Michael Tradford
Last Update:
October 12, 2021
This author was thoroughly tested and approved by the experts at before joining the editorial board to ensure a high content quality.
Author Bio:
Michael was Marketing Director in Atlantic City and worked in the casino industry for several years before shifting over to numerous newspapers in New York and Chicago working his way up to Editor-in-Chief. His focus areas are mainly in the fields of sports, gambling, and politics. He has a Marketing Degree, visited Columbia University during his time in New York and is now Editor-in-Chief at AmericaGambles.
Michael was Marketing Director in Atlantic City and worked in the casino industry for several years before shifting over to numerous newspapers in New York and Chicago working his way up to Editor-in-Chief. His focus areas are mainly in the fields of sports, gambling, and politics. He has a Marketing Degree, visited Columbia University during his time in New York and is now Editor-in-Chief at AmericaGambles.

Lay Betting 2021: Strategy, Tips & Top Betting Sites

One of the most interesting concepts in all of sports gambling is that of lay betting. Perhaps the easiest way to have lay betting explained to a beginner is that with lay betting, the bettor becomes the bookmaker in a way. This is because of how this bet is structured and how other bettors can get in on the action thanks to the concept of this bet. In this lay betting guide, have lay betting explained in a clear and upfront fashion that will help bettors understand what this type of bet is and how to win with it.

Some facts you should know about Lay Betting
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  • Bettor acts as the bookmaker, selling action instead of placing it

  • Other bettors have the chance to take said bets

  • Potential to take advantage of incorrect public perceptions with favorable odds

What is lay betting?

As previously mentioned, it is easiest to have lay betting explained as the act of playing the bookmaker rather than going up against the sportsbook itself. This type of gambling is popular in several sports, with horse racing lay betting, soccer bets, and countless other sports seeing regular action in this betting type. The basic premise of the wager is that when a bettor doesn’t think that a specific outcome is going to happen, they can place a lay bet and essentially take action from other bettors to win.

This works out for both the bettor who puts down the wager and the one who has the option to take that action. For the bettor who places the bet, they have the ability to profit against other bettors rather than the house, while the bettor who opposes the bet still has a chance to win or lose in their own right.

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How does lay betting work?

With the basic idea behind lay betting explained, it is time to get further into how these bets actually work. The first thing that bettors should know is that  not available at typical sportsbooks. Instead, it is available at what are known as betting exchanges. At betting exchanges such as Betfair, bettors have the ability to put up action for other bettors to agree to wager on, with the house taking a commission rather than taking the funds from losing bets. No matter the result on exchange bets, one user is going to win and one is going to lose (unless there is a push, of course).

To set up lay gamblng action, a bettor should go to the betting exchange of their choice.  Once logged in, a bettor has the option to set up a wager, and can specify that they want to set up a lay bet. From there, the exchange, be it Betfair or otherwise, provides a series of options to fill out to clarify what exactly the bettor is looking to set up a lay wager on and what the odds will be and other pertinent information.

Once all of that information is completed, bettors can lock in their stake or risk amount and finalize their action with that liability in place at the chosen odds. There is also the ability for bettors to join an already existing lay bet on an exchange site such as Betfair instead. And bettors can use a lay betting calculator to calculate what their profits would be for using those, to remove any of the hassle from this bet with an existing wager.

As a whole, this bet isn’t all that difficult to facilitate. But bettors should make sure that they know exactly what they are going for before they finalize their wagers, to avoid placing this bet in error or placing this bet in a sport that they aren’t entirely familiar with. This step will maximize the probability of earning wins and reducing overall liability.

Advantages of lay betting

In terms of the advantages of this betting, as outlined in our lay betting tips in this guide, is the fact that bettors can take advantage of public perception to make money. Hype is a dangerous thing in sports betting, and the ability to perform lay betting to go against it is something that is valuable when done right. With practice, bettors can give themselves a great chance to win with this strategy.

Another advantage is the fact that this type of wager can be used for several sports. For horse racing fans, lay betting horse racing is an option. For those who prefer to bet away from the horse track, sports like football and basketball are options. Here is a rundown of some other advantages to lay betting.

  • Easy to find an exchange to place wagers
  • Often more favorable betting odds
  • Easier to bet against people than against the house

Drawbacks of lay betting

Meanwhile, among the drawbacks of these bets is the fact that it is not possible to perform a multi bet in these bets. Finding another bettor to go head to head with on several different components of a parlay would be far too difficult to coordinate. And even if it was doable, the odds to wager against a parlay panning out wouldn’t be good enough to justify the outlay in most cases. As a result, laying players will have to stick to singles gambling.

Example of lay betting

Now, it’s time to go over an example of this bet and how bettors can make these bets work for them. In this example, let’s say that Team A is the favorite to win the Super Bowl in the upcoming season. We do not believe that they are going to win the title, so we are going to do some lay betting against Team A as a single bet. Now, there are a couple of ways that we can do said betting.

One way to perform this type of betting is to jump into an existing betting market that was previously set up at an exchange. And the second way is to open up the possibility for laying by starting a new market. Since the odds for the winner of the Super Bowl is a very popular betting market, it likely does already exist for lay betting purposes. That does mean that we will choose our lay betting stake or risk amount and lock in our betting pick against Team A to win the Super Bowl. Keep in mind that the stake or risk amount has to be matched by back bettors on the other side of the equation to ensure the liability on each side matches up.

Now, if Team A wins the Super Bowl, our betting would have been unsuccessful. But if Team A falls short of winning a championship, our betting will have been a success, and we will have won our wager at the odds we got. This is because this type of betting means betting on what you think is not going to happen, more or less.

There are more complex examples of this betting out there, but this example covers the basics of what you can expect whenever you do your betting. And with the only limit to how many wagers you can place being your imagination, this type of betting is gaining popularity for a reason.

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Where can I do my lay betting?

After having lay betting explained to them, bettors are likely wondering where they can do their lay betting. The answer to that question is at a betting exchange that allows lay betting. Unlike traditional sportsbooks, exchanges such as Betfair offer this betting, as they serve as a middleman between bettors. Lay betting and back betting are what they offer, with this type of betting offering bettors a chance to profit against their peers. There are a number of popular exchanges that allow lay betting, and bettors should keep their eyes open for these lay betting providers to put their lay betting skills to the test.

Lay betting strategy

Betting is difficult to do without a proper strategy, and lay betting is no exception to that rule. Fortunately, bettors can develop their own lay betting system that can result in their lay betting living up to the fact that we have had lay betting explained as a viable way to make a profit in sports betting. The answer to the question “is lay betting profitable?” can be a resounding yes if it is done properly. One such strategy is do some betting that goes against the public perception of a team or player.

Our example above is a great case study in betting against the public. Most of the time, a favorite to win a league will receive a lot of hype heading into a season. That could open up a betting opportunity to wager against that hype and make money off of those who tend to back favorites at great odds if someone thinks they will lose. Placing a lay bet against a heavy moneyline bet favorite is another way that bettors can use public perception to their advantage in this type of betting.

Compare sportsbooks and find your ideal betting site

Now it is time to put your knowledge of laying to the test. And in order to do your laying, you are going to need to find the best lay betting exchanges be it Betfair or beyond. Fortunately, our bookmaker comparison tool can help with that, as sportsbooks, including those that offer this betting, can be compared from odds and other perspectives. With the ability to compare the best bookmakers by a number of criteria, our tool can help you find the best sportsbook for your needs, so don’t wait any longer and get your bonus now.

Select your state
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Sports: 21+
Live Betting:
Min. Odds: -190
Sports: 10+
Live Betting:
Min. Odds: N/A
Sports: 15+
Live Betting:
Min. Odds: -300
Sports: 16+
Live Betting:
Min. Odds: -150 to +10,000
Sports: 20+
Live Betting:
Min. Odds: -200


Ideal for the smartest people in the room
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As a whole, lay betting is a pretty unique sports betting experience. With laying requiring bettors to go against public perception, this betting has the potential to be profitable in ways that more traditional sports betting often fails to be. If bettors can remember to keep an open mind when lay betting, there is no reason that this betting can’t be a source of many sports betting victories.
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