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What Is In Play Betting?


With the rise of the internet, so too came the rise of in play betting. In recent years in play betting has quickly ascended across Europe and around the world with many professional punters in the UK and elsewhere now operating as full-time 'traders', much like stockbrokers playing the stock exchange.


How does In Play betting work?

In play betting, also known as live betting involves betting on a sporting event while that event is being played. Live betting was first offered by betting exchanges such as Betfair and Matchbook. This novel approach allowed bettors on the exchanges to place bets while the event was in running. 

For example, bettors on the exchanges could bet on a live Premier League match across a range of markets such as 1X2 match result, Asian handicap as well as goal totals among other markets.

If Chelsea were playing Arsenal and Chelsea went down a goal early in the second half, the odds would be adjusted to reflect Chelsea's chances of coming back to either win or draw the match. If you believed Chelsea were set to rally and overcome the deficit, you could place a bet on Chelsea to win the match.

While football is by far the most popular sport when it comes to in play betting, bettors can now bet on a broad range of sporting events at virtually every bookmaker as well as the betting exchanges. You can bet live on events such as horse racing, cricket, basketball, baseball, American football, rugby union, rugby league, ice hockey and many many others. Regardless of whichever sport you like to bet on, you can be sure that a bookmaker is offering live betting odds for that sport, league or competition.

How are in-play odds set?

While it depends from sport to sport, live betting odds are fundamentally derived from pre-match odds with the current score, time remaining and factors such as red cards etc incorporated. 

So for example, if Manchester United begin a match with Liverpool at odds of 2.50 to win and take a single goal lead with 20 minutes remaining in the match, the odds for them winning the match will be slashed to very short odds. 

While the math involved in this calculation is complex, the fundamentals involved remain the same. In determining the odds for any in-play sporting event, you must take into account pre-match expectations (pre-match betting odds), the current score or margin and the time remaining in the match. 

Where can you bet on sports In-Play?

There was a time many years ago when the only place you could bet on sports in-play was with the betting exchanges such as Betfair and Betdaq. With the explosion in popularity of live betting, bookmakers across the world began to offer in play betting markets

While live betting markets were at first limited to only the most popular sporting events and competitions, every bookmaker now offers a seemingly endless range of in play betting markets. It doesn't matter which sports, which leagues, which tournaments or competitions you like to bet on, virtually every bookmaker on the planet will have live betting markets available.

Choosing A Bookmaker For In Play Betting

Choosing the most suitable bookmaker for in play betting depends upon firstly, the sport you want to bet on. Some bookmakers offer a deeper range of live betting markets than other on select sports. For example, if you want to bet on English football, it's worth finding a bookmaker that offers the best menu of betting market for English leagues.

When it comes to major sports such as football, basketball, ice hockey, baseball, American football and horse racing, most bookmakers will offer a satisfactory range of betting markets for in play wagering.

But when it comes to more obscure sports, it pays to do your research. There is no point signing up with a given bookmaker wanting to bet on rugby league tournaments when the bookmaker you''ve chosen only offers a minimal range of live betting markets for those tournaments.

Another consideration is betting odds. While betting odds for in play betting are improving across the industry, some bookmakers do not offer odds as generous as others. It pays to do your research and use an odds comparison site like Smartbets to find the bookmakers that consistently offer the best odds, only on the sports and leagues you want to bet on, but just as importantly, the markets that you want to bet on.

Finally, you should sign up with a bookmaker that offers you the best in-play betting tools. These include features such as live streaming, live scores and statistics and most importantly the option to "cash out" of your bets. We will discuss cash out shortly. If you are looking to bet seriously on live betting, it's worth having access to features that will enhance your chances of making money long term.  

 

Things to consider before becoming an In-Play bettor

It should be noted however, that in play betting isn't something for those just starting out in betting. It takes a great deal of experience with those particular live betting markets in order to be successful long-term. But if you have rich insight into a particular sport it can be tremendously rewarding.

A way of approaching the discipline is starting out with small stakes. Even if you have some expertise in betting it is recommended that you start out slow. One reason you should start out slow is due to the fact that live betting requies a higher standard of discipline than pre-match betting. It's far easier to be caught up in the moment and over react while events are in progress than simply placing a bet before the event begins. So start out with small stakes, build strength in your discipline and raise your stakes as your confidence rises.

Also keep in mind that betting on real time or live events might sound like you are betting on events that are taking place right now. But some broadcasts are transmitted with a small delay. This means that someone physically present at an event can have a huge advantage because they actually see things before you do. E.g. a person standing at the horse track sees that the favourite has suddenly fallen way behind will in some cases have four seconds to trade bets in the time gap before the TV signal reaches your telly. Therefore you may want to start out betting on events that are not subject to make or break incidents.

You should also study markets without placing any bets. One way to make money betting on in play events is to understand how markets react to events on the field of play. For example, a team taking a 2-0 lead midway through the second half may cause the 1X2 market to over react, with the odds for the leading team shortening excessively. While it may be the case that the chances of the match ending in a draw are slim, the odds on offer may present good value with the market underestimating the chances of the losing team making a comeback.

In Play Betting And Cash Out

In the early days of in play betting, bettors primarily used betting exchanges such as Betfair and Betdaq to trade live betting markets. What is trading? Trading is where a bettor places a bet either pre-match or in running and then once events and odds have turned in their favour, they will place another bet so as to ensure a gauranteed profit. 

Let's consider an example. We have placed a bet on Everton to defeat West Ham in an upcoming Premier League match, our odds are 2.50. The match begins and after 40 minutes, Everton score a goal taking a 1-0 lead. Their odds drop to 1.30. We can then lay a bet (i.e bet against Everton winning) so as to ensure we make a profit no matter how the match ends. 

What is Cash Out?

Cash Out is now available at virtually every bookmaker and provides bettors with the opportunity to bet and trade on live betting markets without having to do the math of backing and laying on the betting exchanges. 

Simply log in to your bookmaker account and find the betting market that you want to bet on. Let's say we want to bet on the Asian handicap market for an upcoming Champions League match between Manchester City and Bayern Munich. We place a bet of £100 on Bayern Munich +0.5 at odds of 1.95.

The match begins after 45 uninspiring minutes we enter halftime 0-0. At this point we check what Cash Out value our bookmaker is offering us. The Cash Out value is based on your pre-match bet stake, your pre-match bet odds and the current match odds. In this case your bookmaker offers you a profit of £25. You have three options:

  • You can choose to claim the profit and close your bet. 
  • You can choose to execute a partial cash out
  • You can choose to keep your entire stake live

What you choose to do will depend on your strategy and how you feel the match is likely to play out. If you're confident that Bayern are going to play a strong second half, you may choose to keep your full £100 stake live. Or you may choose to execute a partial cash out.

What is a partial cash out? It simply involves claim a portion of your profit (or your loss) and leaving the rest of your stake live. Many bettors choose to take the value of their original bet stake and leave the rest in play. This protects the bettor from any loss. No matter how the match concludes, they will either make a profit or breakeven.

Of course, you could claim your profit and get out of your bet. In this case we would take the £25 profit on offer rather than keep our £100 stake and the chance to win £95. Whichever way you want to approach it, tread cautiously and raise your stakes as you grow in confidence.

Cash Out is a great feature with bookmakers now giving you the ability to follow each of your standing bets, with the current cash out value clearly visible. Long gone are the days of backing and laying on the betting exchanges. You can now executre a Cash Out trade effortlessly from your desktop or mobile device.