Why Is It Called ‘Greening Up’?
When you back or lay a selection your potential profit is shown in green while your possible loss is displayed in red. Securing a profit through trading price differences means both amounts are now green. This is a ‘green book’.
One of the most satisfying aspects of using a betting exchange is the ability to lock in a guaranteed profit no matter what happens on the pitch. ‘Greening up’, or achieving a ‘green book’, is similar to what financial traders do and follows the same principles as buying and selling any commodity.
The aim is to purchase an item for a certain amount and then shift it on at a higher price. Buy low, sell high. In exchange terms, you lay low and back high, or vice versa. Remember, you’re not looking to simply back winners or lay losers, but make money from odds movements.
For example, let’s say you decide to back a horse for £50 at odds of 20.0 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup ahead of a prep run at Haydock. The horse ends up winning by an impressive 10 lengths over decent opposition. His odds for the Gold Cup plunge to 11.5 (back) and 12.0 (lay).
Now you have the option of laying the horse for £25 at 12.0, which means you scoop £400 if the horse wins the Gold Cup and lose nothing if he doesn’t. It’s effectively a free bet. However, you could instead place at lay bet at 12.0 for £83.33, locking in a profit of just over £33 regardless of which horse wins the race.
The process of greening up doesn’t have to start and end before an event. Pre-match markets on most sports are usually fairly static, unless perhaps one side is suddenly bedridden by food poisoning. In-play trading is much more volatile because odds are constantly reacting to action on the pitch.
With football the odds swing wildly after a goal or a red card, enabling a clued in trader to green up for a juicy profit.
The greater the volatility, the better the opportunities to profit from price movements.
For instance, let’s imagine Manchester City, who have scored first in their last five Premier League matches, are available to back at 2.3 away to West Ham. You expect a similarly fast start so back them for £50 (£60 potential profit) before kick off. Sure enough, the away side start brightly and go one-nil up in the 16th minute, sending their odds tumbling to 1.49 (back) and 1.50 (lay).
Laying City now for £50 at 1.5 means a £40 profit if they go on to win and you’ll lose nothing if they don’t. Again, you could instead choose to lay the City for £76, which means you win £27 if they bag all three points, but you also win £26 if it’s either a draw or West Ham battle back for the victory.
Little and Often
Another popular strategy for achieving a green book is ‘scalping’. This involves dipping in and out of markets whilst grabbing a few pounds of profit here and there with quick trades. You look for breaks in-play (goal kicks, injuries, substitutions, etc.) to enter the market.
Imagine a match is 0-0 after 60 minutes and a player is upended by a heavy challenge, prompting the players to surround the referee. The draw is available to back at 1.75 so you enter your stake of £200. In the time it takes for the player to limp off for treatment and a yellow card to be awarded the draw is now 1.71 and the lay 1.72. You can then lay the draw for £200, securing a quick £6 ‘free bet’ on this outcome.
Sometimes short-priced favourites provide low-risk, high-reward opportunities to green up. This time its tennis and Rafa Nadal is extremely short 1.02 to prevail in his first-round match against his lowly ranked opponent. However, the Spaniard has a track record of making hard work of his first-round matches, plus this isn’t his preferred surface. You elect to lay him at 1.03 for £500, which means you’re risking just £15.
If he does indeed get off to a slow start and his opponent plugs away, Nadal’s odds will begin to drift. Even if he goes out to 1.1, you could back him for £500 and secure a £35 profit if he wins, and lose nothing if his opponent manages to cause an upset. Or you could back him for £468.50 at 1.1, locking in just over £31 regardless of the result. Again, it’s time to sit back and relax – you’ve successfully greened up.
Learn the Ropes
One common mistake is greening up too early or holding on to a losing trade for too long, desperately hoping that the market will swing back in your favour. Often it’s best to cut your losses and trade out for a small ‘red book’ rather than leaving yourself massively exposed.
Being able to consistently Green Up takes experience and practice.
You need to be able to judge how events on the pitch affect the ebb and flow of liquid markets. So start with small stakes and then slowly build up as your ability and knowledge grows.