Lay The Draw Strategy

Sunderland in action

Lay the draw is perhaps the most frequently used strategy when it comes to football trading. Its simplicity, along with the rather high winning percentages, make it one of the most popular ways to lay a bet. It’s a rather straightforward strategy that can be used even by newcomers to bet exchanges, as long as they follow a clearly set plan.

Nobody is sure who invented this strategy. It appeared some years ago in betting exchange website (mainly as lay the draw betfair) and immediately became massively popular. But what exactly is laying the draw and how can it be used? Does this strategy remain profitable in 2017 or is it no longer relevant? Have the bookies found a way to counter it or can you still earn some money?

What does lay the draw mean?

The procedure of laying a bet is often used among punters in betting exchanges, as they technically offer odds on a certain sporting events, similar to a bookmaker. On the “lay the draw” strategy the target is quite simply avoiding a draw. It is used almost exclusively in football, but apart from the lay the draw football strategy it can be technically expanded to every sport that offers the draw as a match result. As the draw has a general confirmation percentage marginally surpassing 30% a punter starts with a near 70% percentage of winning. If you pick matches fulfilling certain criteria carefully, this percentage can increase even further. That’s why there are so many punters who lay the draw for a living.

Picking the right matches to lay the draw

How is this achieved? The basic rule is to pick matches with clear favorites, where there are less possibilities for a draw. A strong team playing at home against a minor opponent won’t settle for a draw and will give everything they’ve got up to the last second. The draw odds might be higher, making your exposure to risk higher as well, but the percentage of a draw in some leagues stands below 25%, thus giving a theoretical 75% winning possibility.

An alternate category is when the draw is an undesirable result for both teams. Matches during the closing stages of a league, when both teams need every point they can get to achieve their goals, are highly recommended.

What should you avoid? Matches were opponents have little to no difference in strength or when you know a draw suits them both. In addition, laying the draw in matches with an away favorite, are far from profitable as stats indicate.

Lay the Draw example

Suppose you’d like to lay a draw at 3.30 odds with a €100 stake. This means that expect your “initial” bet, to have an “exposure” of another €230. If the draw result is confirmed, you have to pay €330 to the punter (or punters) who backed it at these odds.

Lay the draw betting

You can intervene during the match, if you think you should protect your stake. In case one of the teams scores, the draw odds will go up, especially if the favorite finds the net. This means you can now back the new odds that are higher than the pre match laying odds and secure a profit.

As the match goes on and the one goal lead remains, the odds for the draw will increase. In case another is scored from the same side, they usually reach double digit odds further increasing your “back the draw” profits.

If the match ends with a winner, you get your €100 and win the €100 that other players staked on the draw.

5 basic lay the draw strategies

There are five basic lay the draw strategies

  1. Laying the draw pre match. You just pick a match before it starts, put your money on laying the draw and wait for a winner at the final whistle.
  2. Laying the draw at halftime. It might look similar to the above, only this time you don’t lay pre-match, but pick a match that stands as a draw at half time. It’s safer, as your exposure (the money you must pay backers) is roughly half to that of a pre-match bet.
  3. Laying the score at halftime. An alternative strategy, where you don’t lay the draw result, but a draw score (0-0, 1-1, 2-2 etc.). The exposure is much higher, as correct scores have much higher odds, but the possibilities of winning are much higher as well. In a match that stands as a goalless draw at HT the odds of 0-0 for a correct score could drop to even 4.50 from over 10.00 before the match. This can prove to be quite the bargain as both teams have a whole half time to score a single goal.
  4. Laying a halftime draw. Instead of waiting for the halftime to place your wager, you lay a pre-match bet on the half time draw. This has a much lower exposure, as the draw odds for the halftime usually stand around 2.00.
  5. Lay the 0-0 for halftime correct score. It’s worth trying this when you’re sure that at least a goal will be scored in the first half. Usually the odds of a 0-0 correct score at HT are much smaller than the FT ones (often more than half).

How you should proceed

Laying the draw pre match

  • Cash out when the favorite scores. If you follow this immediately after the first goal of the match, you wipe out your chances of losing (you’ll only lose when a match ends as a goalless draw). In most cases you get around 30%-40% of the total profit you’d claim with the initial odds.
  • Back the draw when odds reach 2.00. As minutes pass and no team manages to break the deadlock, the odds for a draw will naturally drop. To avoid losing all your stake you should have a cut loss edge, a point where you’ve agreed you must cash out and accept loss. This edge is usually set at 2.00 odds for the draw, at around 65-70 min. for an average match.

Laying the score & draw at halftime

Obviously, if the ball finds the net and you’ve layed the score you instantly win your bet. The same pretty much applies for a draw when the favorite scores, as you can either cash out your bet or wait for the final whistle, if you think they won’t concede. But what happens if no added goals are scored when you’ve layed the score and the match draws to its close? In this case it’s best to let your bet run, as the odds usually reflect this liability. Additionally, there is always the chance that one of the teams will manage to grab a late win.

Lay a half time draw or correct half time score 0-0

This laying strategy is once again best used when a strong favorite is pitted against an underdog. However, we don’t advise it, unless you’ve found really valuable odds as there is a far larger liability of a half time ending goalless. It’s practically similar to the above, with the only difference being that it’s easier to cash out when a goal is coming from the match underdog.

Lay the draw trading

A more advanced strategy contains both laying and backing. You just lay the draw, but you back the draw correct scores, starting from 0-0 and going to 1-1 or 2-2. If you’re sure that at least a goal will be scored you can omit backing the 0-0 and claim more profit. In this case you only lose if a 3-3 or 4-4 draw appears with the total profit you can claim being around 10-20% of your stake.

Lay The Draw

The name of the system, lay the draw, is a bit misleading really.

When you look into it, it isn’t actually a system where you think the game won’t end in a draw, it is a system where you need a goal to be scored before the 70 minute mark of the game, which strictly speaking isn’t actually laying the draw.

After the 70th minute anything can happen, you are already out so you shouldn’t care if it ends 1-1 or 2-2.

You need to have a betting exchange account to use this system, I use Betfair (who have a £50.00 Free Bet available).

If you just go into this system blindly laying the draw, then it is my firm belief that in the long run you will almost certainly lose.

With this system you have to identify a game where you believe a goal will be scored before the 70th minute, and that goal will have to make a significant difference to the odds.

Depending on your match selection criteria, you could be limited to that goal needing to be scored by just one team. For example if you lay the draw in a game like Manchester United V Blackburn, and Blackburn score first you are (probably) in big trouble as the draw price won’t shift much and you now need two goals from Manchester United. Whereas if Manchester United score first, then the draw price will probably double and you are out with a handsome profit.

If you lay the draw in a game between two evenly matched teams, you run the risk of them cancelling each other out and it possibly ending in a stalemate 0-0 draw. But on the other hand if either team get a goal you should be able to get out with a moderate profit, but if that goal comes (for example after HT in 55-70 minutes) you should be making a tidy little profit.

I’m not a massive fan of this system and have only used it sparingly over the years, and without much success. I’m sure there is many a trader out there who swears by this system and would be quick to shoot me down and tell me that my game selection is all wrong, and they would probably be right.

There is just something that doesn’t sit right with me about this system though. If you use the Manchester United V Blackburn (fictional) example I gave earlier, you would probably be looking at about 5.5 to lay the draw, and that will require a large outlay to make it worthwhile.

One slight moderation to the system that does interest me is laying the draw at Half Time, this is a system I have thought about trying out for a while. I realise that this only gives me a smaller window to get the required goal, but as it is after HT, I can only imagine that it will lead to bigger price swings when the goal arrives.

I plan to start doing this soon for small moderate stakes while I’m in trial mode. I will probably use certain criteria like the draw price having to be no higher than 3, two evenly priced teams, and I would probably leave trading out until I am at the stage where I can take an all round (all 3 results) red of half my initial draw red, which in some cases should increase the time I have for a goal to arrive as it will leave me in the trade beyond the 70 minute mark.