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How does Betfair work?

Betfair is a betting exchange - an online marketplace for punters to bet against themselves on sporting and cultural events around the world.


Customers bet against each other not against Betfair.


There's no bookmaker telling you what odds you have to take. Think of it as like two mates in a pub with opposing views on a game and having a bet.


Betfair works like an impartial barman in the pub who holds the money until he gives it to the winner.


Betfair give you all the guidance you need, and we encourage winners! We don't ban or cut back as is the case with many bookies who limit stakes or close accounts if anyone 'dares' to beat them. It doesn't matter to Betfair, because we take no position in the markets.


People say Betfair gives better odds, why?


Studies over several years have shown that Betfair gives 20% better odds on average due to competition and lower margins.


Competition means a better deal


Competition in any walk of life leads to a better deal, and with over three million registered customers, Betfair is extremely competitive.


At any given moment thousands of people worldwide are competing against each other to offer better odds on their opinion in order to have a bet.


This often means the odds are better than those set by a traditional bookie.


Advertise a poor price on the site and it's unlikely your bet will be matched as somebody will see the value in improving the offer. Just like if you try to sell your car for £10,000 when it's really only worth £5,000.


Lower margins


Another reason for better odds is because the bookmaker is taken out of the equation. This means you're not subject to their five, 10, 20 or even 50% margins.


The value will shine through more on markets with more selections - racing, football premierships, golf tournaments etc, where bookies traditionally make their 'bread and butter'.


Backing and laying


On Betfair you can back and lay.


To 'back' a selection means you think it will happen, like you would do with a traditional bookie.


Or you can take the opposing viewpoint and 'lay' if you think your selection will not happen (i.e. won't win).


Every fixed-odds bet, whether it's with your local high street bookie, a betting exchange or even two mates in a pub, requires a backer and a layer, you've probably just never thought of it that way.


Imagine two guys betting a pint on the Merseyside derby - one cheering Everton, one cheering Liverpool. The Everton supporter is automatically opposing, or laying, Liverpool if he decides to go with his heart. Likewise the Liverpool fan backs his team for a pint, but is laying Everton in the same process.


Lay betting is the other half of the deal from a back bet. Both are bets but opposing views. Without one, you can't have the other - it's like trying to sell your house. Until someone is prepared to buy it, then you don't have a sale.


Find out more about lay betting.