, and can even be used pre-event like in horse racing betting. For example, three months before a big horse race, you could back a horse at odds of 20.0. If it were then to win impressively in its final outing before the big race, it would be no surprise to see its odds shorten. You could then potentially lay the same horse at odds of 14.0, for example, locking in a profit before the day of the race even arrives.
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