Advanced In-Play Trading Part 2

This is part two of our Advanced In-Play Trading articles. There are many different ways to attack an in-play market. My favourite strategy is the concept of back-to-lay. It’s at the top of my chart because it’s the easiest and consistently most profitable. It can work well in thoroughbred racing, but is most effective in harness racing. If all goes to plan you can be left with a ‘green-book’ and no matter what the final result of the event you can secure a profit.


What I look for is the early leader, and place a back bet before the race goes ‘in-play’. Ideally this horse will be the favourite, however in theory it should work for any leader – especially those in single figures. At this time you can also look to place a lay bet at a shorter price before the race is run (using the ‘Keep’ in-play option) or wait till the race begins and get a feel for where the price settles before playing a lay bet.

Incidentally, the reason the favourite is the preferred candidate is because it provides a level of comfort through liquidity. The plan is to exit your trade at a profit, and you obviously need enough backers interested to take your bet when the horse hopefully finds the lead. If the plan goes awry you can hopefully recoup the vast majority of your stake, because there will be still punters keen to back a favourite at inflated prices.

Hedging In-Play

Example 1

The ability to map a race is obviously crucial. Thankfully there are many tools available to help with this process – form guides and analysis have improved dramatically in recent times.

In a recent event at Launceston, I expected the 2nd favourite to find the lead. To this end I was able to back Mister Ryanjack at an average price of 4.32. This bet was pre-race. I didn’t have a firm view about what price it may trade at when leading and decided to wait until the race was underway before playing a lay bet.

Thankfully Mister Ryanjack was able to lead, and I could sell my stake at an average price of 2.96. Although it was a small-stake investment, I was able to generate a 44% return on my original outlay.

You may note I had an identical result no matter what the outcome (profit of $27.51).

This is called hedging, and any number of Betfair API’s make this transaction easy at the click of a button.

Mr Ryanjack lost, but as mentioned earlier the final result wasn’t important once the ‘hedge’ was executed.

Example 2

Short-priced favourites are generally great for the back-to-lay method. At least those you expect to lead. In the example below I placed a relatively large wager on Tact Tate at an average price of 1.18. I was confident he would find the lead.

I also inserted a lay that would be kept in the market as the race began (at 1.10). Why did I choose a lay price of 1.10? This is a tricky question to answer, and arguably becomes an intuitive decision. What I will say is even prices at short odds such as 1.10, 1.20, 1.30 are ‘hot’ trading points – and I merely took the next level down from the original investment. In this case Tact Tate led and the lay was executed a few hundred metres after the start. It worked out as a return of almost 7%.

Bear in mind this bet size was within my comfortable of risk. You could have generated that 7% return with a much smaller stake. And of course, if Tact Tate wasn’t able to lead there’s no doubt I would have taken a loss. However the likelihood of that loss being anywhere near the original stake was low. The ability to take a hedged loss is also important. I would have attempted to sell out at a price of 1.25-1.30 early on if he’d not been able to find the front. While this would have been a little painful, other profitable opportunities will keep coming.

Example 3

An example of a more complicated in-play event is revealed below. Prior to this race I had no firm view on the ‘speed map’, and had no intention to invest. However most races provide opportunities in the run and I was content to let this race begin before making any decisions.

My biggest investment was on Playboys Dream. This horse found the lead, and a price of 7.8 was offered. This price was identical to its starting price, and I was most happy to jump on. But I needed to be fast, and this is where using an API become vital (in this case one-touch betting).

While some punters would have let this bet ride, I firmly had my traders hat on. I was able to lay Playboys Dream at an average price of $2.84. This occurred not long after the back bet, which again highlights how rapidly markets can move.

In this instance I couldn’t ‘hedge’ completely for an identical return because there wasn’t enough interest at this price.

However I had a Green-Book and was more than happy to let it ‘run for me’. Thankfully it ended up victorious.

During the race I made a couple of other trades, including a Back and Lay of Good Job (back 2.5, lay 2.0). This was the pre-race favourite and it moved into a favourable position.

I didn’t make any money on this as I backed and layed it for the same stake (and as we know didn’t win the race). A more prudent thing to do would have been to lay for a little more than $50 to maximise the return.

In summary I was able to generate 258% on the original investment.


There are many different ways to engage on in-play markets, and I have highlighted just one method above. The best advice I can give if this interests you is to keep your eyes wide open, and learn/evolve by watching markets and patterns. Trading won’t always go to plan, but hopefully this brief article has provided a small insight into the world of in-play betting.

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