Following on from our piece on Betfair basics last week, let’s look at the major requirement for getting a bet on at Betfair: getting your bet matched.

As we’ve talked about, on Betfair you’re not betting against a bookmaker; Betfair isn’t a bookie, it’s a betting exchange.  You’re placing a bet against another member on the exchange.

For the bet to be placed – like any bet – both sides need to agree on the stake and odds.  When this occurs the bet is “matched”, and you’re on.

Getting matched

This is what a Betfair market looks like:

For now, we’ll just focus on the Back side of the market: betting on your selection to win.

The market shows the best prices available to be matched in the blue cells: for example, the current best price for 1. Al Gerard is \$7.20.

Then, working out to the left, it shows the next best available: again for Al Gerard, this is \$6.40 and \$5.80.

The smaller numbers below each price shows the amount currently available to be matched at that price.

So how does this work?

The queue

Whenever a bet is entered into Betfair, it’s placed into a queue for matching.

Obviously, everybody wants the best price.  So the best, unmatched price offered goes to the front of the queue.

As soon as there’s a punter willing to back the selection at that price, the funds are matched and the bet is placed.

Look at Al Gerard again.  There’s \$33 available to be matched at \$7.20.  As soon as a backer comes along and places a stake of at least \$33 at odds of \$7.20 or less, their bet will be matched with that, and it’ll disappear from the market.  The next best available price is \$6.40, so that’ll become the best available price until it, in turn, is matched.

Or, if a layer puts up a higher price again, it will go to the front of the gueue.

This process continues until all possible matches are made.

Can I choose my odds?

Absolutely.  But unless they get matched, you won’t get on.

For example, though the best available price on Al Gerard is \$7.20, I may not want to back it at less than \$12.  I can enter my stake and set the odds to \$12, and leave it as such.  In the above market, it’ll remain unmatched, and be a long way down the queue: all amounts at prices lower than \$12 would first have to be matched.

It may remain unmatched, and the bet would be cancelled.

What if I don’t get matched?

You have three options when this happens:

1. Leave the bet unmatched, and wait for somebody to come along and match it at your odds.  If the bet remains unmatched when the event closes, your bet will be cancelled.
2. Change your odds: you can do this on an unmatched bet: adjust it to lower odds that will be matched.
3. Take SP: this takes any unmatched amounts and bets them in the Betfair SP (starting price) market.  We’ll explore the SP market in greater detail later, but in short: it’s similar (in effect) to taking a tote bet in that weight of money determines the price.

Laying

We’ll also talk more about laying later, but for the purposes of getting matched: simply reverse everything above.  The layer is on the other side of the transaction, and will want the lowest possible price, for a lower liability in the event of a losing bet.

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Part 1: Betfair: the basics