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Lay the Draw

This is a betting system that sprung to prominence with the explosion of exchange betting. This is the time where the general betting public became knowledgeable in the area of laying bets, just like bookmakers do. In its earliest and most basic form this system is as simple as

“Lay the Draw at 0-0 and then back the draw once a goal has been scored”

Now before we go any further with this betting system I need to make one thing clear. Knowledge gain through many years punting and working as an odds compiler and risk manager for online betting sites, I believe that the only way to win in betting is to find value (Odds being offered are greater than that of the true odds). Taking the correct odds, as in laying the draw, and then backing the draw at the correct odds will only result in your betting bank being slowly chipped away at the rate of commission you pay.


I also find a lot of sites that promote this system seem to have a vested interest in making it appear to work. For example trading software affiliates or people that sell either there method of match selections or premium tips.

With that said, I am obviously not advocating this system, I am merely giving you the best of the information out there on this system and adding my own thoughts and tricks so that if you choose to give this method a try you have the best possible chances of turning a profit.

Methods of insurance

It’s now the general consensus that this basic system doesn’t work, but even with it being fundamentally floored it hasn’t stopped its raise in popularity. All that’s happened is people have made additions to it; one such addition is the insurance bet.

The most popular one of these insurance bets is to back the 0-0 in addition to laying the draw. The thought process behind this is simple, and at first glance makes perfect sense. The lay the draw betting system needs a goal if you are going to be able to trade out (often called green out or cash out). If this doesn’t happen, the longer the game goes on the shorter the draw odds become. If the game actually finishes 0-0 then you have to pay-out your liability. Backing the 0-0 with the correct stake means getting your money back in this scenario.

This simple tweak had, and still has, a lot of people convinced this is a winning system. Now consider you are using this system and you come across a game that went 1-0 then 1-1 before the market reopened or had time to reform for you to trade out. If this game ends 1-1 you have not only lost on laying the draw but have now also lost backing 0-0.

If you still prefer having a nil-nil insurance bet it is best to have accounts with many of the main stream bookies. No longer is the best correct score price the domain of the exchanges. Get familiar with an odds comparison site and be sure to check who is offering the best 0-0 odds. Remember firms like Betfair take a commission, so be sure to take that into account.

Also, some bookmakers offer the same odds for “No Goalscorer” in their goal scorer markets. Be sure to know which ones do, because in this market own goals don’t count. Meaning if the football game you backed no goalscorer finishes 1-0 and the goal was an own goal you still get paid out. So using this as you 0-0 insurance in the lay the draw system would mean a double payout.

Match selection

Match selection; now this is the systems seller get out of jail free card. Many say with the right match selection this method can’t fail. So you buy the system and it fails, once you complain all you’ll hear is you are selecting the wrong matches.

I’d suggest that if this system is working due to the matches they select, then it is because they are finding value in the lay odds of the draw. Trading out when a goal is scored probably means they are lowering the profit margin they’d make had they just let the bets run.

The main tips to combine for match selection you’re going to read in regards to the lay the draw system are


Liquidity is something to look out for, most trading requires I decent volume of money on the market to be viable. Lay the draw trading system is no different. Low liquidity markets generally offer a worse overall book percentage, making it harder to find value. They also take a lot longer to reform once a goal has been scored. And obviously for punters that are staking higher amounts you’re unlikely to get your whole stake matched at the requested odds right away.

Red Cards

Red cards make exchanges and bookies go crazy. It is hard for betting bot and automated systems to adapt quickly to such an event. Basically the goal expectancy and team supremacy needs working out again as if it is a new game, and this needs to be done in-play. A bookmaker’s odds compiler had days or maybe as much as a week to fine tune his pre-live odds but now there live trader, someone normally less skilled, has to do it in a minute or two. Exchanges are just as slow, if not slower, and liquidity takes a dive in this time frame. What you do when this happens to you is anyone’s guess as there is very little advice for this situation. My advice would be to trade out of the bet as soon as the market stabilise.

When to lock in your profit – Cashout

Originally the plan for lay the draw was to green out as soon as a goal was scored. Now people are saying it should only be done once the profit margin is at a certain value (normally anywhere from 50-70 percent). Others are saying wait a certain time frame, or even wait for a second goal – if you’re backing a team with an odds-on fav. I don’t really have an argument for or against either of these methods, to me it all depends on where your comfort levels fall in the risk vs reward graph.

Stop Loss

This is an addition you that is kind of related to having an insurance bet. A stop loss is an order to trade out of a bet at a specific limit. It could be a percentage or the number of ticks the odds have moved. You’ll normally see this advice being given by people involved in trading platforms, as this normally have built in stop loss functions. The idea here is to set a certain amount of money you are willing to loss on any given game. The longer a game goes on at 0-0, the shorter the odds get. In order not to lose your whole stake a stop loss will get you out of the bet early with only a minimal loss.

In my eyes this method only makes what is a slow death system into a painfully slow death. As I’ve mentioned earlier if you aren’t taking value you will be chipped away by commission. Adding a stop loss only makes this a more drawn out process.

Automated software

If you are serious about using this method, and you system for match selection generates many potential matches to lay the draw, then automating as much of the process as possible is a must. The two big players out there for trading are Gruss Software and Bet Angel. Both have their pros and cons, but I’ll leave that up to you to do you due diligence before subscribing to one. For lay the draw the one thing that this sort of software helps in, is stop loss limits and trading out for a set profit. Meaning once you lay your initial selection you can leave the software to do the rest (of course technical issues now become an added factor, such as befair’s or betdaq’s API going down).

Moving on from the betting exchanges

Betfair was initially the only place where lay the draw made any sense to participate. But things have moved on since these early days. Now there are a couple more betting exchanges with a decent liquidity and the traditional bookmakers have become far more aggressive with their betting margins, meaning one of the firms is very often offering better odds than betfair once commission is taken into account. You also have the main player in the Asian betting field offering English language facing sites (although for people in the UK betting with these is becoming an issue due to the point of consumption tax). These have also started offering the 1X2 odds along with their Asian Handicap odds.

“But you can’t lay bets at traditional bookmakers” I hear you say. Well, no, some do offer a cash out option to open bets, which is the equivalent to backing then laying, but none currently offer you the option to lay first. Or at least it isn’t called laying a bet. Double chance bets, for example, are the same as laying a bet. With double chance you can back team 1 or team 2 to win. This is pretty much the same as laying the draw, just the maths is trickery and it is harder to evaluate your position. If you are using a bookie with the cash out option this isnt a problem as a simple click of the button will make a level profit trade automatically for you.

Alternately you can simple back the home team and away team with different firms offering the best price, meaning you now just have to wait for the a goal and you back the draw. The maths behind this is simply that of dutching.

Lay the Draw Calculator

As just mentioned, if you are moving away from betting exchanges, our Dutching calculator will come in very useful. If not and you are using a combination of exchanges and or bookmakers, then our back lay calculator is what you need. With this you can alter the commission levels you currently pay and select weather the trade will be carried out on the same betting exchange or not.

A new spin on Lay the Draw

Now some people are claiming that if so many people are laying the draw it now makes sense to back the draw due to these people distorting the market.

Now it’s time to back the draw!

This makes sense right? Lay the draw is by far the most famous football betting system and so many people are making money from it, then it makes sense that all this extra money laying the draw means the odds are pushed out and now the real value is on backing the draw.

Exchange betting is made up of many different factors, you have some lay the draw punters, yes, but you also have mug punters backing or laying a team on whether they love or hate them. Then you have exchange traders hedging on one or two tick movements, you then have the arbers that are taking advantage of price difference between bookmakers and exchanges, then you have people betting just to make a game more interesting to watch, and of course you have the “pro” punters that are getting on what they see as out of line prices. All of these have a factor in the price on offer, but none have as big an effect on the odds as a move in the Asian markets. If SBO decide to cut the odds you can be sure it is only a matter of time before betfair or the likes follow suit.

Sounds a little like I am saying you have no chance to make any money, I’m not. What I’m saying is a simple system like this is unlikely to work. There are pro punters out there that make a killing and there are some traders that make money, normally based on weight of money regardless of the odds, but it will take a knowledge of odds compiling that’s better than that of the bookies or a knowledge of a league / team that’s better than that of the betting public.

Final thoughts

Even with everything I have said, there are far too many people saying this system works for them, using very basic match selection methods and nothing else, I’d be glad to hear you in the comments section (as long as you have a big enough sample size to negate variance) if you are one of these people. But the maths man in be screams this is a death by a thousand cuts system and I’d recommend anyone that whats to give it a try to paper test it first.

Recommended Betting Exchanges
Betfair Lay the Draw BetDaq Lay the Draw
List of Betting exchanges