Using your own criteria, you determine whether you wish to back or lay a particular outcome, say whether Galileo, the Derby winner, will win the Prix de Arc de Triomphe.
You choose an event and are presented with the three best offered odds and stakes which others users, punters operating as layers, are offering. For example, on Galileo to win the Arc, whereas the best Racing Post Pricewise table odds about Galileo might be 9/4, you might typically have been offered: 5/2 (to £1200 stake), 11/4 (£250) or even 3/1(£100). (Although you should be aware that although most conventional online bookmakers no longer deduct tax, the betting exchanges obviously deduct some form of commission from winnings.) However, if you are still not happy with what's on offer, you can enter the odds at which you would like to strike a bet together with the stake you wish to bet, and place a request (say 100/30 to £300) which will then appear on the request side of the interface and may then be accommodated by a layer.
Set the odds you wish to offer and the stake you are prepared to accept at those odds, say 3/1 Galileo to a £125 stake for the Arc if, perhaps, you are of the opinion he represents poor value tackling a different distance on an undulating track and going on which he is unproven. Providing the odds you are offering slightly top the best bookies odds available, your bet is likely to be taken up; you then pocket £125 when Galileo fails to win or stump up £375 if he does win. That sounds like a big downside but many punters have losing runs of over 30 bets without a winner. How many Bismarcks (short-priced favourites who could lose) do you think you could identify in a row? Unlike a bookmaker, you are under no obligation to offer odds on every contender. In the same way a backer cherrypicks the contenders they wish to back, you can cherrypick the ones you want to lay.
The nature of a betting exchange is for it to really work you need a very high volume of punters, as without this volume you can never be confident of matching bets at reasonable odds. What this has meant is that it is very hard for new betting exchanges to get off the ground. As a consequence over the last couple of years two exchanges have grown to be the market leaders, these where Flutter and Betfair. At the beginning of 2002 these two betting exchanges merged under the name of Betfair. It is now the case that over 95% of online person to person wagers are carried out at Betfair, and realistically, at the moment this is the only place worth using for exchange betting. The Other Betting exchange to consider is Betdaq.
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