From the moment betting shops became legal in the UK in 1961, gambling enjoyed slow and limited development for a whole 25 years. For example, it was only in the late 1980’s when shops were allowed to broadcast pictures of live races for the first time - that was a big stepping stone.
By the early 1990’s people could finally place single bets on football – there was a ‘minimum trebles’ rule beforehand – and in 1992, the first Sunday race meeting took place, albeit the betting shops were still closed on the "Holy Day" and no bookmakers were allowed on course.
Thankfully progress movement has been a lot quicker during the past 25 years, and now you cannot only bet 24/7 online, but also using a plethora of different methods: Line betting, spread betting, point spreads and others compliment old-fashioned win and each-way options.
However, it was the introduction of Betting Exchanges in the early 2000’s which turned gambling on its head as, for the first time, punters could play bookmaker and lay bets. In effect, by laying a bet, you are backing something to lose.
This new-fangled betting medium opened the doors for betting strategies that many had never previously considered.
Once such example is arbitrage betting. A familiar term in trading the stock markets, ‘arbitrage’ is described as the “simultaneous purchase and sale of an asset to profit from an imbalance in the price”.
Unlike the stock markets, in the world of gambling ‘an asset’ is the price of a horse, football team or athlete and so to employ this strategy in betting your quest is to back a selection at a bigger price than you can lay it elsewhere.
An example of what arbitrage players look for and how they profit from it:
The upside to arbitrage is a no risk guaranteed profit.
However, there can be a downside and that is the potential for either the back or lay price to vanish before you have completed both trades. And, in the world of gambling, prices do move quickly.
Another lay betting strategy which is very similar to arbitrage and uses stock market principles is ‘curve chasing’. This is where you predict market moves and use potential price changes to profit.
Using the example of in horse racing betting, you might see a runner which is shortening in price during the hours leading up to the start of the race. Clearly subject of an early gamble by someone in the know you may back this horse in the belief its price will shorten further as race time approaches.
As with arbitrage the knack to curve betting is timing and successfully laying a selection at a shorter price than you have backed it. This type of betting is purely orbited around events before a race start or game kick-off and, if done successfully, the outcome of the event will have no bearing on your ability to win.
If you wish to explore curve betting further be mindful of the dramatic effect which team sheets can have on a betting market. Should a manager elect to bench many of his key players for a match, this weakened team will normally drift in price. Should his star players all be on the starting team-sheet usually an immediate rush of punters money sees their price quickly shorten.
Curve betting is an example of ‘bet to lay’ pre-race or pre-match, but you can also place lay bets during a race or game and, once again, use a judgement strategy to profit.
Form students in horse racing will always have a pretty good idea of which horses tend to race prominently and may set out to make the early running. Stats overwhelmingly show that horses which lead or race prominently normally trade at a shorter price ‘in running’ than their starting price (SP).
In running bet-to-lay strategies may not only be restricted to horses which like to front-run. There are countless ‘rogue horses’ which travel supremely and appear to be cantering over their rivals.
At this stage their prices always lessens dramatically, but wily video form students have a lists of quirky or ingenuine horses which find no improvement when their jockey ask for it and they quickly go from looking like a winner to rapidly back-peddling - not before shrewd lay betting strategists have traded themselves a profit.
Lay betting options are a great weapon for punters to have in their armoury and they are not simply restricted to betting exchanges. More and more traditional online sportsbooks, are offering markets on horses ‘not to win’.
With so much going on, it is easy to forget one of the fundamental advantages of lay betting: The ability to ensure profits on multiple bets or limit losses on wagers which are not going to plan.
Finding yourself staring at a handsome profit should the third leg of a treble win but mindful you could suffer a total loss if that final selection were to lose, a betting strategy whereby you lay your final selection to lose is a sure-fire way to ensure a return.
That ‘return’ could be saving your stakes, ensuring a small profit, big profit, or neutralising your bet whereby success or defeat for that final selection would result in an equal financial return.
Of course this is akin to another relatively new betting innovation, ‘cash out’. But taking it upon yourself to place your lay bets against potential winnings invariably represents better value and proves more profitable than simply cashing-out bets, in-part or in-full, as a bulk-standard ‘cash out’ offering.
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