Welcome to the mysterious world of betting lingo! If you’ve ever dabbled in sports wagering, you’ve likely come across the terms “back” and “lay.”
But what do these words actually mean? In this article, we will unravel the mystery and explain the true meaning behind “back” and “lay” in betting.
When it comes to sports betting, “back” refers to the act of betting on a particular outcome to occur. For example, if you believe that your favorite team will win the game, you would place a “back” bet on them to be victorious.
On the other hand, “lay” is the opposite of “back.” It means betting against an outcome, essentially wagering that it will not happen. So, if you think the underdog will lose, you would “lay” a bet against their victory.
Understanding these terms is crucial to successfully navigate the world of betting. By grasping the concepts behind “back” and “lay,” you can make more informed decisions and potentially increase your chances of winning.
So, let’s dive in and demystify the meaning of “back” and “lay” in betting!
Understanding “back” betting
When it comes to sports betting, “back” refers to the act of betting on a particular outcome to occur.
It is the traditional form of betting where you support an event to happen.
For example, if you believe that your favorite team will win the game, you would place a “back” bet on them to be victorious.
“Back” betting is straightforward and familiar to most bettors. It involves placing a wager on an outcome that you believe will happen.
If your prediction is correct, you will receive a payout based on the odds set by the bookmaker or exchange. This type of betting is prevalent in sports such as football, basketball, and horse racing.
One of the advantages of “back” betting is the potential for high returns. If you correctly predict an underdog’s victory, your wager can result in substantial winnings.
However, it is essential to consider the risks involved. As with any form of gambling, there is always a chance that your prediction may be incorrect, leading to a loss.
How “back” betting works
To understand how “back” betting works, let’s consider an example.
Here is a Premier League match between Manchester City and Everton, with odds from the Betfair Exchange:
The odds for Man City are 1.21, which means that if you place a £10 “back” bet on them and they win, you will receive a £2.10 payout (plus get your initial £10 stake back).
In order to place a back bet, you would click on the 1.21 box in blue. The odds in the blue box will always be the best back odds currently being offered on the exchange.
Once you have clicked on the blue box, the betslip pops up on the right and you can select your stake:
You would then click the “Place bets,” button in yellow and confirm the bet.
When placing a “back” bet, you are essentially betting on the outcome you believe will occur. In this case, you are betting that Man City will win.
If Man City wins the game, you win the bet, and the exchange pays out your winnings based on the odds (which as we have seen, would be £2.10 plus our stake of £10 back).
However, if Man City loses or the match ends in a draw, you will lose your wager.
So that is a back bet, in a nutshell!
Advantages and disadvantages of “back” betting
Like any betting strategy, “back” betting has its advantages and disadvantages. One of the main advantages is the potential for high returns.
If you can accurately predict an outcome that others underestimate, your winnings can be substantial. In sports like horse racing and golf, there are regularly winners at prices of 20/1, 50/1 and even 100/1!
It can be quite a thrill when a land a big winner like this from a back bet, particularly if you are there live to see it yourself.
Additionally, “back” betting is relatively simple and easy to understand, making it accessible to beginners.
However, there are also some drawbacks to consider. One disadvantage of “back” betting is that it tends to be harder to pick winners, particularly in a sport like horse racing, than to pick losers. There can be long losing streaks with back betting.
Additionally, the odds set by the bookmaker may not always provide favourable value, reducing the potential for long-term profitability.
It is crucial to conduct thorough research and analysis before placing “back” bets to maximize your chances of success. Fortunately, we have a list of top tipsters you can check out here, who do a lot of the hard work for you.
Exploring “lay” betting
Now that we have a solid understanding of “back” betting, let’s explore its counterpart – “lay” betting. “Lay” betting is the opposite of “back” betting and involves betting against an outcome.
Instead of supporting an event to happen, you are essentially wagering that it will not happen.
“Lay” betting is a relatively new concept in the world of sports betting and has gained popularity in recent years.
It allows bettors to act as the bookmaker and take on the role of offering odds on an outcome. This type of betting is prevalent in betting exchanges, where users can place bets against each other rather than with a traditional bookmaker.
How “lay” betting works
To understand how “lay” betting works, let’s consider our previous example of the football match between Man City and Everton.
If you believe that Man City will not win the game, you can “lay” a bet against their victory.
In this case, you are essentially betting on Everton to win or the match to end in a draw.
Let’s take a look at the match odds again on the Betfair exchange:
If you believe Man City will fail to win the game, you would click the 1.22 box in pink.
Then the betslip box will pop up on the right and you can enter your stake:
Here we have entered a stake of £10. What this means is that if Man City win the game, you would lose £2.20 (your liability).
If they fail to win the game however, you would win £10.
So in this example, because Man City are heavy favourites for the match, your liability is a lot lower than your potential winnings.
Of course, the flip side is the market considers it highly likely Man City will win (an 83% probability) so you would not expect to win this type of bet very often.
Let’s take a look at another example where the odds of the selection you are laying are not so low.
In horse racing you will normally be laying at higher odds.
Here is a race from Newcastle:
Let’s say you wanted to lay the favourite, Beraz, as you didn’t think they had suitable conditions to win today.
Again, you would click in the pink box at the top with 3.45 on it. These are the best available lay odds on the horse at the moment.
You would then enter a stake. Let’s say £10
As the odds are 3.45, it means your liability (the amount you could lose) is £24.50 and the amount you could win is £10.
So your potential losses are higher than your potential winnings. This is normal in sports like horse racing and golf.
The flipside is that these selections are not likely to win as often as odds-on favourites.
This horse, Beraz, has only a 29% chance of winning the race according to the market, so you would expect to win a good proportion of lay bets on horses like these.
Remember, by laying, you are betting for the horse to lose. If any of the other horses win the race, or Beraz fails to finish the race having started it, you win your bet.
That is the beauty of lay betting.
“Lay” betting offers a unique opportunity to profit from events that you believe will not happen. When placing a “lay” bet, in effect you are taking on the role of the bookmaker.
Advantages and disadvantages of “lay” betting
“Lay” betting has several advantages that make it an attractive option for many bettors. One of the primary advantages is the ability to profit from events that you believe will not occur.
This allows you to take advantage of favorable odds and potentially increase your chances of winning. Additionally, “lay” betting offers more flexibility and control compared to traditional “back” betting.
However, there are also some disadvantages to consider.
One of the main challenges of “lay” betting is the potential for larger losses. Since you are acting as the bookmaker, you may be liable to pay out significant winnings if your prediction is incorrect.
It is crucial to manage your risk effectively and set appropriate liability limits to protect yourself from substantial financial losses.
Many people think lay betting will be easier because you are picking horses, teams or players to lose but it is not quite so straightforward. We have a look here at some approaches taken by professionals who lay horses for a living.
Key differences between “back” and “lay” betting
Now that we have explored both “back” and “lay” betting, let’s highlight the key differences between the two strategies.
The primary difference lies in the direction of the bet. In “back” betting, you are betting on an outcome to happen, while in “lay” betting, you are betting against an outcome.
Another significant difference is the role you play in the betting process. In “back” betting, you act as the bettor and place wagers on specific outcomes.
In contrast, in “lay” betting, you act as the bookmaker and offer odds to other bettors.
This difference in roles affects the potential risks and rewards associated with each strategy.
Additionally, the odds and payouts in “back” and “lay” betting are calculated differently. In “back” betting, the odds reflect the likelihood of an outcome occurring, and the potential payout is based on these odds.
In “lay” betting, the odds represent the liability or potential payout that you may have to make if your prediction is incorrect, as we have seen in our examples.
You have to look at your liability in the lay bet to see how much you could lose.
How much you win is your stake – which in the example above was £10.
Trading – “back” and “lay” betting together
So far we’ve had a look so far at simple back and lay bets.
However, there is another option that betting exchanges like Betfair offer and that is to trade – which involves placing both a back and a lay bet on the same event.
This offers the opportunity – if things go right – for you to make a profit on an event, whatever the final outcome of it ends up being.
Let’s take an example of England v Australia at cricket.
For this trade, we first backed Australia at odds of 4.2 for £50.
The aim was for the odds on Australia to reduce, thus allowing us to then place a lay bet. Thus we wanted Australia to perform well after placing this initial bet bet.
Thankfully, Australia took a couple of England wickets fairly quickly and their odds fell significantly, down to 2.44.
This allowed us to place a lay bet, in essence completing a trade and closing out our risk on this market.
So we placed a lay bet on Australia for £86.05 at odds of 2.44:
This allowed us to lock in a profit whatever happened in the remainder of the match.
Our overall profit was £36.05, whatever the final result of the match ended up being:
This is a simple back-to-lay trade, but you can also do it the other way round by laying first and then backing later.
Obviously the key thing is that you are laying at lower odds than you are backing in order to generate a profit.
If events don’t go the way you expect, you also need a plan to trade out of your position and protect your liabilities.
In the above example for instance, we could have traded out if the Australia odds had hit 8.0, to ensure we didn’t lose our entire stake of £50.
Conclusion and final thoughts
In conclusion, understanding the meaning of “back” and “lay” betting is essential for successful wagering. “Back” betting involves supporting an outcome to occur, while “lay” betting involves betting against an outcome.
Both strategies have their advantages and disadvantages, and employing effective strategies is crucial to maximize your chances of success.
By grasping the concepts behind “back” and “lay” betting, you can make more informed decisions, identify favorable betting opportunities, and potentially increase your chances of winning.
Remember to conduct thorough research, manage your bankroll effectively, and always consider the risks involved in any form of gambling.
So, the next time you come across the terms “back” and “lay” in the world of sports betting, you’ll have a clear understanding of their true meaning.