To Lay or not to Lay?

To Lay or not to Lay?

One of the best statements I hear from punters is “I would lay that!” but what does it mean to lay something?

My first memories of this common remark were before Betfair came along and I had been invited to a corporate Ladbrokes day in the UK. We had all gathered at Tynecastle Park to watch Heart of Midlothian (aka Hearts) play Motherwell. At my table was one of Edinburgh’s most colourful gents and of course he was the centre of attention. I knew who he was but we had never been formally introduced as he came from the opposite side of town.

After introductions and a few drinks I ended up sitting across from him and as we watched the first race on the screen he was shouting “the Favourite can’t win from there!” followed by “Name your price!” followed by “He’s 50’s!”.

When he shouted that I withdrew the £50.00 note from my pocket and said “I’m on!” and I’m sure you can guess what happened… it went on to win the race! Ouch! £2,500.00 Lost in less than a minute and boy did it make a lasting impression! Laying horses is an art and loose words will nearly always cost you.

Betfair came along in 1999 and changed all that – all of a sudden everyone was an “expert”. I wish I had a pound for every person that has said “Laying horses is easy, I could do that”. It’s a very difficult thing to do with so many different ways to do it. Then of course you have your charges and commissions which a lot of punters seem to conveniently leave out of the equation when calculating their “profit”.

Level Laying

When you lay something you are giving the odds and you are the bookmaker. If you have an edge in a certain race type or event you should always come out in front over time and knowing what your edge is can be crucial. If you want to lay, you will offer the odds.

Let’s say you think you want to lay Berties Choice at 4.00 using Betfair. You would have to do the following:

Backers Stake: 10.00

Layers Liability (The amount you need to pay out): 30.00 plus the original stake back = 40.00

So you can see you stand to win 10.00 but could end up losing 30.00.

The odds of course should be in your favour if you have done your homework because at the end of the day, you have all the other horses running for you. The aim of Laying is to keep winning the small amounts with a good strike rate and with the percentages on your side. Bookmakers work on their books and will always offset odds against other horses to balance their book. The luxury you have is you can be selective and only play when all your ducks line up. You can be patient and disciplined. If you perfect the laying mindset it is a very good way to turn a profit.

With so much information and services out there in the internet world you can quickly become profitable. You can set your parameters and have a plan.

Liability Laying

If you set your loss monitor and be sensible, laying to liability can also become your friend. Betfair will also accommodate you with the SP button.

If you decide on an amount that you have in your bank and work out your staking plan, you can easily compound by setting your liability. Let’s say you have a bank of 5,000 and you want to risk 250.00 per bet. You would simply set the odds you want to go to and place it on the Betfair SP button. When the race goes in-play it will work out your liability.

Bertie’s Boy: 4.00

Liability: 250.00 Divided by the odds minus 1 (The Stake) = 250/3 = 83.33

This means you could win 83.33 or lose your liability of 250.00.

Playing to liability is always good if you are targeting short priced selections and when you start to be strong with your confidence and edge you could be laying odds of 1.80. If we do the calculation on this we can see the power of liability laying.

Bertie’s Boy: 1.80

Liability: 250.00 Divided by the odds minus 1 (The Stake) = 250/0.8 = 312.50

This means you could win 312.50 or lose your liability of 250.00

As you can see when you start to get your head around the simple math (and keep records) you will quickly learn just what it takes to become a selective lay bettor using Betfair and when you do, it will change the way you think about betting. It will also let you see the benefits of having every other runner on your side.

When I first arrived in Australia I was invited to the Brisbane Roar Vs Central Coast Mariners Final. The Mariners were winning 0-2 and one of the guys at the table offered Brisbane Roar at 1,000/1 with just 3 minutes of extra time remaining. I asked if this was in the outright market and he looked confused. I said I would have the bet for $10 bucks if it was in the outright market. He looked at me and said OK. Brisbane scored making it 1-2 so I went to give him my $10 bucks and just as he put out his hand Brisbane scored again! He promptly cancelled the bet in front of everyone after realising his error!

When someone offers a lay bet when they don’t understand the odds, take them on (and hope they put their money where their mouth is!). Brisbane went on to win on penalties and to win outright. To his credit we did drink on his card all night at the casino – it was expensive but it was hardly the $10k he’d promised me!

Betting is all about understanding what you are trying to achieve and lay betting is a great tool to have in your toolbox. Our Laying Service here on the site is second to none, plus we have the coaching course where I take you deep into everything betting, so if you’re hungry to make your betting pay make sure you’re taking every opportunity to learn and win!



We’ve done all the hard yards and the ups and downs along the way could not have been envisaged. With our life experience of betting behind us, we know our services are right for anyone who wants to turn their betting into a profitable experience.