Trading On Betfair For Beginners (Learn the basics)

Trading On Betfair For Beginners

For anybody that doesn’t know, and I’m sure most of you do by now, Betfair is an exchange where you place bets against other people. Even if you are not trading then just straight betting is much better on the exchanges as the prices are so much better because there is no bookmaker margins. Betfair simply take a percentage of winning bets.

If you have ever thought about giving trading and go and thought it was too complex then this very simple guide will give you the basics of everything you need to learn to get started on the exchanges.

Placing bets on Betfair

Firstly, if you haven’t got a betfair account then you will need to sign up for one. You won’t need to deposit any money to start, just get used to the site first.

Sign up here and you will receive a £20 free bet on the exchange.

When you have opened up betfair and selected the horse race you want, this is what you should see:


  • The blue column is the back side (you want the selection to win)
  • The pink column is the lay side (You want the selection to lose)


So, basically trading is like the stock exchange. But, instead of buying and selling commodities you are buying and selling betting prices.  That’s all trading is. Backing and Laying at different prices to lock in a profit.

It sounds simple and the principle is simple. Maximise your profit, keep losses to a minimum and just keep doing the same over and over again.

There are many strategies to trading which I will go into later. Different methods suit different people and their personalities.

Betfair Cards

Betfair work in decimal odds instead of fractional odds. You can read my post here about how to work out decimal odds.  If you hover over the odds on betfair it will show you the fractional odds as well. Like this:


Decimal odds


The money in the boxes under the odds is just money waiting to get matched at that price. So on Anglo Saxson there is £19 on the back side at 6 and £2 on the lay side at 6.2 waiting to get matched. It does get more complicated than that but as this post is called “Trading On Betfair For Beginners” I won’t go into details here.

How do you make a profit by trading the horses?

As I said earlier, the principle is simple. Let me show you an example below:


Trading On Betfair For Beginners (Learn the basics)


So in the above image I have backed Pour Me A Drink for £10 at 3.5 and if the horse wins, I win £24.50, if the horses loses then I lose my £10. By the way, the winning total is minus my betfair commission. I have it set that way.

       This is my bet receipt ?



In this next image I have layed Pour Me A Drink for £10 at 3.45. So, because I managed to lay at a lower price it leaves me a small profit on my selection if it wins and I lose nothing if it loses.




    This is my bet receipt ?



That is the basics of trading in a nutshell. Obviously there is a lot more to it, like learning to read graphs and weight of money etc, but the basics is lay at lower odds and back at higher odds.

Example above:

Pour Me A Drink wins the race

  • £10 back bet at 3.5 = £25 profit
  • £10 lay bet at 3.45 = £24.50 loss

Total win 50p

Pour Me A Drink loses the race

  • £10 back at 3.5 = £10 loss
  • £10 lay bet at 3.45 = £10 win

Total win 0.00

But, because I greened up the 50p profit is spread across all the runners. In this case it was 14p profit.

So it doesn’t matter who wins the race we profit.

Now I’m only using small stakes here but say I was using £100 stakes then it would be £1.40 on every runner. You get my drift! (Not advised while learning to trade)

In trading terms we call it Greening Up instead of cash-out. When you get the basics of trading then you would definitely need trading software like The Geeks Toy that I use. It just makes trading so much easier. 

Here are a few benefits of having trading software:

  • Multi Bet Tool – Good for dutching etc
  • Multi-Market Trading – You can trade on more than one market at the same time.
  • Advanced charts – Great for visualising data.
  • Practise Mode – Practise without losing money.
  • Support + Forum – Help is always there 24/7

This is taken from my Geeks Toy review which you can read here. They give a 14 day FREE trial so it’s worth signing up just for the freebie.


The image below is where I have already greened up.


Trading Betfair For Beginners


You can trade on many different sports, but my advice would be to pick one sport and master it. Preferably one you enjoy watching as it makes trading so much more enjoyable.

Different trading techniques in Horse Racing


SCALPING – This would probably be the easiest to start with. Basically it is just taking one or two tick movements in price. My example above I took just the one tick 3.45 to 3.5. If I had taken two ticks then it would be 3.4 – 3.5. To scalp you need plenty of money in the market so the prices are quite stable. So the big race meetings that are televised always attract big money. This is the best type of races to practise scalping on.

SWING – This is where you wait for bigger price movements on a horse. Maidens and nursery races are good for swings. Horses that are unraced or gambles for small yards.  Some get heavily backed in and some drift like a barge. It takes more skill to learn to swing trade.

IN-PLAY – I wouldn’t advise looking at in-play until you learn the basics of trading on betfair. It’s fast and furious and you need balls of steel 🙂


Can you make money from sports trading?

The answer is 100% yes but, like most things in life it takes hard work. The mental side of trading is also challenging to say the least. You can read my sports trading psychology blog post I wrote last year here, just to get an idea what it takes.

Join forums, pay for a trading course and watch Youtube video’s. It all helps.

If you decide to start a journey trading it will be well worth it if you stick with it. There will be times you want to give up, it is challenging but you will be rewarded in the end.

Keep it simple starting out. Lay low and back high

Good Luck ?

Trading On Betfair For Beginners