Betfair Betting Exchange Course Lesson 5: Additional features

  • Written by David Bet
Betfair Betting Exchange Course Lesson 5: Additional features

Betfair is more than just a betting exchange. Take a look at some of the other great betting options on racing and sports. Learn fundamental concepts like: Betfair SP, In-Play betting, and Tote betting on Betfair.


The Betfair SP 

If you're rushed for time or haven't the patience to catch the market at the best price, then why not try Betfair's most convenient racing product - the Betfair SP (Starting Price).

The Betfair SP is generated by Betfair backers and layers, not the High St bookies trying to increase their margins. On average, the Betfair SP is 40% higher than the official industryv SP. Naturally, this figure is inflated by the occasional 50/1 winner paying 3x that price on the Betfair SP, but you will plenty of value on the favourites every day too.

The Betfair SP market is displayed within the regular racing markets - both for Win and Place markets, and best of all in the true Betfair style, you have the option of backing or laying. To enable the Betfair Starting Price columns on your market view, tick the box for it directly above the market.


To place an SP bet, click on the respective Back or Lay box. When you place a Betfair SP bet, you are NOT taking a price, you are asking for a bet at the close of the market, when the race begins. This is when the Starting Price is calculated.

sp bet.jpg

Sometimes a horse is heavily punted late in betting. You might decide that the horse is a good bet at 6.0 but at less than 5.0, it is no value. This is where the SP Limit comes in handy - for Back bets, you can set a minimum price for your bet. If the Betfair SP is returned at below that price, your bet is cancelled.

sp bet limit.jpg

For laying at the Betfair SP, you place your bet by liability rather than backer's stake - after all, laying is about how much you are prepared to risk rather than win. As per the minimum price for Betfair SP backing, you can set a maximum price you wish to lay at. If the price drifts and the returned Betfair SP is higher than you are comfortable laying, your bet is cancelled.

sp lay.jpg

Price limits are NOT the default setting for Betfair SP bets - you need to tick the box that says 'Set SP odds limit' before submitting the bet.

It is important to note that once a Betfair SP bet has been placed, it cannot be cancelled. When a Betfair SP bet is placed, it will look similar to this under My Bets. Note that it is bordered in orange. Similar to a traffic light, it means it is nearly ready - i.e. it won't be settled until the race starts.

sp bet status.jpg

The Betfair SP is calculated in a split second once the race has jumped. The Back and Lay boxes for the Betfair SP disappear and they are replaced by the final Betfair SP figure, as per the example below.

sp settlement.jpg

Betfair SP betting is offered on horse racing in Great Britain, Ireland, Dubai and Australia. Note that while bookmakers make healthy margins out of laying at the industry SP, it's highly unlikely you will be able to do the same at the Betfair SP. Competitive margins mean the returned market percentage is close to 100%, and occasionally dips below that benchmark (meaning a guaranteed loss) when more people want to lay than back.

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In-Play Betting   

On Betfair you can bet In-Play. What is this?

Betting In-Play is exactly what it says: betting while an event is going on. More live sport on TV and via live streaming on Betfair Live Video every year means this is very popular.

On Betfair you can place bets right up to the final whistle or until the winning horse passes the post, even after that if it's a photo finish. It also enables you to see how a game is unfolding as a result of the line-ups, conditions and tactics.

This logoinplaylogo.jpg indicates a market is In-Play. It can be a very exciting form of betting with constantly fluctuating odds.

The ability to trade

Betfair gives you the ability to trade. Trading is trying to lower your risk and ensure a profit, irrespective of the final result. Have you ever backed a football team who take the lead, but are looking like they might concede an equaliser?

You could sell some of it back and walk away with a guaranteed profit. Now you can lay selections as well, so you could choose to recover your stake to leave you with a 'bet to nothing' (a bet where you break even on your worst outcome), or hedge your position to give you a profit no matter what the result. Not everyone invests in the stock market but most people have some understanding of the concept 'buy low, sell high' to take a profit.

Betfair is more than just a betting shop where everyone is focused on picking the winner of the race. Because Betfair was modelled on a stock exchange, financial traders have recognised that they can trade on racing and sports markets just like they were foreign exchange markets. And even better, there's usually a race every 10 minutes during the afternoon so profits can quickly be re-invested.

Range of Markets

Betfair has a vast array of markets to bet on, these range from horse racing and football to Specials such as the Eurovision Song Contest and The X-Factor. Each market is unique.

Some markets trade millions, others just a few thousand, some have hundreds of runners such as a golf outright winner market, whereas tennis and basketball have just two in the match odds. Betfair is a global business covering sports, racing and cultural markets all over the world. If you like betting on foreign sport in the wee hours, then chances are you'll find people to bet against on Betfair.

Profits can be made on all markets, but you have to treat different markets accordingly. What works on one sport won't necessarily work on another.

The Beauty of In-Play Betting  

If you're still wondering what all the fuss is about with exchange betting, then take a close look at some In-Play markets. Before an event starts, the betting markets are usually fairly similar wherever you look. You won't find 10/1 with one shop about a horse trading elsewhere at 2/1, the differences will be fairly marginal - you might find 5/2 if you're lucky. If you don't know anything about a sport or a race, you can look on an odds comparison site and find a set of prices, to at least understand which selections are given strong chances of winning and which ones are expected to need a miracle to win.

Once a market goes In-Play though, everything changes. Individual punters declare their hands with their own opinions - sometimes they are right, but sometimes they go horribly wrong! There have been hundreds of examples over the years of horses/players/teams being beaten after trading at 1.01, and similarly, selections given no hope of winning and trading at the maximum odds of 1000 before winning.

Some of the most memorable examples:

Horse racing: The Cheltenham Festival is the highlight of the UK racing year. In the opening race of the 2006 Festival, the Paul Nicholls-trained Noland defied the odds to win the Grade 1 Supreme Novices' Hurdle after being matched at 1000 mid-race. With two hurdles left to jump, Noland was mid-pack and had few options to get into the clear. Jockey Ruby Walsh decided to pull the horse back through the pack in order to go around the field and make his move. The cameras showed the horse going backwards quickly at a prime stage of the race, surely it couldn't win from there? At least one big punter thought so, laying the horse at all odds up to the maximum price of 1000. Noland found space at the back of the pack, angled out wide to make his run and hit the front in the closing stages, winning by a neck. The punters who backed Noland at 1000 were ordering champagne; the layer who overreacted to Noland drifting back through the field needed a stiff drink for other reasons...

Two-year-old horses can be the most erratic of all thoroughbreds. So young and impressionable, they often react severely to things they haven't seen before. In June 2008, a 2yo race at Hamilton looked to be fairly normal, with Verinco clearly ahead of his rivals coming up to the line and trading at 1.01 to win the race (and in the place market). Unexpectedly, Verinco veered left sharply, throwing his rider in the final 50 yards. The second horse at that stage, Lucky Dan should have inherited the race, he had also been backed at 1.01 in the place market, being a long way clear of the horse running fourth. Lucky Dan shirked at Verinco running off-course, and the sharp movement forced his jockey to fall off as well! Two horses matched at 1.01 in the same race, yet
neither of them ended up running a place.

Champion jumps jockey AP McCoy is renowned for his hard-driving style, getting the best out of horses who are sometimes reluctant to perform their best. To date, McCoy has ridden at least three winners who were matched at 1000 in-running.

Football: There have been plenty of teams backed at 1.01 over the years only to give up their lead and leave punters (and fans) in tears. The most famous case would be the 2005 Champions League Final between AC Milan and Liverpool. The Italian team led 3-0 at half-time and looked in complete control. Milan were matched for over £2.5m (half that amount is backing, half is laying) at 1.01 until the Liverpool comeback started in the 54th minute. Three quick goals levelled the match at 3-3, eventually sending it to extra time and penalties. Liverpool fans weren't the only ones who were celebrating wildly into the night...

The biggest Premier League lead ever thrown away was the 4-0 lead Arsenal held over Newcastle on Feb 5, 2011. The Gunners led 4-0 but had a man sent off. 1.01 had been backed so heavily that it was only available 'to lay', but then Newcastle stunned the football world with an amazing second half, equalising at 4-4 in the final minutes. The draw was matched at 490.

Cricket: The 2011 World Cup delivered the biggest cricketing upset of all-time when minnows Ireland chased down 327 to defeat England in the highest-ever successful run chase in the Cricket World Cup. England traded at 1.01 very early in the match and continued that way for several hours, with over £2.7m matched at the minimum price. At 111/5 in the run chase, Ireland weren't even guaranteed to get within 200 runs of England's target, but Kevin O'Brien had other ideas. A flurry of fours and sixes from the Ireland batsman set the record for the fastest century ever at the World Cup (just 50 balls) and set his team up for an astonishing victory.

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Tote Betting On Betfair  

The majority of betting on horse racing around the world is conducted via totalisator (tote) or pool betting. The real strength of tote betting in comparison to its fixed-odds counterpart lies in exotic betting - single race options such as quinellas and trifectas, or multi-race pools such as placepots and the Scoop6. To complete the range of bet types available to customers, Betfair now link into a range of totalisator pools around the world.

Tote bets are placed directly into the local pools. To find the tote markets on Betfair, click on the Tote link above the regular exchange market for the race, or select the tote option under Horse Racing and the respective country (eg Horse Racing >> GB).

In Britain, the most popular tote bets are the Placepot and Scoop6 - multi-race wagers which tie your money up for most of the day. Around the world, single race bets are more popular, enabling punters to reinvest throughout the day. One advantage of the Betfair Tote interface over several UK firms is the ability to place exotic bets with a high number of combinations. Some firms restrict you to single combinations at a time which makes landing a bet like a trifecta almost impossible (or very time-consuming to enter all the individual bets).

Customers do not pay commission on tote bets, but do earn Betfair Points which count towards your commission rate on each transaction.



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