Sports Trading: Other Ways to Make a Profit on Betfair

An Adidas branded football sits on a grass football pitch.
An Adidas branded football sits on a grass football pitch.

Football is worth hundreds of billions to the betting industry each year.

Football is one of the world’s few truly global sports. In fact, there are more national teams affiliated with the sport’s governing body, FIFA, than there are countries in the world.

With 211 FIFA-recognised national teams around the globe, more than 250 million people alone play the game regularly and many more are involved in the game in some other capacity, whether through coaching, journalism or trading. In that regard, it is easy to see the sheer scale of football’s fanbase.

Yet, those figures hardly do the sport justice - in fact, approximately half of the world’s population are said to be interested in the sport. The majority of those fans reside in Europe, Africa and South America, but the game continue to grow each and every day.

The high-profile stars moving to the United States, coupled with the national team’s improved performances at the World Cup tournaments, has boosted the popularity of Major League Soccer in North America. And China’s desire to dominate the sporting world has had a huge impact on the standing of the Chinese Super League.

As the world’s most popular sport, with a fanbase that refuses to stop growing, it will come as little surprise that football is the sport that people bet on the most. This is largely due to its sheer reach. No matter the day or time, it is almost guaranteed that there is an event about to kick off somewhere, whether it’s a Premier League fixture on Saturday afternoon or a Costa Rican Primera Division clash in the early hours of Thursday morning.

However, while football is easily the most popular sport to trade, it isn’t the only option available to traders. The exchange platforms, such as Betfair and Smarkets, have numerous markets for a range of different sports and there is plenty of value to be had in each of these markets.

If you’re looking for an alternative to betting or trading on football, these three sports could be worth your time:

American Football

NFL fixtures are the most popular events among bettors in the United States.

While football (soccer) might be the world’s most popular sport, American football leads the way in the United States. Approximately 70% of all Americans with a television set watch at least part of a National Football League (NFL) game throughout the season, while Americans also gamble approximately $95 billion each year on the sport.

As course, due to the fact that gambling is, for the most part, illegal across the states, more than 95% of the money that changes hands does so illegally. Yet, if $95 million is wagered illegally, just think how much turnover American football would produce if the practice of sports betting was fully legalised.

All in all, American football is an easy game to get to grips with. The game is played between two teams of 11 players, on a field that measures 120 yards in length, with ‘yard lines’ marking every five yards. The offensive team has a total of four turns of play to travel 10 yards down the field, or ball possession is turned over to the other team. After 10 yards have been covered, the count resets back to four.

The main objective is to score a touchdown, which is achieved by running or catching a throw in the end zone, securing six points for your team. After scoring a touchdown, players have the chance to secure one more point by kicking the ball through the goalposts, which is worth one more point. Alternatively, rather than going for the touchdown, players can kick the ball through the goalposts to secure a ‘field goal’ which is worth three points. Once a touchdown or field goal has been scored, possession of the ball is transferred to the opposition.

Unsurprisingly, the most popular events to bet on are NFL games and, due to the popularity of the sport, much like football, it is easy to find tipsters spread across the internet offering their own thoughts on the likely outcomes of games and potential bets to consider placing.

Alternatively, if you prefer to make your own decisions, you could start with this simple strategy. Wait for one team to score a touchdown, pulling 6-0 or 7-0 ahead. You should notice that their price drastically falls as the market overreacts to the first play.

At this point, you should lay (bet against) against the winning team. The fallen price will make the liability low, while there is now a high chance that the losing team will come back and score a touchdown of their own to level the score, which should see the back price on the team that you have laid against climb, allowing you to secure a profit.

Horse Racing

Football has overtaken horse racing as the most popular sport to bet on.

Horse racing and the betting industry go hand in hand. If fact, betting as we know it today, whereby bettors wager against a bookmaker using pre-set odds, originated at the racecourses back in the late 1700s.

It started with somewhat dodgy dealers offering odds outside of the venue, in order to avoid the eyes of those working at the event, but by 1845, the Gambling Act made it a criminal offence to gamble outside of a racetrack, due to the sheer number of bookies that were turning out to be nothing more than con artists. It remained that way until 1961, when gambling was finally decriminalised. Horse racing was unsurprisingly popular following the lift and remains so to this day.

First organised by the Carl of Yorkshire way back in 200 BC, horse racing is one of the oldest sports still around and has remained largely unchanged throughout his long history. Simply, horse racing can be defined as a race between two or more horses over a set distance to test which of the horses is fastest.

Modern horse racing sees a number of horses ridden over a course by a jockey - a professional rider who tends to be on the short and light side. While the rules tend to differ between tracks, there are two main types of horse races. Flat racing sees horses race over a set distance on a flat course without obstacles, while National Hunt racing sees horses race over a course which contains a number of hurdles or fences for the horse to jump over.

For those that are just starting out trading on horse racing events, it is best to focus on trading before the race begins. Once the horses are off, prices can suffer sudden jumps in either direction, which can often be distracting and distressing for inexperienced traders.

A good way to scalp some profit prior to a race is to use a back to lay strategy. Check out a number of reliable tipsters early in the day. If there is a clear favourite that has been recommended by numerous sources, you should proceed to back that horse. As the race draws nearer, more people will begin betting on the event, with the favourite likely to receive most of the wagers, causing the price to drift. You will then be able to lay the same bet in order to guarantee yourself a small profit.


Andy Murray celebrates after winning the 2013 Wimbledon Championships.

British star Andy Murray has helped to increase interest in the sport in recent years.

Surprisingly tennis is the second most wagered on sport in the UK. While horse racing’s market share continues to shrink each year, tennis is growing at a rate only second to football.

It is believed that this shift is a result of the various changes that the betting industry has witnessed in recent years. Back in 2000, bookmakers offered very few opportunities for punters to wager on tennis events. Wimbledon has always, unsurprisingly, been a big money spinner, but there were very few other tennis events that generated the same level of hype. However, with online betting taking centre stage over the last decade, the amounts wagered on tennis each year has seen a huge increase.

The cause for its rise in popularity is the introduction of in-play betting in more recent times - just 20% of wagers placed on tennis are matched before the match begins, with 80% of all wagers occurring once the match has started. This is largely due to tennis’ scoring system, with frequent score changes resulting in often moving odds, which, for traders, offers plenty of fantastic opportunities.

Tennis is played between two opposing players on a rectangular field, which is separated down the middle by a net. Players must hit the ball over the net into their opponent’s half of the court, ensuring that it stays within bounds.

One player is assigned the ‘server’ status, which means that they start each rally by serving the ball to their opponent, which is otherwise known as the ‘receiver’. If a player fails to hit the ball back into their opponent’s half or hits the ball out of play, the opponent receives a point (1 is equal to 15, 2 is equal to 30, 3 is equal to 40 and 4 hands you the game). A player must win six games in order to claim the set, although they must lead by two games first. Most matches will use either a best of three sets or best of five sets system, in order to determine the winner of the match.

If you’re just starting out trading on tennis matches, this simple strategy could be a good place to start. Begin by finding and making a note of any matches that will be starting soon between seeded (highly ranked) players and unseeded players. Wait for the first set to be played and check to see if any unseeded players have secured the set.

This will see the prices change in the unseeded player’s favour. However, as the seeded player will most often than not produce a comeback, you should back the seeded player at this point, wait for them to recover and then lay the same bet once a profit is guaranteed.

Trading on Sports

You may be new to the world of betting exchange trading, or you might be a veteran when it comes to wagering on football matches. However, no matter what your experience level, you should approach a new sport or market as if you are just starting out.

Knowing the ins and outs of sports trading is a must, but when taking up a new sport you will also need to know the ins and outs of the game, such as what events within a match are likely to cause prices to change, teams to watch and factors to consider before placing a bet. The best way to learn is to practice, so start with a small bankroll that you can afford to lose and use this to test the waters. With time you will learn the market, while also picking up strategies that work well for you.

Of course, the key to trading successfully is to use your head and bet smart. Don’t just rely on your favourite Twitter tipster to give you a good heads up. You should also be conducting your own research, searching through previous information and statistics to find fixtures that provide you with opportunities to make some profit.

With time, you will find that many of the strategies that you have already used when trading on football matches can be applied to numerous other sports. Different sports may produce different results. Likewise, the same sport may produce different results for different people. Not everything is for everybody, but just remember that trading on football isn’t the only way - there are plenty of alternatives to try out and lots of great opportunities to be had.

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