In this article I'll cover the most profitable sports trading strategies I've ever used on the Betfair exchange. I won't bother mentioning the rest!
Some of them are beginner-friendly and quite easy to start making small profits with, making them ideal for those who are new to this and just want to try it out to see if it’s for them. Others are more advanced and thus require more experience.
Before we continue, please make sure you at least know the basics of Betfair and what sports trading actually is. In other words the functions and mechanics of the betting exchange and what constitutes Betfair ‘trading’ as opposed to just sports ‘betting’, as they are two very different things.
If in doubt, you can quickly bring yourself up to speed by pausing here to read my Betfair Trading Beginner’s Guide, and my Sports Trading Explained article. Doing so will make sure you get maximum value from this article and increase your chances of success on Betfair with any strategy you use.
Finding A Profitable Betfair Strategy
Any trading strategy will ultimately be judged on its profitability, and very little else. Rightly so.
However, some care must be taken as it's possible to be too focussed on that one 'metric' at the start, when you're just exploring methods to consider trying out, especially if you're a complete novice.
You might not hear it said very often, but my many years of experience both with trading and with helping others trying to learn, have shown me very clearly that some methods just ‘suit’ some people more than others.
Whether or not you're well-suited to a particular method will have a big impact on how profitable it will probably be for you.
Both your personality and your lifestyle play a very important role in whether a particular trading method works well for you or not.
- Are you left or right 'brained'?
- Are you a bean counter or an artist?
- Are you heavily risk-averse, or a natural risk-taker?
- What sort of income represents 'success' for you?
- Are you a morning person or a night-owl?
- How intelligent are you?
- How emotional are you?
- How self-disciplined are you?
The answers to these types of questions will likely be pivotal to your success in sports trading. And every person has different answers.
I've lost count of how many times I've heard beginner traders claim that certain methods do or don’t 'work', usually based on what they heard from 'someone in a chat room' or similar.
The fact is any method can ‘not work’ for you, if you don’t do it right or if you’re not in control of yourself, your emotions, your money, your self-discipline, your routines and so on.
That’s not to say there’s no such thing as profitable strategies, far from it! But be mindful of the point: Any trading technique is only as profitable as the trader allows it to be.
Another important point to remember is that all strategies, not just in sports trading but in any market on earth, can swing up and down in terms of success. Yes this is usually only over the short-term, but long-term fluctuations in market dynamics can and do take place. And that’s regardless of the trader using it.
Like just about anything in life, there is some ‘luck’ involved in trading at least over the short term. To say otherwise would be ridiculous.
However, as every good trader knows, if luck is playing more than a miniscule role in your trading results then you’re almost certainly doing something wrong, or you’re gambling more than trading, and that’s quite common in learner traders so watch out for it!
Fundamentally, what defines a profitable or successful sports trading strategy is its ability to return consistent profits over the long term.
Note the bold, as that’s vital especially for beginner traders. If you try trading with a certain method and find you make huge profits on your first day, or even your first whole week of using it, beware!
That isn’t long enough to know very much yet, neither about your strategy, nor about your ability to use it. For all you know, you could be making mistakes and ‘getting away with it’, for now anyway.
Testing Trading Strategies
I strongly suggest you trade conservatively with minimum stakes when learning any new method.
As a bare minimum you need to see an entire month of consistent results without much ’swing’ in the profit and loss figures, to even begin to think you’re using a successful method and able to use it properly. Ideally that would be more like 3-6 months.
The Betfair stategies below are all known to be capable of earning consistent profits. That doesn’t mean a bad or inexperience trader can’t lose money with them.
But if used properly, carefully, and sensibly, all strategies below can make reliable and often substantial profits.
Types of Sports Trading Strategies
There are three broad types as outlined below:
Set and Forget
This refers to any method where you do not need to exit your trade after placing the entry/order.
There aren’t a lot of examples but one good one is Laying The Field. This is a strategy for trading horse racing where you carefully select races where close finishes are likely, then you lay all runners for level (equal) stakes at low odds.
When you get a close finish in a race, sometimes 3 or more horses all trade at very low odds (well below 2.0) before the finish. In such cases you can often get lay bets matched on several runners.
Obviously only one can win (99.9% of the time anyway!) which means you lose your lay bet on that one, but you win on any others.
It’s not my favourite type of strategy mainly because I moved on to bigger and better things as my trading advanced, but I have fond memories of doing it regularly.
Seeing a close finish knowing your lay bets are being matched and it’s money in the bank, no thinking needed after placing the bets sometimes hours before the race, it can be pretty exciting.
These days I prefer to be involved more deeply in markets, analysing what the market is doing etc. But methods like this can be a great way for beginner’s to dip their toe in the water and learn how sports trading works at the simplest level, and hopefully make a few quid in the process as well.
These methods are used when the event is not yet underway, so you’re only operating in the 'pre-market'.
Depending on the specific sport, this could mean you're trading seconds, minutes, hours or even days before the event, but your trades must always be closed before the event starts.
In football these are often referred to as ‘pre-match’ strategies. In horse racing they are ‘Pre-Race’ strategies.
N.B. Do not underestimate the importance of making sure your trades are closed before the event begins. Markets are much more stable and move more slowly in the pre-market compared to once the event is live. Your stakes will be too big for the volatile swings of the 'in-play' markets and you risk severe losses if you don't close-out in time.
These methods are used during a live event. Some Betfair in-play strategies require a trade to be opened before the event goes live, and closed out during the game/race.
Others are both opened and closed during the live event.
Both types are in-play methods. An example for football markets would be my approach to laying the draw.
My in-play racing method is an obvious example for the GGs!
In-play methods for horse racing can also be referred to as ‘in-running’ strategies.
Some would argue there is a 4th type called ‘Automated’ methods, also known as 'Betfair Bot' strategies.
I don’t use anything like this so I wasn’t going to include it but I suppose it’s probably useful for you to know what they are.
Automated methods are computer programs or Excel spreadsheets which do all the trading for you (both entries and exits) based on preset criteria, and they have no human input whatsoever after you hit the start button. Some people refer to these as ‘black box systems’.
I don’t have a lot of love for them, not just because they almost never work in terms of long term profitability but because they are almost completely useless in terms of teaching people how to trade the sports markets.
For this reason they are often the pipe-dream of many a lazy beginner, so if someone offers you one, think twice or contact me for a free reality check! 🙂
Even if the ‘strategy’ does somehow make reliable profits (which is rare but not unheard of), if the actual software crashes or hangs (or your PC does) you could say goodbye to your trading funds!
If the method it’s using stops working (and it nearly always will, as everyone hops on the new lazy way to ‘riches’!) you have nowhere to go but back to the drawing board to learn how to trade ‘properly’. So why not just do that in the first place?
As you can see, automated bot-style trading isn’t for me and to be honest I don’t think it’s for anyone else except skilled software developers who also have in-depth knowledge of trading, or those with huge sums of money to spend on a team of developers. There are so many variables which the software must account for to avoid unexpected losses, and these things have cleaned out many trading banks believe me! (In stocks/commodities as well as Betfair sports markets.)
It’s just much better in my view to sit and be there live to react on the fly as needed, apply your thoughts, analysis, risk calculations, judge body language of players/horses etc. Maybe it’s just my age, but I tend to think no robot can ever replace human thinking, they can certainly be more efficient and faster, but if they make the wrong move what use is that speed?!
Now you know the 3 main types, let’s get to the strategies themselves.
Strategies For Any Sport
Some sports trading techniques are not exclusive to one sport so they can be used in any. So before I mention the methods specific to each sport, I will cover the ones you can use in any Betfair market.
Some define this differently, definitions vary depending on who you listen to. Since you’re here, I’ll give you my definition! (Psst…. It's the correct one!)
Scalping is the process of trying to gain just one tick at a time, per trade. (What are ticks?). Some say otherwise but they are confusing it with other methods like range trading which I will get to in a second.
Proper scalping is where you find a very settled and stable market (obviously ‘pre-market’ only) where there is not much price movement going on, but just enough to offer small fluctuations in either direction. You also want markets with plenty of volume or liquidity.
In these markets you can place orders at various prices, and when the market moves to those prices you get ready and ‘steal’ a tick by ordering a back and lay bet one tick apart.
With a lot of practice you can actually use this to great effect in faster-paced sports markets too, and then you can do some very ‘cheeky’ scalping indeed!
** I'll soon publish a detailed article about scalping. Yes, ‘cheeky’ scalping will be covered too! Subscribe to be notified.
This is the next logical progression from scalping.
If a market is still quite stable but fluctuating inside a given ‘range’ of prices, you can place orders at either end of the range (backing at top, laying at bottom) and try to catch the ends of the range for a nice profit, usually between 4 and 10 ticks.
This can be done in football as pre-match markets are often very stable and extremely liquid. I used to do this for hours each day, enjoying every minute!
It’s pretty low-risk but can amount to decent profits if you stick at it and keep a close eye, exiting trades quickly if they break out of the range.
It’s a great trading strategy, especially for beginners due to the low risk and slow speeds involved. Gentle enjoyable trading: there’s nothing better to learn with!
** Range trading is another article I have in the pipeline.
This is where you lay all outcomes (runners, teams, or whatever) at prices which give you a guaranteed overall profit.
When you back something with a bookmaker they are taking the other side of your bet.
What’s the other side of a back bet? Ten points to you! Yes it’s called ‘laying’.
So the name bookmakers comes from their role in ‘making a book’ by laying all outcomes when taking back bets on all runners from you and all the other seedy individuals standing near you!
Hence when we lay all outcomes, we are doing what bookies do (albeit with a smaller gut and less tobacco stains on the fingers!) so we are now ‘bookmaking’.
I did a lot of this in years gone by, back when you could still find markets which didn’t have enough volume in them to make them fully ‘rounded off’, in other words you could occasionally lay all current prices for a small profit.
Obviously such opportunities became increasingly rare due to people doing the same thing (bots especially, see why I hate em?!) so I had to adapt my method slightly as I refused to let the method die, it was far too enjoyable and profitable (cumulatively). Enter ‘cheeky bookmaking’!
For more on this see my article: Bookmaking strategy for Betfair.
N.B. Clogs are optional 😉
* Again I have a dedicated page coming soon covering this approach.
Suffice to say it’s the opposite of bookmaking: Backing all outcomes for a guaranteed profit. But it’s approached in exactly the same way, yes even including the ‘cheeky’ bit!
The really cheeky bit is when you combine orders to do both a cheeky dutching trade and a cheeky bookmaking trade in the same market, so you grab some good stuff regardless of which way the markets move. But that’s not for this brief summary.
Sports News Trading
This is more what I’d call an ‘approach’ than a specific sports trading strategy in itself.
It’s a way of thinking and dealing with unexpected events to create profitable opportunities for yourself. That said, it’s an extremely valid method and has accounted for more than a few profitable trades for me.
You’re basically just looking to be ‘first to hear’ about any news relating to the sports market you’re interested in trading. So if you’re into football trading you might be keeping your finger on the pulse of football news websites, TV and radio channels etc.
Imagine being the first to hear that a top team's top striker has just been injured during practice the day before a big game. Can you think which way their odds might go? I hope so, and no hints this time!
The same goes for tennis, horse racing, F1, golf, boxing and so on.
Listening to early news announcements can mean easy profits. I will be writing an article on this at some point so be sure to subscribe to the email list as I announce new articles to my subscribers by email. Here's a good example below:
I have my old stock trading mentor to thank for this one, as I adapted something he taught me and it works even better for sports traders!
He would keep abreast of news and announcements relating to any company or industry he was trading or remotely interested in.
Occasionally this would give him a big opportunity such as when companies announce a merger/acquisition, or perhaps announce profits are unexpectedly and significantly down compared to the previous year.
Think about Kraft and Nestle back in 2010 or any similar big news, and imagine being one of the first regular folks to hear about it. Then imagine you have a trading screen in front of you as you hear the news, and imagine everyone else needs at least a few hours to hear about it and buy/sell their shares, sometimes days!
Before a football game the team sheet is published, this tells us who’s in the starting line-up. I've lost count of how many big Premier League games made shock announcements like their star-striker being ‘benched’ for a game, much to the dismay of fans.
Big teams often do this when international tournaments are coming up, and when they don’t really ‘need’ their best player to be on the field. They don’t need to risk that million-pound-a-minute Rooney or Van Persie getting injured when they are only playing a bottom of the league team and they can already beat them with their B-team.
More to the point, if they have a big Europa League game coming up, it makes sense to keep their best talent off the field beforehand if they can.
So if Man U was 1.46 to win against Dartmoor Young Offenders B Team (I jest) with Rooney playing, once he is removed (especially if a young trainee striker is used), their price might drift out to 1.56 or maybe even nearer 1.7. If I laid at 1.46 and backed to close the trade after the ’move’ has finished, I can net a nice little sum for virtually zero risk, with big stakes as liquidity on football is generally huge. Nice laid-back trading at its best.
Enjoying this article? Please say thanks by sharing...
I have a full page covering the best football trading strategies so I'll just mention a few here.
Note that those mentioned here are all in-play football strategies, but don’t discount the pre-match methods like the ‘team news’ approach explained above.
As my regular readers know, I began trading football many years ago now, and so I have quite a few strategies in my toolkit. Full disclosure: I haven’t published all of them, but not because I don’t want to share them. I just haven’t found the time to document them well enough yet.
As those who've read any of my sports trading books know, I don't want to publish half-baked content that's practically useless to my readers. If I tell people about a method, it needs to be complete, thorough, and totally usable. Finding time for that hasn’t been easy of late.
That's about to change a bit in 2023 though. I plan to publish many more articles and possibly another ebook quite soon, as in-play football on Betfair can be extremely lucrative, as well as being surprisingly beginner-friendly.
Lay The Draw
This may just be the oldest and most tried and tested football strategy out there.
I laugh every time hear someone (usually a novice or never-trader) claiming it ‘doesn’t work’ or ‘can’t work’ because it’s ‘been around too long’. That shows a real ignorance of both football and markets, those two things don’t change. They might adjust a little, but they don't change fundamentally.
Many in-play traders have been netting substantial profits for many years using this method, and I am talking tens or hundreds of thousands per year. I guess that’s just luck huh? (Rhetorical question alert) 🙂
Remember that profits are a function of two things:
- A valid strategy (LTD is about as valid as they get)
- Size of stakes (directly related to size of trading bank)
Any disciplined trader using serious stakes with any functional strategy, even one most consider only ‘moderately profitable’, can do real damage in the markets.
When I occasionally mention how one strategy is highly profitable compared to others, I am generally referring to how much profit can be earned with the same stakes, whether that’s £2 or £2000 per trade, or anything in between.
Here’s a very brief summary of the lay the draw method:
- Use stats to analyse the day’s card, finding games that match the criteria, generally a strong home team playing a weaker away team who score a lot of goals whilst their opponents concede at least a couple a game.
- Lay the draw (at suitable prices) before the game.
- Wait for expected goal, and trade out of your position a few minutes later when the market re-settles. (Or wait for second goal, slight twist on the method, higher profits but slightly more losing trades as an equaliser can kill the trade).
Wow, that’s definitely the shortest summary I've ever written!
Stats are King in football trading. Even when games go against the stats, they often come back towards the statistical expectations.
By analysing detailed statistics of form, goals scored versus conceded mainly, you can see what the market deems likely in terms of goals scored.
So if two teams are playing and their average scoring rate is 0.8 goals per game, and average conceding rate is say around 1, you can be pretty damn sure this will probably be a very uninteresting game with very few goals, likely 0-0, 1-0 to either team, or 1-1.
Yes occasionally they end up 5-1, but those are rare, and sports trading strategies are always about looking for the rule, not the exception. You can trade the exceptions too, but the market generally expects the rule, rightly so.
You then set up goal alerts (Futbol24 or similar sites/apps) to alert you when a goal is scored in that game (and many others you have also shortlisted). Out of 4 or 5 picks, one of these might just be an exception, where a very early goal is scored despite the low scoring stats.
If there’s a goal in the first 10 minutes my ears prick up and I might sometimes trade it at that point, but I am generally more interested in 2 goals (no matter which team scores them) within the first 20-25 minutes.
As you can imagine, it’s not common for this to happen. Remember we shortlisted these games for their terrible goal stats! But it does happen and more often than you’d think. Each one has a good chance of making me money too. There are various options for how to trade it, and that’s not really the important point here. The point is to understand the situation you are looking for.
The market expected hardly any goals, if any. Then 2 goals were fired in fairly soon after kick off. The market swings the other way as people pile on their bets thinking this will be a goal-fest. And it might be, but usually the stats show their merits as the game dies down and those two early goals were just an anomaly, a rare exception to an otherwise reliable rule.
The easiest way to trade it is to back Unders or lay Overs (2.5 goals or 1.5 goals) as soon as possible after the second goal goes in. The price will have shifted dramatically as the (emotional) punters involved in the market now panic and expect more goals, but actually the stats will often be proved right in suggesting it will not be a goal-fest.
I will usually watch the game once I am in a trade, just to check it really is going back to being as dismal as the stats suggested it should have been from the start. But you don’t have to do that, remember stats are more reliable than our own opinions!
I’ll then wait 20-30 minutes before trading out for a profit if no more goals are scored. If they are, I lose. The strike rate is good, but you'll obviously lose your stake sometimes.
This general approach can be applied in many more ways, just remember the golden rule: Stats are King! That’s not a guarantee for any single game, but it’s almost exactly that over the long term.
Under 2.5 goals
Contrary to the method above, this time you’re trading with the stats from kick off, hoping to avoid any exceptions. With the same careful stats analysis, you can usually find at least a few games each day with the same stats picture suggesting a very low number of goals expected.
You’d then back U2.5 goals before kick off and hold your position for 20 minutes into the game when you trade out and green up, hopefully before any goals are scored. If you get unlucky and a goal is scored, you have two options for dealing with it. It doesn’t matter which you choose, so long as you stick to it for the long term.
You can either trade out immediately, every single time. Or you can hold on until break even and get out then for no loss, but of course risking another goal and a bigger loss in that case. The choice is yours, I prefer the get out immediately just to make things less emotionally charged and let me focus on the next game/trade.
This method worked well for me in the past, I don’t use it as much these days but don’t let that put you off especially if you’re just starting out. It’s these types of simple, rules-based sports trading strategies that I cut my teeth on, they are great for learning and growing your experience of the markets.
Random in-play trading opportunities
When unexpected things happen in a game or when your knowledge of the team’s situation and/or stats tells you something unique about the game, there are often many different ways to extract some profit.
I can’t list them all as the possibilities are endless, the idea is to just know enough about your chosen sport and the actual game you’re looking at, to be able to spot them when they arise. As an example… trading the No Score Draw, often referred to by footie fans as a “No Score Bore” for obvious reasons!
Sometimes there are games where both teams only need a draw for their desired outcome in the league standings, rather than the win which most teams are usually seeking.
As you probably know, in football a team gets 3 points for win, 1 for draw, and 0 for a loss. Often only one point is needed by a team to secure a move up the league table, especially in late season where they may have zero chance of moving up more than one place due to too many points being needed, but where they could drop several places in the table without that one measly point from this game you’re looking at.
Sometimes both teams in the same game are in that position which is even better for us. If you were running a football team, and one point would mean overtaking your rivals from the other side of town, but zero points (a loss) would mean you drop 3 points, perhaps into the dreaded relegation zone, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to ensure that you did not lose the game?! Of course you would, and so would every one of your players as their wages will drop dramatically if you get relegated!
In such situations, I have seen games where both teams are almost just passing the ball around like at training practice! They are so scared of conceding that they won’t commit players beyond the halfway line.
I've heard commentators say things like “They are clearly parking the bus today”, meaning they are just keeping all players right in front of their own goal to block any chance of the other team scoring. You shouldn’t need me to tell you all the ways you could use that knowledge to your advantage.
Ok, if I must! You could back Under 2.5 goals, better still you could back Under 1.5 or even 0.5 goals as the profit will be greater, although the risk will go up as well.
But in this exact situation I would probably go with backing the draw, especially if it’s priced higher than I think it should be based on the above knowledge, and it often will be.
Experience taught me that backing the draw here is the best option because, whilst neither team will be trying hard to score, one might! And if they do, the other team will suddenly ‘un-park the bus’ and get crazily busy about scoring a goal, since the loss is devastating and they are now in a fight for survival, just that one goal meaning survival. So the likelihood that 1-0 becomes 1-1 is very high, meaning not just the avoidance of a losing trade, but a much bigger profit.
Scalping and range trading have already been explained as they can be used in any sports market, but they are worth reminding you about here as they work great in racing markets.
Please note this page only briefly refers to some of the strategies on my site. For a full list please visit the horse racing trading page.
This is a great beginner-friendly strategy, especially for those seeking very slow markets to learn in. I had a piece of software written several years ago which took all the work out of the research needed as there are quite a few checks to make to shortlist your selections.
The method is pretty simple but needs care with cross-referencing your thoughts against 3rd party sources like popular tipsters’s selections, betting market data, book rounding and other stuff.
That research will normally find a few runners each day which are poised to shorten (or sometimes drift), and by doing the analysis early in the morning you can often take some easy profit out of the markets as they form, i.e. as the volume picks up when punters wake up and start betting. It’s basically a way of predicting what the main volume of money will do when it arrives in the markets.
This isn’t just as simple as backing the tipsters selections, although I have done that in the past with some success. Things aren’t quite so straight forward any more so you need more data than just that one indicator.
I intend to get the software re-written (it had bugs and wasn’t very user-friendly) later this year and very much hope to offer it to my readers either for free or for a very low price as I think it’s a fantastic entry to the racing markets for nervous novices! I will send out an update when the software is ready. (Subscribe to get notified)
Laying The Field
I mentioned this earlier as a good example of a pre-event method where no trading or decision-making during the race is required.
You're basically laying all runners in the hope of getting at least two of your lay orders matched during the running of the race, leaving you a profit on the loser which is bigger than the loss on the winner.
A tongue-twister I know! Get 3 or more matched and up go the profits. It's neat and tidy, a very novice-friendly method, and requires no thinking during the event as there's no 'exit' needed on the trade, which is a Godsend to some hot-headed newcomers!
This is a strictly pre-race method, trades should never ever go in play, but since it’s usually done in the last 10 minutes before the race runs, it carries risk if you’re not disciplined about your exits. Many traders have lost their shirts by ‘going in play’ either by accident or, more often, due to greed or chasing losses.
This strategy is widely regarded as ‘the big one’, the coveted Holy Grail of horse racing trading and perhaps the most challenging of all sports trading strategies. Of course, where there is a big challenge, there are big rewards, and that’s certainly true of this approach.
It’s often referred to as ‘swing’ trading but I have no idea why, surely the idea of a trend is that it trends one way rather than swinging like a pendulum back and forth. A trend is, by definition, uni-directional!
If swings back and forth were taking place, the correct terms would be trends and reversals, a valid way to trade but definitely nothing to do with swinging, not a fruit bowl or bunch of car keys in sight! 🙂
Trend trading makes up a large part of what is now commonly called ‘Pre Race Trading’, and it’s extremely lucrative but famously difficult to master.
Hell, it took me many months to explain it all in an ebook! So I am hardly about to try explaining it here, but if you’re interested in it you can find out more on the Pre-Race Trading page or, if you’re really serious about taking it up full time, you might want to consider my pre-race ebook which has widely been reported as ‘by far the best product available’ for learning how to conquer these markets. (Testimonials)
Back To Lay
This is a truly fantastic in-play strategy.
It's extremely easy to get to grips with compared to most other methods, yet it can also be remarkably profitable too.
That combination makes it easily the best pick for any budding racing trader looking to hit the ground running (pun half-intended!)
Many horses have a preferred 'running position'. The strategy consists of finding horses which are known for running at the front of the field during a race, right from the start usually. As a result they always trade at much shorter prices ‘in-running’ than they really ‘should’ based on their ability to actually win the race.
Their price drops quickly when they charge to the front at the start of a race, before usually tailing off in the second half when their price rapidly drifts back out.
This trading strategy seeks to profit from that running style, by backing the carefully chosen selections before the race, and laying the bet off to close your trade during the race, ideally when it’s still at the front or when you have your target profit reached.
Full details are given in my back to lay racing trading article.
I also recently produced my very popular In-Play Racing ebook explaining it in full detail.
This is so similar to the Back to Lay strategy that it is little more than a twist on the same thing. B2L V2.0 maybe!
The name is derived from ‘D.O.B.’ which stands for ‘double or bust’, meaning that you run a back to lay (B2L) trade but with the intention of just seeing the horse’s price halved during the running of the race, when your (already ordered) exit is matched.
It’s basically just a 'set and forget' version of the standard B2L method, no exit is needed as you place the ‘dobs’ and wait to see how you did because the bets are placed before the race runs (your exit lay bet included). So if your lay bet isn’t matched, your runner ‘didn’t dob’, so it’s a full stake loser.
Thus you either win double, or lose, meaning the strike rate is vital to making it successful long-term. Whilst 51% is obviously required to begin making profits, you want to do a lot better than that to make a genuine success of it. It’s a bit too much like the Martingale betting system for my liking, and thus feels a bit ‘gambly’ rather than ‘tradey’!!
Besides, I think standard B2L trading beats it, especially when you develop a good ‘eye’ for horse racing, as you can manually judge the best second to exit and take your profit.
With skill and experience this can mean fewer losers and sometimes even bigger wins. That said, dobbing is without doubt an excellent and well-proven strategy, and it removes the need to ‘decide’ when to exit your trade so for some people it’s found to be much easier than standard B2L trading.
* If this sounds like something you’d like to try, stay tuned for my forthcoming article on dobbing.
Lay to Back
In simple terms this is just the opposite of the back to lay method. It can be used in conjunction with it.
It’s a valid method but it’s not as profitable as the one above, and carries slightly more risk. It’s definitely worth learning and trying out though, some people love it and use it daily.
You’re shortlisting horses which don’t like to run at the front of the pack, preferring to sit in the middle or rear of the bunch and make their move later in the race. If you lay these before the race, their odds will usually rise if they run as expected, at which point you back at higher odds and take your profit out while the horse runs in it’s preferred position.
* This method is another one I will soon be covering with a dedicated article.
This is one of the strategies I have not found time to write much about as yet, but it’s worth researching for those interested. It can be very profitable, although it does take a serious amount of practice, as well as a good knowledge of race courses. I have a friend who does quite a bit with this strategy and he will be helping me put together an article in the near future.
To give you a brief explanation, this strategy involves watching a lot of racing, especially at certain tracks where you become extremely familiar with the layout, ground etc.
You then watch races very closely and look for early indications that one of the stronger horses is ‘flagging’ or finding the going hard. You’re basically looking for signs that a horse’s ‘race is run’, but spotting it well before most other viewers have noticed, including the commentators! (As you can see, you’ll need to gain a very keen eye to be consistently successful.)
You’ll then lay that runner before it (hopefully) tails off, when its price drifts rapidly out and you close your trade for a profit.
You can easily imagine the profit potential when getting this right, but if you get it wrong it can be costly. Hence I don’t want to give out more than this for now as I don’t want people to try it and lose money due to my lack of explanation.
I will update this page once I have something much closer to proper ‘instructions’.
Tennis is (in my view anyway) a great game to watch, which makes trading it an enjoyable and fairly tranquil experience especially for those who hate football and have no love for horse racing either!
Just like with football, Tennis stats are valuable and well worth analysing prior to trading. There are some general things to keep in mind with tennis trading, the importance of serve (and breaks of serve) being a big one.
Watching the Betfair market while you watch a few games is a great way to start learning as you will see some important things like how a winning point for the server usually shortens their price (depending on whether it’s early or late in the game) by around 1-2 ticks, whereas a break of serve will often make them drift 3-5 ticks.
Also bear strongly in mind the fact that women’s tennis has generally weaker service games compared to the mens game. In other words a break of serve is ‘easier’ to achieve, and thus more common (generally) in womens matches than mens.
Another tip, especially if you’re looking for service games being won, is to focus on fast surfaces rather than clay. The slower surface helps the player receiving serve to return the ball, less aces and less speed generally reduce the chances of service games being easily held by the server.
Finally I would recommend not listening to commentary, mute the audio or perhaps listen to a foreign live stream so you can’t understand the commentary! The stats are far more important than almost anything the commentators have to say, and they can distract you from your gameplan.
I have a page listing the various methods giving the pros and cons of each and suggesting how each scoreline can be traded. You can read that on the tennis trading strategies page.
Trading Other Sports
Once you understand the Betfair exchange and how markets move during the games, you can trade just about any sport you like by finding your own approaches and methods for extracting profit when certain situations arise. Knowledge is a very valid edge in trading, so if you have specific experience or expertise in any sport it’s well worth looking into the markets for that sport if there are any.
A friend of mine trades rugby, he has traded horse racing, football and tennis in the past, but he has such a passion for rugby that he decided a few years ago to try to make that work so he could spend his trading time enjoying a game of rugby rather than other sports he isn’t that keen on.
Surprisingly, he quickly found he could make profits more easily with Rugby than with the others. This was mainly due to his in-depth understanding of the game, how players tire and how ‘runs of play’ have a big impact on the game.
He then saw how the odds markets (in play) are quite ‘green’, by that I mean that the markets are not as ‘perfectly formed’ as they are in football or horse racing, presumably because there are less people ‘trading’ them as opposed to just betting on them. This suggests it was a ripe opportunity, and his results definitely seem to back that idea up!
He doesn’t have a set ‘strategy’ as such, he just sits down and carefully watches a game which he has decided could have good swings back and forth, then he watches and waits for what he think is a good opportunity. He made copious amounts of notes (vital when learning or devising any method!) and this paid dividends for him.
I saw him trade a few games and was blown away by how easy it seemed, at least to him since he has such a good grasp of the game. I noticed he was often trading against the run of play, rather than with it.
He said teams regularly get over-bet when they are ahead. So if a team went ahead after a tight start to the game, their odds would shorten far more than they ‘should’ based on how long is left in the game as well as other factors like whether the losing team has its best players on the field or not.
He does nicely and I am quite envious of him when I see his trades. If you're a fan of the game you can read a little more here: Rugby Trading on Betfair.
Golf trading is quite similar. I know sweet Fanny Adams about the game so I have never traded it, but I know quite a few people trade it successfully. From what I can gather it’s similar to rugby in that, if you have watched Golf for years and know every part of the game, you will likely see plenty of profitable opportunities on the ladders.
If you’re a golf fan, next time you watch a game maybe start watching the prices on Betfair on a laptop screen next to you, and start noticing patterns, make written notes of what you see and before long you could be putting that to good use while you enjoy your favourite sport.
Choosing The Best Sports Strategy For YOU
Forget about aiming for maximum profit potential to start with.
Virtually all methods can be scaled (with bank/stake size) to a healthy income if you really master it, so it’s much more important to give yourself the best chance of mastering a strategy, any strategy, before trying to replace your day-job with a career as a full-time sports trader.
In turn, the best way to maximise your chances of success, is to choose a sport as familiar to you as possible. Knowledge and interest is useful partly for psychological benefit but also because it will usually mean you already know the rules of the sport you’re trading, and that means fewer mistakes and less chance of confusion during a live trade.
This way all you have to worry about understanding is the market itself.
That said, if you’re one of the few people who have no more interest in any particular sport versus any other, I would probably suggest you choose between horse racing and football. Then pick one of the simplest strategies and focus on only that one for at least a few months.
For horse racing I would say the In Running strategy is a great choice for beginners, although you must still study it carefully and practice with minimum stakes.
For football I would suggest learning how to lay the draw first as this method will teach you about the sport, the markets, and the importance of analysing statistics.
With careful analysis you can make a shortlist of games which are already tipped in your favour and thus likely to see you become profitable quickly and with relative ease.
Thanks for reading. Remember to Subscribe for updates about new content and strategies.
If you found this article useful please say thanks by sharing it...
What’s the most profitable sports trading strategy?
Pre Race trading is widely considered the most profitable Betfair method. It's extremely lucrative for the relatively few people who truly master it. And that is no small task I can assure you!
If I told you that you could earn £5,000 per month in the pre-race markets after 3 years of practice, but you could earn £1,000 per month in 6 months time with another method like In Play trading, which would seem the ‘best’ option to you?
What if both those figures were trebled?
See, it’s not quite as simple as theoretical profit potential. For the number to be of any real relevance, you have to assume that you have mastered that strategy, and that’s a huge assumption if you’re a complete beginner.
I should mention that there are plenty of people making significant sums, plenty more than a doctor earns for example, out of nothing more than football trading using Lay the Draw as their staple strategy, with a few value bets and in play opportunities thrown in.
If you can get off to a good start with any method, which means good strike rates and consistent profits (regardless of size), then the future will take care of itself, and will likely be a bright one for you.
Do you have to pay tax on sports trading earnings?
I am not a tax advisor. If/when you genuinely need an answer to this question, I strongly urge you to get a good tax advisor to assess your personal situation.
When the time comes that you have to deal with this ‘problem’, trust me it’s one of those ‘good problems’ to have! (And you shouldn’t be looking online for answers, you should pay your own advisor to look after you on a one-to-one basis. It'll be worth every penny.)
I will leave it to you to learn all about that fun (yeah right!) subject when the time comes. For now, let’s just hope that time does come for you! ?
How long does it take to master a Betfair sports strategy?
It depends on the strategy you're learning. For simpler methods, at least 3-6 months. For more complex methods like PR racing trading, 1-2 years would be a reasonable expectation.
It also depends what you mean by 'master'. For me that term means you are fully confident to attack the markets with that trading technique every single day, and expect to make consistent long term profits. Obviously that's a huge success and could be life-changing for anyone.
Such a lofty goal should not be rushed, and therefore I'd suggest it's best to consider yourself in 'training' for at least 12-24 months. You will know what you've truly mastered your trading.
Is It Legal To Trade On Sports?
I’m not sure why but people still seem to ask this question from time to time! Yes, of course, it’s 100% legal. This site would be on the ‘darknet’ if not ?
Is software required for trading sports on Betfair?
It depends on which trading strategy you're using. Some do, some don't. Trading software certainly 'powers up' your trading and even when it's not essential, it can still be very useful to have.
It's best if you look into any of the strategies you're interested in and on the page covering it I will explain the software requirements, if any.
Software offers you more protections (like automated stop losses), and gives you a better general view of each market so in my view any serious trader would use software even if it is possible to trade their chosen method on the Betfair website.