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Exchange Betting on Golf

The Basics

A relative newcomer to the gambling scene, Betting Exchanges allow you to take either side of a bet, in effect allowing you to be either the punter or bookmaker.  Exchanges match up punters who want to back a selection with those who want to oppose them.  Although a long-term profit is difficult in any form of betting, exchanges give the best chance due to tighter margins and winning accounts not being restricted. 

Betfair Exchange video

Exchange betting allows you to either BACK or LAY a selection.  This means you can back a player in the same way as normal fixed-odds betting or take the liability in the same way as a bookmaker - in effect opposing a player.  Here's an example of an exchange market on Betfair;

PGA Tour Betting Exchange Outright market

The blue and pink columns show the best Back and Lay prices (in decimal form) along with the amounts available to bet.  Columns to the left and right are prices available if the best odds are taken.

Because exchanges aren't offering prices themselves, there's no betting margin so they finance themselves by charging a commission on winning bets (between 2%-5% depending on how much you bet)

The Outright Winner Market

The Outright Winner market is the main Exchange market for golf.  It attracts the most interest and liquidity* and can be approached in a number of different ways;

 * liquidity is the amount bet and available in a market, which is important in ensuring bets can be matched at competitive prices.

(i)  You can back players in the same way as you would with a fixed-odds bookmaker, simply backing them to win a tournament.  It's often the case that outright prices are better with exchanges than with fixed-odds bookmakers although the market is win-only (each-way bets aren't allowed)

Outsiders (100/1+) are generally better prices on exchanges (even after commission) as fixed-odds prices are a trade-off between the win and place odds*

* this is outside the scope of the guide although you can see the difference in the tournament betting between the place part of each-way odds and those quoted for the same number of places in the place market.


(ii) The ability to lay prices on exchanges allows you to behave like a bookmaker and accumulate a number of players in your "book".  Laying a handful of players in golf betting can be unrewarding and risky as prices can be prohibitively big*  A far more sensible strategy is to LAY a portion of the field (say 20 or 30 players) giving you a better balance between risk and reward.

* for example laying a few 100/1 shots in a tournament can be like picking up pennies in front of a steamroller - one winner can be a big penalty compared to the reward.


(iii) Trading is a very popular strategy and is generally the best opportunity to make a long-term profit.  Exchange trading can have a loose definition depending on how you bet but in general terms it means locking in a profit by backing and then laying (or vice-versa), usually over a short period of time.

What makes trading interesting is that you are not trying to predict which player will win a tournament.  Trading is about betting on movements in the odds, which can be based on events on the course or how other people are betting on it.

Trading on Betfair exchange

Be aware of TV delays

Betting during tournament play is often the best times to exchange bet, but you need to be confident about leaderboards and TV coverage before getting heavily involved.  Official website leaderboards are generally the most up-to-date and TV picture delays will vary across providers.  It's not essential to have the fastest feeds but you need to aware on them to be able to tailor your approach.

Advantages Of Exchange Betting


Margins are tight : Because there's no margin built into exchange prices, odds are generally better than fixed-odds bookmakers (even after commission)  This is especially the case in the outright winner market where odds are almost always better for longer prices (100/1+), so it's always worth having an exchange account to get the best price.


No restriction on stakes : Profitable punters are often restricted by fixed-odds bookmakers.  With exchanges you are only limited by what is available to bet on the markets - extra charges apply if you make a long-term profit, but your account won't be restricted or closed.


It's not just about form : Not only can you bet on a tournament based on what's happening on the course but also on the movements of odds.  Trading can be based on the form and performance of players but also on how odds move based on factors such as weight of money and sentiment even before a ball has been hit.


Get involved In-play : Although conventional fixed-odds bookmakers offer In-play odds, betting exchanges offer a more effective form of In-play betting which maintains tight margins and allows for trading on short periods of time.  Although as previously mentioned, you should be aware that live doesn't always mean live in golf coverage.

Disadvantages Of Exchange Betting


Limited markets : Although prices are normally better with Exchanges, this only applies in the outright markets and place markets for the main tournaments. Outside outrights for the PGA Tour, European Tour & Majors and place markets for the majors/stronger PGA Tour events you will struggle to get a competitive price or decent sized bets. 


Premium charges : The main betting exchange Betfair will apply an extra charge to winning punters who are successful over a consistent period.  The criteria means those who have made in the hundreds of thousands pay what can amount to a 50% charge on profits.

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