Trading on football is unfamiliar to many regular punters, but in this article, we explain how to trade successfully. We cover the basics of the betting techniques, and then look in more detail at some of the key areas where trading is most profitable.

Trading on football – The Basics

how to trade on footballBetting exchanges such as Betfair have given punters the ability to both back and lay (bet against) the same selection. As prices fluctuate, this ability to bet “both ways” means that odds can be traded in the same way as a stock price or currency.

Here is an example; A punter may believe that the favourites in the Premier League title race are too short in the betting market, and are bound to drift over the coming months. A lay of that particular team could be made at the current price (at 3.0 for example), and assuming the prediction was correct, the same bettor could then back the same team at bigger odds once they had drifted in the market (to 4.0);

£100 lay at 3.0 = A liability of £300
£80 bet (backed) at 4.0 = £320 win

If the particular team do go on and win the League, the bettor will payout £300 from the original lay, but collect £320 for the latter bet, making £20 profit. If the team do not win the League, the original lay wins £100, but the second bet sees a loss of £75, for a net gain of £25.

So after the two bets, our punter has locked in at least £20 profit regardless of the ultimate outcome. This is often referred to as ‘greening up‘ (or similar) as profit is displayed in green text on the exchanges and once a trade like this has been matched, every single outcome will have a green profit figure next to it. A very satisfying feeling for any punter!

Stop losses can be applied, so if prices move in the wrong direction, the same mechanism can be used to cut losses. This means the original stake does not need to be wholly at risk.

The above example was a ‘lay to back‘ trade where the initial bet was a lay. The opposite can of course be true. Let’s assume the same punter thinks a team from the Championship will go a long way in the FA Cup. They could be backed at 81.0 for £10, and after a couple of wins find themselves in the quarter finals priced at 34.0;

£10 back at 81.0 = £810
£20 lay at 34.0 = £680

If they lose the quarter final, the lay picks up £20, but the original £10 is lost for a £10 gain. Should they progress, the punter still has £130 riding on them heading into the semi-final. They could conceivably be laid again at even shorter odds to lock in further profit. This would be a ‘Back to lay‘ trade.

Trading in-play or Live betting

betfair trading price graphOnce the basics of trading are understood, they can now be applied for profit. One of the big areas for volatile prices in football betting – and therefore trading opportunities – is live betting or betting in play. Here, the prices move fast, and if a key event occurs, prices will shift significantly. “Goals change games” is a favourite remark of many pundits, and goals also change prices.

Significant events in a game will often see knee jerk reactions that ultimately settle down after a few minutes (in terms of prices) and awareness of ‘value’, calculated before kick off, can help guide punters as to where odds might move. A certain element of flexibility is important however, as things can move quickly, and not every eventuality can be planned for so an in play trader will always need to be able to adapt. For more in play trading advice read here.

How to trade on long term football markets

Season long markets are another area of betting where trading can be applied. Bookmakers offer vast amounts of bets for the season, from the popular outright markets like Winners, promoted teams or relegation, to the simple ‘Team A v Team B to finish higher’ markets. Player markets can also be traded, the Golden boot market being one example. All these markets will fluctuate over the season, and these price movements can be a source of profit.

Trading is a still a relatively small area for the betting industry and price movements are quite natural, so a brief look at the fixtures can show opportunities where teams may do well, or not so well, over a period of time, and that form will affect their prices. Some events will be ‘priced in’ already – for example if a player is missing a month of the season to go to the African Cup of Nations, his Golden Boot odds will already reflect that, and there is not likely to be a price fluctuation for that absence alone. It is possible then, to build up a portfolio of bets over the season, trimming those that might have gone astray, and locking in some profits where they win. These types of bet will feature throughout the season at Betpal, our first being a trade on Premier League relegation, read it here.