Traditionally, to place a bet, a punter has had to seek the services of a bookmaker. The bookie sets the odds and the punter places the bet. Nowadays, this is no longer the only option, such is the world of online gambling. Betting exchange sites allow players to bet on sports, as well as other things, in a slightly different way.
Standard betting sites still dominate, at least in terms of sheer market share, though there’s no shortage of betting exchanges. Choosing an exchange can be tricky, especially for the inexperienced punter. Fortunately, we’ve simplified things by compiling a list of the top five betting exchange sites.
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There are several things to consider when compiling our lists. The criteria used for selecting the top five betting exchanges can be seen below.
For those new to betting, the concept of betting exchange sites can be a little confusing. Where a traditional sportsbook/betting site operates on a bookmaker-to-bettor relationship, a betting exchange facilitates a betting relationship between two bettors. In standard sports betting, the punter is trying to beat the bookmaker, but on the exchange, punters take on each other.
The one key difference is that on a betting exchange, players can lay bets by offering odds to other players. In other words, they can bet on selections to lose as opposed to win. This essentially allows players to adopt the role of the bookmaker. Betting exchange UK sites also aren’t looking to beat players to make profit, as they simply make a profit by charging a small commission on all winning bets.
There are other differences between standard sports betting and exchange betting, such as liquidity. When playing at a sportsbook, the punter simply selects a bet, enters a stake, and the job’s done. On the exchange, players must ensure that there’s enough liquidity in the market. In other words, if there’s not enough money on the other side of the market that you’re looking to bet on, then your bet will be unmatched, either partially or in full.
Are betting exchanges better than traditional sportsbooks? There are certainly pros to using a betting exchange instead of a sportsbook, though it really depends what you’re looking for. For a simple comparison of the two, see below.
There can be no denying that betting exchanges have their place in the world of online gambling, though that’s not to say that there aren’t pitfalls as well as benefits. See below for the pros and cons of exchange betting.
Betting on an exchange also offers the opportunity to trade. Many people who’re not really interested in analysing sporting events from a betting perspective, trade on betting exchange sites, much like you might do on a stock exchange.
In short, sports trading or betting exchange trading is simply placing two opposing bets on the same selection, to create a profit regardless of the outcome of the event. As mentioned at other points in this article, trading on a betting exchange is not dissimilar to trading on the stock exchange. Rather than buying and selling, traders on betfair, smarkets, betdaq or matchbook, are concerned with backing and laying.
The real draw of trading on an exchange, at least for many, is that there’s no need to care about the winner and loser of an event. All the trader is concerned about is price movements. In stocks, the aim of the trader is to buy low and sell high, thus making a profit. The principle is the same for betting exchange traders, but in reverse. Lay low, back high.
The key advantage of trading, as opposed to traditional betting, is that we can bet on something to both happen and not happen, and thus profit can be secured regardless of how things end up. The premise quite simple: back, wait, lay. So, we back at a certain price, wait for that price to fall, before laying off at a shorter price. Having done this, profit has been secured.
Identify a selection and back at a certain price, say 2.3
Wait for the price of the selection to drop
Identify an exit point, say 2.05, lay at this price, locking in profit.
After all, as the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day….
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If you’re serious about betting, then using a betting exchange is a must. Some betting exchanges offer markets that are not available with many sportsbooks, such as a variety of Asian Handicap markets, while there’s no risk of being restricted, as by their nature, exchanges encourage winners.
Trading opportunities and the ability to lay bets as opposed to just backing are other reasons as to why a punter would have at least one exchange account. There are fewer betting exchanges than traditional sportsbooks, but the choice can still be a tough one. So, which is the best betting exchange? After much deliberation, we arrived at the conclusion that betfair, generally considered the king of exchange betting, is the best exchange in terms of overall quality, though both Smarkets and betdaq are viable alternatives, especially when it comes to low commission rates.
In exchange betting, a back bet is simply where you bet to win. For example, in football, you can back either side to win the match. Similarly, on a betting exchange, to back is like to buy on the stock exchange. You can back something to happen at a certain price, much like you would buy stock at a certain price.
A lay bet is the opposite of a back bet. If you lay a selection on a betting exchange, you’re essentially betting on that selection to lose by offering odds to another play who wishes to bet on the same selection to win. To lay on a betting exchange is like to sell on a stock exchange.
On a betting exchange, for a bet to count it must be matched. For example, if you want to place a £20 back bet at a certain price, then there must be enough layers’ money available at the same price. You can request a different price to the one currently visibly available, and wait to see if it becomes matched, though if the bet is not matched by the time the event that you’re betting on takes place, then the bet will not stand. Therefore, an unmatched bet is one that is yet to go through, while a matched bet is a bet that has been completed and will stand.
Yes. Betting exchanges charge winning punters a small commission. Since exchange betting facilitates person-to-person betting, the exchange itself isn’t winning any money like a traditional bookmaker. Charging a small commission is how betting exchanges make a profit.
The level of commission varies. For example, on betfair, the standard rate of commission is 5%, though this can go down depending on the level activity on the account. Regular bettors can see their commission go down as low as 1%. There are alternatives to betfair, such as Smarkets, who charge a very reasonable starting commission of only 2%.
Freelance sports betting writer, focusing primarily on football in the form of match previews and betting strategy. Over the last few years, Bradley has written for numerous publications, including popular UK newspaper Racing & Football Outlook.
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