Bookmakers have been laying bets on horses to lose ever since horse racing began. As punters having a bet on a horse, we are actually involved with laying horses every time we have a bet. We are simply on the other end of the transaction. To back a horse, there will always be somebody who must to lay the bet. Yet so many people think they are unfamiliar with laying horses, so they shy away from it entirely.
This article will not show you how to make a profit by laying horses. It will not even explain exactly how you lay a bet on a horse to lose. My intention when writing this article is merely to demonstrate that laying bets on a betting exchange is not some kind of ‘black art’ and there is nothing ‘smoke and mirrors’ about it.
laying bets on a betting exchange
Traditionally it has always been the bookmaker who has taken on the role of laying bets. This allocation of responsibilities is something we are all used to, and comfortable with. But let’s examine the mechanics of placing a bet:
In this example, let’s assume we are going to back a horse called General Account at a price of 3/1 and for a stake of £10
We approach a bookmaker and this is what we are offering: we are prepared to risk our stake of £10 on the chance of this horse General Account winning the race. The price we are happy to accept is 3/1 If the horse loses, we will give the bookmaker our stake money. However, if the horse wins we shall take our stake back, and furthermore, we demand that the bookmaker gives us three times our stake money as profit.
In placing this bet, we are of the opinion that this horse will win – it stands to reason, if we didn’t think it would win, we would not risk our stake money.
I make no apologies if this explanation of placing a bet is perfectly obvious to everybody. Like I said earlier, we are all totally familiar with this typical transaction.
Now remember, in order for a bet to be struck, the bookmaker must also agree to the terms on the table. To lay the bet at the price of 3/1, the bookmaker is happy to risk three times our stake. To take our bet, the bookmaker is of the opinion that General Account will NOT win the race. If he thought the horse was going to win, he would not accept our bet, or at least he certainly would not wish to risk so much money, and would not agree to a bet at 3/1
Hopefully you can see that the only difference between a punter and a bookmaker is their opinion of who will win the race – we think General Account will win, and the bookmaker disagrees, and we are BOTH prepared to put our money where our mouth is.
In effect, where a punter is betting that a horse will win, a bookmaker is simply betting that the horse will NOT win. It is no more complicated than that. Nothing devious, and nothing untoward.
Betfair as the first mainstream betting exchange
Since 1999 and the introduction of Betfair as the first mainstream betting exchange, we all have the opportunity to play the role of bookmaker. Betting exchanges are simply a forum where you can find another punter who has the opposite opinion to you, and match his/her bet.
If you turn out to have the better judgement, then you will win. If your ‘opposite number’ on the betting exchange turns out to be right, then you will lose, and you will have to pay the man/woman their dues. It is no more complex than that.
Laying horses to lose
At the end of the day, laying horses to lose may still not suit your betting temperament. But hopefully this article will have given you the confidence to find out more. Despite what you may read, making money by laying horses is no easier than trying to profit by backing horses. In fact there is absolutely no difference in terms of risk.
As a punter, if you are happy to put some money behind your opinion that a horse will win, there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t also give yourself the opportunity to profit, if you feel a certain horse will not win a given race.