How to Use Betfair Exchange When You Don’t Know Anything About It

As a full time professional in the horse racing tipping and punting business, I have been using Betfair Exchange for my Back and Lay Betting for many years.  I have invested time into learning how to optimise what this platform offers, and this article gives a very brief overview plus links for learning more about each topic if you need to.


If you are used to the screen or interface that you see when you use a bookmaker, then the Betfair Exchange interface may look more complex and possibly confusing.  Some of this comes from the fact that Betfair offers you the ability to both Back and Lay on horse in the race.  Here’s what you can expect:


Learn more about Market Percentage here.



Back betting is what you would likely have done with any bookmaker, such as TAB, Sportsbet, Ladbrokes and NEDS, and is essentially the punters’ traditional style of betting. Back betting is betting on an outcome to happen.

An example is if you place a Back bet on a horse in the Melbourne Cup, you are betting on that horse to win the race. If it doesn’t come first, you will lose your stake. If your horse places first, you win. And on Betfair Exchange, you will pay a small commission on all winning bets.


Better Odds – When you place a bet on Betfair you are betting against other punters. possibly from all around the world. This means that the price is a true reflection of supply and demand (the market), rather than one entity managing the price as traditional bookmakers do.

Set Your Own Odds – When you place a Back bet you can take the current price on offer or enter in the odds you choose. You aren’t guaranteed to get it matched but if the price of your selection changes to meet the price you want, it can be at least partially matched or fully matched, depending on how big your stake was.

Betfair Starting Price – This is a price that is automatically generated at the start of an event and is calculated based on the bets placed by both backers and layers in any market. There is no margin built into the price, meaning you will get a true reflection of the market and you can bet as early as you like with a guarantee to be matched. You can find out more about the Betfair SP here.



Lay betting is what separates Betfair Exchange from traditional bookmakers and allows you to bet against results happening.


The odds you will see in the pink column of the market view, the Lay price, is the price that someone wants to place a Back bet at but is yet to be matched. You can take this offer straight away rather than putting your own odds up. Alternatively, you can enter your own odds and see if it gets matched later or Lay using the Betfair Starting Price (BSP) which will be matched at the commencement of the given event. If your bet returns a profit, you will be charged a small commission.

  • Lay odds – the odds which you are prepared to give someone wanting to place a Back bet.
  • Backer’s Stake – the amount you are prepared to let the backer bet with you. This is your potential winnings.
  • Liability – (Lay Odds) x (Backer’s Stake) – (Backer’s Stake). This is the amount you are risking.

Here’s an Example based on a sports bet:

  • You don’t think West Coast can win the Premiership and the current Lay odds are $8.00. You enter a stake of $10.00. This means that someone on the other side is placing a $10 BACK bet at odds of $8.00.
  • In this scenario, your liability is $70, calculated by Lay odds ($8) x backer’s stake ($10) – backer’s stake ($10).
  • This means that if West Coast don’t win the Premiership, you will make $10 (the backer’s stake). However, If West Coast do win, you lose $70.

Sometimes it can be easier to find a team or horse(s) that won’t win as opposed to finding the winner. In a 14-horse race, there will only be one winner – if you can’t identify that winner it might be easier to find a horse or multiple horses that you know won’t win.


This is an important part of Betfair Exchange to understand, as if your bet isn’t matched then you might think you’ve backed a winner and then get very disappointed when you check your account.

On any betting market, there will be two sides of the bet. There are those betting on an event to happen (backers) and on the other, those betting on an event not to happen (the layers). Backers and layers get bets ‘matched’ as long as they agree on a price (the odds) that an event will or won’t happen.


When a bet is matched, it simply means two people have agreed on a stake and amount of liability. You will know this has occurred because matched and unmatched bets appear in separate sections of the bet slip.  Here’s what it will look like in your account:


Sometimes you can’t get the total amount on at the odds that you want. The market may have changed (e.g. what was once odds of $5.00 has been taken and is now $4.60). Or you have entered odds that are above (for a Back bet) or below (for a Lay bet) what others are prepared to bet against (e.g. you want odds of $5.00 and the market is at $4.60). If your bet us unmatched, you have four options:

  • Change your odds to meet the market
  • Keep the bet and see if the odds get matched before the event starts or in-play (learn more about  In-Play Betting)
  • On selected markets, choose to take the Betfair SP when the market turns in-play.
  • Cancel the bet



A ‘partially matched’ bet means that you have been able to get some of your stake or liability matched, but another part of it is yet to be matched.

For example, you have tried to Back Queensland in State of Origin for $100 at odds of $2. You see the message in your bet slip that only $50 of your $100 bet has been matched. This means you have $50 that you haven’t actually wagered yet because there isn’t a person (or persons) prepared to take the opposing view at those odds at that point in time.

Like the with the unmatched bets, you have three options:with your partially matched bet prior to the market turning in-play:

  • Wait and see if you get matched at that price
  • Change the odds to meet the market and see if they get matched
  • On selected markets, choose to take the Betfair SP when the market turns in-play,

Note: 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.  Here’s a couple of key things to be aware of:

  • Unmatched bets stay in the market as offers until you decide to cancel them.
  • It is much safer to amend the odds of your unmatched bet than placing multiple bets at different odds to get matched.
  • 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. To view the latest prices, make sure you are logged in first and then click on the refresh button just above the market.


This is just a brief glimpse of what makes the Betfair Exchange tick, and some of the basics you need to get started.  There is a massive amount of information on their website (and that’s where most of this came from), and you have a couple of options from here:

  • Head to the Betfair website and read articles or watch the videos.
  • Talk to me and I can point in the direction of the key areas you really need to understand and where you can find all the additional market information that is available.

As a professional tipster and punter, I have been using Betfair Exchange for years and have a depth of understanding of the in’s and out’s of this platform.  Find a time that suits you here:  30 MINUTE ONE-ON-ONE DISCUSSION WITH TIM.

Happy Punting!