Betfair Exchange

I’m interested in people’s perceptions of golf betting markets and in particular the exchanges. A few thoughts of my own:

  • I’m always struck by how much liability is being put up each week on Betfair, especially for the majors e.g. there’ll be a ton of guys at 1k where you can have a grand on them and so that’s 10s of millions of liability before you even to get to players that have more than a vague chance.

  • I’m aware there are syndicates around but are they sizeable enough - and indeed are there enough of them - to have scope to lay for such vast sums? I’m not sure. It makes me wonder if there’s something more institutional going on i.e. are Betfair actually laying these bets themselves? It would also seem that the layers are doing way more than backers in dictating where prices end up - you’d have to have a pretty big bank and indeed opinion to back a 200/1 shot for like £500 whereas that’s a relative drop in the ocean if you’re in a position to lay every player in the field for that amount and more.

  • This also links to a general point about market efficiency - tipsters clearly have an impact on the UK market and there are always ‘popular’ players each week too so it feels difficult for closing prices to be perfect in that regard; how much respect do people have for where the exchange market closes overall? And indeed market closing prices as a whole. Obviously it’ll vary i.e. Mauritius Open vs The Masters.


I can’t speak for the liquidity, but outright golf is very easy to beat on the exchange if you’ve got the patience.

I know of two people who are completely restricted on traditional bookies, so their strategy (and they freely admit it on their podcasts and websites so I’m not giving away any secrets) is to log into the exchange on a Wednesday afternoon and back between ten and twenty golfers where the exchange price is relatively close to what’s being offered by bookies. They don’t bother with any other factor beyond comparing prices, and both are running above 25% ROI for a thousand + bets.

I must be missing something. Why would we expect those to be profitable bets? Presumably by waiting until Wednesday they want to use the fact that the bookmaker prices are relatively sharp. But if the book has odds at 100 and the exchange has 100 as well… that’s going to be -EV on the exchange if we trust the book odds (because the vig-free bookmaker price would be 130 or whatever).

Also aren’t better prices pretty much available across the board on the exchanges? Why would we be betting the ones that are closer (i.e. worse) to the book odds?


I’m not sure if you’re aware of the concept of matched betting, but there are several sites in the UK which identify each way value in both golf and horse racing by monitoring the exchange prices on the win and place part and comparing them to conventional e/w bookie prices.

Some people use that to lock in money for an arb, or try and hit extra places (so back 8 1/5 market this week but lay the win part and the top 5 market on betfair and hope he finishes 6th, 7th or 8th so you get a place on the bookie but your top 5 place lay wins as well).

Others use it to value bet, which these guys did until they got restricted. They then started taking those golfers on the exchange win-only and it’s went very well for them.

The theory is that there’s a bit of smart money behind these golfers, so long-term it’ll work out. They’d take Chad Ramey this week at 100 on exchange when 80/1 8 1/5 is available but they’d leave someone like Nate Lashley (180 on exchange, not bigger than 100/1 8 1/5 anywhere), even though your DG rankings would make both -EV bets by roughly the same percentage (109 fair odds Ramey, 192 fair odds Lashley).

Interesting, thanks.

Still feel like I’m missing something in the last paragraph. Before, these guys were using the exchange prices as fair prices and betting EWs at bookmakers. That makes sense. Now what are they doing exactly? In the Ramey / Lashley example, where is the smart money being bet that they are making an inference from?

edit: is the idea that smart money has bet Ramey down (on the exchange), while nobody has touched Lashley? I feel like to say that you need to know what their price histories were. e.g. maybe Ramey was never offered at better than 100 on the exchange.

edit2: or is it simply that similar exchange/book prices indicates that these golfers are likely involved in this matched betting strategy? I still don’t see why that would make them likely +EV, but I also don’t deeply understand the matched betting stuff either.

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If the layers know what they are doing, there shouldn’t be that much risk right? Only 1 golfer can win, so as long as they attract roughly similar liabilities on most of the golfers, their overall worst-case liability remains small. But maybe the exchange would require them to have the cash for their single biggest liability on 1 golfer (which would be the max they could lose, if they matched 100% of their offer on that and nothing on all the other golfers).


Yes that makes sense - I’ve just had a play around with laying multiple selections, you can set a max liability overall by clicking the ‘Liability’ text and then it generates a stake for each (this is a indeed a market with just one winner)

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Any time I have a method that is generating 25% ROI I immediately talk about it on pods and my website.

I have no clue if people are succeeding at this and more power to them if they are but there are a couple of red flags there.


Additionally, hate being this guy, but ‘thousand + bets’ is probably a smaller sample than it sounds (e.g. x to win, t5, t10, t20 is four on a similar thing). I probably have 60-70 bets in a decent week on the exchange for each tourney. Would defs get to a thousand within six months and I’ve been buried/ran pure over that size.

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Because initially they were getting on each-way at bookmakers and shops, and found that their ROI was significantly higher than what was projected. The software would identify “these 20 golfers are +EV bets e/w at this price compared to the exchange win/place terms at an average of 8% value”, and then they’d bet them and over a couple of years their ROI would be 35%.

At the same time they were backtesting the win only exchange price because they knew that one day e/w wouldn’t be an option and found that it went well so kept running with it.

I suppose the smart money theory in my example is that multiple sites had Ramey at 80/1, so obviously people were interested in betting on him if his exchange price was 100 or else the gap would be bigger. Obviously with Lashley going from 100/1 e/w to 180 win outright nobody’s interested in him.

They’re running matched betting businesses and trying to entice people to sign up.

It’s essentially bulletproof because bookies have known about e/w value in golf since day one, as they do with horse racing.

Go to Oddsmonkey or any popular matched betting service and there will be software giving the arbs, as well as threads on their forum talking about extra places. It’s not in any way secret, but 99% of people on those sites don’t have the stomach to be betting win only at big odds every week.

The thousand bets recorded are all win only.

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The strategy talked about by jrwfsl147 is one that many are sceptical that it really works but over time has produced the results. Very much a UK strategy using bookies EW prices and betfair exchange to derive fair odds and the EV to identify appropriate win bets on the exchange. Over the years I have have many discussions why backing Win only on an exchange can be profitable and the honest answer is there is no logical reason.

However, it is not really compatible with Datagolf, a completely different approach to identifying value.

But you do get crossovers with both methods.

For example This week Davis Riley, Nicholas Lindheim and Nick Taylor show strongly with both methods.

But generally you get polar opposites in selections.


I’ve been using the exchange for a while now, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the exchange is used by many people for many different reasons.

I think a lot of the liability you see on the exchange is not really there.

You can lay the whole field and not have much in the way of liability, as only one person can win.

Small markets like 1000:1 get almost no action. If you look at where the money was matched it’s almost all on the favorites or on the players who are value. Rory, Rahm, Scheffler etc will get huge amounts matched on them because there will actually be liquidity available to exit that position later on. Which brings me to the next point.

People trade on the exchange. Most of the money you see matched would be automated and most of the trades would happen very quickly. Like within seconds. I don’t know if you have seen two bots battling back and forth in the markets before but it’s kind of hilarious. They will go between Betfair and Smarkets (because arb). We could trade $100 back and forwards and make it look like $10,000 has been matched but really the liability isn’t there for either of us.

You can use 3rd party programmes like BetAngel, which are fantastic, at improving the UI and adding scripts and workbooks.

There is also just value bettors on the exchange, the spread is sometimes like 100.6%, which is kind of nuts so there is always value to be found. If you start winning often Betfair increase their tax on you which honestly sucks.

@jrwfsl147 Do you have a link to the strategy you are talking about? Are they hedging the EW position for a profit and just taking the outright? I’m confused.


Smarkets and betfair seems to be connected in some way, or same system/bots behind (smarkets odds often slightly worse prices). Atleast I’ve noticed that when market is temporarily down on betfair (happend shortly yesterday f.e) posts on smarkets are simultanously gone, and I mean all of them. Also temporarily of course and back when betfair is back up.

Would you mind linking to the podcast please?

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Example of this is to find a EV+ bet at this weeks tournaments using appropriate odd matching software (think all are paid) but easy enough to do manually.

So for example Tom Hoge.

Decimal Odds

Available at 71.0 EW at Bet365 5p 1/4 Place 18.5

Win Lay on BF EX 75.0 T5 Lay on BFEX 13.5

EV+ Plus bet at 115%

Also value at a few other UK betting sites @67 (5p 1/4) which is 109% EV. 67/75 17.5/13.5

Also at 888sport @ 61 (7p 1/5) which is 108% EV 61/75 13/9.68

You back this on the exchange because you have no bookie accounts available, preferably queuing at 75.0 or higher (Lay price) only taking back price if you can not check back to see if matched before 1st tee time.

Okay, that’s what I figured it was but couldn’t find a clear explanation what the “math” was anywhere. So you are just using BF prices as your fair prices to calculate each-way EV.

As before, I still don’t understand why it would be profitable to back these win bets on the exchange. What are some of the explanations people give?

It does make sense that you would only want to back the ones with similar prices on the exchange… because the more +EV your bookmaker EW bet gets, the worse the price must be on the exchange.

Another only slightly related thing I’ve been wondering about is how easy it is to make money (as a tipster, say) betting EWs and taking best prices across many available books. Must be pretty damn easy, given how favourable EW prices are to begin with.

edit: just re-read Smarty’s earlier post where he covered some of this.

Thinking out loud here on the the smart money explanation mentioned earlier… if Ramey is still +EV at 100 (which we don’t know at the time, but apparently has been shown to be true in the long-run making these types of bets) then why doesn’t it continue to get bet down (at both the books and the exchange)? Or I guess maybe it does in some cases… but then it seems odd that the ones that don’t continue to get bet are +EV. Somehow the market is able to identify these guys are value at some initial higher price, but are under-estimating how +EV they actually are, which means it’s a profitable strategy to tail these bets even if you get a worse price.

Pretty easy gig in the Uk tipping EW prices at top price and favourable place terms. Hence it’s a race on a Monday/Tuesday to get selections out before prices are cut.

Does anyone know if the Exchange prices are uniform across the world? Like would the US facing one be showing the same prices as the UK?

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Moreover, if they are the same prices (which I think they after a quick play around with a VPN) then would certainly be curious to know how the liquidity divides up between countries (if that’s possible to find out)