WHAT IS A LAY BET:
To lay a horse to lose one needs to bet with an Betting Exchange rather than a traditional bookmaker. The reason being is that you need to oppose someone who is willing to back the horse to win.
With a traditional bookmaker the roles are very much pre-defined. The bookmaker lays each horse in the race whilst the bettor backs any that he likes to win. Here there is no room for a bettor to lay a horse to lose.
That is, until the Betting Exchange revolution. Here there are no bookmakers as such but, instead, a large gathering of bettors in one location (the exchange website) with conflicting points of view. Some want to back a horse at a certain price and others are willing to lay it. The betting exchange works in the same way as the early stock or futures markets; people have different views on future events and are willing to back their views.
If you enter an exchange as someone who wishes to back a horse then you proceed in the usual way; get the best price available and place your bet. Getting the best price available is simple on the exchanges because the software always presents to the backer with the best (i.e. the highest available) odds.
The only thing to be aware of is that the prices on the exchanges are presented in a decimal format. This means that a horse listed at 2.0 is evens; 3.0 is 2/1 and 11.0 is 10/1. It works for odds-on prices too; 1.5 is 1/2 on.
Look at this example of the prices available for a race to be run at Southwell.
The first thing is that we can see that there are six runners; we can either count them or read the text at the top which tells us that there are six selections. Each of the runners are listed with the price available to back them to win. The current favourite on the exchange is Look To The Future which can be backed at 3.3 which is a little more than 9/4 (which is ‘two and a quarter’). We can see that we can back Look To The Future for anything up to £110.
This is because the layer, or layers, have only put up enough to lay at this price. However, if you wish to back Look To The Future for £10 then you know that your bet can be accommodated. However, if you wish to back the horse for more than what is available then what happens is that the request to back the horse is left as an open order on the exchanges and is available for anyone to lay.
If you are wanting to lay the horse then you are more interested in the right hand set of columns of the table (below).
One can see that if you are willing to lay the horse (i.e. bet it to lose) then you can do this right away for £133 at 3.4. So, let’s assume that you want to lay this horse for £10 at this price then you click on the pink box and follow the instructions. Now, bear in mind that your liability is £10 x 2.4 which is £24 and if your lay was successful (i.e. the horse didn’t come first) then you will win £10.
Now, what happens to unmatched bets? Well, if you wanted to back Look To The Future at a higher price, say, 4.0 (which is 3/1) then you select the blue back area and when the dialog box comes up to set the price and the amount just change the price to 4.0 and then enter your stake, say £10, and then click on OK.
This means that if your bet is taken and if the horse wins then your return will be 3.0 x £10 which is £30 profit. But, what happens to the exchange is that your £10 bet will be displayed across everyone’s display in the Lay section. This is done because it’s now available for someone to come along and to lay the horse at this price to the amount which you requested.
The very importand point of this is that it is, therefore, possible to place an order on the exchanges. For example you can say that you will back Reasonable Return at 5.0 and, perhaps, that you will lay Doon Run at 15.0. If no-one comes along to match your requests by the time the race starts then any unmatched stakes are returned.
This means therefore that all bets available on the exchanges are unmatched bets; as all of the matched bets have been taken and removed.