It was 1994 when Stan James (now owned by Unibet) struck the first live in-play bet as an offshore bookmaker. Since then in-play betting has risen from an unheard of betting medium to the biggest business of all. bet365 have openly stated that 80% of the bets struck with them are live in-play bets with football and tennis being the two most popular in-play betting sports.
In fact, in this new ‘betting in play’ era tennis has been the biggest growth sport of all with major matches turning over incredible sums of money. Live in play betting gives instant gratification, an instant buzz adding that extra something to countless games, matches and races.
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What is in-play betting?
In most cases in-play betting markets are no different to pre-event betting markets.
At the game or race start most betting markets are ‘turned in play’ (in a separate section of your mobile sportsbook) meaning you can continue to place bets as the game or race unfolds.
The main feature of in-play betting is the ever changing odds. Before a football match begins the home side may have traded at 6/4 (2.50) for days on end, but that price will gradually change and fluctuate from the moment the match kicks off within the ‘in-play’ market. It will change dramatically if or when there is a goal scored for either side, a sending off or a penalty awarded.
Ever changing odds make in-play betting very exciting. It could have been custom-made for mobile players, who can place bets from the palm of their hands when watching the action on TV or even sat in the stadium at a live event.
Advantages: Why should you bet in-play, too!
Sometimes you just want to amuse yourself by watching a bit of sport and nothing makes a tennis match, football game or even a horse race more exciting than a bet on its outcome. As the old saying goes, “it matters more when there’s money on it!”
But in-play betting offers serious punters increased opportunities and shrewd players have found ways of putting the odds in their favour. Statistical analysis often throws up all kinds of interesting stats and facts – for example the probability of a Premier League team conceding a goal in the final 10 minutes of an away game – and when the in-play betting odds on such an outcome is greater than the conceived probability …that’s when the ‘shrewdies’ put down their in-play bets.
Those that shop around, by keeping several sportsbooks open in their browser (or via a mobile betting app), will often see massive differences in opinion in regards to the odds firms are offering.
This is not something you will witness in pre-event betting markets and it often makes in-play betting a better proposition with even fairer betting margins.
Advantages of In-Play Betting
There are countless advantages to betting in-play. Betting in-play is a great way of hedging bets.
For example, you may have backed a tennis player to win a game pre-event at 2/1. After that player has landed the opening set his opponent can be backed at 6/4 as your selection has now become the favourite.
This means you can now back their opponent to either hedge your bets (lessening your potential winnings but guaranteeing at least your stakes back), or to guarantee a good profit regardless of who goes on to win the game/match/race by ‘neutralising’ your position.
In the example of a horserace the in-play traders at your preferred online or mobile sportsbook may have massively differing views on the action that is unfolding. They also have to generate live prices for every runner whereas you need only concentrate on one runner. This makes mistakes all the more likely.
In fact, if you are placing your in-play bets via your mobile while stood in the grandstand at a racecourse you may have an additional advantage over the traders as they are probably watching screens which are subject a time delay of a few seconds.
What sport events are offered in-play?
The aforementioned football, tennis and horse racing are massively popular in-play betting sports but you can bet on countless more.
Formula 1, snooker, table tennis, esports, darts, golf, baseball, NFL, ice hockey, handball, basketball and NASCAR to name but a few.
Some sporting events may have just one or two markets such as the winner and the total number of finishers (in the case of a Formula One Grand Prix race) but there’s no end of in-play football markets such as match corners, total number of goals, last team to score, time of the first goal, both teams to score in the first or second half etc.
In-play betting tips
In-play betting is often a battle of wits, you and your judgement against the odds compilers. Because markets are constantly changing it is not difficult to find arbitrage opportunities – that is the ability to back one selection with one online sportsbook and its opponent (or other possible outcomes) with another to make a profit. A kind of buy to sell scenario.
The best way to exploit these in-play betting opportunities is probably to compare the betting markets on the live Betfair betting exchange with the in-play online sportsbooks markets. Generally the Betfair in-play markets on the exchange are the more accurate as they represent the opinion of countless people.
Something that is always noticeable about in-play betting, and a potential money maker, is an apparent over-reaction by punters and odds compilers when a football team scores, a snooker player wins a frame or darts player breaks a rivals throw. When one side of a wager is ‘over bet’ in such a way the betting value always lays in backing the seemingly disadvantaged side.
In play betting has become hugely popular in recent years. The big price changes, especially in football games with ever changing score-lines, and golf competitions which sees dramatic movement in the leaderboard over the course of four days results in massive betting turnover. Slow burners, such as test cricket, also fare well.
But, if you’re not a player looking for small edges and percentage points worry not, in play betting offers bundles of fun to the casual punter. Mobile in-hand, a game on the TV and countless betting opportunities at your fingertips, there’s nothing better!