Back Betting or Lay Betting in Horse Racing

Which Is Better?

We all start by thinking that we can make a lot of money from horse racing, whether it’s back betting or lay betting.

Then, after we’ve tried a few tipster, and a few betting systems, and realised it’s not as easy as we first thought, we begin to look for how to really make a profit from your betting.

Everybody follows this same path.

As you’re now a reader of the Race Advisor, you’ve obviously gone through those first stages, and are now looking to find out how you can make your dream into a reality.

Which is brilliant!

Before you get started again, there are a few questions that you need to be able to answer. You’ve probably already made a decision on these most common ones…

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  • What sport are you going to bet on?
  • How much money are you going to use in your betting bank?
  • What size stake are you going to use?


What you probably haven’t thought about is the type of bet you want to place. At this stage in your betting career, most people will be gravitating towards lay betting instead of back betting.

That’s usually because…

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  • It must be easier to find a loser than a winner!
  • I’m going to be finding a loser most of the time
  • There won’t be any long losing runs


And to be honest, that’s all pretty accurate.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s easier to make a profit from lay betting than it is from back betting. Never forget that you’re not out to find winning bets, you’re out to make a profit in the long-term. You know that a smaller or bigger proportion of your bets will lose, that’s just the nature of the beast, but what you want is to end up with is profit. Profit is the king.

The Truth… Is Back Betting or Lay Betting Easier To Profit From?

Personally I believe it’s easier to make a profit from back betting.

If you’re relatively new to betting, or haven’t yet met a consistent profit, then you should start with back betting and forget about lay betting.

Back betting in horse racing can be understood by anybody. If you’ve ever made a bet, even a fun bet with friends where no money is involved, then you’ve effectively placed a back bet.

It’s very simple in concept.

A bookmaker offers odds of 2/1, which means for every £1 you bet, if you win they will pay you back £2 profit plus your £1 stake.

Understanding how a lay betting works is much more complicated.

You don’t want to make your betting more complicated than it needs to be!

Keep everything as simple as possible.

Placing back bets allows you to simply divide your betting bank by 100, and start placing bets of that size until it doubles.

This is the quickest way to start betting and staking. Quick and simple.

The same can be done with lay betting, but it’s harder to understand the risk involved, which can cause confusion on how to work out your stake sizes. Confusion in betting means one thing… mistakes. And mistakes mean one thing… losing bets. Which costs you money.

Of course, there are always downsides, and there is a downside to back betting in horse racing.

The biggest downside when considering back betting instead of lay betting, is that back betting will mean you’re likely to have a strike rate of somewhere between 20% and 30%.  The reality of this is that you will have losing runs, probably losing months.

Of course, this helps to build your discipline and faith in the method you are using, but it can be difficult at the beginning.

The more losing runs you have, and come out of, the more comfortable you will be with them.

But most importantly…

The reason that it’s harder to make a profit from laying, is that betting exchanges are geared towards back bettors.

Even Betfair claim that their odds are 20% higher than bookmakers.

Logically, if their odds are 20% higher than bookmakers, it’s going to be hard for lay bettors to make a profit. As lay bettors we are becoming the bookmaker, but if the odds are 20% higher than the bookmaker it’s going to be much harder for us to find profitable lay bets. And that’s before Betfair’s commission on our profit!

Michael Wilding

Michael started the Race Advisor in 2009 to help bettors become long-term profitable. After writing hundreds of articles I started to build software that contained my personal ratings. The Race Advisor has more factors for UK horse racing than any other site, and we pride ourselves on creating tools and strategies that are unique, and allow you to make a long-term profit without the need for tipsters. You can also check out my personal blog or my personal Instagram account.


  1. I find it incredible that you send out a message of this kind in a week where we are all advised as to gamble be aware posted on all bookmaker sites. Do we need your message of bet versus lay – unless you have been living on the moon over the past 5 years I definitely think not, please concentrate on the process of winning systems and edges like your training this week HOPEFULLY – as I for one am putting a lot of stock on this package for my future membership of race advisor.

  2. It must be close to impossible for Michael to write something that please every one.
    RaceAdvisor will have a mix of some very shrewd wise old heads but also
    many others talking their first steps up the learning ladder.
    Sometimes a Grandmother may have to suffer a lesson in egg sucking
    as he helps others lower down the learning curve.
    Sometimes a beginner may have to suffer information currently
    above their heads as he does something for the more advance.

    I can appreciate the core learning he is trying to
    inform punting students about here.

    Perhaps one of ..

    “Just because you are currently losing at betting don’t assume
    being a layer will be any easier.”

    It all boils down to numbers.
    Take the classic coin toss.
    Bookies win long term at that not due to a crystal ball of prediction
    but due to the poor odds of 10/11 they may offer about a true odds even money shot.

    Head off to an exchange and lay the same outcomes at 11/10 and you will again lose long term.

    If push came to shove and I was forced to pick whether backing or laying was the best idea
    for an average Joe person I would probably pick backing.

    Mainly down to the forces of market competition.

    Go backing using a wide array of bookmakers and special concessions such as BOG
    and including ability to exchange back as well and all those opposing layers are
    competing for your business.
    Good value can be easier to find.

    Layers are more so forced into a few exchanges and all layers
    then compete against each other to be the top price that gets matched.
    As such the competition effect is working against them.

    The validity of that argument may drop a bit of course if one eventually
    finds that bookies are no longer willing to do much if any business with you.
    Such stuff reduces ones ability to take advantage of the power of
    competition amongst bookies.

    Find yourself some day as a pure exchange only punter
    and perhaps backing or laying should be deemed pretty
    much equal and the same.
    More so then you may be happy to go back or lay
    on any specific outcome based on where current market odds
    sit against one’s perception of true odds values.

    Just my quick tuppence worth
    for what it is worth.


  3. Yep; I’m the same as you. I’ve made a decent profit from back betting over the years (despite some really difficult times), but I’ve never got lay betting to pay.

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