There are now three standard settings for viewing a Betfair market. In the first example below, you can see the market with only the BACK odds. Note the Back & Lay and Market Depth boxes just above the market are unchecked. Viewing Betfair markets in this way makes the site function like a normal bookies site with just a back option, one difference though...better odds!
The Market View
The next option - one set of prices for both backing and laying - is viewed by ticking the 'Back & Lay' box.
The final option shows the 'full' Market View. By ticking the 'Market Depth' box, three columns of prices are shown to back and lay, as well as the volume of money available at those prices.
Select a Market
Whether backing or laying simply click the sport you wish to bet on in the left hand menu.
For example if you wish to bet on golf, select golf then an event within golf such as the US Masters. This then opens up all the markets available within the event the US Masters. Click on any market you wish and the matrix of numbers will be displayed on the screen. In the example below the Winner market has been selected.
The Betfair Matrix (or Full Market View)
When you have selected a market you will be faced with a list of selections and matrix of numbers in different coloured boxes. This looks rather complex on the surface, but bear with us, it's not that tricky once it's explained properly.
The selections are shown on the left. Adjacent to these are the
prices available, both to back and lay. The blue boxes nearest the
centre are the current best odds available to back, and the lay boxes
we've highlighted here in yellow.
In the example illustrated below the best odds currently available to back Arsenal are 1.64. If you backed with a stake of £10, an Arsenal win would return you £16.40; a profit of £6.40.
As you move away from the centre of the matrix (the coloured boxes) the next best offers available are displayed. The best price to lay Arsenal is currently 1.65, the next best is 1.66 i.e. if you lay £10 at 1.65 you stand to lose less than at 1.66 hence it is a better offer. As a layer you want to be matched at the lowest possible price - less risk for the same reward.
Three columns are displayed to show there is almost always another offer in the queue on a given selection, just like on a stock exchange. If you can only buy so many shares at one price, there will usually be more available at another price.
Betfair always match bets at the best odds available at the instant the bets reach the server, whether you are backing or laying.
Underneath each price you will see a currency value quoted. This is the amount of money available at each price. In the example above, there is £99168 available to back on Arsenal at 1.68. You can have as little as £2 of that. If your bet size is bigger than the amount available for your selection, you have to either take some at a lower price or ask for someone (a layer) to match the remainder of your bet. Prices and sums available can change constantly - just because you don't see enough to match your bet right now doesn't mean it won't be matched a few minutes or even seconds later.
What you see on the 'Back' side of the market are invitations for you to back a selection at a price - i.e. somebody else wants to lay that bet.
On the lay side, you see invitations for you to lay a selection - somebody else wants to back at that price.
Place a bet
To place a bet click on either back or lay next to the selection you are interested in. In the following example you are backing Tiger Woods at odds of 2.38 enter your chosen stake (minimum £2) and your potential profit is displayed in the bet slip on the right.
If you are happy with your odds, stake and potential profit click submit. If you have 'Verify bets' (at the base of the bet slip) ticked you will again have to confirm your bets. This is the bet offer.
Now you need to be sure your bet is matched...
Matched and Unmatched Bets
For a bet to be struck, it must be matched with another customer, someone who has an opposing opinion.
When submitting a bet offer, bets can be returned as unmatched, partially matched or matched in full. If you are taking the price shown on screen, you will be matched on the majority of occasions. Markets change continually though so don't assume you are matched - always look at your bet slip to confirm it.
The bet shown below has been matched - it cannot be changed or cancelled.
The status of your bets is displayed under the 'My Bets' tab. In the following example the bet is unmatched. Be sure to click on 'Continue' after your bet offer has been confirmed, otherwise your bet slip will not be updated.
Until your bet offer is matched by someone else, you do not yet have a bet. If nobody matches your bet before the market closes or is turned in-play, then you get your money back.
IMPORTANT: Your bet could be matched a split-second after the unmatched bet slip has been shown as above. Just because it hasn't been matched instantly does not mean it can't still be matched. In a worst case scenario, you could place another bet thinking your first bet wasn't taken and then another and another as the prices change - then the market moves back the other way and you get matched several times when you only wanted one bet! It is much safer to change the odds of your unmatched bet than trying again and again to get matched.
As prices and amount of money available constantly change on an exchange, particularly just before a race or when a market is in-play, you may have to adjust your odds or stake to get matched. Note that the odds and stake value can still be changed in the image above - you are still able to change or cancel it at any time until the bet is matched.
Customers always want the best price whether backing (as high as possible) or laying (as low as possible). Be aware that the Betfair market screen will normally refresh every 30 seconds but the Betfair server can process hundreds of bets per second. In a busy market, prices and volumes will change constantly - don't assume that the prices only change when you see them on screen. Click on the refresh button just above the market to view the latest prices.
Asking for a price
At Betfair, we try to match up punters with different opinions. One bets on an outcome to happen (backing), one bets on an outcome not to happen (laying). Think of it just like buying and selling property. The buyer offers one price, the seller might ask for a higher one. But there will be more than two people bidding on the market.
If you don't like the odds on offer, select a price you are willing to back or lay at. This is a great way of getting better value on the bets you make. You choose the price that you think is fair - no more being forced to take the price a bookie tells you to.
To ask for a price, make your selection and click to back (blue) or lay (pink). Using the up and down arrows, adjust to the odds you wish to back or lay at. In the following example you feel that The Draw price is too high. You wish to lay at lower odds, so you use the arrows to adjust the price before you submit the bet. You are now looking for someone to bet against you - a backer.
This bet will then enter the Betfair system as an offer to other customers. If someone likes that offer, they can back at your price of 3.6. If no-one likes your offer straight away, it will remain as an unmatched bet until it is taken by someone else, or the market is closed or suspended. If nobody matches your bet by then, you will get your stakes (risk) back.
SummaryBetfair Guide Step 6: Trading, Cold Trading and Trading In-Play