Online Betting » Betting Guide » Understanding Lay Betting: What Lay Means in Betting & How it Works

Understanding Lay Betting: What Lay Means in Betting & How it Works

Dave Kuzio
Fact checked by: Jim Knight
Publish Date: 01.07.2024

Lay betting is another market that is on the rise and can also look very confusing on the surface. Hopefully, this article will clarify a few things for you and allow you to safely lay your bets.

Once you get the hang of it, lay betting will become second nature to you. It’s a valuable tool for the modern bettor.

What is Lay Betting?

Without complicating matters too much, essentially when you make a lay bet you are actually betting on the selection NOT to win.

Yes, that sounds crazy, but hear me out.

When you place a traditional bet, you are backing that team or player to win the game. In Lay betting, you are doing the opposite. You are backing your selection not to win the match or event. Basically saying “This will not happen”. You are basically playing the role of a bookmaker as you are the one who is ‘laying the bet’.

Lay betting can only be done using betting exchange markets like Betfair.  You will probably realise by now that this is not what you would call a traditional bet.

The terms you will constantly hear when exploring the world of Lay betting will be ‘back’ or ‘lay. Once you understand the meaning of those, you should be fine.

What Does Back and Lay Mean in Lay Betting?

When you place a traditional bet, you ‘back’ the outcome you want and if your selection wins then the bookmaker pays out.

You can treat this as a normal bet and ‘back’ your selection to win, or you can ‘lay’ it. This means your bet will be a winner if the outcome does not occur.

Let’s use the Premier League title race as an example. The ‘back’ odds are in blue and the ‘lay’ odds are displayed in pink.

Arsenal are listed as the second favourites at 5.3. If you backed them to win the Premier League with a £10 stake, your return would be £53 – a profit of £43.

You will notice the two main differences on each betting slip. When you ‘back’ an outcome it tells you what your profit will be. If you ‘lay’ an outcome it says ‘liability’ under place bet. What does that mean?

When you place a traditional bet and it loses, the bookmaker retains your stake. This is the case with a ‘lay’ bet. With you playing the role of the bookmaker you are hoping Arsenal do not win the league. If they do win the league then you will have to pay out the winnings and that is known as the liability.

You need to work out whether winning your £10 back is worth potentially losing the £44 liability that you would need to pay out if Arsenal did go on and win the Premier League title.

What Does Setting Your Odds Mean?

When it comes to Lay betting there is a thing called ‘setting your odds’. When using a betting exchange there is no real guarantee that your bet will bet matched. You can set your own odds even if they are currently unavailable.

How To Set Your Odds

  • Select which bet you want to choose – Back or Lay
  • Adjust the odds in the Back or Lay Match Odds box
  • That bet will go into the market and will then be available for other punters to use

Where Can I Place a Lay Bet?

It is important to know where exactly you can place a Lay bet because not all bookmakers offer this option. Your main port of call will be a betting exchange site. Here is a brief overview of which sites you can trust to place a Lay bet.

  • Betfair Exchange – Betfair lead the way in terms of Lay Betting with their in-depth analysis. The site is easy to use with your potential profit and liability clearly marked.
  • Betdaq – Betdaq offers 0% commission for 100 days for all new customers signing up with their special welcome promo code.
  • Matchbook – This company prides itself on being a peer-to-peer betting exchange designed to help the more intuitive bettors. They proudly use the tagline – ‘The Matchbook Betting Exchange is for Bettors Who Know Better’. Bold claim, but they do seem to get the job done.

Lay Betting Pros and Cons

Here is a brief look at the pros and cons when it comes to Lay Betting:

  • You are essentially the bookmaker
  • Create your own odds for a better profit
  • The liability might not make it worth it
  • Some betting exchanges will charge you a commission fee

Can You Profit From Lay Betting?

Yes you can profit from Lay Betting, but you need to have a plan. Don’t just go in like a bull in a China shop and start laying out ridiculous bets. That will not work and you could lose a lot of money rather than turn a profit.

Work out your strategy and figure out how much you can afford to bet with. Do not be swayed by what you could win, be mindful of what you could actually lose.

Final Say On Lay Betting

When you first start doing your research into Lay Betting, you could end up like a rabbit in the headlights. Take your time to get accustomed with the market as it can be confusing, but in the end it could be quite profitable.

The most important rule to remember in Lay Betting is that you are betting on a certain outcome not to happen. Once you get your head around that you should be fine.

Understanding the liability and profit parts of the part could take time to fully master, but it is worth it. We all know that placing the smallest of bets is still a risk, so be careful you understand how the liability rule works and only stake what you can afford to lose.

It is easy to see why Lay Betting is becoming more popular, and hopefully this guide has helped you understand it a little more clearly.

Lay Betting FAQ

💷 How Do You Place a Back Bet?

Placing a ‘back’ bet allows you to bet on something that will happen.

💰 How Do You Place a Lay Bet?

The ‘lay’ bet is the opposite of a ‘back’ bet. You are wagering on something not to happen.

⚽ Can I Place Lay Bets At Any Bookmaker?

No. Not all bookmakers have a Lay Betting system. They are mainly found at betting exchange sites. Be careful when selecting an exchange site.

💱 What Does Liability Mean In Lay Betting?

The liability is the amount of money that you will be required to pay out if your outcome is unsuccessful.

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