Sports Trading: How to Become a Sports Trader on Betfair

Written by Steve Brown

Betfair exchange loaded on a computer screen.

Lots of people dream about trading sports for a living on Betfair, but is it really possible? How would you even get started?

You will find lots of information online, but I always think it's better to follow advice from someone who has real world experience.

I've been trading sports on Betfair since the early 2000s. In that time, I've helped many hundreds of beginners find success and I'm always happy to share my experience with those who are keen to learn.

In this article I will explain exactly what sports trading is, how it works and what you need to get started as a sports trader today.

What is Sports Trading?

Sports trading is the process of placing two or more bets on the same sporting event via a betting exchange in order to produce either a guaranteed profit or a risk-free bet.

It's very similar to trading the stock market, except that the betting exchange market only lasts for the duration of the sporting event.

This could be the 90 minutes of a football match, the 5 days that a test match lasts in cricket or even a 2 minute horse race!

Trading vs Betting

The biggest difference between sports trading and betting is the timing of bets.

With betting, a punter will generally place a bet before the event starts and then hope that the right team, horse or maybe greyhound wins.

A sports trader, however, may not place their first bet until the event has already started.

For example, making sure that the football team they think will win is playing well enough before deciding to risk their money.

And... a sports trader does not then simply hope that the bet wins!

There are opportunities to place opposing bets in-play that either remove risk or even guarantee a profit. I'm going to show you how that works.

As you can understand, sports traders have more control over their money than bettors.

We explain back and lay betting very simply, with plenty of screenshots. This is how Betfair football traders back lay in order to make a profit.

Read More about back and lay betting

Popular Sports for Trading

The Betfair betting exchange covers many sports. Some of the more popular sports for trading include football, tennis, horse racing and cricket.

In my early days as a sports trader, I decided to focus on football trading.

This is because:

  1. There are plenty of football matches played all year round at different times of the day (and night).
  2. A football match only lasts 90 minutes (plus added time) so I know exactly how much time I need to trade.
  3. My passion has always been football and that helped keep me motivated while I learned how to trade.

Tennis is surprisingly popular among sports traders, even more so than horse racing.

This is because points, games and sets swing constantly between the players which causes market prices to move up and down. Ideal for traders!

The downside (for me) with tennis is that it requires constant attention, whereas with football I don't have to concentrate throughout the entire match.

Start learning how to trade football today with our complete guide to football trading. We explain how trading works and how to get started with simple strategies.

Read More about football trading

How does Sports Trading Work?

Just like stock market traders, sports traders need price movement in order to make a profit. In football, price movement is most often caused by time and goals.

Here's a great example of that, using the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final match between Bayern Munich and Arsenal.

About an hour into the game, the score was 0-0 and I backed 'Over 1.5 Goals' at odds of 4.0 with a stake of £20.00.

As you can see below, that gave me a potential profit of £60.00 (before commission).

Betfair Over/Under 1.5 Goals market for Bayern Munich v Arsenal showing my back bet

The left hand side of the Betfair market shows both my liability and potential profit:

  • Under 1.5 Goals: -£20.00 liability
  • Over 1.5 Goals: £60.00 potential profit
Betfair Over/Under 1.5 Goals market for Bayern Munich v Arsenal showing my back bet

Within a minute or two, Bayern Munich took the lead.

When the score was 0-0 and there was only 30 minutes to play, I was able to back Over 1.5 Goals at 4.0 because the market was not sure that there would be 2 goals scored.

However, with the score now 1-0 and Arsenal having to attack in order to avoid defeat, a second goal was deemed much more likely so the price dropped accordingly.

You can see on the graph below that Over 1.5 Goals was only 1.2 to back at kick-off and that the price steadily rose as the score remained 0-0 with time ticking away.

The price reached a high of 4.7 before Bayern Munich scored, then it fell sharply.

Graph for the Bayern Munich v Arsenal Over/Under 1.5 Goals market on Betfair

As a sports trader, this price movement was perfect!

I was able to lay Over 1.5 Goals for the same £20.00 stake but at a much cheaper price.

Betfair Over/Under 1.5 Goals market for Bayern Munich v Arsenal showing my back and lay bets

This completely removed my liability on Under 1.5 Goals:

  • Under 1.5 Goals: £0.00
  • Over 1.5 Goals: £47.40 potential profit

I now had a risk-free bet on there being a second goal, which is a massive benefit to sports trading over traditional sports betting.

Betfair Over/Under 1.5 Goals market for Bayern Munich v Arsenal showing my back and lay bets

But I didn't stop there...

With plenty of potential profit on Over 1.5 Goals and the price to lay well under 2.0, I decided to hedge my position, also known as 'greening up'.

I layed Over 1.5 Goals again, this time at 1.61 with a stake of £29.08.

Betfair Over/Under 1.5 Goals market for Bayern Munich v Arsenal showing my back and lay bets

This left me with a guaranteed profit no matter the final score:

  • Under 1.5 Goals: £29.08 profit
  • Over 1.5 Goals: £29.66 profit
Betfair Over/Under 1.5 Goals market for Bayern Munich v Arsenal showing my back and lay bets

It was a good job that I did decide to green up as the final score was 1-0 so my risk-free bet on Over 1.5 Goals would not have won!

When trading on sports yourself, you can quickly work out how much to back or lay using our free hedging calculator.

Can you Make Money from Sports Trading?

Yes, you can make money by trading sports... with some time and effort.

There's a popular saying among sports traders, "learn before you earn". It's unlikely that anyone will log into Betfair and start making money on day one.

If you decide that you really do want to make money from sports trading, you need to start the right way.

At first, it's best to pick one sport that you have some knowledge of and focus solely on that. It could be football, tennis, cricket, whatever appeals to you.

Then you need to learn how to identify trading opportunities in your chosen sport, how to profit from them with a trading strategy, how to manage your bank and so on.

Our Goal Profits Academy football trading course covers all of these topics.

Goal Profits Academy is our complete football trading course. Learn how to trade, based on proven methods that we’ve been using successfully for many years.

Read More about the goal profits academy

Best Trading Strategies for Beginners

Whatever you're learning, it's always best to start with something simple.

When you sit down to start learning how to speak French, you don't immediately pick up the phone and attempt to have a chat with someone in Paris!

Sports trading is no different.

If you're new to trading, it's important that you start with a simple strategy that's not too risky. Your aim is to gain trading experience while protecting your trading bank.

So... the first thing to do is download our completely free football trading strategy.

First Half Heaven

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Once you have had some practice with First Half Heaven, you'll be keen to start building a larger portfolio of trading strategies that you can also profit from.

One of the most popular football trading strategies is called lay the draw.

It requires some patience and discipline to get right, but that's all good experience that will benefit you along your sports trading adventure.

How to Get Started

Here's a 5-step plan to help you get started with sports trading today:

  1. Pick a sport to trade that you have some knowledge of (and interest in).
  2. Put some money aside (that you're not relying on) for your trading bank.
  3. Open an account with a betting exchange, such as Betfair.
  4. Start trading with a simple strategy, such as First Half Heaven.
  5. Join a Betfair trading community that you can learn from, such as Goal Profits.

Between the Goal Profits team we have more than 75 years of trading experience. If you choose to trade football, there's no better place to learn your sports trading skills.

Steve Brown

About the author

I'm the founder of Goal Profits and creator of our Team Stats research and trading tools.

Since 2011, I have been sharing my football trading experience with Goal Profits members.

Goal Profits

Are you ready to learn how profitable football trading works, generate a second income, or simply improve on past returns?