Exchange: What does the term "Lay" mean and what is a Lay bet?

To lay a bet is to back something not to happen. For example, to lay Manchester United to win their match is to back them NOT to win. If you were to lay them, you would win your bet if they either lost or drew their match.

With Betfair you can not only lay any selection, but also choose the price you want to take, and how much you are prepared to risk. The shorter the price you wish to lay, the less money you have to risk compared to your potential reward.


  • Laying a Draw in a soccer match at 13.5 might sound safe, but for every £10 (€10) you want to win, you have to risk £125 (€125) - high risk and low reward.
  • In a horse racing market, the horse “Europe” at 1.9/1.91 are much more likely to win, but to win £10 (€10) by laying that outcome, you only need to risk £9.10 (€9.10).

There are all sorts of reasons why people lay bets. Some people find it easier to pick a horse that won’t win, than one that will win. Some people lay a bet because they think the price is too short. Others will lay first, then look to back the same selection later in-play - that’s called Trading.

Laying need not be scary - you are in full control of how much you wish to risk and how much you could win. In a lay bet, you always stand to win the stake of the opposing bet (e.g. £10 (€10) in the examples above). You could be betting against one person or several.

Note - Betfair charge a commission fee on net winnings on each market (see How is my commission calculated?).

Placing a Lay Bet

Select a market, choose a selection you want to lay and click on the best lay price/odds. In the following example you are laying Phil Mickelson at odds of 9. The backer is staking £10 (€10).


Your potential profit: £10 (€10)
Your potential loss:    £80 (€80)

Your liability of £80 (€80) is taken from your balance as this is your worst case scenario. The payout will be £90 (€90) but that includes the stake from the backer. If this bet was matched, there would effectively be a pot of £90 (€90) for someone to collect - the backer's £10 (€10) stake, and the layer's £80 (€80) liability.

If Phil Mickelson wins the tournament you have to pay £80 (€80) to the winning customer. If any other player wins the tournament you win £10 (€10) less commission. When laying a bet, you can only win the other person's stake.

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