Spread Betting Markets Guide

In Play Spread Betting


In spread betting, as with fixed offs betting, the biggest games and main markets will be offered in play. The price offered will fluctuate and move as the game progresses and things happen. When spread betting in play the opening price of a bet will be taken at the time it is placed. In play markets allow buying and selling as the game is in progress, using information from the game to predict what is going to happen next. For example if there is plenty of attacking play from one team you may wish to buy their supremacy in anticipation that they then outscore the opposition. As the time remaining decreases single events can become very significant adding to the excitement of in play spread betting. Late in a game the in play prices quoted in play can become very close to the actual current price. This means game one goal or card, or a period of just a few minutes can turn an instant profit.

As major events occur markets will suspend and then re-set at a new opening price. Image 1 shows the Braga Vs Manchester Utd market suspending in play to be re-priced as events take place in the game. As discussed as time elapses and as events occur in play prices will move.

Markets Suspending in Play– Braga Vs Manchester Utd

In Play Spread Betting: An Example

In image 2 we show the pre match opening prices for the Chelsea Vs Shakhtar Donetsk Champions League match.

Pre Match Markets – Chelsea Vs Shakhtar Donetsk

In image 3 we look at the current prices to buy and sell after 66 minutes have been played. At this point the game is 2-2 with 24 minutes left to play.

In Play Markets after 66 minutes – Chelsea Vs Shakhtar Donetsk

We will now look at five of spread betting’s main markets in play for the Chelsea Vs Shakhtar Donetsk Champions League game

  • Supremacy and Win Index
  • Total Goals
  • Total Bookings
  • Total Corners

Supremacy and Win Index In Play

The markets concerned with the match result reflect that although Chelsea started as favourites the game is currently a draw, with only a quarter of the match left to play. At 66 minutes Chelsea are less fancied, their Win index market has moved from an opening price of 13.6 to 15.1 to be priced at 11.2-12.7 in play. Similarly their supremacy has moved from 0.45 to 0.65 to be priced at 0-0.2 in play (as shown in image 4). Shakhtar are more fancied than their pre match opening price and a Win index market in play of 9.9-11.4 (from 8.5-10 pre match) suggests they are almost as likely as Chelsea to win the game.

Supremacy and Win Index Markets – In Play Comparison

Total Goals In Play

The total goals market which started at an opening price of 2.8-3 is priced in play at 4.9-5.1 (as shown in image 5). This reflects the fact 4 goals have been scored and the bet is has already surpassed the opening price. In effect a pre match buy on total goals is already one goal in profit and a pre match sell is already at a one goal loss. With 24 minutes left the goals market for the remainder of the game is effectively 0.9-1.1 (as the market won’t settle less than 4). This means it is possible to buy or sell goals on the final 24 minutes as a mini game, this would settle around level if one more goal is scored.

Total Goals – In Play Comparison

Total Bookings In Play

The total bookings market had an opening price of 50-54 points pre match and in play is priced at 30-33 points (as shown in image 6). This reflects the fact that after 66 minutes only one booking has been shown. For this bet to reach 50-54 points you might expect 30 or even 40 points with 66 minutes played, as this has not happened the in play price has decreased. As mentioned above towards the end of the game in play betting prices move close to the actual price, in this case one red card worth 25 points would instantly move the settlement price from below the in play price of 30-33 to above it (from 10 points to 35 points).

Total Bookings Points – In Play Comparison

Total Corners In Play

The total corners market had an opening price of 10.2 to 10.7 pre-match and with 24 minutes remaining with 11 corners having been taken and the in play price is 14.2 – 14.7 (as shown in image 7). This means the expected number of corners for the whole game has already been surpassed meaning buyers would already be in profit, and sellers already in loss. As with all the total goals bet in play in this case buying or selling would take place on a mini 24 minute game priced at 3.2 to 3.7 corners.

Total Corners – In Play Comparison

Betting In Play to Compliment Pre-Match Bets

It is possible to bet in play alongside bets that have been made before the game starts. This would allow you to either protect profit if the game was going well from the point of view of your initial bets, or to cut loses if things are not going well. Bookmakers will offer closing positions in play as shown below to allow you to easily stop a bet and take the return offered at the time. This return is calculated on the opening price that was bought or sold at, and the in play price at the time.

Protecting Profit In Play

If your opening price buy or sell is quoted at a better price in play (i.e. it is ahead) it would be possible to take the opposing stance to guarantee a return. An example of when this would be possible if you bought total goals before the Chelsea Vs Shakhtar Donetsk game started at 3.0. After 66 minutes with 4 goals already scored you could sell total goals at the in play price of 4.9 (see image 8 as a reminder).

Buying Total Goals at 3 and Selling at 4.9 In Play to ‘Take Profit’

Selling in play at 4.9 would ‘buy out’ some of the profit available and secure a guaranteed profit of 1.9 goals. In other words if you bought at 3.0 and then sold at 4.9 you create a margin of profit of 1.9 goals. In this case you would almost be taking as much profit as if the 5th goal is scored and by exciting the bet would receive the payout regardless of whether anymore goals were scored. Protecting profit at 4.9 goals would be a sensible move if the market ended up settling at just 4 goals. Conversely it would not be a sensible move if the market ended up settling at 6 or 7 goals. If there were 6 or 7 goals then the smart move would be to not oppose the bet and protect profit in play and instead ‘let the bet ride’.

As mentioned above bookmakers will show open positions in play, which means it is possible to simply click to close a bet and take the current profit or loss. In image 9 we see an open position in play for the Celtic Vs Barcelona Champions League game.

‘Take Profit’ option In Play – Celtic Win Index

The bet was on the Celtic Win Index bought pre match at for £5 a point at 4 (out of a possible 25), Celtic were very much the underdogs for this game. As the match is 1-0 to Celtic with 10 minutes to play the Celtic Win index is quoted at 16.5-18, i.e. Celtic are far more likely to win the game than they were pre match. The ‘Take Profit’ option is shown at £62.50, which automatically sells at the sell price for the same stake. £62.50 is worked out from the difference between 16.5 and 4 (12.5) multiplied by the stake of £5.

If the bet was allowed to ride then the profit should Celtic win would be £105, the difference between the opening price of 4 and the settlement price for a Celtic win of 25 multiplied by the stake of £5. However if Barcelona were to equalise then the profit would be only £30, the difference between the opening price of 4 and the settlement price for a draw of 10. As you can see the in play take profit price is between these two.

Cutting Loses In Play

If your bet in play is ahead and quoted at a worse price it would still be possible to take the opposing stance to protect some of your money. This would avoid the maximum possible losses that could be incurred if the worst case scenario happened at the end of the game. An example of when this would be if you bought total bookings before the Chelsea Vs Shakhtar Donetsk game started at 54 bookings points. After 66 minutes have been played,  there are only 10 bookings points (i.e. one card shown) and the option of selling is priced in play at 30 points, image 10 is shown as a reminder of the market in play.

Buying Total Bookings at 54 and Selling at 30 In Play to ‘Close Bet’ and Take a Loss

In this case the worse scenario would be for the market to settle at the end of the game with still one booking. So in effect you would be accepting 2 more bookings (that may not actually happen) by selling at 30 points. However conversely if you sold at 30 and 50 more bookings points occurred in the final 24 minutes (giving 60 overall) you would have incurred of loss of 24 points on a bet that actually would have gone on to profit by 6 bookings points (as 60 is 6 ahead of the opening price of 54)

As with the ‘Take Profit’ option bookmakers will show open positions which are behind in play, which means it is possible to simply click ‘Close Bet’ and take the quoted loss. In image 11 we see an open position in play for the Chelsea Vs Shakhtar Donetsk match. The bet was on the Chelsea Supremacy bought pre match at for £20 a goal.

‘Close Bet’ option In Play – Chelsea Supremacy

As Chelsea were slight favourites and are level with only 24 minutes remaining their supremacy price has shortened from the price bought at pre match of 0.60. The in play price of 0.05 – 0.25 is suggesting Chelsea are more likely to draw the game than win. To return any profit on supremacy with Chelsea as favourites Chelsea would need to outscore Shakhtar Donetsk and at 2-2 this is not happening. The ‘Close Bet’ option is shown at -£11, which automatically sells at the sell price for the same stake. £11 is worked out from the difference between 0.60 and 0.05 (0.55) multiplied by the stake of £20.

Bookmakers Cut when Taking Profit or Closing Bets In Play

It should be noted that if opposing bets in play to do this the initial bet would have been taken on one side of the spread, and the in play bet at the other. This is the case in the ‘take profit’ and ‘close bet’ examples above. So if you bought pre match you would sell in play and if you sold pre match you would buy in play.This essentially means you would pay the bookmaker cut twice.

Using the total goals example for Chelsea Vs Shakhtar Donetsk if goals were bought pre match at 3.0 they could be sold in play after 66 minutes at 4.9. The two bets made were buying when the price was 2.8 – 3.0 and selling when the price was 4.9-5.1. This means you would buy at the buy end of the spread and sell at the sell end making two transactions and losing 0.1 of a goal on each. This is as the true price pre match would be 2.9 (the middle of 2.8-3.0) and the true price in play would be 5 (the middle of 4.9-5.1). Your profit by using the ‘take profit’ option would be 1.9 goals with a true price of 2.1 goals.

Closing Positions with Varying Stakes

As well as closing positions in play there is also an option to manually bet less than your original stake to only partly protect your bet. So for example in the goals example above you may still fancy goals so only sell part of your initial stake at 4.9 rather than all of it, to allow you to still make some profit on more goals if they are scored.

You may also manually bet more than your original stake in anticipation of a reverse of your starting position taking place. So for example in the total bookings example above for Chelsea Vs Shakhtar Donetsk having bought at 54 points pre match you may want to put a greater stake in when selling at 30 points in play to try and actually gain a profit from the reverse bet, rather than simply cutting your loses. In this case if there were less than 30 bookings points you could still make an overall profit, despite the settlement being a long way short of the initial price.

In Play Spread Betting Summary

In play markets can give great excitement to spread betting. They can also bring in another level of skill to betting when deciding when and how to place bets, particularly working around existing bets.

We recommend studying market movements carefully through a number of games before betting in play. As always we also recommend starting with low stakes, being particularly aware of the total profit and loss available, when betting in play for the first time.

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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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