Football, Basketball and American Football CollageIn-play betting is one of the best ways that you can benefit from betting online. It’s been around for a good while now, and as a result, it’s a feature that pretty much all major bookies offer.

The concept of live betting is actually pretty simple. When a market goes live, it is then in play. This means that the odds start to reflect what is happening in the game, race or event.

A good way to look at is that of being reactive and proactive. In a football match, before the game has started the bookies have been proactive into working out the odds for each betting market. They use masses of data and human input to create the most likely result, with the odds reflecting that.

After the game kicks off, all of that research goes out of the window, for the most part at least. Instead, the odds started becoming reactive of what’s happening on a pitch. There are dozens of variables that can affect the odds and they will continue to change as the match wears on.

How Does Live Betting Work?

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Placing a bet on an in-play market is really quite simple. Let’s stick with football, given that this is the most popular sport for this bet type.

We target a Premier League game between Liverpool and West Ham for example. After 10 minutes of play in that match and the score still 0-0, the odds of the draw will start to decrease as it becomes more likely and the odds of a Liverpool or West Ham win will increase, as they become less likely.

As goal is scored by Liverpool after just 30 minutes and the whole complex of pretty much all the in-play betting markets will change once again. Liverpool’s price to win will drop massively, the draw will increase and the price for West Ham to win will increase even more.

At any point you are able to place a bet on these in play betting markets. All you need to do is make your pick and then enter your stake.

Why Do In-Play Markets Get Suspended?

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If you’re betting on or just watching in play markets, there will be times where all the markets for that game go suspended. This is where the bookmaker basically stops any more bets being made on that game for a certain period of time.

The reason behind this is that there has either been something happen or there is something happening right now that could have a huge impact on the odds. This includes things like goals, yellow or red cards, penalties, dangerous free kicks and even badly timed tackles, for football. Depending on the sport, the scenarios will obviously differ.

The time that they get suspended will range. If it’s a cautious suspension for a team that has a good chance but quickly misses, then it might be a couple of seconds. A penalty or red card is something that often takes longer to sort out, so that’s a key decision that will have a longer suspended period.

How Does VAR Affect In-Play Betting Markets for Football?

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This has been a hot topic of late and the controversial inclusion of VAR across some of the biggest football leagues in the world has been met with mixed reviews.

It’s also created a massive headache for bookmakers as well, given that goals can be overturned even after periods of play have been restarted. We’ve seen examples of play being brought back several phases to give penalties and also goals scrubbed off as the panel review these goals and decide there has been an infringement.

From a betting point of view, if the bookmaker has settled the market, then this will be final. Even if the goal or whatever scenario occurs, then the bookmaker will still honour these bets. They won’t just remove money from your account if VAR overturns a decision.

We are noticing that the bookies are keeping markets suspended for longer though as a result. It’s frustrating for all involved, but it’s only fair until there is a certainty on the event and how it will impact the rest of the game.

Who Controls the Live Odds at the Bookies?

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It doesn’t take long hanging around the in-play section to see that it’s a vibrant place. The odds are constantly changing, market are closing and opening every few seconds and there’s just generally always something going on.

But have you ever wondered how it works?

You would think that a bookmaker would need a seemingly impossible team to watch all the games, across dozens of sports and then make the market react. Well, they don’t.

In fact, the vast majority of an in-play section and the odds that change are done through third-party companies. They send people to football grounds and the like, who report back to a head office and its they who controls when markets come in, go out and then get suspended.

A huge portion of it as actually automated and ran through an algorithm. The algorithm knows how to change a market and in turn the price depending on thousands of variables for that game, which is why they can change and alternate almost instantly.

Live Betting for Horse Racing

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Horse racing is one of the sports that live betting is less common with. Given that races are short and the time that you can get in and place a bet, especially with flat races, is limited.

In fact, many people aren’t actually aware that you can bet in play with horse racing, but most of the major bookies will offer this. In fact, the odds are often altered online ever so slightly faster than you see on TV, given that TV broadcasts are delayed by a couple of seconds.

If you’re looking to bet in play with horse racing, then you need to be selective about which races you want to take on. Flat races that over short distances, such as your 5-furlong and 6-furlong races are going to be really tough to bet as they are over in just a few seconds. You can still do it, but you really need to be prepped with a scenario that might occur before the start of the race so you can act when it plays out within the race.

The longer formats of racing are where you’re going to be able to get the most net wins from in play betting. The Grand National is probably the best example of this as it takes around 10 minutes for the race to complete.

Even though you get more time the longer the race, we would still advise that you enter with some sort of plan before the start of the race. An example would be if a certain horse was travelling well after about a third of the race and then you decided to back that horse.

The flip side could be that you’re looking for a horse that’s not performing, so you might take on their closest rival. This is the process that lots of professional bettors use for betting in play with horse racing.

In-Play Betting Strategies

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There are certain methods and processes for in play betting that are going to serve you well. It’s a different kind of betting to that of the pre-match markets given that you need to be reactive to things that can change the odds of your market.


We talk about value a lot in our articles and for us it’s probably the most important part of betting. When you start looking for value in play, you need to work fast.

Often value can be fine margins, so knowing when a bet offers good value can be a short window. But you do get more windows in live betting than any other form of betting.

To find value you need to know your sport. So, if you’re a basketball fan you need to be able to spot when one team has the momentum in that game. If you’re a tennis fan, then you to spot which player is going to finish the strongest. If you like golf, you need to find the player that’s going to storm through the field on the final day (there’s always at least one!).

This all ties into the fact that you need to really know your sport for in play betting. Finding value is a key part of that.

Back to Basics

One of things that we always say to new bettors looking to get into in-play betting is that you need to go back to basics. Start with a pen and paper and note down the odds for games that you’re tracking. Try and mimic your bet and let the notepad do the talking.

Try to get a set of 10 or more results before you invest your own money and from there you will be able to see any mistakes that you’re making. Also, just because bets lose, does not mean that they are bad bets. Sport can be unpredictable at times, but that’s one of the reasons why we love it.

Take your time to learn the speed of play and how markets will react to certain events in your sport. Pen and paper your bets, and then track your results.

Once you’re comfortable, start with small bets and then increase as you get more confident.


Any time you are betting when the pressure is on, you need to keep your discipline. In play is going to move fast. If you move too soon, then you’re losing value. If you’re too late, then you may have lost the whole bet.

You can even take discipline as not getting too carried away with your bets as well. It’s so easy to chase with in play, but once you start doing this, then it’s a seriously slippery slope.

Pick your sport. Pick your game. Try to predict markets you want to bet on. Execute your bets as and when the market or the game dictates.