Back & Lay Betting Explained - What are the Key Differences

Back and Lay Betting Explained

Back and lay betting are two types of betting that while are completely different, go hand in hand, particularly with more experienced punters.

However, for those new to sports betting it can be a little confusing to understand the key differences between them.

Here at we’re here to help. Below you’ll find all you need to know about back bets and lay bets, including the key differences and examples to guide you along the way.

What is a Back Bet?

We’ll start with back betting, as this is certainly a type of bet you will be familiar with. It’s the most common form of bet and simply involves betting on an outcome to happen. So, for example if you were to bet on a horse to win a race, this would be a back bet.

If you place a back bet and the outcome of your selection occurred, you’d win the bet. If the outcome didn’t occur, you would lose the bet.

For example:

Let’s say you wanted to bet on a football fixture between Everton and Arsenal with William Hill. You wish to place a bet on the Match Result market and Arsenal to win the match.

This would be a back bet on Arsenal to win the game. In order to win the bet, Arsenal would have to win the game.

If the game was to finish a draw or Everton were to win, you would lose the bet.

What is a Lay Bet?

On the other hand, a lay bet is a little different. This wager is a bet on an outcome not to happen.

Therefore this is the opposite of a back bet. So in a Match Result market, you’d be backing a football team not to win.

One of the key differences when it comes to lay bets is that you are not betting against the bookmaker, but rather other players. You can only place lay bets in betting exchanges. You create the odds and a player must match that as a back bet in order for your bet to be accepted. The betting exchange then takes a commission from the winnings.

For Example:

In a sports betting exchange you may want to place a lay bet on the Everton versus Arsenal mentioned above. In this case, you might want to bet on Arsenal not to win.

back and lay betting

In this case you simply select the lay option in a betting exchange on Arsenal. If Arsenal either draw or lose to Everton, your bet wins.

If Arsenal were to win the game, your lay bet will lose and you are required to pay out.

Where to Place Back & Lay Bets

Back bets can be played with all major bookmakers and is the more traditional form of betting. They are available across a wide range of sports and markets. You’ll find dozens of places to back bets on our betting sites, with full reviews exploring their variety of markets and the best offers.

Lay bets on the other hand can only be played at betting exchanges. This is because it’s a peer-to-peer form of betting. Lay betting can be enjoyed at sites such as Matchbook, Betfair Exchange, Betdaq and Smarkets.

Back & Lay Bets as Part of a Strategy

Lay bets are most commonly used as part of a betting strategy, more specifically matched betting. This is a type of strategy which takes advantage of free bets in order to place both back and lay bets to cover all outcomes.

It’s often used by players to guarantee profit and is one of the more simple strategies to understand. In order to do this your lay bet must essentially be priced to guarantee a profit no matter what the outcome.

You can find much more about matched betting by visiting our Betting Exchange Guide.