Ok, so you have your High Street bookmaker and your 'tic-tac' man (that's the bookie you might see waving his arms around at a racecourse). With that kind of traditional bookie, he offers you odds on an event and you simply have a choice of whether you want to take them or not. But those guys build a big fat margin into their odds, partly because they can, and partly because they are taking the risk (and want to cover the times when their spies get it wrong and results go against them), so the odds offered will hardly ever be the best you can get - Betfair is different.
Instead, in June 2000, we launched the world's first betting exchange. That means our customers choose their own odds, just like people on the stock market choose the price they want to buy and sell shares at, and Betfair matches all the bets. We charge a small 5% (or less!) commission on any winning bet and, because every bet has a winner, it means we don't have to build-in a big fat profit margin like the other bookies do.
Put it another way - imagine you're in a huge room full of people all wanting to place bets on the same football match. Betfair's betting licence allows us to put you together with people (you don't know who they are, but we do) who have got an opposing view to you. We then hold the cash until the match is over. But because we aren't trying to build-in a profit, the odds on offer are just a pure reflection of what punters (that's you and your betting friends!) think is likely to happen.
Of course, that means you don't just have to 'Back' something to win. Now you can do what you've always thought only a traditional bookie could do and take the opposing view - i.e: you can 'Lay' a selection, or bet that something won't happen. This is something the traditional bookies only ever let you do when it suited them; but now you, the punter, have control of what you do and when you do it.
The other revolutionary thing Betfair brings to your punting armoury is the ability to bet while a match or race is actually underway or 'in-play'. You can 'back' or 'lay' right up until the final whistle or when the first horse crossing the finishing line. So, you don't have to dive straight in and make a choice before the start, you can wait and see how your team or horse is performing before making a decision.
"Knowing Your Stuff"
Naturally, plotting a course to the winner's circle is never that simple, but the one area you have absolute control over is the ability to know your subject inside out. There is no substitute for having the tools of the trade and in the business of betting, knowledge is power. This website is here to help you get 'tooled up'.
And that, my friends, is essentially it - the betting world awaits.