Betting Exchange Race Trading: Pt 4. 

Laying, Backing And  Dutching. 

Pots Of Gold Or Pots Of Pain.  


Lay To Lose:

A lot of new customers on Betting Exchanges are attracted by the prospect of a new style of bet; 

namely, “Laying”, which is basically, the act of backing the loser of your chosen sport or event.

In relation to horse racing, this is known as “Laying” a horse i.e. Backing it to lose the race.

Laying a horse to lose is effectively the direct opposite of backing it to win.

It has actually always been possible to configure a lay bet at a traditional bookmakers shop by backing every horse in the race to win using a “Dutch” staking mechanism, and of course excluding only the horse that you want to lose from the dutch.

The result being, that whichever horse wins the race, as long as it is not the one you chose as the one you want to lose, you will make a set amount of profit.

To do this in a real life situation in a bookmakers as the horses are at the post, you would have to be a mathematical savant or some other form of genius, and you may also get a rather strange look from the staff at Ladbrokes, Coral or wherever.

The Betting Exchange databases in one fell swoop took all the aggro out of “Laying” your selection. 

They do all the math and present you with a single decimal odd for laying your selection.

Laying horses can be especially attractive and profitable to seasoned professionals who attend race meets and can visibly see a horse directly before a race.

Satellite Information Services (SIS) can be a big help as well, but the SIS cameras may not focus directly on the horse you are interested in laying so may not give you any real clues pre race.

Let's look at the problem with “Laying” using an example .

You have a favourite at 3/1 in your Maiden Handicap at Chepstow, the field is large, 12 riders and there are 3 or 4 strong contenders in this race all bunched at around 4’s and 5’s

This is a terrible race to try and lay select on the betting exchanges and I will explain why.

The professional "layer" will go to the paddock 15 minutes before the race just as the horses are going down and will see that the favourite in this race is displaying poor characteristics including:-

Professionals Check list - 


  1. The horse appears very nervy. 

  2. The horses eyes are jumping. 

  3. The sweat has turned into white foam. 

  4. The head an ears are hanging down. 

  5. The horse refuses to canter or gallop.  

Professional Check List - 


  1. The horse is lightly sweating.

  2. The horse has a glossy shiny coat.

  3. The horse has bright steady eyes.

  4. The horse is cantering and galloping freely.

  5. The head and ears pricked up.  

A professional layer will phone the Betting Exchange immediately or use his wireless laptop at the course, or simply text his contacts to get a large lay on the “out-of-sorts” favourite before the hobby punters, the on course bookies and TV cameras catch on.

When this happens the price on this horse will start drifting, first with the on-course bookies as they are right there on the spot, then the Betting Exchange and then the internet bookies.

This is what you are up against trying to outwit the professionals, the bookies, the market and the Betting Exchange. It can be done, but please heed my words of caution.

Without seeing the runners and riders before this race, it would be impossible to say with any certainty which of the major contenders is going to win and which will lose, and the main problem with laying on the Betting Exchange  is the enormous cost of paying for the rest of the field  should your lay selection go on to win (the liability).

Always remember the comparison with Dutching in that you are betting on every other horse in the race to win with wagers that return an equal amount whichever horse wins.

In other words, should the horse you left out of the Dutch win you have to pay for every other horse in the race.

Also, and this is a very serious point that many punters laying on the Betting Exchange are totally missing.

the Betting Exchange vaunts much of its success on its ability to provide punters with better odds than they will get to “Back” events with traditional bookmakers, and this they invariably achieve.

But as I have discussed previously, due to the higher back prices plus the market “Spread” the lay prices are in fact far worse than what you would get if a traditional bookies offered the option to lay horses.


I can prove this - Lets return to the example! 

Let’s say, the favourite in our maiden at Chepstow is at 3/1 on course. the Betting Exchange uses decimal odds to facilitate the Stock Market style trading and hedging that helps make it so popular. 

To get the decimal odds add 1 and then 0.5 (for the favourite).

The SP odds are higher on the Betting Exchange as there are no traditional bookies to factor their “cut” or “over round” into the odds. The prices DO reflect the Bookmakers prices, but are more lenient as we are betting against other punters, not the bookies.

the Betting Exchange just takes a 5% commission from winnings and this percentage actually diminishes the more bets you place.

So the favourite will be at around 4.5 to back on the Betting Exchange in this example.

However to “Lay” the horse we have to factor in what is known as a “spread” in Stock Market terminology.

The difference between buying and selling a share equates to the difference between backing and laying a horse as detailed in Part 3 of this series.

It is always more expensive to lay a horse than it is to back it, this has to be otherwise the book would not add up. So the lay price of a favourite at traditional 3/1 will be around 4.7 decimal..

If you lay this horse to lose for £1 at 4.7 and it does lose, you stand to make £1 minus the Betting Exchange commission of 5% so you get your £1 stake back and a profit of 95p. All very good.

However, if perchance the contenders do not perform, your horse suddenly wakes up and goes on to win, then you have to pay for every other horse in the race that lost. So your loss would be your £1 stake* 4.7, minus your £1 stake = £3.70

So let us examine this data from another perspective; 


It can be said that you are going to need 4 of the above successful lay bets to make enough profit to pay for the 1 race where the horse you laid goes on to win i.e. a losing bet.

And, this example is laying the favourite at the lowest odds of all the horses in the race.

Lets examine UK Horse Racing Favourite statistics.

It can be seen that:-

Across all flat races 33% of favourites go on to win their races.

Across flat handicaps 25% of favourites win their races.

Favourites win their races in 38% of National Hunt races 

Favourites win their races in 30% of Handicap hurdles.

Averaging these figures we could say that approximately 1 in 3 races are won by favourites. 

Yet we can see that we would need to lay 4 favourites to lose at 3/1 to make a profit.

Are you that good at spotting weak favourites??

This is the reality of laying horses on the betting exchanges.

You are ticking along nicely……bam! Just one predicted loser wins and you are back to square one.

This is one area of the Betting Exchange that is usually passed over in the “Pot of Gold” manuals.

The amount of mental energy and anxiety that you can expend on the Betting Exchanges is astonishing and really is something that should be factored in by everyone when starting your Betting Exchange career.

Picking horses to win or lose consistently IS mentally draining.

The research, the form study, the angst, the mental debate and arithmetic required to pick a horse to win or lose with any degree of certainty, and follow it through the stalls round the course and through to the finish will leave many punters thoroughly drained after only a few races.

To see it all thrown away on the last race of the day can be utterly soul destroying.

Obviously the same scenario with a final race victory will be thoroughly satisfying. 

There will be those among you who do not have the psychological strength and profile to deal with making a consistent income from the Betting Exchanges.

In Part 5 I will talk more about “Laying, Backing and Dutching” horses and will reveal some more excellent resources which will help you on your way to Betting Exchange success.  


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