What is Lay the Draw?
In its simplest form, Laying the Draw (or “LTD”) means placing a lay bet on a football match at a betting exchange such as Betfair in the hope that the match will not end in a draw. If either team wins you profit, but if it ends up in a draw you will lose your lay bet.
The Lay the Draw Strategy is probably one of the oldest sports trading strategies and is quite popular with beginners due to the simplicity of the strategy.
The strategy comes in many forms including laying the draw pre-match, at halftime, or in the second half.
How to Lay the Draw on Betfair, Smarkets and other Betting exchanges
The most basic form of the strategy is to lay a football match prematch then when a goal is scored, you exit your trade for a profit.
If no goal is scored by the time the draw odds fall to around 2.0 then we would exit our trade for a loss.
To help illustrate this strategy better, see below an example of a pre-match lay the draw on the PSV vs Galatasaray Champions League Qualifying match that was played o the 21st July 2021.
Step 1: The lay odds on the draw pre-match were 4.4, so we layed €10.20 to leave us with a liability of €34.68 on the draw.
Step 2: You wait for the first goal to be scored to exit your trade for a profit.
If no goal is scored by the time the draw odds reach your predetermined exit point then you exit your trade for a loss and then move on to your next trade.
As you can see, the strategy is very easy to implement and doesn’t take up a huge amount of time. However, there are some drawbacks to this strategy that I will discuss below.
Lay the Draw Exit Strategies
How you exit your trade will depend on whether the favourite scored, the underdog scored, or if there have been no goals.
Favourite scores first:
This is the ideal situation for a trader as the draw odds should increase sufficiently so you can exit for a nice profit.
Your profit will be even higher if the favourite doesn’t score until after the 60th minute.
You also have the option of waiting until the favourite goes 2-0 up so you can lock in a bigger profit.
However, by doing this you are risking that the underdog equalises before the favourite scores again.
For the brave among us, you also have the option of letting the bet run and collecting 100% of the profit but again you are leaving yourself open to the underdog getting the equaliser late on in a game and having to stomach a 100% loss on the trade.
Also, this option is more like gambling than trading.
The underdog scores first:
Whether you can exit your trade for a profit will depend on when the underdog scores the goal.
If it is early in the match then the odds of a draw might actually decrease as the market will believe there is sufficient time for the favourite to make a comeback.
However, if the goal is scored late on in the match, you are more likely to be able to exit for a profit, especially if the goal is scored in the last 10.
If you are not in a position to exit your trade after the underdog scores, you have to decide whether you believe the underdog is strong enough to hold the lead or even go 2-0 up.
If you stick with the underdog, the odds will gradually move in your favour the closer it gets to the full time whistle but you will be running the risk of the favourite equalising before you can exit your trade.
Another option you can use when the underdog scores first is the Metaltone strategy, which involves backing the draw with 50% of your initial lay stake once the underdog scores and then laying the underdog for 75% of your initial lay stake.
Doing this will reduce your liability on the draw and will leave you with a profit on the favourite but with a liability on the underdog.
I would not be a big fan of this method as you are instantly turning a potential winning trade into a potentially losing trade as if the match ended 1-0 to the underdog then you would have won your trade.
No goal is scored:
Below are the 2 most common exit strategies if no goal is scored.
Exit when draw odds reach 2.0 – You will wait until the odds of a draw drop to 2.0.
By using a fixed exit point you can calculate your max loss on each trade and also work out what winning percentage you need to be profitable.
Exit on 70 minutes – This is similar to the above, except you exit based on how long there is to go in the match.
This will result in a variable loss on each trade as the odds at 70 minutes depending on the teams involved and the market’s expectation of a goal.
Other Lay the Draw Strategies
Lay the Draw with Insurance
This strategy is similar to the pre match strategy discussed above with the difference being you place bets on 0-0 or 1-1 or both as insurance on your lay the draw strategy.
The most common strategy is to cover your liability on the draw by placing bets on the correct score market (usually the 0-0 and 1-1 scorelines as these are the most common scores for draws).
If the match finishes 0-0 or 1-1 then you break even, but if a goal is scored you exit your trade for a profit.
The big downside to this strategy is that by placing bets on the correct score market, you are eating into your profits on your lay the draw trade.
I would not be a big fan of this strategy as I think it is a trap beginner Sports Traders often fall into, which is they want to profit from every single trade.
Instead, they need to know that losing trades will happen and instead they need to look at whether their chosen strategy is profitable over the long term.
Lay the Halftime Draw Strategy
This strategy involves laying the halftime draw either before the match starts or when the odds fall to around 2.0.
The advantage of this strategy over laying the full-time draw is that the odds are much lower and therefore the liability on your trades will also be much lower.
Also, the issue of the underdog taking the lead is less of an issue as the favourites will have less time to make a comeback.
The only caveat to this would be if the underdog scores very early on (in the first few minutes)
My preferred approach to this strategy is to wait for the odds to drop to around 2.0 or lower before placing my lay bet.
This way I know, I only have to get around 50% of my trades correct to make a profit.
This is in contrast to the full-time lay the draw where you will need a number of winning trades to cancel out one losing trade.
Lay the Draw in the Second Half
This strategy involves laying the draw in the second half of football matches when you think a goal is likely to be scored.
This is a great strategy to use as it resolves many of the issues with the standard lay the draw strategy such as the underdog scoring first and the high liability on your trades.
A common strategy is to lay the draw when the odds drop to 2.0 or lower and then letting the bet run until the final whistle.
By doing this, you can benefit from late goals and it won’t matter whether the favourite or the underdog scores the goal.
As you are laying at lower odds the liability on your trades will also be lower.
Can you lay the draw for a living in 2022?
I wouldn’t say it is impossible to lay the draw for a living but I would not recommend you make it your goal.
Instead, I would recommend having the lay the draw a part of your sports trading Strategies Portfolio as you will need to be selective on the matches you use the strategy on if you are going to be profitable over the long term.
I would also recommend trying to make sports trading a secondary income rather than making it your sole source of income.
Trading is not easy and the income from it is not as consistent as a 9-5 job.
If you look at successful sports traders like Caan Berry, you will often see that they don’t solely rely on their sports trading income and instead branch out into other businesses.
Lay the Draw Tips for Beginners
Don’t use the lay the draw strategy on every available match
You need to be selective in your choice of matches by using stats websites or services like Goal Profits Team Stats to narrow down your potential trades.
Avoid laying the full time draw pre match as a beginner
Some traders can make this strategy work but you need to be highly selective in your choice of matches to trade.
Keep your stakes low when you are starting out
Use the minimum stakes on the betting exchanges or even consider paper trading your first 25 trades or so.
If you have a few winning trades in a row, don’t immediately increase your stakes
Instead, wait until you have had a few losing trades so you have a better idea of what the worst case scenario is for your strategy.
Set a bank for your trading
This should be an amount that would not impact you greatly if you were to lose it all.
Never risk more than 1% of your bank on each trade
This will help keep control of your losses.
Avoid matches where there is an overwhelming favourite
Avoid matches where there is an overwhelming favourite e.g Barcelona against lower level teams in La Liga as the odds on the draw will be too high.
Don’t let bets run, thinking that a goal has to come soon
This is a recipe for disaster and will only end up with you losing all your liability on the trade.
Avoid cup games, local derbies, international friendlies and end of season matches
Make sure at least one team has a good motivation to win the match and a draw would not suit both teams.
Keep Track of Your Trades
Keep track of all your lay the draw trades so you can see whether you are profitable over the long term.
Keep track of details such as the teams playing, odds you layed the draw at and the time a goal was scored (if any).
Alternatives to Laying the draw
Below are some Lay the Draw Alternatives that you use if for some reason you can’t lay the draw in the 1×2 market on Betfair.
Dutch both teams
This involves backing both teams to win rather than playing a lay bet on the draw.
Using this method you can place equal amounts of profit on both teams or you can work it so that there is more profit on one of the teams.
When a goal is scored you will need to back the draw, to trade out of your position.
You will need to use some sort of dutching calculator to work out what stake you need to place on the draw after a goal is scored.
There are many free dutching calculators online but I use the one provided by Matched Betting Blog.
Lay current score
One alternative to laying the draw is to lay the current score instead.
The best time to do this is late in the second half when the odds on the draw will be close to the odds of the current score.
The advantage of using this method is that you only need one goal to win 100% of the profit and it doesn’t matter who scores the goal.
The downside to this method is that your liability will be higher than if you simply layed the draw.
Lay under 0.5 goals
This is a similar strategy to laying the current score and would also be deployed late in the second half as the odds of under 0.5 goals at the start or during the first half would be too high to make this a viable strategy.
In summary, The Lay the Draw strategy is definitely a strategy you can use to be profitable on Betfair and other betting exchanges as long as you put in the time and research needed to select your trades.
Those of you that simply apply it to every match that is being played, are likely to find less success.