Lay Betting Guide – Best Sportsbooks & Strategies

Welcome to our guide to the best lay betting sites in the UK. This page includes rankings of what we believe are the top five betting exchanges in the UK, along with tips on how to maximize your returns and what to look for when choosing a lay betting site.

Best Lay Betting Sites List

Based on our research, the following are the best lay betting sites available to bettors in the UK:

  1. Betfair – best overall lay betting site
  2. Ladbrokes – £20 free bet for new members
  3. Smarkets – Flat 2% commission
  4. Matchbook – Great selection of markets
  5. Betdaq – Up to £1,000 in cashback

What is Lay Betting? Lay Betting Explained

In simple terms, lay betting is the opposite of standard “back” betting. Although “back” betting involves predicting that a team will win, “lay” betting involves predicting a team will lose.

Placing a lay bet involves two bettors, with the betting exchange acting as a middle-man facilitating the wager in exchange for a commission.

Let’s demonstrate this with an example from Betfair:

lay-betting-example-1

As you can see, different colors indicate different types of bets: pink for lay betting, blue for back betting. While the colored prices are the most popular ones, the surrounding values (white background) indicate other prices available at the exchange. This means you can place your lay bets at different odds, although you’ll be risking the least if you go with the most popular, colored price.

The GBP value indicates the total volume wagered by players at that price, a.k.a. the liquidity. If your wager exceeds the total raised liquidity, your bet will be automatically adjusted to match the available maximum.

Make sure to always use your platform’s lay betting calculator before getting involved in lay betting. This practice is critical because with lay betting, just like with spread betting, your losses can exceed your original stake.

Note that while you can choose any price for your lay betting, no one will back your bet if you fly off the handle. The range of reasonable odds generally fluctuates inside a tight range.

Once you’ve decided on a market, select it to enter your odds and stake:

lay-betting-screenshot-2

The odds and stake you enter determine how much players on the “backing” side stand to wager and win. They also determine your liability if your bet loses; the liability is calculated automatically by Betfair in the lower right corner.

As soon as you confirm your lay betting selection, other punters will see it on the market and will be able to bet against you. In the example above, winning would net you £8.00 while losing would cost you as much. The sportsbook will charge its commission only from the winning bettor.

Lay Betting vs. Back Betting

Lay betting and back betting are opposites on the same betting spectrum. With “back betting,” you predict that a certain result will occur. With “lay betting,” you predict that a certain result will not occur.

Laying an outcome at specific odds requires another punter willing to back the opposite outcome at the same price. That’s why lay betting cannot exist without back betting.

Lay Betting Liability

When placing a lay bet, you are essentially acting as the bookmaker. It’s therefore critical for you to understand how to calculate your liability. Luckily, you can perform the calculation using a simple formula:

Liability = Backer’s stake * (Lay odds – 1)

For example, if you lay Real Madrid at odds of 1.30 with a £15 stake against Roma, your liability would equal £15 * (1.30 – 1) = £4.50. So in order to place this lay bet, you would need at least £4.50 in your bankroll.

Bookies always provide a lay betting calculator to help you calculate your liability, but it’s helpful for you to understand how the process works to double-check for your peace of mind.

Lay Betting Commission

Sportsbooks make money by charging a commission. When placing regular bets against the sportsbook, these commissions are baked into the odds as the juice. But when it comes to lay betting, you get to set the odds yourself, so the sportsbook gets its cut by charging a fee out of the net winnings collected by the successful side. In other words, you won’t pay any commissions if you lose your bet.

Lay betting commissions vary between bookies, and some bookies charge a different commission depending on your wagering activities; the more you bet, the lower your commission. Here’s a breakdown of the commissions charged by our top bookies:

Bookmaker Commission Visit Site
 Betfair logo 2%-5% Visit Betfair
ladbrokes logo 2% Visit Ladbrokes
smarkets logo 2% Visit Smarkets
matchbook logo 2% Visit Matchbook
betdaq logo 2%-3% Visit Betdaq

Lay Betting Sites vs. Traditional Bookies

Lay betting sites, a.k.a betting exchanges, pit bettors against each other; one side “lays” an outcome (predicts a team will lose) at specific odds, and the other side “backs” that outcome (predicts the team will win) at those odds. The betting exchange acts as an intermediary and charges a commission from winning bets. The more players participate at an exchange, the more liquidity is involved and, as a result, the better the odds available. That’s why lay betting offers more freedom and more value lines.

At a traditional sportsbook, you bet against the sportsbook. The bookmaker sets the odds on all markets and adjusts them as the action comes in. All commissions, a.k.a. “Juice,” are included in the lines by default, so no additional commissions are charged on winnings.

Criteria Lay Betting Site Sportsbook
Choose own odds Yes No
Back bets Yes Yes
Lay bets Yes No
Restrictions No Yes
Liquidity issuse Yes No

How we Rank The Best Lay Betting Sites

Ranking the best lay betting sites involves conducting due diligence and pouring in hours of experience-backed research. Here are just some of the factors we considered when compiling and updating our rankings:

  • Range of markets: most betting exchanges feature a limited range of markets compared to traditional sportsbooks. That’s why our list of the best lay betting sites includes only providers with the largest market selection, ranging from football betting to golf.
  • Odds: the more action and liquidity at a given exchange, the better the odds you can get. That’s why we only recommend reputable exchanges with expansive user bases.
  • Commission: most exchanges charge a commission between 2% and 7% from the winning side. We strived to recommend only those lay betting sites that charge fees closer to the lower end of that range.
  • Bonuses & promotions: while most lay betting sites rarely offer generous promotions, the ones we selected feature free bets and reload bonuses periodically.
  • Mobile experience: each lay betting provider on our list offers responsive mobile betting apps for iOS and Android devices, putting all of its markets in the palm of your hand.
  • Licensing & security: security is the backbone of a quality online gambling experience. Each provider on our list holds a valid gambling license issued by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, ensuring your funds and security are protected.

Lay Betting Tips – How to Profit From Lay Betting

Turning a consistent profit from lay betting – or any other type of wagering activity – is complex and requires commitment. Nevertheless, you can vastly increase your odds of success by following a few lay betting tips. Any sound lay betting system should incorporate some or all of the following:

Control your liabilities

As we mentioned earlier, your liabilities in lay betting are not as easy to calculate as in traditional sports betting. That’s why you should always use a lay betting calculator to weigh the risk-reward ratio and make sure it isn’t skewed against you. Each betting exchange on our list offers an accurate lay betting calculator that will help you understand precisely how much you stand to lose.

Specialize

Another component of your lay betting system is the expertise you bring to the table. The more knowledge you have of a particular market and sport, the better your chances of making money. This is especially true in lay betting, where the odds aren’t as sharp as those at regular sports betting sites. Strive to develop your ability to read statistics about your chosen sports, such as individual player’s performance histories, head-to-head records, and opponent-related dependencies.

Try matched betting

You’ll encounter this tactic in the more advanced lay betting systems. In brief, matched betting involves placing lay bets that offset potential losses from a “back” bet on that same event. You essentially cancel out your backing risk by betting against yourself. You’ll need to sign up with at least two providers to implement this strategy.

Read the odds correctly

Reading and interpreting the odds at a glance should be second nature. Most exchanges use the decimal format by default but allow you to toggle between other systems. Unless you’re already accustomed to a specific format, we recommend sticking to the decimal system because of its simplicity.

Keep improving

No matter how good you (think you) are, you can always become a better punter. At the core of any successful lay betting system is the bettor’s desire to excel and improve at their craft. Hone your skills by reading forums, watching game previews, and analyzing statistics. Be willing to experiment with new approaches and ask for support when the going gets rough. It’s a grind, but with a bit of time and commitment, you’ll make it.

Wrapping Up

Lay betting is growing in popularity and offers new opportunities for bettors willing to put in some work into developing a sound betting strategy. Bettors who like to exercise control over their odds and betting volume will appreciate this type of sports betting. We hope this page helped you familiarize yourself with lay betting and get acquainted with lay betting tips that will help you turn a profit.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Lay Betting?

What Does Lay Mean in Betting?

How Does Lay Betting Work?

What Are The Best Lay Betting Sites in The UK?

What is the difference between lay and back betting?