Betfair Exchange Guide

Betfair Basics

The following section will explain some simple Betfair betting terminology and explain how a Betfair betting market works in terms of placing bets.

When you first log into the Betfair site you will be confronted with a page similar to that seen in Figure 1.

Betfair Homepage

Figure 1 shows the various tabs including; Sports, In-play, Football, Horse Racing, etc. The site is layed out in a similar fashion to many a betting sites where navigation is separated by a range of tabs.

After navigating to a market, you will be presented with a page similar to that in Figure 2. In this example we look at the Football match between Stoke vs Liverpool (Figure 2). Immediately the first observation you should notice is that the available Betfair odds provide two prices (one highlighted in blue and one highlighted in pink). This is different from a traditional online bookmaker and reflects the fact that you can back and lay an outcome at Betfair where as you can only back an outcome at a traditional online bookmaker. Also note that Betfair will always list odds in decimal form.

Stoke vs Liverpool Betfair Match Odds

In this example, in a Football match (where there are three outcomes; Stoke win, Liverpool win or a draw) as a Betfair user we have six possible options as to how we could bet. We can back or lay Stoke to win, Liverpool to win or the Draw. So in effect Betfair provides double the options to bet over a traditional bookmaker with the addition of the lay option.

So in Figure 2:

  • If you were to back Liverpool you are expecting and betting on Liverpool winning the match.
  • If you were to lay Liverpool you are expecting and betting on Liverpool NOT winning the match (i.e. Stoke winning the match or the match ending in a draw).

In Figure 2, the back odds are highlighted in blue and the lay odds are highlighted in pink. The odds in a white background represent the odds and stakes which have been input into the market – we will come back to this later on in the guide. The £ amount in a smaller black font underneath the odds represents the stake amount in the market at those odds. Note the lay odds will always be higher than the back odds.

In the example in Figure 2 you can back Liverpool to win the match at odds of 2.32. According to Figure 2 there is £2,422 sitting in the market to be backed at 2.32. Other things remaining constant, if a punter or number of punters was to come along and back Liverpool for £2,422 at odds of 2.32 then the odds of 2.32 would disappear and the market would readjust to the next price at 2.3. The prices at 2.3 and 2.28 for Liverpool to win the match come from individuals who are looking to lay Liverpool but at a price better that currently on offer at 2.36 (to be layed) and 2.32 (available to backers).

Alternatively on the lay side of Figure 2 you can lay Liverpool to win the match at odds of 2.36. As you will see from Figure 2 there is £1,381 waiting to be layed at 2.36. And like on the back side, once that £1,318 has been taken by punters looking to lay (others things remaining constant), the odds would adjust and odds of 2.38 would be offered to potential layers. Again the prices at 2.38 and 2.4 for Liverpool to win on the lay side (right hand side) represent those wishing to back Liverpool at a better priced than currently offered on the exchange.


Francois is one of Howtobet4free’s co-founders and has written many of Howtobet4free’s popular Betting Guides. Francois also helps run the @howtobet4free_ Twitter account

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