Sports fans might be used to logging into betting sites to have a wager on the big game or race of the day, but the Betfair Exchange might be a better alternative for some punters, especially if you are looking for the best odds available.
The Betfair exchange has grown from being a niche part of the online betting industry into an absolute juggernaut that is by far the most dominant site in its sector.
Working in a different way to traditional bookmakers and sportsbooks, the Betfair exchange is a good way for sports fans from all over to get some extra value out of their bets.
However, those sports fans who have not used the Betfair exchange before are likely to be unsure about how to get started on the site.
In order to help out, we have put together this complete guide to the Betfair exchange, which explains how it works, how users can sign up and the benefits of using the exchange to bet.
New UK customers can get a £20 free Exchange bet when joining as a new customer.
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Let's start with an obvious question to answer - what exactly is the Betfair Exchange?
An exchange is an alternative way to bet on sports. But instead of the odds being set by a bookmaker - the house, in online betting parlance - prices are instead set by Betfair users.
This means that when a bet is placed on Betfair, the odds come from another user on the site. The bookmaker is not involved in the process at all, with the value of odds set by the market.
The upshot of this is that the odds that are available for a variety of top sports events on the Betfair exchange tend to be higher than those that are found on more traditional sportsbooks.
In fact, Betfair also has a sportsbook area on its website. This means users can log in to both the Betfair sportsbook and the Betfair exchange to compare the odds that are available.
Both the exchange and the sportsbook can be used through the same Betfair account, so it is quick and easy to see the differences in the prices that are offered for the very same bet.
On the Betfair exchange, people can also opt to set their own odds for a bet - essentially acting as the bookmaker themselves. This means other users bet against the odds they choose to set.
A bet can be placed on the exchange as long as both parties are able to agree on the odds. It might help to think of the Betfair exchange as a sports betting equivalent of the stock exchange.
But how do users who sign up to the Betfair exchange actually use the site to place bets?
Those without an account on Betfair will need to sign up before being able to use the exchange.
Luckily, this is one of the most user-friendly sites out there and it should only take a few minutes to get up and running. New users should take time to see if they are able to claim a welcome bonus for signing up. Betfair is known in the industry for very generous promotions and offers.
To join Betfair from any page on the site, hit the join now button, which is located in the top-right.
This brings up the form that needs to be filled in to register for an account on Betfair's exchange and sportsbook. Users will be asked to fill in details like their gender, name and date of birth.
This is also where users can set a password and a security question that will be used in the event of that password being forgotten. Email details and an address also needs to be provided.
Deposit limits and the preferred currency are also chosen during this part of the process. Users can also add a promo code, if they have one, in order to claim a Betfair welcome bonus.
The form is quick and easy with players then having to verify their account through an email that will immediately be sent into their inbox. From there, users can log in with their account details.
There are two types of bet that can be placed on the Betfair exchange: backing and laying.
To back a bet is the same as placing a wager on a more typical sports betting site. What this means is that you are betting on an event to happen - for example, a team to win a match in the Premier League, let's say Chelsea v Manchester United.
Laying is essentially the opposite move. To lay a bet is to gamble against it happening. Laying Manchester United in the above example is betting against them. It would mean the bet wins if it is a draw, or if Chelsea takes all three points on the day.
In this example, laying is essentially the same as a double chance bet, but it is also possible to lay bets in markets with large numbers of potential winners, like in golf or in horse racing.
Laying the favourite in horse racing would be betting against them winning the race. If the horse wins, the lay bet is a loser. But if the favourite fails to cross the line in first place, the lay bet wins.
There are various ways that people choose to use the Betfair exchange. It can be a handy tool for betting tactics such as dutching, which we will explain later on in this guide. Many people who use matched betting in order to make a guaranteed income also rely on Betfair's exchange.
People who are used to betting on a sportsbook may initially be quite confused about the Betfair exchange, due to the fact its layout is so different.
While the ability to find bets is the same - the left-hand menu provides a list of sports to select from - the market is presented in a different way on the exchange compared to a sportsbook. A bar at the top of the screen can also be used to navigate to popular options such as football.
Let's go back to the previous example we used of a Premier League game between Chelsea and Manchester United. There will be a lot of markets to pick from on the Betfair exchange, but to keep it simple we will stick to the basic match odds, for which team will win the game.
Chelsea is at home so they are listed above Manchester United, followed by the draw. The heart of the Betfair exchange is the grid of numbers, which can be impenetrable for newbies.
But it is easier to understand what it looks like. Prices in a shade of light blue are the back bets. The lay bets on the Betfair exchange are shown in pale pink. The middle numbers of the six, which are highlighted, are the most important as these are the best prices that are currently available.
To back a selection, users would just have to click the price that they want to take. Then, the process is exactly the same as on a sportsbook. Set your stake, then confirm the wager. As with traditional sportsbooks, the Betfair exchange will show the potential profit from the bet.
In order to lay a bet on the Betfair exchange, the process is similar with one subtle difference. Instead of profit, the site will default to showing the customer their liability for the bet.
On the Betfair exchange, liability means the amount of money the customer will lose if the lay bet is not a winner. The more money that is staked, the higher the liability of the bet will be. There is also an option to see the potential profit for a lay bet placed via the Betfair exchange.
Things get a little more complicated once an event is ongoing, whether this is a Premier League football match, a game of cricket or a major golf tournament. This is due to the fact that the prices will shift all the time depending on what happens in the live-action.
Once the odds have changed for a particular bet, it might be possible to use the Betfair exchange in order to lock in some profit by covering all of the potential outcomes in bets.
Let's say you placed a back bet on Chelsea to beat Manchester United. If the Blues were to take an early lead in the match, their odds to win the game will naturally be reduced. It might therefore be possible to lay Chelsea and guarantee some profit.
The Betfair exchange will always automatically calculate the potential winnings and liability for the total bets that have been placed by a customer on the same betting market.
When laying through the Betfair exchange, one of the key things to think about is setting the odds. The Betfair exchange will automatically set a lay bet at the best price that is available on the market right now.
But users can also opt to set a shorter or a bigger price for their chosen lay bet if they choose to do so. The price that is set will have a big impact on whether the bet can be 'matched'.
What this means is that each lay bet on the Betfair exchange has to find a taker on the 'back' section of the market. This is as Betfair itself does not take any bets through the exchange, it merely facilitates how people are able to bet against each other through the market.
Offering a less appealing price for an event might therefore make it unlikely the bet will be matched, especially if there is a lot of money elsewhere in the market at a better price.
Betfair exchange users can see how much money is in the market easily. This is known as liquidity and is shown in the smaller number that is displayed under the price.
Incidentally, all odds on the Betfair exchange are shown as decimals by default, but hovering over them will automatically convert them into fractions, which some people find easier to use.
Popular events are likely to have a lot of liquidity, which means it is typically a lot faster for a lay bet to be matched. More niche events might not have as much money in the market, which means less liquidity in the market and usually results in less appealing prices all round.
The less liquidity there is in a market on the Betfair exchange, the bigger that the gap between the odds for a back and lay bet is likely to be in most cases.
Matches in the Premier League, as an example, always tend to be very popular on the Betfair exchange. This results in the back and lay prices for a match having a minimal difference.
To set different odds for a lay wager on the Betfair exchange, users should select the lay option shown in the pink colour, then change the number shown in the backer's odds box.
Add a stake and this will show the potential liability should the bet be a loser - as long as it is matched, of course. Users can also see their potential profit from a bet here.
Newcomers to the Betfair exchange might find it takes some time to get used to how backing and laying works. But it usually does not take too long to get used to the system.
There are a lot of benefits to using the Betfair exchange for sports betting, so the next section of our ultimate guide to the Betfair exchange will take a look at some of these advantages.
As noted above, the commission is one of the key things to keep in mind when using Betfair.
The commission is only charged by Betfair on winning bets that are placed through the exchange, so those whose wagers lose do not have to worry about paying this fee.
On the Betfair exchange, a commission is charged at a standard market rate of 5%.
What this means is that a bet through the Betfair exchange that results in total net winnings of £400 would mean that £20 would be taken by Betfair as its commission.
It might sound like a lot to those who are not used to betting through an exchange, but five per cent is a small cut in the grand scheme of things when compared to the benefits of such sites.
The best way to think about the commission is that it replaces the margin bookmakers with traditional sportsbooks retain in order to ensure they can make large profits every year. By charging a commission, Betfair is able to run the betting exchange that so many people love.
As a bookmaker usually has an edge of about the 5% mark, this is comparable to the commission that is charged on all winning bets that are placed at the Betfair exchange.
With the Betfair exchange tending to offer much better value when it comes to odds, players will usually still find that better value is available here than using a traditional bookie for sports bets even once the 5% rate of the commission has been taken into account.
Losing wagers on the Betfair exchange still qualify for Betfair points, which we will explain next.
Like traditional bookmakers with sportsbooks, there is a rewards scheme on the Betfair exchange. Betfair points can be earned by customers every time they bet on the exchange.
Whether or not customers win or lose, they will earn Betfair points. The more money that is staked by someone with an account on Betfair, the more rewards points that they will earn.
The key benefit of earning Betfair points is that it reduces the commission that needs to be paid.
Earning more points means players can cut their commission rate, meaning they are able to retain a greater percentage of the winning bets that they place through the Betfair exchange.
The Betfair exchange is popular for a number of reasons, but here are some of the most vital:
However, it is important to note the downsides of using Betfair's exchange, including these:
Mobile betting is huge these days, so it is no surprise that there is a Betfair exchange app.
Downloading this app on to mobile devices can make it faster than ever before to be able to place bets, or to lay wagers through the exchange.
Betfair has various different betting apps that are available to use for both iOS and Android devices.
Exchange Betting for iPhone and Exchange Betting for Android are the two that will be the most helpful for those who plan to use the Betfair exchange via mobile devices on a regular basis.
Among the benefits of using Betfair exchange apps is that they have live streaming included. This means users can place wagers on the race of the day then watch live to see how much profit they are going to make from the bet.
As well as sports, users of the apps can also place wagers on everything from TV shows, award ceremonies and even on politics. The number of markets is absolutely vast.
Customer support is also available 24/7 through the apps for anyone who is having an issue with their account on the Betfair exchange.
Deposits and withdrawals are quick and easy to process when using Betfair's apps as well. Some of the banking methods that are available to use on the Betfair exchange apps for mobile include PayPal, bank transfer and Paysafecard, as well as e-wallets such as Neteller and Skrill.
The betting process is seamless on Betfair's apps, with bets accepted rapidly on the software. Payouts also come quickly, which is good news for those who want to get their winnings back in their pockets as cold hard cash as soon as possible.
Free bets and promotions that are offered to Betfair exchange users can also be accepted through the app, which is another big plus point for those on mobile devices.
All in all, the Betfair exchange apps can be fully recommended to anyone who plans to use the markets for backing and laying via a mobile device such as a tablet or a smartphone.
Click through the offer above and create an account using our exclusive bonus code. You will be able to use all of the Betfair gambling products through one account including the casino, sportsbook, games, and exchange.
Add a valid payment method and deposit the minimum amount to claim your sign up bonus (unless you are claiming a no deposit bonus).
The Betfair Exchange accepts a range of payment methods including:
Betfair does not charge any fees for deposits or withdrawals.
Before you are able to play, deposit or withdraw the money you might need to verify your account and identity.
To do this, you will need to upload a copy of certain documents:
If you struggle with this, we recommend using Betfair's 24/7 live chat.
Advanced users of betting exchanges such as Betfair may use a tactic known as trading.
This means playing the market in a similar way to the stock exchange by buying prices when they are low and selling them when they are high.
By doing this, it is possible to lock in guaranteed profit from bets placed at the Betfair exchange.
Accumulators are one of the most popular types of sports bets, due to the fact they offer the chance to win a large amount of profit from what is often a relatively low stake.
But did you know it is also possible to law an accumulator on Betfair? This is quite an advanced tactic, so those who are new to using betting exchanges might be better to steer clear for now.
Learning how to lay an accumulator on Betfair usually involves laying each leg manually, though some accumulators on the Betfair exchange have a lay option included already.
Laying each leg means calculating various data via a spreadsheet, with this tactic typically used to lock in profit after claiming free bets on a traditional bookmaker website.
Not as such, but these bets can be found on Betfair's sportsbook as an alternative.
Exchange users can make the most of the 'place' markets on Betfair, which effectively do the same job as each-way betting at a traditional sportsbook.
Yes, Betfair is the market-leading when it comes to betting exchanges, but there are other alternatives for people to join.
Smarkets and Matchbook are two of the other best-known betting exchanges to use.
Betfair was founded by entrepreneurs Andrew Black and Edward Wray more than 20 years ago, but the company is now a part of the gambling giant Flutter Entertainment.
This company was formed after a merger between Betfair and Paddy Power and following a takeover of The Stars Group, which owned betting brands such as the PokerStars site.
Flutter, which has its headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, is listed on the London Stock Exchange. In its latest financial figures, the company had revenues of £2.14 billion.