Sun 06 August 2023 | 7:54

Exchanges vs bookmakers: What’s best for football betting and why?

Football betting is a thrilling way for fans to engage with the sport they love. The excitement of predicting match outcomes and potentially earning rewards for correct predictions draws many to the world of betting.

Two primary options exist in this domain: betting exchanges and traditional bookmakers. Both come with their unique characteristics, advantages, and drawbacks, but what’s the difference, and which should you choose?

Here, we’re going to explore the differences, pros, and cons of both to help readers make an informed decision about what's best for their football betting endeavors.

Comparing Bookmakers and Exchanges

First things first, you have to understand what back and lay betting are. In traditional bookmaking, you only have the option to back a particular outcome, meaning you bet on something to happen. In betting exchanges, you can also lay an outcome, meaning you're betting on something not to happen. Here's a closer look at these concepts:

Back Betting:

This is when you bet on a particular outcome to happen, like a team winning a match. If your chosen team wins, you win the bet. This is the standard form of betting with bookmakers.

Lay Betting:

Exclusive to betting exchanges, lay betting allows you to take on the role of the bookmaker. If you lay a bet on a team, you are betting that the team will

not win

. If the team loses or draws, you win the bet. In other words, you might want to put money on


not winning, so you would lay them. This means your bet will pay out if the match ends in a draw, or their opponents Madrid win.

There are other key differences between the two types of platforms too:

Odds Comparison

The odds between the two platforms may vary significantly, with exchanges generally providing better odds but charging a commission on winnings, while bookmakers offer slightly lower odds.

User Experience

The complexity of exchanges may be a barrier to entry for beginners, whereas the simplicity of bookmakers might be more appealing. In contrast, seasoned bettors may appreciate the control and flexibility of exchanges.

Betting Exchange: Definition and How it Works

Betting exchanges are platforms that allow peer-to-peer betting, where individuals bet against each other rather than against a bookmaker. The odds are determined by the market, influenced by the users themselves.


  • Better Odds: Generally, betting exchanges offer better odds as they reflect the collective view of all the bettors.

  • Lay Bets: These platforms provide an opportunity to lay bets, where you can bet against a specific outcome.

  • Flexibility: The control and flexibility in trading positions and locking in profits make exchanges appealing for experienced bettors.


  • Complexity: Beginners might find exchanges a bit daunting as there are a lot of numbers on the screen, and you need to ensure you’re choosing the correct outcome and not laying instead of backing.

  • Liquidity Issues: Less popular matches may suffer from low liquidity, making it hard to place bets. This happens when there aren’t many bets on the chosen market, for example, if you want to lay $20 but there’s only $15 liquidity, the platform won’t be able to accept your bet.

Commission: Exchanges charge a commission on winnings, which can eat into profits. However, it’s usually a small percentage (0-5%, depending on the platform and the plan you’re on), which is comparable with deposit and withdrawal fees on some bookmakers’ websites anyway. For a more exact figure: “Betfair Exchange is 5%. This is compared to 2% at Smarkets. With 0% commission on many sports, Betdaq scores highly in this area” (source:



Bookmaker: Definition and How it Works

Traditional bookmakers involve betting against the bookmaker's odds, set by professional oddsmakers. They aim to create balanced books to ensure profits regardless of the outcome. This is the type of betting that most football fans will be familiar with—think of high street bookmakers and on-course bookies.


  • Simplicity: For many, the straightforward approach of betting with bookmakers is appealing.

  • Bonuses: Bookmakers often offer bonuses and promotional offers, enticing new and existing customers.

  • Availability: Even less popular matches are generally available to bet on—it doesn’t matter whether there are 1000 bets or 1 bet on an event, you’ll still be able to place yours too.


  • Lower Odds: The odds are typically lower compared to exchanges as bookmakers factor in a profit margin to ensure that they still make a profit even when the hot favorite wins.

  • Less Control: You're stuck with the odds once the bet is placed, with no opportunity to trade positions. However, some online bookmakers nowadays will allow you to trade out a portion of your bet before the event finishes so you can either minimize losses or guarantee a profit regardless of how the rest of the event plays out.

  • Limitations: Successful bettors may face restrictions or limitations on their betting activities. This is especially true of those who consistently make use of promotions.

Strategies for Betting with Exchanges and Bookmakers

While the end goal is always to choose the winning team, the way you’ll go about placing your bets will vary depending on which type of platform you’re using.

Strategies for Exchanges

Exchange betting requires a different process than regular bookmaker betting. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Understanding Market Movements:

    Analyzing market trends and movements in betting exchanges can help you find value in both back and lay betting. This requires monitoring changes in odds and market sentiment. It’s also to your advantage if you have a sound understanding of the teams or players you are betting on, so you know what is likely to be an ideal market to put money on.

  • Leveraging Lay Bets:

    Lay betting allows you to profit from an incorrect prediction. By understanding when to lay a bet, you can profit from outcomes that you believe are overvalued by the market.

  • Utilizing Arbitrage:

    Through careful observation, it's sometimes possible to find situations where differing odds allow for a profit regardless of the outcome. This requires betting on both sides of an outcome at different prices.

  • Understanding Fees and Commissions

    : Exchanges usually charge a commission on winning bets, so understanding these fees is key to managing your bankroll.

Strategies for Bookmakers

If you're passionate about football, chances are you've placed a bet or two on your favorite team through a bookmaker. But did you know there are strategies to optimize your bets and possibly get more bang for your buck?

  • Making the Most of Bonuses and Promotions:

    It's not uncommon for bookmakers to lure new customers with enticing bonuses and promotions. If you're clever about how you use these, they can seriously boost your betting capital.

  • Finding the Sweet Spot in Odds

    : Winning at betting isn't just about luck; it's about playing smart. If you can spot when the odds are tilted in your favor and identify those 'value bets,' you might be onto something big. But don't just go by gut feeling. Instead, this requires a thorough understanding of the leagues and teams you're betting on and a knack for analyzing when the odds are just right. Remember, let your head lead your heart; don't let emotions or team loyalties cloud your judgment.


The world of football betting is full of opportunities, each with its unique pros and cons. Whether you prefer betting exchanges or bookmakers might depend on what you value more: better odds, simplicity, more control, or perhaps something else. What's vital is recognizing these differences to find what best resonates with your betting style and goals. There's no magic formula here, and choosing the right platform will likely boil down to your personal needs and preferences. So take your time, weigh your options, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

source: SportMob

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