What Is a Lay Bet? (Lay Betting Explained)

Usually, when betting with a traditional bookmaker, you bet that a certain outcome will happen — this is called "backing" an outcome. However, betting exchanges also give you the option of betting that a certain outcome will not happen, or "laying" the outcome. This type of bet, also known as a lay bet, allows you to take the role of the bookmaker in a sporting bet. In this article, we'll look at the basics of lay bets, including what exactly they are, how to place them, and how to make money with them.

What Is a Lay Bet?

A lay bet is a bet that a certain outcome will not happen. Lay bets are made possible by betting exchanges, which allow users to bet against other users, taking the role of the bookmaker. Sometimes, a lay bet can correspond to a certain back bet. For example, laying a Home win (in other words, betting that the Home team will not win) is the same as backing the Draw or Away.

What Is Liability in Lay Betting?

When you place a lay bet, you'll see that the size of your stake isn't the same as the profit or liability shown by the exchange. That's because lay bets work differently from back bets. The size of your stake in a lay bet corresponds to the size of the back bet you will be taking the other side of. How much you actually stand to win or lose can be an entirely different number. The liability shown when you try to place a lay bet is the amount you stand to lose if your bet is incorrect. It should correspond to the size of the profit on the back bet you are taking the other side of. For example, if someone backs an outcome for £100 at odds of 1.32, they stand to win £32. When you lay that outcome for £100, your liability is £32.

How to Place a Lay Bet on Betfair Exchange

To place a lay bet on Betfair Exchange, start by finding the outcome you would like to bet on. Then, identify the odds for laying the outcome, which are highlighted in pink on the right side of the odds table. After choosing the best odds available, enter the size of your stake and confirm the bet.

Can You Make Money with Lay Betting?

If you're new to sports betting, you're probably wondering whether it's possible to make money with lay betting. The answer is, of course, yes! You can apply many other principles and strategies of sports betting to lay betting, so as to win. A popular type of sports betting is value betting, where you find bets that have better odds than those offered by the bookmaker or betting exchange. You can do just this with lay bets, by identifying opportunities to lay a bet at odds better than those provided by the exchange. Another popular type of sports betting is sports trading, where you place a bet and close your position after the odds have moved in your favor, for a small profit. Of course, you can trade lay bets! Simply lay a bet, wait for the odds to decrease (meaning that the outcome is less likely), and cash out your position!All in all, there are plenty of ways to make money with lay betting, just like there are with back betting.

Lay Betting Strategies

There are numerous popular strategies in the lay betting world. As with any type of betting, the more a lay betting strategy is shared, the less effective it becomes. As a result, we'll only share two betting strategies in this section.

Laying the Draw

Laying the Draw is one of the most well-known lay betting strategies. It involves placing a lay bet against the match resulting in a draw, before the match starts. Then, you simply wait for a goal to be scored at some point in the match, and cash out your lay bet for a profit. The strategy doesn't always work — especially when the underdog scores a goal — but it's an easy strategy to experiment with.

Back to Lay

Back to lay can refer to two different lay betting strategies. First, it can refer to arbitrage, where you take advantage of the differences in odds provided by different bookmakers and betting exchanges to guarantee yourself a profit. In this case, you back an outcome in one place, and lay it somewhere with better odds. The other type of back to lay strategy refers to sports trading. The idea here is similar: you back an outcome at certain odds, and wait until they increase before you lay that same outcome. This is akin to using Betfair's Cash Out feature, as it effectively pulls out any profits you have made without waiting for the bet to be completed.

Lay Betting Tips

If you're looking to experiment with lay betting, here are two tips to help you on your journey:

  • Understand how stakes, profits, and liabilities work with lay bets. Make sure you understand how much you are risking on every bet you place. We recommend always checking the liability quoted by the exchange before placing a lay bet; that way, you can be sure you haven't made a mistake.
  • Treat lay betting like any other kind of betting. Although lay betting is different from what you might be used to, you still need to find favorable betting opportunities if you want to profit in the long run.


A lay bet is a bet against a certain outcome happening. Lay bets are usually placed on betting exchanges, where they allow you to take the other side of backers' bets. As with any kind of betting, there are plenty of ways to make money with lay betting. However, there are definitely a few things to get used to, like the way stakes, profits, and liabilities work for lay bets. Do bear in mind that you'll still need some kind of strategy or model to profit, though!