Trading sports online can be a very profitable pastime and as more and more people get involved that means just one thing… liquidity. With the invention of the betting exchange and the rise and rise of the main one, Betfair, there is increasingly more money being traded on sporting events.

From horse racing to tennis and football to greyhound racing there are many markets to choose from and specialize in. There are even markets for financials and politics.

In-play betting and the ability to place “lay” bets have revolutionized our ability to profit from these markets (for those not in the know a lay bet is betting that an event will not occur ie a horse will not win a race). Just watch any in-play tennis match and see how the odds move. Making sense of these patterns and developing successful strategies to make regular profit is the holy grail for many people.

The basic theory behind all this is that you need to back at a higher price than you lay. It is the same as business all over the world, you buy a product at one price and you sell it at another, the difference between the two being your net profit.

An example is I back a horse at 2/1 for £100. That’s 3.00 in decimal odds. If it wins I win £200 and get my stake back. Before the start of the race the odds come down to 6/4 or 2.50. I then lay it for £100 and if the horse wins I have to pay out £150. The difference between my back winnings and my lay liability is £50. That is what I would win if this horse wins and if it doesn’t, I lose nothing! A free bet. The really neat trick is to “hedge” your winnings out so you win the same amount no matter which horse wins. In the above example I could lay the horse for £120 guaranteeing me a £20 profit. Visit

The obvious problem is what happens if the odds rise? You’re left with a bet you can’t sell or get rid of without losing at least some of your stake. This is where the difference between traders and gamblers comes in. A gambler takes risks in order to possibly achieve a profit. A trader is happy to take a series of small losses safe in the knowledge that the wins will outweigh the losses.

There are many and varied approaches to trading but the most important thing is discipline. As soon as you fail to close a trade that has gone against you you are no longer trading but gambling. Sure, you might get away with it but when it goes wrong you will certainly lose a lot more than you bargained for.
The best way to focus your mind and prevent the gambling tendency arising is to work to strict strategies with defined entry and exit points.

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