Lay Bets Analysis

Betfair Lay Bets

A long time tennis trader I primarily look to lay low and locking in profits when the odds bounce back but I’ve often wondered how much value the initial lay positions contained. Would I have seen better returns had I let bets run for example is a question all experience traders will have asked at some point.

So I decided to find out by uploading my tennis betting history (from Betfair) to the Betfair Analysis Tool and the results were very interesting. The lays were categorically not value overall to level stakes and actually worse on average than the back bets I had made!

Until recently I hadn’t been using level stakes for trading and judged depending on how confident I was or how big I thought my edge was but even during periods of decent profitability where successful trades were made the original lays still didn’t show a profit. They do say that layers get the worst deal generally because they are always a tick above the real price (unless you are front of the queue in the back position) and perhaps this is part of the reason.

Obviously laying low can reap rewards as we all see short odds bust on the tennis frequently so it got me thinking about when that initial entry point is value and when I’ve just taken advantage of a fluctuation. I feel that getting value in this way will yield better results and I also want to look to automate my betting and trade less on feel which can be very time-consuming.

Based on a few tests and observations I’ve concluded that very strong favourites getting off to a good start are likely offer the best lay potential. This may not seem like news to a lot of people as it makes sense. When a favourite gets off to a good start it reaffirms what the market thought would happen. Consequently more people want to make a bet and as liquidity is limited it pushes the price down. Part of the skill though I guess is identifying strong favourites and those that are likely to be over backed by the market.

Obviously we now have the cross matcher on Betfair stopping prices get too out of line but there are still gaps in the tennis markets with liquidity not always amazingly high. Most of the money is also traded on the favourite thus making fewer cross matching opportunities.

Over the next month or so I will be stepping up the trial of laying big favourites at a shorter price and getting a decent amount of data to analyse. Initially it won’t just be those that get off to a good start but who are lower in general for ease of programming. I’ve also seen favourites lose the first set, win the second easily and go too low before losing the third anyway.

If there is indeed there is even an edge to be found then I can look at improving upon this by looking at the data for certain surfaces, tournaments, type of player etc. and refine the edge but this should be a decent starting point for now. As the famous American tennis player Arthur Ashe once said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Stay tuned for the findings!