In-Play Betting Explained in Depth

Justin Legg

30 Jul 2019

Updated: 24 Apr 2023

In-play betting is the act of betting on an event after the event has started and before it has finished, thus the event is in-play. In-play betting, which you may sometimes see being referred to as live or in-running betting, is the fastest growing form of betting and has proved hugely popular with punters.

In-play betting is relatively new in the betting world and owes its growth in popularity largely to the birth of both online betting sites and also betting exchanges like Betfair. Present-day in-play betting has grown to the extent where there are in-play options available on pretty much any sport and event you can think of.

Finding In-play bets

Most bookies and exchanges will have their own dedicated area of the site for in-play betting available and clearly identified.

Examples of where to find on some of the more popular bookies/exchanges are:

Betfair Sportsbook in-play can be found under the in-play tab, indicated by the icon.

When selected you will have all of the current in-play options available to you.

Betfair Exchange also has a dedicated in-play area

Which when selected will display current in-play betting options in the central in-play area.

Smarkets in-play betting is available via the side menu.

It opens up the in-play options within the centre of the website.

Matchbook in-play accessible from the side menu.

And also opens up in the centre of the page.

Paddy Power in-play can be found via the tab at the top or from the side menu.

When selected you will have all of the current in-play options available to you.

Bet365 in-play can be found via the option at the top or from the side menu.

When selected you will have all of the current in-play options available to you. You can amend the view type on Bet365 with Event View (as above) or as shown below as Overview and also Schedule which will show you live streaming and broadcasting options for each event.

How Does It Differ From Betting Pre-Match?

The two main differences that you will notice are the speed in which the odds fluctuate and change. This is due to the fact that the events happening live have a knock-on effect on the odds being offered. This can have both a positive and negative effect on the bet you are trying to make.

For example, if a heavy favourite concedes a goal early in-play then you will get better odds for them to win than pre-match due to the fact they are a goal down. Conversely, if the heavy favourite scores early then their odds will plummet further and you will get worse odds after that in-play compared to pre-match.

The other main difference is the speed of bet placement. When placing a bet in-play there will normally be a delay between you placing the bet and the bet being accepted by the bookmaker. This can be for a duration of anything up to 5 or 6 seconds, sometimes even longer. This applies to both bookie and exchange so bear that in mind when placing bets.

Why Would You Bet In-Play?

The main advantage of betting in-play is that it gives you the opportunity to see how the event is panning out. You can then make your betting judgement based on what you are watching before your eyes rather than the pre-match approach of studying form and statistics. As mentioned earlier you can also use it to bet on heavy favourites who may concede an early goal to get better odds on them to win the match.

Matched Betting In-play Tips

In-play offers that we can take advantage of through matched betting are becoming more common and there are some great offers out there. For example, the Bet365 up to £50 free bet credits offer than runs regularly throughout the football season. Matched Betting in-play can be tricky though when trying it for the first time due to the movement of odds and delays. Here are some tips to help you on your way:

Tip 1: Wait for half time or extended breaks in play

When betting in-play on sports that have extended breaks in play then wait until that point to place your back and lay bets. The odds will be much more stable during this time as there is no play taking place.

For Example:

  • Football/Rugby: Wait until half time. 15-minute break in football, a 10-minute break in rugby
  • NFL: Wait until the 2-minute break at first or third quarter or, even better, wait until the 12-minute break at half time
  • Tennis: Wait until the end of a set to place your bets. Tennis odds move incredibly fast!
  • Cricket: Wait until the innings break in one-day internationals and T20. Test cricket odds move fairly slowly so you can probably look at using the various breaks in the day between sessions to bet.

Tip 2: Have Everything Ready To go

Have the bookie site and exchange loaded up and ready to place your bets quickly. Also, have the matched betting calculator open and filled in, with stake and commission, so that you can quickly calculate your stakes. If the lay odds do change don’t panic, just change them in the calculator and lay the amended stake.

Remember as well to make sure that you have enough money in your exchange balance to cover your lay stake. You don’t want to be in the situation where you are having to deposit at the same time as placing your lay bet.

Tip 3: Practice Makes Perfect!

Practice your in-play betting with smaller stakes and with football until you get used to the process. Football is great for in-play betting due to the 15-minute break at half time but also because of the amount of money available in the exchange betting markets.

Also read about match bet calculatorlaying off a bet and oddsmatching