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Lay Betting Guide

Lay Betting Guide

When you bet on something, you are usually betting on it to win, or maybe place. Lay betting is the exact opposite of this. Instead of betting on a competitor to win, you are betting on the competitor to lose – Effectively you are the bookmaker rather than the punter.

This is known as “laying a bet”. If you bet on a horse to lose a race, you “laying a horse”.

Say you’ve seen a team who you think are going to lose that weekend – you can then lay them and effectively bet on them to lose rather than win. Lay betting is available on a few apps known as exchange betting apps. It covers almost all sports so as well as a football you can lay a horse, tennis player or a golfer as you choose. The bigger the odds the bigger liability you have and the smaller returns you get – the exact opposite of being a punter.

How to Lay a Bet – Step by Step

Example 1 – Lay a football bet

In this example, I’m going to lay Liverpool against Porto in the Champions League. Whilst they are the strong favourites Champions League first legs can be close affairs and I think Liverpool are a bit too short a price.

  • Step 1 – I Navigate to the match I want to bet on and tap on the lay odds in pink. Shown here at the 1.3 odds.

Laying a football bet guide step 1

As you can see above my stake is the amount it will return if Liverpool doesn’t win. The liability in the yellow box is the amount I am risking of Liverpool do win.

  • Step 2 – Confirm the Liability

Once you have an amount you are happy with then tap place bet to get your lay on. The bet will confirm and you will get a green stripe under the market. You can find your open bets in my bets tab at the bottom or by going back to the market you have bet on.

  • Step 3 – Cash out – or don’t’ cash out!

Once you bet is on you get the option to cash out or not. The market you have bet on looks like this –

Laying a football bet step 2

As you can see at the top the bet is now confirmed and I can cash it out for a tiny loss if I wanted to. As the game approaches/ kicks off the odds will move and the cash out will change. If you choose not to cash out then the final score will settle your bet as shown on the app. If Liverpool wins the match you will lose £1.50. If its a draw or Porto win you will get £5 in your account – this will be reduced by the 5% standard commission on betting exchanges.

In this example, Liverpool scored early and went on to win 2-0 meaning the lay lost with no trading out options.

Example 2 – Correct Score Lay

A popular strategy is to lay correct scores on Betfair, this can be done as singles or as a multi lay. To lay the score you again need to tap on the pink odds for the score you want to lay. In the example below I have laid a 3-2 Manchester United win v Barcelona in the Champions League. This gives me a high liability on all other scores and a very small return, but it’s at a very unlikely score.

Correct score football lay

The game finished 1-0 to Barcelona and I got my £2, minus commission, return. I could have cashed out for a profit most of the way through the first half and all the way through the second half.

How to lay a horse – Step by Step Guide

Horse racing is another place where lay betting is popular. With wide open fields, this looks a good place for lays but can be high risk. There are a number of strategies that you can read about online, laying the favourite being a popular one. For this example, I’m going to lay a slight favourite in a 4 horse race. Looking at the odds it’s one of 2 horses that will win it.

  • Step 1 – Find the right horse to lay

This is a tricky one and it is worth building up your knowledge on racing betting. Once you have selected your horse you can go to lay it. In this example I’m laying Style De Garde at 2.08.

How to Lay a horse - Step 1

Step 2 – Place the lay

To lay the horse tap the pink odds and out the amount you want to win in the stake. The liability in the yellow box is the amount of money at risk – This is the amount you will lose if the horse wins the race. Once you are happy you can tap place bet and this will confirm. The lay will confirm as shown below.

Lay is now confirmed

As you can see the market now has a £2.00 profit in green on 3 of the horses and a -£2.16 on the horse we have laid.

  • Step 3 – Cash out or not

Where horse racing differs from football is that you get much more movement in the odds before a race starts. In big football matches, the odds will flutter slightly before the event whereas there is much more movement in horse racing. In the below example the odds had moved so much before the race even started I could have got out with a 31p profit. Whilst in monetary terms this seems small it is a 14% return at this point. If you are going to get into trading then you need to, in my opinion, trade for % gains rather than monetary amounts.

Cash out your lay before the race even starts

Once the race started Harry Skeltons Hatcher took the lead and the odds on Style De Garde drifted further. At this point, I choose to cash out in running.

With in-running the odds chance quickly and, there’s a 9-second delay to confirm your bet. When I hit cash out the odds were shorter than the odds I got live. This is why in the example about I have a higher amount on the horse I’ve backed.

The amount you cash out is set when you hit the button but the odds are subject to change. I could now cash out again to level every horse in the race to the £1.56 as shown above.

Hatcher went on the win the race and I got my return!

If you have any questions about lay betting then send us a tweet to @bettingappscom and we’ll do our best to answer them.

Which Betting Companys Offers Lay Betting?

Traditional bookmakers do not tend to be keen on taking lay bets. A bookie loves nothing more than when a favourite doesn’t win – they make far more money than when it does win.

However, paying out to punters who laid the bet eats into such profits, and the winnings paid out to successfully laid bets are often greater than the winnings paid out to those who backed the favourite. This is because as the odds for a favourite winning are usually short, and the odds of a favourite losing are consequently long.

When it comes to finding somewhere to play a bit of lay betting, it’s best to stick to exchange apps like the Betfair exchange app and the Betdaq app. A betting exchange differs from a bookmaker, into a betting exchange “connects” punters who wish to bet on the same event, but with opposing outcomes.

One will want the event to happen (such as a horse winning), whilst the other will want the event not to happen. Whoever wins is determined by the outcome of the event. Betting exchanges make their money by charging a commission for every bet.

Is Lay Betting Right For Me?

To decide this, you need to understand how lay betting works. Say, for example, you spot that a horse has odds to win for a race of 1-3. You consider that these odds are too short for that horse as it has little chance of winning. You choose to lay the horse for a £1 stake.

If the odds of the horse winning are 1-3, then the odds of it losing are 3-1. If you win (i.e. the horse loses), you will receive £4 back (winnings+stake), if you lose, you lose your stake.

Things work differently at betting exchanges when it comes to lay betting, as you become the bookmaker. You offer a stake and a price for an event NOT to happen. Say you offer Everton beating Chelsea at 10-1 for a stake of £10. Someone else accepts the bet. If you win (i.e. Chelsea win) then you win the stake of £10. If you lose (i.e. Everton win) then you have to pay out £90 ((the stake x the price you offered) – the stake).


Lay betting is not for the faint-hearted nor the casual gambler. You really need to be on top of your game at betting exchanges, as you in effect become the bookmaker. Of course, bookmakers make tidy profits in the long run, but that’s only because they are the experts. If you offer a bet and get the odds wrong, and an unlikely scenario happens, then you could be liable for a lot of money. Lay betting is a tidy way of making a regular profit, but only if you know what you are doing.