In-play betting, known as in-running betting within horse racing and also described as live betting, involves punters placing bets during an event such as a football match, a horse race or a longer-running event such as a test cricket match or golf tournament.
For the most part, in-play betting is seen as a modern positive for punters as it in part takes away the need to study form, trends and stats in advance and instead allows you watch the event begin to take place, seeing how it shapes up before deciding to place a bet.
Many sports these days have live, in-play markets offered every day and are sometimes backed up by live streaming. Live betting, alongside Cash Out, has given punters the chance to watch a game or race partially play out in front of their eyes before deciding when and how to bet, and when to lock in a profit.
Key Rules of In-Play Betting
Here’s the boring and predictable bit; we would always recommend you check out the specific in-play rules published by your bookmaker as they can differ from firm to firm. On the whole though, these are the main points to keep in mind:
- Live bets are those placed on an event after it has begun.
- Bookmakers reserve the right to void any part or all of any bets on any single event in which in-play betting is not completed, i.e., an abandoned race or a postponed match.
- If the bookmaker has reason to believe a bet has been placed after the outcome of the event can be known, they reserve the right to void the bet even if it was offered on their site.
- Live scores are treated as a guide only – i.e., if a goal has already been scored to make a game 2-1, you have bet on that happening and the bookmaker realises this, the bet is void.
Suspended Markets and Why They Happen
Simply put; bookmakers will be quick to suspend live betting on a market when they believe the advertised odds are no longer a proper reflection of the probability of the outcomes listed.
The best and most common example of this is with live football betting. We’ve all seen it. The game is going on and there are prices available for everything, then suddenly they all go blank. This usually means a player is through on goal and may score, there is confusion in the penalty area or a bad tackle has been made that could potentially lead to a red card.
The same thing happens within horse racing, which is much more volatile. A horse may start the race at 5/1 and, just by virtue of being out the back or by the jockey showing signs of wanting to go faster, they can quickly drift out to 10/1.
A swift move through the field in the space of half a furlong however can bring this price down to 4/1 which is not uncommon. The most likely winner can move quickly from 2/1, 5/4, 4/7, 1/3 and so on until the latter stages of the race when the markets will be suspended.
The main reason is that, if said horse does cruise up to third place from the back of the pack, or that player through on goal does go on to score, the entire complexion of the event changes.
Usually, when a penalty is given the outcome of which is as yet unknown, or a wicket has been taken in a cricket match, the suspension may be fairly long. In most cases however, markets are only suspended for a few seconds before revised pricing is immediately displayed.
In-play bets on sports such as football are pretty easy to get on, either side of temporary suspension that is! In horse racing however, it really depends on the type of race.
In a five or six-furlong sprint, things move quickly and that includes the in-running odds which makes it difficult to make a decision or to grab a specific price. In a three-mile chase on the other hand, the race takes much longer and suspensions may occur mid-race should a key runner fall at a fence for example.
Tips for Using In-Play Betting
Many old school players will not tolerate in-play betting, choosing always to do their homework and placing any and all bets before the event.
However, there is a place for everything in sports betting, including live in-play and in-running bets and these are some ways to help make it pay:
- Pre-Event Analysis
While one of the perceived advantages of in-play betting is not having to do any homework, we recommend you do as it could lead to some very big pay outs.
For example; if you are pretty adamant that a football team will win their home game at odds of 10/11. Should they go 1-0 down, their odds will now increase dramatically. True, it’s supposed to be a fair reflection of what is now likely to happen, but should they go on to win from behind as many teams do that 5/2, 3/1 or even bigger that you’ve secured can lead to a much bigger profit than you’d have claimed from the pre-match odds.
The same happens in horse racing. A 4/1 shot may be out the back early and you thought it had a favourite’s chance, so when it hits 8/1+, why not still get on as not leading does not mean not ultimately winning.
- Team-Specific Knowledge
In collaboration with the above, you should know the horse, player or team you’re betting on even in-play or in-running.
For example, if your pre-decided team does go 1-0 down but are not known for coming from behind or are not particular big scorers, that potential in-play bet possibly doesn’t hold much value. When a Real Madrid or a Manchester City goes 1-0 down however, their price just like any other team will increase and yet their probability of winning doesn’t really change all that much, making them good value.
- Don’t Get Hung Up on In-Play Stats
At 0-0 in a football game or with a bunched-up field in a horse race, one team may be showing much better stats in terms of shots on goal and corners, or some horses may be visually more appealing in how they travel. That does not mean they’ll go on to win.
Pre-event knowledge still wins out much more often, so stick to your guns and don’t let how the event appears to be going bend your brain too much.