Betfair Starting Price FAQs

The Betfair Starting Price offers Backers and Layers a convenient method of getting matched at great value odds. For those Betfair punters wanting to know more detail about this product, our frequently asked questions provide further insights.

How is the money matched?

The basic principle of matching bets on the Exchange is maintained for SP bets. Backers are matched against layers. In the case of Starting Price bets, we are matching Starting Price backers (who have specified a stake) and Exchange backers with Starting Price layers (who have specified a liability) and Exchange layers.

Matching takes place in the brief period between the event being suspended and it being turned in-play using a reconciliation process which determines the SP.

The reconciliation process considers SP bets that have been placed on each selection, taking into account any price limits that have been specified, and unmatched Exchange bets on that selection. The calculation determines the fairest price which will match the largest amount of money risked by backers and layers against each other.

Can I see roughly what price I am likely to get before the off when I bet at SP?

Yes. You will not know what the Betfair Starting Price is until the event starts, as additional bets placed before then will affect the calculation of the price. However Betfair will offer two calculations of the projected SP:

  • Projected SP – which indicates what the SP would be if the market were to suspend now, this is also known as the ‘Near Price’ calculation.
  • Near/Far Odds – The closer it is to the start of the race, the more accurate these prices are likely to be due to more liquidity and up to date information.

Note: If there is no money wagered at the Starting Price, then the system would find the halfway point between the best available odds to back and lay and show this as the projected SP. The projected SP & Near/Far Odds can be toggled off and on within your Settings.

When will I know the odds and my potential winnings ?

You will be informed of the odds at which your bets have been matched once the market is suspended at the off or turned in-play. At this point your bet will be matched against customers who have placed an opposing bet. The actual SP will then be displayed in the middle column on the market as long as you have the “Betfair Starting Price” box ticked above the market. Your Bet Manager is now split into three colour-coded sections. These are Unmatched Bets, Matched Bets and SP Bets. Any SP bets that were showing in your Bet Manager before the race started will be moved to the Matched Bets section once the SP is confirmed.

What is the minimum stake for an SP bet?

The minimum stake for a back bet at SP is $5. The minimum liability if laying is $30.

Who am I betting against at SP?

The party against whom you are betting when you take the SP option is consistent with the main Terms and Conditions that govern your use of the site. You are effectively betting against other customers but depending on the governing jurisdiction, bets may made with a Betfair counterparty.

If I am laying at SP, how will I know how much I am risking?

In a normal Exchange market, if you are laying you are asked to specify the backer’s stake you would like to try to win and your liability is calculated for you. In contrast when placing an SP lay bet layers are asked to specify a liability (rather than a backer’s stake). This is because the SP won’t be known until the off, so customers have to specify the liability they desire so that we can ensure they have sufficient funds in their account to pay the backers we match them with should the selection go on to win. Backers and layers at SP will therefore not know how much they could win until the start of the event. Backers at SP specify their stake as normal and this amount will reduce their “available to bet” balance as usual.

How are the bets settled and when?

Once the reconciliation process has taken place, SP bets are just like normal matched Exchange bets. They will be settled along with every other matched bet.

Who is taking the risk, Betfair?

Betfair takes no risk. We balance backers and layers.

Is it linked to the exchange, and how?

All available money at the time is balanced to determine a fair price. This includes customers who have elected to back or lay at SP and any unmatched Exchange demand.

Does Betfair see what is happening with the SP bets?

The process of determining the SP takes place in the short period of time between the race being suspended and the race going in-play. During that period no one at Betfair has any influence in how the price is determined. No one at Betfair has access to any privileged information on SP markets.

How can Betfair guarantee to match a $50k SP bet?

In order to match that amount of money at 1.01, we would only need $500 of layers’ liability. Unless the selection is genuinely a 1.01 chance there is a very high probability that there will be enough layers to guarantee a match. However, we don’t guarantee a price. In practice though a large amount of money placed to back at SP will be likely to result in a price projection that is attractive to layers, and vice versa.

Will there be unmatched SP bets if the money isn't there?

In theory, there could be unmatched SP bets. We don’t actually guarantee a match. But this would only happen if the price is 1.01 or 1000 – the two extremes of our SP. If 1.01 were the final SP, then some backers might be unmatched. If 1000 were the final SP, then some layers will be unmatched. However, we expect this to be very rare.

What are SP odds limits?

SP odds limits is a  feature that allows you to specify either the minimum odds you are prepared to accept for an SP bet, for back bets, or the maximum odds you are prepared to offer for a lay bet. Traditional bookmakers or totes don’t offer this type of bet, but Betfair has created an SP system that will. You just need to select the set odds limit option when placing the SP bet and specify the minimum acceptable odds for back bets or the maximum acceptable odds for lay bets. If the Betfair SP falls outside the limits specified, stakes are returned and the bet is not matched. This enables Betfair to calculate the minimum profit you will make on the selection if the result goes in your favour.
SP Backers Min Profit Calculation
(Min Odds – 1) x Stake = min profit
SP Layers Min Profit Calculation
Liability / (Max odds – 1) = Min Profit
See the Setting SP Limits section for further details.

If I specify a limit on an SP bet and the calculated SP is equal to my limit am I guaranteed to be matched ?

No. To include all SP limit bets which have a limit exactly equal to the SP in the reconciliation process and match them could result in an imbalance between backers and layers. Therefore where an SP is calculated that is exactly equal to backers’ and/or layers’ limit SP bets none, some or all of those bets may be included. In this event SP limit bets with identical limit prices will be matched on a first come, first served basis as is the convention in Betfair’s Exchange markets. Lay bets with a higher limit and back bets with a lower limit will definitely be matched.

Why does my profit and loss reflect my SP bets?

The profit and loss will only reflect your SP bets once the event has started and the bets have been matched at the Starting Price. The projected profit and loss cannot be displayed using the ‘what if’ feature within ‘More Options’ because there is no price upon which to base the calculation at this stage.

What changes will I see in market views?

If you are an existing customer who gets the current ‘Full View’ you will get the equivalent of the Full View (Back & Lay and Market Depth selected). Similarly, if you get the ‘Express View’ you will again get the equivalent (no check boxes selected). Any changes to your preferences will be stored.

Can I request to 'TAKE SP' on an unmatched lay bet if my liability is less than $30? (minimum liability)

Yes, but at the off if the liability on the bet is less than $30 the bet will be cancelled and will not be included in the SP reconciliation. For example: As an Exchange layer I decide to lay a horse for $15 @ 2.0. It is trading at 3.0 so my bet is unmatched. I then request to ‘Take SP’ at the off if my bet is still unmatched at 2.0. The system will allow this request but if unmatched at the off it will lapse. Also, if a customer for example asks to lay $150 at 1.5, convert to SP if unmatched, and $120 gets taken leaving $30 lay at 1.5 the balance will cancel at the off. It will not convert into an SP lay bet as the revised balance at the off was less than the minimum $30 liability allowed for SP bets.

What is the commission rate payable when betting at SP?

In detail, the pricing calculation is performed as follows: SP bets become matched bets once the reconciliation has been performed at the start of the event with commission charged on a customer’s net winnings in each market. The commission on SP bets will therefore be calculated in exactly the same way as normal Exchange bets.

Can I cancel or amend my SP bet?

It is not possible for you to cancel a bet you have placed on the site at SP. This is so that we can provide an estimate of the Starting Price based on money committed to betting at SP. If bets could be cancelled, this estimate could be manipulated by placing a large bet and then cancelling it. If, however, you have an unmatched Exchange bet with the option “Take SP” selected you can still cancel this up until the time of the off.
If you have specified a limit on your SP back bet you can reduce the minimum odds you are prepared to accept. If you have specified a limit on your lay SP bet you can increase the maximum odds you are prepared to offer. You will not be allowed to increase the odds on a limit SP back bet, or reduce the odds on a limit SP lay bet as this would allow customers to amend their bets to levels that would be highly unlikely to be matched, which would have the same effect as cancelling which is not allowed, as explained above.

Can SP bets be placed using Betfair mobile?

SP bets can be placed on m.betfair.com.au and Betfair’s Mobile Application.

Are my SP bets highlighted in current bets, betting history and on my statement?

Yes. Your bets will show in Current Bets at SP along with any odds limit you may have set.

What can I do with an unmatched bet in SP markets?

By default unmatched bets on the Exchange ‘lapse’ and are cancelled at the start of the event.You can still choose for this to happen if you wish, and unmatched bets will have “cancel” as their default. However you now have the ability to:Convert your unmatched Exchange bet to an SP bet if it remains unmatched at the off by selecting the “Take SP” option.Please note again that you can cancel an unmatched Exchange bet prior to the off even if you have chosen the ‘Take SP’ option.

CAN I SEE THE AMOUNTS OF MONEY TO BACK AND LAY AT SP?

Yes. SP bets can be seen in the runner information pop-up, which can be accessed by clicking the graph icon next to each selection in the market view.

In the Traded Table next to the graph, you will see two new columns, backers’ stakes and layers’ liabilities requested at SP. Amounts requested with an odds limit will show in these columns next to the respective prices with backers’ stakes showing as blue and layers’ liabilities showing as pink. (Note this is the opposite to Exchange bets in this table where backers’ money shows in pink under “To Lay” and vice versa)

SP bets on which no price limit was specified will show at 1.01 for SP back bets and 1000.00 for SP lay bets.

The Far Price will give you an indication of the balance between SP backers and SP layers.

DO SP BETS WHERE AN ODDS LIMIT HAS BEEN SPECIFIED FORM PART OF THE BETFAIR STARTING PRICE?

SP bets with price limits are included in the calculation as long as doing so allows an SP to be calculated that has no imbalance between backers’ stakes and layers’ liabilities. For example if SP bets and Exchange bets could be matched at a price of 5.0 with no imbalance between backers’ stakes and layers’ liabilities then SP back bets with a price limit of 4.0 would be included, but SP bets with a limit of 6.0 would lapse unmatched and would not form part of the calculation of the Starting Price.

What happens to a Betfair Starting Price (BSP) bet if there is a late non-runner?

If you place a Betfair Starting Price (BSP) bet and we are unable to remove a non-runner until after the race has completed, the BSP Price that is calculated at the race start may change after the non-runner has been removed. The Reduction Factor of the non-runner will be applied to the original BSP odds generated, which will return a revised price for your bet.

This instance rarely occurs, usually when a horse is declared a non-runner after the race, or when a horse is scratched very close to the off of a race and we are unable to remove the non-runner from the market before the race jumps.

WHAT IS THE NEAR PRICE AND HOW IS IT RECONCILED?

Example 1 – Matching SP backers and Exchange backers with SP layers

Let’s look at a simple example where we have $1000 to back at SP and $6000 of layers’ liabilities on the same selection:

Stake / Liability
Odds
Selection Wins
Selection Loses

SP Backers
$1000 (stake)
7.0 (6/1)
+ $6000
– $1000

SP Layers
$6000 (max liability)
7.0 (6/1)
– $6000
+ $1000

Notice here that whatever the backer wins, the layer loses and vice versa. The Far Price (shown here as 7.0) ensures everyone can always be paid.

At the start of the race, all these bets would be matched, yet there would be a lot of unmatched bets on the Exchange and probably not trading at the price of 7.0. The Far Price would therefore not be the fairest Starting Price.

For this example, let’s assume that there are unmatched back bets at 5.0 on the Exchange. If we calculated a Starting Price of 7.0 we would be matching SP layers at 7.0 while leaving Exchange backers unmatched at 5.0, which would be unfair. By calculating an SP of 5.0, we can match all the money placed at SP, and some of the backers’ money waiting at this price on the Exchange as well. This is how it works:

Stake / Liability
Odds
Selection Wins
Selection Loses

SP Backers
$1000 (stake)
5.0 (4/1)
+ $4000
– $1000

SP Layers
$6000 (max liability)
5.0 (4/1)
– $6000
+ $1500

Notice now that there is not enough money to pay the layers if the selection loses. This is rectified by matching money from backers on the Exchange. (X backers)

Stake / Liability
Odds
Selection Wins
Selection Loses

X Backers
$500 (stake)
5.0 (4/1)
+ $2000
– $500

SP Backers
$1000 (stake)
5.0 (4/1)
+ $4000
– $1000

SP Layers
$6000 (max liability)
5.0 (4/1)
– $6000
+$1500

Now the amounts balance whether the Selection Wins or loses. By decreasing the Far Price to the odds trading on the Exchange at the start of the event we are able to match another $500 worth of Exchange backers. The Near Price here would be 5.0 and this is the Betfair Starting Price that would be calculated at the off.

Example 2 – Matching Exchange layers and SP layers with SP backers

Let’s look at the same example as before but see what happens if the price trading on the Exchange is larger than the Far Price of 7.0 (6/1). Let’s imagine there are unmatched Exchange lay bets available to back at 11.0 (10/1). In this case it would be unfair to match SP backers at 7.0 while leaving customers trying to lay at 11.0 on the Exchange unmatched.

Stake / Liability
Odds
Selection Wins
Selection Loses

SP Backers
$1000 (stake)
11.0 (10/1)
+ $10000
– $1000

SP Layers
$6000 (max liability)
11.0 (10/1)
– $6000
+ $600

As before, the profit and loss does not balance between backers and layers, but this time there is not enough money to pay the backers if the Selection Wins. Therefore we need to match extra money fromlayers on the Exchange (X Layers) to rectify the situation.

Stake / Liability
Odds
Selection Wins
Selection Loses

SP Backers
$1000 (stake)
11.0 (10/1)
+ $10000
– $1000

SP Layers
$6000 (max liability)
11.0 (10/1)
– $6000
+$600

X Layers
$400 (layer’s stake)
11.0 (10/1)
– $4000
+$400

Now the totals balance once again whether the Selection Wins or loses. Remember that at SP, layers specify their maximum liability whereas on the Exchange they specify the backer’s stake that they would like to try to win.

By increasing the odds of the Far Price to the odds trading on the Exchange at the start of the event we are able to match another $400 worth of Exchange layers.

The Near Price here would be 11.0 and this is what would be returned as the Betfair Starting Price.

We are using simple numbers here to show how the market must balance, but in reality the system would try to match layers on the Exchange at 11.0, then 10.5, then 10.0 etc until enough money was matched to balance the market and ensure everyone would be paid, regardless of the outcome.