What is Sports Trading?

Sports Trading involves placing a back bet or a lay bet on a betting exchange with the hope that the odds will move in your favour so you have the opportunity to lock in a profit regardless of the final result.

The back bet can be placed at a bookie or a betting exchange with the lay bet being placed at an exchange such as Betfair, Smarkets, Betdaq, or Matchbook.

Is Sports Trading Gambling?

Despite what you might read on other sports trading blogs, Sports Trading is 100% gambling as you are backing or laying a certain event to occur e.g. a goal to be scored in football or a serve to be broken in tennis with the hope that you can lock in a profit once that event occurs.

The advantage that sports trading has over straight betting is that if a trade doesn’t go as you expect, you can trade out of your position for a smaller loss than if you let your trade run to the end.

Therefore, the goal of every successful sports trader is to minimise their losses so that over the long term, their losses are smaller than their profits.

What do you need to get started Sports Trading?

  • At least one betting exchange account – I would recommend starting with Betfair as their betting interface is very user friendly for beginners and the liquidity at Betfair is much better than at the other betting exchanges so you will have less issues exiting your trades.
  • At least one Sports Trading Strategy – We have listed some of the common strategies used by beginners below. You can also check out our articles on football and tennis trading strategies.
  • A bankroll for your sports trading – As a beginner, it is better to start off small or even consider paper trading until you get comfortable with sports trading. Also, if you have not taken advantage of Matched Betting yet, then I would recommend that you complete all the bookie sign up offers so that you can build up a bank for your sports trading.

Once you become more accomplished with your sports trading, you can consider purchasing sports trading software such as Geekstoy or BetAngel but for beginners, it is ok to stick to the Betfair website to start with.

What sports can I trade on?

What Sports can you trade on Betfair

You can pretty much trade on any sports you can think of, but the most popular sports for trading are Horse Racing, Football, and Tennis.

Trading on Horse Racing

Horse racing is probably the most popular sport to trade for sports traders with one of the most popular strategies being the trading of the first or second favourite in the 15 mins before a race is due to start.

Traders will look to lock in a profit before the race begins and will exit for a loss if the trade does not work out for them.

Other traders who are less risk-averse, will back a horse before the race with the hope of laying them at some point during the race. This is referred to as a Back to Lay Strategy.

You can also Lay to Back a horse by laying a horse at the start of a race, then waiting for the horse’s odds to rise in play in order to exit your trade for a profit.

Football Trading

Football is a very popular sport to trade due to its popularity around the world and the massive liquidity available for matches in the top football leagues in Europe such as the English Premier League, the Italian Serie A, and Spain’s La Liga.

Sports Traders mainly trade the match odds, the number of goals, and the correct score markets. This is the main sport I trade myself and I make most of my profits from trading the over/under X.5 goals markets.

Tennis Trading

Tennis is great for sports traders as the movement in odds is very mechanically and odds swings occur frequently in tennis matches. Tennis also has the advantage of being played almost all year round.

Sports Trading Strategies

Horse Racing Trading Strategies

Dobbing – Dobbing refers to Double or Bust and involves placing a back bet on a horse and then placing a lay bet at odds that will give you a 100% return if the lay bet is matched in play and a 100% loss if the lay bet is not matched.

For example, if I bet €/£100 on a horse at odds of 6.0, I would then place a lay bet at odds of 2.9. If my lay bet is matched I will have locked in approximately €/£100 in profit and if it isn’t matched then I would lose my €/£100 back stake. To win using this strategy you will need at least a 50% win rate.

For more information on this horse racing strategy, check out our guide to dobbing.

Pre Race Scalping – Pre Race Scalping is a horse racing strategy that involves backing or laying a horse in the minutes before a race is due to start, in the hopes that you can gain a few ticks so that you can lock in a profit before the race starts. If you back a horse, you are looking for the odds to fall and if you lay a horse you are looking for the odds on the horse to rise.

Swing Trading – Swing Trading involves trying to identify horses whose odds are likely to drift or shorten in the short to medium term. This strategy looks for a bigger swing in the odds than a pre race scalper would be looking for with swing traders looking at money flow and the form of the horse to identify swing trades.

Football Trading Strategies

Lay the Draw – The lay the draw trading strategy is probably the oldest and most well-known football trading strategy. The strategy does exactly what it says on the tin, you place a lay bet on the draw, and look to exit your trade when one of the teams goes a goal or two up.

Under 2.5 Goals – This is a simple strategy that involves backing under 2.5 goals in a match then waiting for time to pass and the odds on under 2.5 goals to drop to a point where you can exit your trade for a profit. The downside to this strategy is that if a goal is scored soon after you have placed your back bet, the odds on under 2.5 goals will shoot up and you will be looking at a big loss on your trade.

Back the Favourite – This strategy is fairly self explanatory but it involves backing the favourite to win a match and then laying them once they go a goal up. One advantage of using this strategy is that even if no goals are scored in the first 30 minutes, the odds on a short favourite usually don’t increase too much as the market still thinks there is plenty of time for the favourite to take the lead.

Tennis Trading Strategies

Lay the Leader – This strategy involves laying a tennis player once they have broken serve in a match with the hope that they will be broken back. If the break back occurs, you hedge your bet for a profit and if not, you exit for a loss.

This is a great strategy to use in tennis matches where you believe there will be lots of breaks of serve .i.e. your pre-match research shows the player that broke does not have a strong or consistent serve.

Lay the 1st set winner – By laying the 1st set winner, you are hoping the other player will make a comeback so that you can exit your trade for a profit.

A popular way to use this strategy is to lay the 1st set winner when it is the pre-match underdog that has taken the first set.

Back the Server – Another popular tennis trading strategy is Back the Server. This trading strategy relies heavily on pre-match research to identify players with a strong and consistent serve.

Once you have identified a player, you will back them at the start of their service games and if they hold serve, you will exit for a profit. The beauty of this strategy is that you can do this multiple times in a match.

Can you make a living from Sports Trading Online?

It is definitely possible to make a full time living from sports trading but it is definitely not easy and requires patience and discipline to be successful.

As a beginner, making a living from trading should not be your main focus, instead, you should focus on not losing any money and building up your sports trading knowledge and skills over time.

When you have been making consistent profits for 12 months or so, then you can look into whether you can make sports trading work full time.

Just remember, sports trading is very different when your money from trading is needed for paying the bills and it is not just bonus money you get each month. You might not think trading for a living will affect your trading decisions but it will.

That is why I would always encourage anyone thinking of sports trading for a living, to not put all their eggs in one basket and instead have multiple income streams coming in so they aren’t totally reliant on the income from their sports trading.

Top 5 Tips for Sports Trading Beginners

1. Start Small

Only trade with money you are comfortable with losing. Also when you are starting out, stick to the minimum bet size when placing bets on the betting exchanges.

2. Paper Trade

When you discover a new sports trading strategy, paper trade the strategy until you are sure it works. A strategy might seem great at first and might give you lots of small wins but you need to experience the worst case scenario to see if the strategy will be profitable over the long term, as there is no use winning €1 a trade if on average every tenth trade you are losing €20.

3. Money Management

As a beginner, limit your risk per trade to 1% of your bank. This will help keep your losses in check as you learn how to trade. Never be tempted to increase your stakes to win more money as the worst case scenario for your chosen strategy could be just around the corner.

4. Build up a Sports Trading Bank with Matched Betting

Use Matched Betting to build up a bank for Sports Trading. Visit our sister site Matched Betting Guide for more details on how to maximise your profits from matched betting. If you live in Ireland or the UK, you should be able to build up a €/£1,000+ bank within a few months from completing matched betting offers.

5. Avoid Paid Courses to begin with

Be careful of signing up for a paid course on sports trading as there are many websites out there that are only interested in your money and will teach you very little that you couldn’t look up for free on the internet.

If you are determined to sign up for a paid service, we would recommend Goal Profits which has excellent tutorials for beginners and a selection of beginner football trading strategies that you can try out.

If you are considering signing up for other sports trading courses, then check out our article on how to avoid scam sports trading courses.