If you are just getting started in matched betting you will need to become familiar with a betting exchange. This is where we place our lay bets. There are two main exchanges Betfair and Smarkets. There are others but in my opinion these are the best ones and should be where you spend the majority of your time.
Which exchange is better: Betfair or Smarkets?
We get asked this a lot. After people have signed up to a matched betting service like Oddsmonkey, they will quickly learn about betting exchanges and want to know which one is best.
Both have their pro’s and con’s. Let’s take a look at the key factors to consider.
So this is a big one. If you are placing big bets close to the start of the event then you need the exchange to be reliable and stable. If the horse race starts before you get your lay bet in you might be looking at a loss unless you get lucky and your horse comes in. We aren’t gambling here so that is unacceptable. Both are very reliable but over the years I have to say I have experienced problems with Smarkets going down at the worst possible moment.
It is very rare but on really big events when Smarkets comes under load it has failed me in the past and cost me money. I have never had this happen with Betfair. Smarkets has improved a lot over the last year in this regard as they have become more popular but it is something I need to mention.
Betfair are the much bigger company and therefore they probably have much more powerful servers running their website.
I must also say though that when their website has failed me the customer service at Smarkets has been pretty good and I have been refunded on a couple of occasions. They won’t refund you though if the site goes down and you can’t get your lay bet on only if there’s been an issue with a bet you have placed with them which makes sense.
Another important factor is commission. On every winning bet at the exchange they will take a percentage of that for themselves. This is how they make their money. As you are betting against other bettors at the exchange there is no way for the exchange to make money other than commission.
Betfair charges 5% and Smarkets charges 2%. This is a huge difference. It may not seem like much but over thousands of bets this adds up to a lot of money. This is one of the reasons that Smarkets has exploded in popularity. More money in your pocket. The difference could be as much as £1000 per year if you are a matched bettor.
Matchbook is another exchange that offers 1% commission but that is on every bet, win or lose. They also have much less liquidity.
Liquidity and Market Availability
Liquidity is the amount of money available on the exchange for a particular event. If there is no liquidity then you can’t place a bet so it’s really important. Both sites have great liquidity for all the major events like Premier League football and horse racing. Betfair is the place to be for the less popular bets.
One of the major downfalls of Smarkets is that they don’t cover as many markets as Betfair. For example there is no first goal scorer market on Smarkets. So you will be forced to use Betfair for these bets. Betfair covers a lot of sports and they cover obscure sports as well. As a matched bettor you may find yourself betting on the strangest things. So you will need to get used to using Betfair even if you prefer Smarkets.
Betfair also offer markets for some accumulators if there is demand. Sky Bet often offer a price boost on 3 teams to win, as they all kick off at the same time they only way to lay this off and make a profit is by using Betfair. Smarkets have no markets for accumulator bets.
This boils down to personal preference. Betfair is probably better for beginners but personally I prefer Smarkets layout. It’s just easier to see what is going on. Simpler.
Alternative Betting Exchanges
There are other betting exchanges to consider. Like we mentioned, Matchbook is one option. The main issue I have with Matchbook and other betting exchanges is that there is very little to no liquidity. So you struggle to place a bet. This also leads to bad odds on occasion. There is also BetDaq and Ladbrokes Excahnge. We recommend staying away from the Ladbrokes exchange unless you want to identify yourself to them that you are a matched bettor. Betdaq is good though.
Previously only Betfair had an app and it’s an excellent one. If you like to bet on the go then Betfair is what you should be using. Smarkets do have an app these days but it’s really poor. The Betfair app is first class.
I use Smarkets a lot for my matched betting. I like the layout and I like the lower commission. However I am forced to use Betfair everyday as well because Smarkets don’t cover all the markets we need to bet on. I also go to Betfair as well if I need to get a bet on quickly as there is more liquidity and bets get matched faster.
So my advice would be to use both and get used to the layout of both if you are serious about your matched betting.
If I had to pick a winner though then I would have to choose Betfair