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4 years ago - 6 minute read

Laying Made Simple

For those new to betting, laying can seem a puzzling concept to grasp. But it’s actually very simple. It’s like saying to a mate that you don’t think Arsenal will win this Saturday and he retorts: “I bet you €10 they do.” You’re laying his bet if you accept it.

Lay betting is still a bet, but it’s betting that something will NOT happen. In its most simple form a lay in a head-to-head market is just the opposite of a back bet. If Djokovic is playing Murray in a match at Wimbledon then laying Murray is the same as backing Djokovic. But laying Murray for the Wimbledon tournament is like backing every other player against him.

Laying favourites at odds under 2.0 is one of the safer bets you can make with your downside risk being limited. Here your liability will always be less than your potential profit.

Laying a team at 1.5 means you risk £10 for every £20 you could win. It’s like backing at 2/1.

When you make a lay bet you’re looking for losers, which is a lot easier than finding winners and in some markets where there are short-odds favourites it can also be hugely profitable (see below). Plus, it’s a real buzz if that ‘nailed-on certainty’ everyone else was adamant would win ends up suffering a shock defeat.

It’s the best bet when you’re sure a selection will not win, but you’re not sure what else will happen. For example you think Tottenham’s form is overrated coming into their match at home to Chelsea. You have two options: back both the draw and Chelsea or lay Tottenham. Which sounds easier to you?

Let’s look at a real life example. Real Madrid are due to meet Italian club Napoli in the group stages of the Champions League. Madrid are playing at home and have recently won their last six matches in La Liga. Madrid’s back odds (blue column) are currently 1.49 while their lay odds (pink column) are 1.5.

There are doubts about Cristiano Ronaldo’s inclusion in the side, so you decide to lay the home side for €50. This means you are betting AGAINST Los Blancos winning. If you are proved correct and the match ends in a draw, you win the backer’s stake of €50.

Similarly, if Napoli bag all three points, you win €50. But if the home side are the victors, you have to pay out €25 to the person who matched the bet. It’s important to note that you aren’t risking €50, but this is the amount you stand to win, while €25 is your liability if the bet loses.

Manage Your Liability

Liability is one of the key concepts in laying bets and one you need to get your head around quickly to avoid some huge mistakes. Because when you lay a bet you are effectively accepting someone else’s back bet the key figure to bear in mind is what you stand to lose – your liability.

Laying favourites at odds under 2.0 is one of the safer bets you can make with your downside risk being limited. Here your liability will always be less than your potential profit. Laying a team at 1.5 means you risk £10 for every £20 you could win. It’s like backing at 2/1.

It’s a much more risky proposition laying 11.0 (10/1) shots when you are risking £100 to win £10 but these can still be a good option if you are very confident a team won’t win. You need to make sure you have enough funds in your account to cover your liability if it loses, however.

Laying Short Priced Favs

One of the best lays you can make is by identifying short-priced favourites with chinks in their armour. The unpredictable nature of competitive sport means odds-on shots will sometimes lose and it’s not uncommon for favourites to be defeated at odds of 1.05 (1/25) and shorter, particularly when a market is in play.

For example, South Africa were as short as 1/1000 with some bookmakers ahead of the Springboks’ seemingly one-sided encounter with Japan at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. However, Japan went on to achieve what was described as the biggest sporting upset ever with a 34-32 victory over the two-time champions.

Japan's victory over South Africa in the 2015 RWC is regarded as one of the greatest upsets in the history of sport

Japan’s victory over South Africa in the 2015 RWC is regarded as one of the greatest upsets in the history of sport

It meant that those who layed South Africa on an exchange risked a potentially small pay out in order to score a very tasty return from losing backers. Odds-on shots win more often than they lose, but carefully selected bets against vulnerable or overly short favourites can pay dividends for betting exchange layers.

Top three reasons to lay a bet:

  • Identifying losers is easier than finding winners
  • Laying a football team means you have two ways to win
  • Correctly laying odds-on shots can be very profitable