Lay Betting Explained & How it Works Laying Bets to Make Money 2024

Most people haven’t even heard of a lay bet, so in this post, I explain what lay betting is and how you can use laying bets to make money by combining with bets placed at bookmakers.

Lay Betting Explained - The Lay Bet


Lay betting is the key to understanding Matched Betting and once you understand how lay bets work you will be able to make your own profits from exploiting offers without gambling.

The primary site I used to make over £40,000+ is   If you are interested they offer a free trial where you can expect to make your first £40 following simple step by step written and video instructions.

You can also use lay betting to make money arbing bookies when their odds are higher than that of the exchanges.

Read on to find out more.

Lay Betting Explained

I’m going to explain a back bet at bookmakers first because this is the typical bet most people make and already understand to some degree.

However, bear in mind the role of the bookmaker in the explanation of a back bet, because effectively what they are doing is the lay bet side of the transaction.  Which I will explain in more detail later.

A back bet is a bet to win.  You are backing an outcome.   Although I say “a bet to win” this includes betting on an outcome like a draw or a correct score like 1.0.  These are all back bets.  If you bet on the outcome and get it right you win.

When you go to a bookie to place a bet you are placing back bets, you are betting on a bet to win by predicting an outcome.

If what you bet on wins, you get your winnings and also get your stake back.

So if the bookie decimal odds are 3.0 on England to win.  If you bet £10 and if England wins you get £30 back.

If however, England loses, you’ve lost your £10 and the bookie keeps it.

What is a Lay Bet?

A lay bet is effectively a bet on an outcome to lose or not to happen.

So if for example, you lay bet on a horse, you would want any other horse in the race to win.

When you place a lay bet you are actually accepting back bets like the bookie would for England at 3.0 in my back bet example.

Therefore to keep the stake you want the outcome not to win, in this case, England.  So you would either want the other team to win or the result to end in a draw.

Lay Bet Example On A Horse Race:

Example of a Horse Race lay bet.

6 Runners – Named Below:

  • Shut the front door
  • Cue Card
  • Arctic Fire
  • Native River
  • Presenting Percy
  • Let’s Dance

You could lay bet any of these horses in this race. Let’s say you choose to Lay bet the horse “Cue Card”. You would be betting on Cue Card not to win. So in this instance, if any other horse wins the race, you win your lay bet.

A lay bet is a bet on the outcome not to win. So, you’re effectively betting on any of the other possible outcomes to win, just with one bet. In this case, by lay betting one horse, you are betting on one of all the other horses to win. All under one bet.

How Does Lay Betting Work?

Instead of backing a team or player to win, when you lay a bet you’re betting on them to lose or not achieve a particular outcome.

However, when you place a lay bet you will see a stake and a liability.   Unlike bookmakers back bet you are not actually betting the stake, you are actually betting liability.

This is important to understand because if you are for example placing a £10 stake at high odds your liability will be much higher than the £10 stake.

You can also only place the stake if there is enough availability in the exchange.

We cover each aspect in more detail below.

What is the Lay Bet Stake?

The lay bet stake is the middle ground of the transaction at the betting exchange, matching back bets and lay bets.

When you place a lay bet stake you are effectively accepting a back bet stake.

Think back to my original example.

The punter backs England for £10 at decimal odds of 3.0

The bookie, or in this case you at an exchange, accepts the £10.  This is the £10 lay stake.

The lay bet stake is what you win.  Like the bookie, they accept the £10 bet on England to win.  If England loses, they keep the £10.  That’s what the bookie wins, they keep the stake.

A lay bet is effectively accepting a back bet.

What is the Lay Bet Liability?

The liability is what you are actually betting when you place a lay stake.

The liability is what the lay bet loses when the back bet side of the transaction wins.

The bookie accepts £10 on England to win at odds of 3.0.  If England wins, the bookie has to pay out the winnings and give the stake back.  In this case, the bookie would lose £20.  They give the £10 stake back and £20 of their own money.

The liability is what a lay bet loses if the back bet  side actually wins, so in this England example the liability was £20.

How Back and Lay Betting Work Together

I created this infographic to hopefully illustrate how the back and lay betting works.

I use the example of a punter going to bookmakers to make a £10 bet on England.

The bookie accepts the £10 the same as you would place a lay bet stake.  Effectively a bet on England not to win.  If England does win, the bookie has to pay the £20 liability and give the stack back.

This is effectively what you are doing at a betting exchange when placing your lay bets.

How lay bets work

What is the Lay Bet Availability?

Lay bets can only be placed at a Betting Exchange.  For an exchange to place, there have to be people willing to back at the odds you want to lay at.  If no one is backing the event you can’t match a bet.

So the availability is the amount of money currently in the market for you to place your lay stake. Or think of it as the amount of people’s money that want to back the event at that odds price.

Betfair Lay bet availabilityBetfair lay bet availabilty

In the above Betfair image, you can see the lay bet odds and availability in the pink column

Taking Burnley as an example, at odds 2.28,  underneath you can see £3.  This is all that is available to lay bet at these odds.  No one is offering to back more than this at a lower odds price.

If you want to lay bet Burnley, you would have to do so at 2.30 odds, where underneath you can see there is £243 available.

If you are wondering what the £137 is underneath odds 2.26, that’s lay stake money waiting to be matched if lay odds go lower and people want to back at those odds.

The availability and odds change all the time as transactions are matched.  In the lead up to a game or start of a race, they will be changing far quicker than you will be able to even see.

Liability On Multiple Lay Bets On The Same Event

When you place more than one lay bet on the same event you might initially think you need liability for each individual bet.

However, this is not the case.

In fact, you can lower the liability by lay betting (betting to lose) on more than one outcome.

This is because only one of the bets can lose.  Therefore you only need enough liability to cover the worst-case scenario.  Which would be the biggest payout should it win the event and therefore you lose your lay bet (because you bet on it to not win).

Why Is There Commission On Lay Bets?

If there was no commission the betting exchange wouldn’t make any money.

Betting exchanges charge a commission on both back bets and lay bets.

Currently, my Matched Betting subscription site of choice has a 0% commission deal with Smarkets.

Outplayed offers a totally free trial and membership is well worth considering for the 0% deal alone.

Where can you place a Lay Bet?

You can place a lay bet at a betting exchange.

The 3 most popular exchange or lay betting sites are :

  • Betfair
  • Smarkets
  • Matchbook

Of the 3, I prefer Smarkets and Matchbook as the commission is lower and sometimes they even have promotions where for whole months they have offered 0% commission.

Smarkets is, in my opinion, the easiest betting exchange to use.

Lay Betting To Make Money

The best way to make money lay betting is to combine with back bets to exploit bookies free bet offers and refunds.  You can see more examples of in my how to make money from free bets post.

I have personally made over £30,000+ from Matched Betting within 3 years and in relatively few hours compared to most work from home tasks anyone can do.

I joined , which sources all the sign-up and daily reload offers for existing customers.  They also provider step by step instructions, some with videos showing how to complete the offer for profit.

You can read my full Outplayed review here.  It includes tips on how to maximize profits.

On average I made approximately £800+ a month.  I detailed my first 44 months income in the post how much can you make from matched betting.  It also includes earnings data from other Matched Bettors for 2021.

Any other form of lay betting systems are just another form of gambling and should be totally avoided.  The only way most of those profit is to sell the impression the system is profitable.  Don’t fall for it.

Price Boosts Example Of How to Make Money From A Lay Bet

One of the easiest ways to make money from Matched Betting, even without free bets is via Price Boosts.

These price boosts illustrate perfectly how you can profit using a lay bet.

A price boost is basically a special offer by a bookmaker.  They increase the odds on an event, generally for a short amount of time.  If this odds boost is higher than the lay odds in a betting exchange, it is very quick and easy to make a profit.

Using England as an example, if the bookmaker boosts the odds from 3.0 to 3.75 on them winning and the lay odds at a betting exchange like Smarkets are 3.40, we can profit.

Here’s what it would look like in a Matched Betting Calculator if we could stake £200 on this outcome.


Price Boost Using a Lay Bet

So to confirm:

  • Back Bet at Bookie of £200
  • Back odds at the Bookie boosted to 3.75
  • Lay Odds the Betting Exchange (Smarkets) 3.4
  • Lay stake £221.89
  • Liability 532.54
  • Smarkets Commission 2%
  • Profit £17.46

Placing 2 bets, a back and lay bet would literally take 5 minutes.

Now, don’t get me wrong, price boosts this good aren’t available all the time, but they do come along and some bookies currently offer a boost you can choose to use on any sport once a day and make £6-£10+ in 5 minutes.

Other price boosts are released and certain times of the day and if you are a member of you can set yourself up via desktop or mobile to receive notifications of when they are posted.

Backing and Laying To Make a Profit Via Arbing

Another method of using lay bets to make money is to back and lay for a profit.

Whenever the odds at a bookie are higher than the odds at the exchange, we can potentially back and lay to make money.

You can read more about this potentially lucrative option in my Arb Betting post. It’s certainly an option to consider while there are  0% commission deals available.

Much the same as Price Boosts, although the key difference being that Price Boosts are an official form of offer.

Whereas arbing, as it’s known, is taking advantage of out of place odds, hence the bookies frown on these and may restrict your betting stakes.

Even so, I’ve made hundreds of on certain accounts that weren’t giving me offers anyway.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Happens if you Lose a Lay Bet?

If you are Matched Betting and have place a back and a lay bet and the lay bet loses, the back bet will have won.


I hope this post makes it clear what a lay bet is and therefore how it makes Matched Betting and profiting from Arbing possible.

If there is anything you don’t understand please ask and I will endeavour to explain clearer.


10 thoughts on “Lay Betting Explained & How it Works Laying Bets to Make Money 2024”

  1. I am a matched betting newbie. Am I right in thinking, when you win your lay bet, you just get back what your originally paid (I understand that the profit is made by backing the same team to win at the bookies)? Or do you win the punters stake on top of what you paid for the lay bet? I am confused!

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Taking a lay bet in isolation.
      When you win your lay bet you win the stake part that you matched in the exchange.
      If you lose the lay bet, you lose the liability that was taken from your exchange balance.

      In other words, the exchange lay bet is you acting as the bookie.
      You are accepting the stake. You keep the stake if your side of the bet wins and the punter’s loses.
      However, if your side of the bet loses, you pay out to the punter, which in your case is the liability. The punter also keeps the stake.

      So in a lay bet, you are risking the liability to win the stake.
      Same as bookie accepting a stake and paying out on a win (their liability).

      Obviously, when it comes to Matched Betting, any loses in the exchange are offset by gains in the bookie.
      If you win the lay bet stake, you’ll have lost the opposing stake bet at bookie.
      If you lose the lay bet and therefore the liabilty, you’ll have won the opposing bookie bet (your stake and their liability on paying out the winning on the bet).

      I’ve tried to explain a few ways so it makes sense.

      Hope that helps, feel free to let me know.

      Good luck on your Matched Betting journey too 🙂

  2. Many thanks for your reply. I am still confused though! Your first paragraph is where my question lies (ie taking the lay bet in isolation).

    I still don’t understand how the profit is being made with matched betting, if the lay bet wins.

    I have never done any betting before, so I am a newbie to all the language as well.

    I am following instructions from another website to place the bets but want to really understand everything to carry on.

    I have to pay some money to the betting exchange to place a lay bet. I still don’t understand what happens if I win. I understand what happens if I lose but if I win, do I just win back what I paid in the first place, (eg if I paid a £10.50 stake on a lay bet and it wins, I just get the £10.50 back?)?

    Please can you explain in as simple terms as possible for a newbie. My brain will not compute so far! Thanks so much!

    1. Hi,
      Have you taken the Profit Accumulator free trial? (aff link). They are ideal for beginners with follow clear text and video instructions.

      If your lay stake was £10.50 in the exchange and the lay bet wins, you win the £10.50 into the exchange.
      Although obviously with Matched Betting, if the exchange lay bet won, the bookie bet will have lost.

      If your Matched Bets were a qualifying bet, whatever the results you will a lost a small amount of money, e.g 20p
      However, you have now qualified for the free bet, lets say its £20.
      You then use the Matched Betting calculator under the setting for free bets, back and lay and again and make a profit, in this case in the region of £15-£16.
      Again, it doesnt matter if the lay bet side wins or the bookie bet, which even wins you will be in profit.
      Do the following in the Profit Accumulatork (under “How it works” look for Calulator and then the free calculator from the page.
      Under Bet type choose “Free Snr”
      Commission 0%
      Back Stake £20
      Back odds 5.0
      Lay Odd 5.2

      Look at the stats below calculator:
      The lay stake would be £15.38 (that’s how much you win into the exchange if the lay bet wins)
      Liability £64.60 (that’s how much you lose in exchange if the lay bet loses)

      Do you see if the lay bet wins, you win the forecast profit of £15.38.

      Obviously, if you lose £64.60 from the exchange, the bookie bet will have won so you get back £80.00 which is £15.40 more than you lost in the exchange and there’s your forecast £15.40 profit.

      Hope that helps.

  3. Hello! Thanks a lot for the info.

    I have a doubt a out the Burnsley, the odd 2,26 of thw odd go lower but 2,30 if the odd go upper, really? Because the actual odd was 2,28. So 2,30 and 2,26 you dont know of the odd is gonna change and your stake will be match, im on right?

    And about liability, for lay back (exchange) you have to have this amount of money in you wallet in case you lose, to oay the the ‘winner’?

    Thanks a lot again

    1. Odds can change at any time. With some experience, you learn to gauge the likelihood of moves this by how much money is in the market and available to be lay bet.

      Also how close to the start of the event is a big factor. Closer to the start time, there’s obviously a lot more betting activity and movement in the odds.

      As regards liability you are correct, you need at least that amount in your wallet to pay the “winner”.

      1. Thanks for you quick response. When you bet a lay bet this one can be given back of its not matched with a back bet or of there is amount to bet, doesnt matter the odd, its secure? My wonder is if a make back+lay bet to have a profit or to accomplish requirements for a free bet and they give me back one of them. I do not know of I explained properly and ots clear enough.
        Thanks again !

        1. Sorry, not very clear what you mean.
          If, like myself you are a member of Profit Accumulator you can ask in the forum.
          If you are on Facebook, check out the free group “Matched Betting Support by Emma Drew” where you can post specific questions.
          Hope that helps.

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