What is Lay Betting? Lay Betting Strategy

Date IconLast Updated: 28 Oct 2022
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What is Lay Betting? Lay Betting Strategy

A lay bet allows you to bet on something not to happen. For example, you can bet on a horse not to win a race or a football team not to win a match.

In this in-depth lay betting explained guide, you'll find everything you need to know to confidently place a lay bet on the best betting sites

Read on to learn clever lay betting strategies from our betting experts.

Lay Betting Explained

With standard betting, you place a bet on something you think will happen: A football team to win a match, or a horse to win a race. You get your stake back with a profit if you're correct but the bookie keeps it if you lose.

With lay betting, you take the role of the bookmaker and back things not to happen.

For example, you can place a lay bet on a football team not winning. So, if the team loses or the game ends in a draw, you’ll win a profit. But if the team wins - you lose.

Lay betting typically happens on betting exchange sites. When you place a lay bet on an event, you won't be betting against a bookmaker. Instead, you'll be matched with another bettor who believes that event will happen.

They pay your earnings if you win, and you pay their profits if you lose.

Some betting exchanges will allow you to choose your odds, so while there is a greater risk involved - the potential for profit from lay betting is massive. Note that the bookmaker you are using will take a commission from your lay bet.

What is Liability in Lay Betting?

You will often see two numbers while you are placing a lay bet.

The first number is your stake, or how much money you're betting to get your profits. The second number you'll see is your liability. This is the amount you’ll need to pay if your bet is incorrect.

You use your liability to pay out the profits for the successful back bettor opposite your bet.

The difference between these numbers can be confusing, but it is always important to remember your liability is how much money you risk.

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Where Can You Place Lay Bets? 

Most established bookmakers and new betting sites only allow you to place a conventional or 'back bet' (on a selection to win) and many bettors won’t have even seen the option to make a lay bet.

To enjoy lay betting, you must use a specialist lay betting site called a betting exchange.

A betting exchange is very similar to a conventional betting site, but the bookmaker acts as a third party, letting you bet against other players.

If your lay bet wins, your profits are paid by someone who has placed the opposite back bet.

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Lay Betting Strategies

Lay betting is a unique type of betting, and bettors have developed strategies you can use with this betting to guarantee yourself a profit.

Check out some of the best lay betting strategies below.


You may be familiar with the term arbitrage from stock market trading. But in betting, it means backing both sides of a bet, so you always come out with a profit.

You will bet on something to happen, like a football team winning or a horse winning a race. Then, you place a lay bet against that happening.

For this type of lay betting strategy to work, you need the odds to provide you with profit no matter the outcome, so think carefully before betting.


You bet NZ$100 on a football team to win at odds of 2/1 with one of your favourite football betting sites. If this bet is successful, you’ll win NZ$200 in profit.

You then visit a betting exchange and place a lay bet of NZ$110 at odds of 7/4 against the same football team. Your liability is NZ$192.50. If this bet comes in, you’ll finish with a profit of NZ$107.80.

If your back bet wins, you’ll make NZ$200 in profit. Take away your NZ$192.50 in liability and you come out with a profit of NZ$7.50.

If your lay bet is successful, you make a profit of NZ$107.80. Removing the NZ$100 stake on the back bet leaves you with a turnover of NZ$7.80.

Read More: Don't miss out on the latest and best World Cup betting offers

Guaranteed profits if odds allow
Betting odds can shift very quickly

Curve Betting

Another betting strategy that draws from stock market trading is curve betting.

In this style of betting you bet on the potential change of prices in the future to create profit. Curve betting is exclusively available before an event starts.


Let's use horse racing to explain this one: To successfully place a curve bet, you must follow a horse’s prices (try one of our recommended horse racing betting sites) well before an event starts. If the odds on a horse begin to shorten, you place a back bet.

As the start of the race gets closer and more people jump on the shortening odds, the lay odds will increase in turn. Once the prices have drifted in your favour, you place a lay bet.

Similarly to arbitrage, you back both sides and make a profit no matter what. Timing is essential to get the best chance of a profit

You can use this lay betting strategy with other events like football matches, but prices don’t tend to drift significantly without major team news, such as a player injury.

Guaranteed profits if executed correctly
Tricky to predict which odds will shorten

In-Running Lays

While all curve betting occurs before an event starts, in-running lays are placed once a race or game has begun.

Once again, this lay betting strategy is about judging how odds will change throughout a game or race.

In horse racing, experts will know which horses tend to lead races early and for long periods. 


For an in-running lay, you start by placing an early back bet on a horse that will likely build up a lead.

As the race nears its end, you then place a lay bet against the same horse. If the horse is still in the lead, its odds should have shortened. If the odds have drifted enough, you should be able to profit no matter which horse wins the race.

With in-running lays, researching horses before a race is crucial. You’ll also need to be very attentive to place your back and lay bets at the correct times.

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Profits can be made when done correctly
Requires lightning reactions for rapidly changing prices

Is Lay Betting Legal?

Yes, lay betting is completely legal. There are no gambling regulations preventing lay betting in most jurisdictions, so you're free to use any lay betting strategy to turn a profit.

However, you will need to use a betting exchange, so lay betting is only available in jurisdictions with licensed exchanges. Not all betting apps feature an exchange option, but some established bookies do.

Lay Betting Examples in Different Sports

As you have noticed from the strategies above, lay betting works differently for different sports events.

While you still place bets similarly and calculate your payout and liability, the way you win money differs. Our experts have listed some of the most popular sports with lay betting and how it works.

Lay Betting in Football

The most common bet in football is the 1x2 bet, where you select a team to win or predict a draw. With lay betting, you are betting on any other possibility.

For example, if you place a lay bet on Team A, you will make a profit if Team A loses or the game ends in a draw. Placing a lay bet on a tie will return a profit if either team wins.

Lay Betting on Horse Racing

There are open fields in horse racing which present a wide range of betting options.

A back bet on a horse is a bet on that horse to win. A lay bet on a horse is a bet on any other horse in the race to win.

Because there are so many more options than with other types of betting, you get lower odds with horse racing lay betting. However, this can change if you bet in-play.

How to Place a Lay Bet

You can get started easily if you aren’t familiar with lay betting.

Placing a lay bet is very similar to making a regular back bet. Follow our straightforward guide below to place your first lay bet.

  1. Visit your chosen exchange betting site.
  2. Create an account or log in.
  3. Browse through the bookmaker’s markets until you find a lay bet you want to place.
  4. Click on the odds to add the lay to your bet slip. Here, you can adjust the odds and your stake. Ensure you check your liability, as this is how much you will actually have to pay if your bet loses.
  5. Once you are happy with the odds and your liability, confirm the bet.

What is Commission in Lay Betting?

As lay bettors act in the same way as a bookmaker by covering the alternative of a back bettor, betting sites don’t take profit from the loser of a bet.

Most betting exchanges will take a percentage of your winnings as a commission. Finding a betting exchange with a low commission percentage is vital to maximising your profits.

How to Lay Accumulator Bets

An accumulator bet is one of the most popular ways to bet with a regular sportsbook, but you won’t see as many at betting exchanges.

Some betting exchanges won’t allow you to create your own lay accumulators but will provide pre-made lay accumulator options.

However, some sites will allow you to place these bets. Follow our guide below to learn how to lay an accumulator bet.

  1. Visit your chosen betting exchange and log in to your account.
  2. Find the site’s exchange markets and pick two or more lay bets you want to place.
  3. Click the odds to add them to your bet slip.
  4. Make the bets an accumulator or a multiple in your bet slip. Both these terms mean the same thing.
  5. Select your stake. Ensure you check your liability, which will be much larger than usual, to cover more than one market.
  6. Once you are happy with how much money you are betting, confirm your bet.

3 Expert Betting Tips for Lay Betting

You can now place your own lay bets as you understand what lay betting is and the fundamental strategies.

But before you jump into a betting exchange, we’ve provided some expert tips to consider while lay betting.

Use Low Commission Betting Exchanges

Every betting exchange will take a commission of your winnings, but the commission percentage will vary between sites.

Most commission rates sit between 2% and 10%, and finding a bookie offering the lower end of that scale will increase your profits. It will also make finding lay betting markets easier.

Don’t Just Look at Popular Markets

Everyone likes to bet on the markets they recognise, like the Premier League when it comes to football, or the Grand National when betting on horse racing. It's not always the best way to create profit with lay betting on these more popular markets.

Finding betting lines where fewer people have expert knowledge will present opportunities to get better odds for your lay bets. Especially using lay betting strategies like arbitrage, you should look at betting on smaller markets.

Read More: Grand National betting offers

Be Careful Before Betting

Every betting exchange will present information differently, so taking your time before placing a bet with a new site is essential.

With lay betting, it's crucial not to focus on how much you are staking but on your liability. Remember, this is how much you can potentially lose.

With all lay betting strategies like arbitrage, you’ll need your liability to be lower than your potential profits from your back bet. Ensure you fully understand what you are risking before placing a bet.

Lay Betting in 2022 - Key Takeaways

There are many benefits to signing up with a betting exchange and placing lay bets.

Not only can you change your odds and play for more significant profits, but you can also guarantee your profits using lay betting strategies.

It is perfectly legal to do this, and betting strategies are available for major sports like horse racing and football.

Sign up with a betting exchange and place your first lay bets today.

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