What is Back and Lay in Betting? – Back and Lay Meaning Explained

Posted on February 21, 2023 - Last Updated on March 1, 2023

Betting exchanges offer a way for sports bettors to enjoy a slightly different wagering experience in a number of ways. Using a betting exchange gives you the chance to try back and lay betting. This is a type of wagering that allows you to bet against events occurring as well as the bet that they will happen.

If you’re wondering what is back and lay in betting, you’re in the right place! This is where we will tell you all about how this type of wagering works and where you can do it. Read on to find out more!


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What is back betting?

Back betting is betting at its most simple. This is the type of wagering that most of us will understand as conventional betting. It is where you bet that something will happen, such as that Wigan Warriors will beat St Helens in Rugby League Challenge Cup clash, or that Manchester United will score two goals against Chelsea. You can discover more about conventional back betting in our betting guides here at EsportsBets.com.

This is the type of market that you see on offer at the vast majority of online bookmakers. Anyone who likes to bet on esports will have placed many wagers of this type. Betting exchanges offer a different type of betting, in that you can wager against events occurring. This is what we mean by lay wagering, and we’ll explain more about it next.

Lay betting explained

We have explained back betting above, so, what is lay betting? This is pretty easy to explain, as it is the exact opposite of back betting. Lay wagering is where you bet against an event occurring, so it is a complete reversal of back betting. Not many conventional online bookmakers offer you the chance to do this type of betting, so you need to find a betting exchange to do it.

What is a betting exchange?

When you’re learning about back and lay meaning in betting, you need to know what a betting exchange is. A betting exchange is a specialist type of bookie that allows bettors to bet against each other rather than against the house. This means that there is greater flexibility in odds, and it also allows bettors to place lay bets against each other. Betting exchanges are crucial to being able to lay bets.

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Is back and lay betting the same as matched betting?

While back and lay betting involves using very similar techniques to matched betting, it has one fundamental difference. This is because conventional back and lay wagering does not involve the bettor exploiting a bonus bet welcome offer to ensure that they profit. Exploiting bonus bets like this is often viewed as morally dubious and can be illegal in some countries. Lay and back betting is not the same as this as you are not using a bonus bet to guarantee a profit. Using a betting exchange to place back and lay wagers is not viewed in the same way as matched betting.

You may also be interested in: Match betting explained

An example of back and lay betting

If you really want to know the back and lay meaning in betting, then an example will help explain things more clearly to you. Profitable back and lay wagering comes from the ability to spot slight discrepancies in the odds being offered by bookies and exploit them on a betting exchange.

We’ll use an example from horse racing. Horse racing odds can be volatile just before a race starts and this can provide opportunities for astute back and lay bettors. You notice the odds on a horse shorten on the betting exchange just before the race, but the conventional bookie does not change their odds. This is a real opportunity.

 Bookmaker (back odds)Exchange (lay odds)
Odds 9.0 8.0

The above shows that you can make a profit by betting on both outcomes – backing the horse at the bookie and laying against it at the exchange.
You can use this formula to calculate what your lay stake should be:

(back price x back stake) / (current lay odds – exchange commission)
(9.00 * 500) / (8.00 – 0.02) = $563.91
You can use this formula to calculate the profit for your back bet if it wins:
Profit = (lay stake * (1 – commission)) – bookmaker stake
Profit = (563.91 * (1 – 0.02)) -500 = $52.63

The above calculations show that your profit will be $52.63 if either bet is successful.

Read also: What is value betting?

Back and lay betting strategy tips

Understand the sport on which you are betting

This type of betting requires a really keen understanding of sport and the relative probabilities of events occurring. You can really only be effective at back and lay betting if you know your sport really well and follow it as closely as possible.

  • Have a thorough understanding of how odds work: If you want to understand betting odds, you can find more information in our betting guides. Odds are a guide to the probability of something happening as well as an indication of what you will win if your bet is successful. You need to know how to read betting odds and understand them if you want to really know what is back and lay in betting and how to make it work for you.
  • Find a good bookie for your back bets: When you are placing bets, you need to feel secure in your choice of bookie. You can find out more about the relative merits of various operators by reading articles such as our Betway review here at EsportsBets.com.
  • Find a top betting exchange for your lay bets: As well as finding the right online bookie for back bets, you need to find a good betting exchange so that you can place lay bets. You can find out more about betting exchanges by reading our bookmaker reviews here at EsportsBets.com.
  • Always keep a cool mind when assessing the risks of back and lay bets: Being successful at this type of wagering is about much more than just knowing what is back and lay in betting. You need to always keep the emotion out of your betting and coolly assess all the relative risks of each wager.

Final remarks

Hopefully, now that you have read our guide, you should have a sound basic understanding of what is back and lay in betting. As you can see, it offers a slightly different dimension to conventional sports or esports betting, and you can use the technique to boost your chances of success when it comes to knowing how to beat the bookies. Just like with any other kind of wagering, you need good sporting knowledge and a profound understanding of odds to make it work for you.

Frequently asked questions

What is arbitrage betting?

Arbitrage betting is a form of back and lay betting that allows you to generate a profit whatever the outcome of a sporting contest. You back one result at a conventional bookie and then lay against it at a betting exchange.

Can you make money from lay betting?

As with any kind of betting, you can profit from lay betting if you bet astutely and skilfully, using your sporting insight and betting knowledge. Reading about tricks to beat the bookies at EsportsBets.com can help with this!



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Luke Warr

Luke is an esports content specialist, with in-depth knowledge and passion in Esports & iGaming markets, with over 5 years of experience in emerging technologies in relation to crypto, blockchain, AI and esportsbooks.

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