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The Beauty of Betfair Exchange

Know the difference between a betting exchange and a bookmaker
Clive Owen, the new face of the Betfair Exchange. (credit: betfair.com)

For close to 20 years, Betfair has dominated the sports betting exchange industry. Despite the fact that numerous other exchanges have come online since Betfair was founded in 2000, not one of them has been able to topple it as the undisputed ruler in this sector.

So, what is the beauty of the Betfair Exchange that attracts well over 1 million active customers from all around the world to its platform? Is it really better than using a traditional bookmaker? And, can you use Betfair if you’re a beginner in the world of online betting? We review those questions and more as we delve inside the world’s biggest online betting exchange.

Betfair Exchange vs Traditional Bookmakers

To begin, it’s important to know the difference between a betting exchange and a bookmaker. With a traditional bookmaker, the punter ‘backs’ a bet to be correct (win). The bookie will offer odds, and the payout for successful bets is calculated by multiplying the price and the stake. 

For example, these are the odds from a leading UK bookie for the match result market from the Premier League game between Manchester City and Brighton. The punter can ‘back’ any of these bets. If he were to place £100 on Man City to win, the payout would be £100 x 1.08 = £108 (return including stake).

Betfair Exchange match betting
Whereas, a betting exchange allows punters to ‘back’ and ‘lay’ bets; therefore, effectively one side (the ‘lay’ bet) is performing the role of the bookmaker. 

A ‘back’ bet is the punter believing that ‘something will be’. For example, back Man City means the punter is putting money on them to win. Back the draw means the punter is putting money on the match ending in a draw. The ‘lay’ side is simply the opposite. Lay Man City is saying they will not win.

Betfair Exchange Lay

The exchange operator is basically an umpire. It collects the money from both parties and pays the winnings to the successful punter when the bet is settled. For this service, it charges a commission on winning bets, which as Betfair is around 5% for most customers.

A major perk that Betfair Exchange has over a traditional bookmaker is that it usually offers higher betting odds, as illustrated here:

  • Betfair: £100 on Man City to win (back) = £100 x 1.1 = £110 (£10 profit - 5% = £9.50) = £109.50 returned to punter

  • Bookmaker: £100 on Man City to win = £100 x 1.08 = £108 returned to punter

Also, it’s not uncommon for successful bettors to have their accounts limited at some traditional bookmakers. This could mean being reduced to only being able to stake £10 or £20 on a bet. Needless to say, such shenanigans don’t happen at Betfair Exchange. As long as there is liquidity in the market, bets of all sizes will be accepted. For instance, with the ‘back’ bets for Man City. £126.22 will be instantly matched at odds of 1.10. £155,575.00 at odds of 1.09 and a huge £235,851.00 at 1.08. 

Betfair Exchange vs other Exchanges


Betfair isn’t the only sports betting exchange on the market but none of these competitors has been able to challenge its position at the top of the pile. One of the main reasons for this is its massive userbase which means more markets with more liquidity.

An example of this can be seen right here. The Championship game between Sheffield Wednesday and QPR. A leading competitor exchange currently has £9 that can be matched if a punter wants to ‘back’ Wednesday to win at odds of 2.02. If you want to back QPR for the victory, you can put down your ‘bid’ odds and your stake but there is no guarantee that the bet will be matched because as you can see, there is no money in this market at the moment.

Betfair Exchange

In contrast, on the Betfair Exchange, a punter can get £209 instantly matched at 2.02, and there is liquidity (value shown under the odds) in all of the other back and lay markets, too.

Betfair Exchange

For a betting exchange to flourish, it needs money in the markets. This is where the power of Betfair comes to the fore, and why it will remain the world’s best exchange for many years to come.

What else sets the Betfair Exchange Apart?


From top to bottom, Betfair Exchange is the complete package. It offers markets on more than 25 sports, in addition to horse racing, greyhounds, politics, financial betting and current affairs. However, it’s not only the wide range of different events, it also has the strongest depth as well.

Customers can enjoy live streaming of thousands of events every month direct on the Betfair platform. It has everything from horse and greyhound racing to football, cricket, tennis, darts, basketball and rugby among others. To enhance its product further, Betfair purchased Timeform - a specialist data analytics within the horse racing industry. This gives punters comprehensive form guides, previews and tips for all UK and Ireland races. There is also Betfair radio, podcasts and a lively forum where punters share betting tips and more.

Betfair Exchange for Beginners


It has often been said that the betting exchanges are no place for beginners, but this simply isn’t the case. In fact, there’s a strong argument that the Betfair Education Centre equips punters with more knowledge about both exchanges and betting in general than they get from a regular online sportsbook.

Betfair Exchange for beginners
Betfair Exchange provide a suite of how to guides and videos to perfect your betting skills.
Newcomers are urged to take a moment to go through these easy-to-understand tutorials on the basics of the Betfair Exchange. Yet, it doesn’t stop there, Betfair offers a whole series of ‘How to’ videos featuring brand ambassadors Clive Owen and Graeme Swann which cover everything from placing your first wager to making simple trades.

Once you are comfortable and confident, there are more advanced guides in Betfair Education. Punters can learn about scalping, matched betting and marketing making among other things. Put simply, all the tools and resources are here for you to use Betfair Exchange to its full potential.

Serious punters who want to make bigger profits when betting, use Betfair Exchange and that’s why you should try it too.

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