How do I trade on the Smarkets Exchange?

Andy Schooler

29 November 2022

Why would you use the Smarkets betting exchange? So that you can bet for or against - also known as ‘back’ and ‘lay’ - an outcome happening, of course!

If you ‘back’ something, you are betting on that result occuring. On the other hand, if you place a ‘lay’ bet, you are betting on that outcome NOT happening. You cannot do the latter using a regular sports betting website (sportsbook).

Having both options allows you to trade your bets on a sporting event. This is often done as the event in question unfolds and is known as betting ‘in-play’ or ‘in-running’.

The basic principle of trading is to back at a high price and lay the same result at a low price, thus finding yourself in a position where you are guaranteed profit whatever the eventual outcome of the event.

Let’s take a basic example. You lay the draw in a football match (either pre-match or while the scores are still level) with the expectation that one team will soon take the lead. When that happens, you then back the draw at a considerably larger price as it is now considered less likely to happen with one team in front. The margin will allow you to guarantee profit.

Many events are tailor-made for trading, including a cricket Test match that has many twists and turns over its five days.

How do you place a ‘back’ bet?

To place a ‘back’ bet on Smarkets (sometimes referred to as a ‘buy’), find the correct event using the drop-down menus on the left-hand side or the search box at the top of the page, before picking the market you want to bet on.

Locate the selection you want to back and click on the green box. This will add your bet to the betslip, clearly showing the price (odds) you are betting at.

Add the amount you want to bet in the ‘stake’ box. Once that is done, the ‘return’ box will automatically show the amount you stand to get back if your bet wins. If you are happy with everything, place your bet by clicking the ‘buy’ button.

Once you confirm the selection, the bet will be placed – or ‘matched’ as it is often referred to when using an exchange.

How do you place a ‘lay’ bet?

Placing a ‘lay’ bet, which is sometimes called a ‘sell’, is slightly different. 

Much like placing a ‘back’ bet, find the relevant market and selection, but this time click on the blue box. The bet is duly added to your betslip. This time the ‘stake’ box shows the backer’s stake, which is the amount you stand to win if your prediction - that the outcome will not happen - is correct.

Your ‘liability’ is also displayed. This is the cost (i.e. the amount you will lose) if your prediction is incorrect. When you are ready to place the bet, hit the ‘sell’ button, confirm, and your bet will be matched.

As you trade/place your bets, a summary of your potential winnings (and losses) is shown on each market page. Potential winnings are shown in yellow, and potential losses are visible in red.

In the example below, we stand to win £10 if England beat Wales. However, we will lose £20 if the match ends in a draw or a Wales victory.

The ideal scenario is to trade your bets to a position where all three outcomes produce a yellow figure. That way, you will make a profit regardless of the match result. You will need to be sharp and precise with your trading to achieve such a feat, though!

Andy Schooler

29 November 2022

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