Betfair Exchange: What is the Betfair Exchange?

Betfair Exchange: What is the Betfair Exchange?
James Boyle
Monday 16th September 2019

In the first of our ten-part series on how to use the Betfair Exchange, we answer the question often asked by punters wanting to deviate from old school bookmakers and broaden their punting horizons:

What is the Betfair Exchange?

If you’ve ever checked out the Betfair Exchange, the chances are that you saw ever-changing decimal odds boxes – some moving in blue, some moving in pink – and returned to the traditional, simpler looking bookmaker model with fractional odds and a one-size-fits-all price to bet on.

However, you’re missing out on some great opportunities that only a betting exchange can offer.

What is the Betfair Exchange?

On the Betfair Exchange you can bet against other punters rather than against the bookmakers.

As a result of cutting out the middle man, so to speak, you can frequently end up getting better prices and as an added bonus, you can offer odds or request odds and wait for them to be taken by other users of the Betfair Exchange – basically allowing you to take on the role of bookmaker.

Given the huge amount of customers using the Betfair Exchange, it has the most money in the markets when compared to other similar exchange-orientated services and that makes it a lot easier to get your bets matched than on smaller platforms.

It’s been around since the year 2000 and was developed as a way to give punters more options when it came to their betting, partly so they weren’t at the mercy of restrictive gambling companies.

Many of the features available on traditional bookmaking sites wouldn’t exist without the Betfair Exchange. For example, the ability to offer prices while an event was being played on the Exchange led to bookies offering in-play betting, and this in turn led to being able to cash-out.

But to act like a bookie, you first need to be able to take the other side of a bet…

Backing and Laying

This is where backing and laying comes into play.

When using traditional bookmakers, our only option is to Back the bet we want to take.

So when we go to the bookies and bet on Enable to win the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe for the third time, for example, we’re backing that bet.

The bookmakers, who are taking the other side of your pick, are laying the bet to you.

Laying is simply backing something to not happen. There are some other aspects of backing and laying though, and we shall discuss those in our article on lay betting.

Playing the role of the bookmaker is far from the only reason to use the Betfair Exchange. You can also get better odds to back or lay your selections, trade on sports in-play, start matched betting or arb bets for a guaranteed profit, all of which will be discussed in this series of articles.

More in this series:

Back and Lay Betting Explained
Advantages of Using the Exchange
Placing a Back Bet on the Exchange

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