What Is Lay Betting? A Beginner’s Guide to Laying a Bet


The Lay Bet Explained

When most people think of sports betting, they picture winning big and forcing the bookmaker to cough up the cash. While this is the most common form of betting out there, it’s not the only one.

Betting exchanges offer an interesting way to spice up your betting endeavours. In these scenarios, you’re wagering against other bettors rather than a traditional bookie. It’s a thrilling alternative to traditional betting methods.

There are several unique ways to test your luck with exchange betting. One of the most popular is the lay bet! Lay bets allow you to take on a different role in the equation. It opens up a world of possibilities when it comes to returns. Plus, it greatly increases your chances of experiencing a win!

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of lay bets, we have you covered.


What is a Lay Bet?

So, what exactly is a lay bet? This is not an option that you’re going to see when you go to traditional bookmakers. That’s because you’re essentially taking on the role of the bookmaker!

When you make a lay bet, you’re wagering on something not happening. It sounds counterintuitive, but this is exactly what bookies do. With a standard bet, you are considered the backer. You back up your selection and hope that it comes out victorious! If your team or horse wins, the bookie pays up.

With a lay bet, you’re putting yourself in the shoes of the bookmaker. Remember, this is a bet that’s only being used in matched betting exchanges. So, you’re wagering against other people. If a large number of people are hoping that one team wins, your lay bet would be that the team doesn’t win.

This technique is also used by matched bettors looking to profit from free bets and incentives offered by online bookies.


How Does Lay Betting Work?

Lay betting sounds complicated. However, it’s really not once you understand what it entails. As we mentioned earlier, you’re betting on something not to happen.

Your goal is to take the backer’s stake and avoid having to pay a winning bet slip. We’ll get into that a bit later.

The cool thing about lay bets is that you have a much greater chance of winning than if you were making a traditional bet. Think about it: traditional back bets rely on a win-only concept. If the selection you made does not come out victorious, you get nothing! Of course, there are some exceptions like each-way bets. But for the most part, you need your selections to win.

That’s not the case with lay betting. As long as the team or racer the backers are bettings on loses, you can see some returns! Depending on the odds and the number of selections, it’s a very lucrative way to be successful in the sports betting arena.



Now, lay betting does go both ways. Remember, you’re playing the part of the bookie here! What happens if you lose your lay bet and the backer wins? Well, be prepared to pay up. The potential returns you must pay out if the backers are successful is referred to as your liability.

This is where lay betting gets risky. Not only do you have to pay the original backer’s stake, but you need to cover their entire winnings you lay betted against, too. It’s a high-risk form of betting that you need to be prepared for. The potential losses could be great. For this reason, lay betting is typically reserved for experienced punters who know their sport very well.


Is it the Same as Laying Off a Bet?

Lay betting and laying a bet off sound very similar. But they are two different concepts.

When you lay a bet off, you’re essentially changing your mind about the outcome of a given sporting event. Let’s use football betting as an example. Say that you originally thought that Liverpool was going to win the Premier League. So, you place a traditional back bet.

However, you start to realize that Liverpool isn’t doing too hot. As the event goes on, the chances of the team winning are dwindling! Meanwhile, Chelsea is starting to look like the clear front runner.

Laying off the bet allows you to now bet against the team. Of course, you can’t take away your original bet. So, you’re playing both sides! The benefit of laying off the bet is that you’re basically guaranteed profit. If the team ends up losing the Premier League, you will win your original bet. If they don’t, you win the lay bet. It’s literally a win-win situation. Laying off the bet is kind of like arb betting, which is when you wager on all possible outcomes.

Of course, the amount of money you make laying off the bet is not going to be that substantial. But, it could help to offset the costs of your original bad call.


How to Calculate Your Winnings From a Lay Bet?

Lay bets are an advanced alternative to traditional bets. Thus, they are very complicated to calculate on your own. You have to consider the backer’s stake, the lay odds, and more. If you throw laying off the bet into the equation, your potential results could change dramatically.

Luckily, there are lay bet calculators out there. You can easily input the specifics to get a good understanding of what you could be winning or paying. These calculators allow you to make adjustments on the fly as well, which is useful for betting exchanges.


Why Make a Lay Bets?

The biggest reason why punters like lay bets are that they are much safer than other options. For a standard single bet, you’re putting your money that one specific outcome will occur out of several.

From a purely statistical standpoint, lay bets just make more sense. There’s a greater chance that all other outcomes will happen over one specific eventuality.

Despite its safety, we don’t recommend lay betting for beginners. Playing the part of a bookie has its downsides. If you don’t do things right, you could end up owing backers a lot of money. You have to have good betting strategies to be successful with lay betting.


How is a Lay Bet Different from Other Types of Bets?

A lay bet is the complete opposite of most other bets. You’re wagering money that something won’t happen. With standard bets, your selections play a very important role in the equation. In most cases, those choices you make have to win to see winnings.

With a lay bet, you’re not making specific selections. Instead, you’re hoping that all competing selections do better than the one that most people are betting on.

Another big difference is that you’re only making one wager. Combination bets, for example, can include multiple bets in one. Some types of bets, such as the Goliath flag beg, include hundreds of wagers in one! They’re costly endeavors that have the potential to provide some amazing returns.

When you make a lay bet, you don’t have to worry about all that. There are no accumulators to factor in. They’re basically full-cover bets. However, they encompass every other outcome besides the selection you want to lose.


What Sports Work Well with Lay Bets?

The great thing about lay bets is that you can use them in pretty much any sport. They’re a popular choice for football matches. But, you can place lay bets on tennis games, bowling tournaments, golf games, and so much more. They’re particularly popular with horse and dog races.

Racing events come with a greater chance of success. Rather than a single football match that has only two possible outcomes, races have several potential eventualities. Depending on the number of racers that are participating, you could be looking at very high odds of winning your lay bet.


Best Sites to Place a Lay Bet On

Lay bets cannot be made with traditional bookmakers. They are only performed on betting exchanges. Exchanges are similar to traditional betting platforms. However, the difference is that you’re wagering against other people.

You play the part of the bookie when you make a lay bet. The betting exchange will take a commission of all bets but they will not cover any payouts.

There’s no shortage of online betting exchanges out there. Here are just a few you can try out.

Ladbrokes Exchange



Lay bets are definitely not for the faint of heart. While they provide you with a much higher chance of earning a return, things can go bad very quickly! If you plan on making some lay bets and playing the part of a bookmaker, be prepared to take on those liabilities!

If you have the know-how and confidence to start lay betting, it can be a very rewarding experience. It’s a thrilling way to participate in the world of sports betting and offers up a nice way to make some great returns. While nothing in sports betting is guaranteed, lay bets are the closest to a “sure thing” that you’re going to get!