Live ‘In-Play’ Betting

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bet365 live betting interface

The screenshot above is from the bet365 live betting interface. The far left panel lists all live betting events, including live odds and up-to-date scores. When you select an event the detailed score and additional betting options are displayed in the next panel. Where available, live video of the event, often with commentary, is also provided. The right panel displays your betting slip.

Australian law

Before discussing live in-play betting, also known as in the run betting, it is important to discuss the stance of the Australian Government on this activity.

The Australian Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA) makes it an offence to offer or advertise ‘real money’ online interactive gambling services to Australian residents. The term ‘interactive’ has been extended to include live sports betting, much to the chagrin of Australian bookmakers. This law applies to all online operators, regardless of whether they are owned and/or licensed in Australia. However, adherence to the IGA is the responsibility of the gambling operators and not individual Australians. An Australian resident is not breaking the law by betting live online.1

Most offshore betting providers either ignore, or are unaware of the IGA, and continue to offer live betting to Australian residents. As things stand, Australians are free to participate in live betting offered by international agencies, because any infringements would entail penalties for the betting operator and not the punter.

Live online betting in Australia

At this stage, no major Australian bookmaker offers live online betting to Australian residents, however most international agencies do. After conducting a survey of betting agencies that offer live online betting and AUD accounts, we found and Stan James to be among the best.

For obvious reasons, live betting isn’t huge in Australia, but it is massive in Europe. According to Betfair, live betting accounts for 90% of wagers on cricket, tennis and soccer.

Live betting vs pre-game betting

At first glance, live betting may appear easier than pre-game betting because the punter can make informed decisions. It provides the opportunity to change your mind or lock in a profit if things go your way. However, bookmaker margins are typically higher for live betting. For example, bet365 pre-game NBA line bets are at 1.90 odds, while in-play NBA line bets are typically at 1.83 odds. This translates into a bookmaker margin of 109.3% as opposed to 105.3%.

Based on personal experience, you can expect to be initially worse at in-play betting versus pre-game betting. With experience, however, many punters will develop a superior in-play betting record than pre-game record.

One thing to look out for is the disappearance of odds. You may select odds, input your stake amount and then submit the bet only for it to be rejected because the odds have changed. Most bookmakers force a delay in accepting wagers. During this delay if the odds change your bet will be rejected. This can be infuriating if you see good value due to a recent event in the game only to have your bet turned down. One exception to this is finance betting, where bets are typically accepted instantly.

Live betting tips

Live betting is exciting because you have to make quick decisions to perform well. Below are some tips for in-play betting:

  • Start very small
    Take time to assess your live betting performance and learn where your weaknesses lie. Compare this performance to your historical pre-game betting results. This enables you to make beginner errors without incurring too much stress.
  • Track your performance
    This follows on from the previous tip. It’s incredibly easy to misjudge your track record. You may feel you dominate tennis betting, only to find you have a losing record when looking at the data. The Australia Sports Betting Excel betting tracker worksheet enables you to track live betting separately from pre-game betting.
  • Make a pre-game bet if you have a strong opinion
    Recall that pre-game margins are lower than in-play margins.
  • Act quickly
    Odds can change incredibly quickly during live events. In the fourth quarter of a tied basketball game, any scoring streak can shift the odds for a team from 1.83 to 1.30 in seconds. Often the odds will change in two or three increments as the bookmaker comes to terms with what’s happened. Taking advantage of the first as opposed to the second or third increment can have a huge impact on your betting performance. One tip to speed up your wagering is to make your selection in advance, input a planned stake amount, but do not submit the bet. If something happens during the game that makes the selection worthwhile, you can submit the bet quickly which will decrease the chance of having your bet rejected due to an odds change. You can also add opposing selections to your bet slip with the stake amounts already entered in. Based on events during the game you can quickly delete one selection and submit the other. This is much faster than making a selection, inputting a stake amount, then submitting the desired bet.
  • Become a specialist
    Because bookmaker margins are higher during live betting, you should become an expert on a few selected sports to improve your chances of consistently beating the bookmaker. Becoming familiarised with a market concerns not only knowing the sport well, but gaining familiarity with odds changes in various scenarios. For example you may pick up on particular quirk in the odds movements in Formula 1 qualification betting, and can anticipate these odds shifts before they occur in future sessions.
  • Determine a strategy in advance
    Live betting involves making quick decisions. Prior to the start of an event, decide on your strategy for the game. At what score margin will you place a head-to-head bet? If you take a line bet and the odds shift in your favour, at what point will you make an opposing bet to hedge your bets? Or will you look away and see if you’ve won at the end of the event? What will you do if you make a bet, only to later believe the other team will win? Ask yourself these questions before placing your first bet on the event.
  • Don’t hesitate to bail out by making an opposing bet
    In finance terms this is similar to a stop-loss order. There will be times where you’ll place a bet early in the game only to feel the other team is bound to win. Don’t hesitate to place an opposing wager to cancel out the first bet. Due to bookmaker margins this will result in a guaranteed loss, but this loss will be smaller than if you hadn’t acted and your hunch is correct. This strategy could make the difference between being a successful punter and an unsuccessful one.
  • Don’t try to win back your losses
    The fastest way to end up with a zero account balance is to try and quickly win back your losses. Suppose you’re down $15 for the day and try to use point-by-point tennis betting to quickly win back your $15. All it takes is a couple of losing bets, and before you know it you’re wagering the rest of your account balance in an angry fit trying to regain parity. The best strategy instead is to walk away. Always think "at the margin." Forget the past, and always aim to improve on your account balance at any given point in time. If you deposited $100 and are down to $80, set yourself the goal of having more than $80. Don’t set yourself the goal of winning back $20 in the next hour. Patience and discipline are the best two characteristics a punter can have.
  • Stay clear of the immediate win/loss bets
    A major factor that will determine your success with live betting is the choice of markets you participate in. You can get a rush from betting on who will win the next point in tennis or squash, or who will score the next try in rugby, but these bets tend to be bad value and the bookmaker generally has a huge advantage over the punter. You will fare much better by focusing on end-result betting rather than events during a game. Focus on who will win the match rather than who will score the next point.

Notes and Sources

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