Ever since the arrival of Betfair back in 1999, punters like you and me have finally been able to act like bookmakers and try our hand at making money from laying bets.
However, the reality is that laying can be a very difficult game indeed (as many a wound-up bookie will attest) and it’s crucial you fully understand how laying works prior to getting heavily involved.
And with a rise in the number of people and tipsters I see laying these days, I wanted to pen a few key pointers to help shed some light on the subject.
Because whilst laying can offer a profitable angle when done right, it can also be a nightmare if done wrong or without an understanding of the risks involved.
Here then are a few essential points from me to consider when laying….
Why laying a 3/1 shot is like backing a 1/3 shot
Most people wouldn’t back too many short bets at odds like 1/3, yet that is exactly what you are doing if laying a bet at 3/1.
Because when you place a lay at 3/1, you are risking 3 units to win 1.
It’s the same as if you were backing a bet at 1/3 as you would need to risk 3 units to win 1. Many new layers are not aware of this fact, especially if laying at larger odds, yet it’s a crucial point.
Would you back a 1/10 shot or 1/20 shot as readily as you might place a lay at 10/1 or 20/1?
Probably not, which leads me onto my next point…
Know what your worst-case scenario laying is
When laying you must always be mindful of the worst-case scenarios that can occur – even if you are hitting a high strike-rate of successful lays.
After all, losing lays can and will happen to even the best punters out there.
To give a real-life example – one profitable football laying tipster we work with here at SBC has an 83% strike-rate laying teams up to a max price of 9/1.
The average lay price comes in at a shade over 4/1, yet even with this high strike-rate and low average odds you still need to be prepared for worst case scenarios.
One easy way to calculate this for yourself is to use a table like the ‘Don’t Go Broke’ one from the excellent CD Systems website. This valuable table tells you how many losers on the trot you can realistically expect given a particular strike-rate (You need to register your email to view the content, but it’s worth it)
From this table we learn that even with an 83% strike-rate, we can expect over a series of 600 to 650 bets the following sequences:
- A 75% chance of 3 losers on the bounce
- A 50% chance of 4 losers on the bounce
- A 25% chance of 5 losers on the bounce
- A less than 1% chance of 7 losers on the bounce
So, assuming we are laying at average odds of 4/1, here is what we can expect:
- A 75% chance of 3 losers at 4/1 on the bounce: -12 units
- A 50% chance of 4 losers at 4/1 on the bounce: -16 units
- A 25% chance of 5 losers at 4/1 on the bounce: -20 units
- A less than 1% chance of 7 losers at 4/1 on the bounce: -28 units
If you don’t have a betting bank setup to expect a loss of AT LEAST 28 units then you run the risk of going broke at some point or being in for a nasty surprise.
Ideally your betting bank should be a lot bigger than this, especially if your losers are at bigger prices than 4/1. What if you get a series of losers at 9/1? It’s unlikely but then the whole point is that these things do happen (FYI – the recommendation is for a betting bank between 150 and 200 units for this service).
No betting strategy is fool proof
Now you might say to yourself – ‘Oh my laying strategy is fool-proof, I will not get caught out’ – yet you will be wrong to do so.
For example when football betting, you are only one red-card, bad team performance or mad refereeing decision away from an unlikely result.
How many of you had West Brom to beat Man United or Roma to knock out Barcelona recently?
The truth is the best punters don’t have some silver-bullet, never lose betting strategy. Far from it. They lose just like all of us do.
They simply know how to handle losing in the context of a betting bank and the type of strategy they are utilising.
Consider fixed-loss staking to reduce your exposure
One option for you to reduce the risk when laying is to consider using a fixed loss staking strategy.
So rather than place a £100 lay on a bet regardless of the odds – instead you place a lay to lose a maximum amount of £100 should the bet go south.
To give a real-life example, one laying horse racing tipster we work with here at SBC advises a series of lays each day up to a maximum price of 15.0 Betfair SP (14/1)
Now the average lay price stands at just under 5.0 so it’s not often you lay at large prices like 15.0 but to reduce the risk of a big loss, he suggests you cap losses at a max 3% of your bank.
At the start of the day you simply work out what 3% of your betting bank looks like.
So, if starting with a £1000 bank, this would be £30.
If laying one of his tips at odds of 2.27 for example, you would risk losing £30 as a maximum as follows:
- If the layed horse goes onto lose (you win) then you would be up £23.60 before commission (this is £30 / 1.27)
- If the layed horse goes onto win (you lose) then you would be down £30
Where it comes into its own though is when you lay at larger odds, say at 5.52 (another recent example). Here are the scenarios:
- If the layed horse goes onto lose (you win) then you would be up £6.71 before commission (this is £30 / 4.52)
- If the layed horse goes onto win (you lose) then you would be down £30
Your winnings are capped with this staking plan but equally and more importantly, your losses are too.
It’s also very easy to place bets like this at Betfair SP – you simply place a lay on the horse and set your liability (max loss). You can also set the maximum price you will take – the rest will be calculated for you.
The horse racing tipster in question has used this 3% risk method to great success since August last year, growing his bank from £1000 to £3432.99 through it. For more on his method and how you can currently follow free with SBC, read about The Accountant Laying System on this free tips page.
Be a Bookmaker or Exchange-Tart
If laying at Betfair SP, then naturally you are restricted to using Betfair, yet for those of you placing lays in other markets, I want to encourage you to look at alternative firms.
Just like people who chop and change credit cards are ‘rate-tarts’, I want to encourage you to be a bookmaker-tart (or indeed exchange-tart)!
Take the aforementioned football laying tipster available to SBC members, who’s results we record at Betfair’s 5% commission rates as standard. During 2018 from 188 lays, it has made a 55.8 point profit at 8.4% ROI to this metric.
If you had placed each bet with Smarkets or Betdaq and enjoyed their 2% commission rates, this profit would have risen to 60.27 points profit at 9.0% ROI. An extra 4.47 points profit in your pocket, simply for using a different website to place your lays.
Forget brand or company loyalty when it comes to bookies – it can hurt your bottom-line. Simply use the best value exchange on offer. Be an exchange-tart.
For More Expert Advice…
I hope a few of the points I have raised in today’s article have provided some food for thought for those of you interested or involved with laying on a regular basis.
When done right then laying can be a fantastic angle, but when done badly, it can be very costly indeed. Don’t get caught out!
If you are after further advice and expertise with your betting, you might like to consider a Smart Betting Club membership. It comes with a 90-day-money-back-guarantee as standard and is at significantly reduced prices for 2018.
See you on the inside
Smart Betting Club Editor