Betfair is a unique betting site that takes a completely different approach to sports wagering than almost every other site out there. The key selling point for Betfair is that it operates as a betting exchange in which the customers bet among one another rather than against the house. This eliminates the often antagonistic relationship between sportsbooks and their own customers because Betfair doesn’t care if you win or lose as it has no stake in the outcome of any wager.
Notice: The information presented in this review is based on personal opinion only. This is not a promotional review. We use our own experience and impressions to write all reviews.
Betfair's exchange wagering service will give you the best odds on sports. You name your price and then Betfair matches your bet with other customers.
- Exchange provides extremely low commission betting
- Vast number of betting markets each day
- Regular sportsbook in addition to the exchange
- Popular online poker room
- Zero Lounge offers no-house-advantage casino games
- Low trading volume in niche sporting events
- Poker room does not offer instant play or Mac download
There are two key advantages to doing your betting at a site like Betfair.com. One is that you will often find better odds at Betfair than at traditional bookmakers because the market sets the price, not some oddsmaker. Second, Betfair only takes a 5% commission on winning wagers and is therefore about 20% cheaper on average than the vigorish charged by traditional bookmakers.
These are not hard and fast rules because sometimes regular sportsbooks do have better odds or certain reduced juice promotions that make them viable alternatives for certain bets. Additionally, you can only get action at Betfair if someone else is willing to take the other side of any selection. If you want to back a team, someone else must be willing to lay that team.
Betfair is large enough today that liquidity is never a problem among the bigger, more publicized sports and matchups. Where you may run into problems is when you decide to wager on a matchup in a niche sport or amongst teams that aren’t well known.
With these pros and cons in mind, I still believe Betfair has enough going in its favor to make it worth keeping a funded account. You will often find the best prices at Betfair and have numerous opportunities to make selections that you wouldn’t find anywhere else. Add to that Betfair’s reputation for paying winners quickly and you have a solid, well-rounded betting site.
Betfair doesn’t just limit itself to exchange betting. The site also has a traditional sportsbook, full-fledged online poker room, real money casino and an exchange games section. I’ll explain each of these in full detail starting right… now.
Sports Betting at Betfair
Today’s Betfair review will begin with the sports betting exchange since that is Betfair’s primary business. With more than 1.2 billion bets processed each year and a total trading value of £56 billion between its 950,000 active customers, Betfair processes more trades every year than every major European stock exchange combined. I mentioned above that liquidity may be a problem in certain markets, but it’s a very minor problem. Betfair is absolutely massive so it’s rare that you will have issues finding someone willing to take your action.
If you’re not familiar with how a betting exchange works, Betfair has a handy video that explains how it all works in simple terms:
If you select an individual matchup, you’ll be taken to a page that shows every possible upcoming wager along with information about the odds for backing/laying and how much money is available to be matched. The only limit on how much you can bet on any outcome is how much money other people have put up on the opposite side. In most cases, there are thousands and thousands of pounds open for action.
Available Sports Betting Markets
Betfair has markets for every major sport in the world. By default, they offer wagers on all of the following:
American football, Australian rules, badminton, baseball, basketball, bowls, boxing, chess, cricket, current affairs, cycling, darts, finance, football, Gaelic games, golf, greyhounds, handball, horse racing, ice hockey, mixed martial arts, motorsports, netball, poker, politics, pool, rugby, snooker, specials such as weather/entertainment, tennis and volleyball.
That’s already an exhaustive list but if you choose any sport you’ll see the full extent of Betfair’s wagering options. Each sport includes numerous leagues and hundreds of matchups every day.
Betfair also offers exchange-style live betting on multiple events every day in real time. The basic idea of backing and laying remains the same, but with constantly refreshed odds and the ability to place wagers during the course of the game. High profile matchups are often accompanied by standard wagers on the winner in addition to wagers on who will score the next goal, what the final score will be, how the next corner kick will play out and more.
It is in the live betting area that you’re most likely to run into liquidity problems. You won’t run into issues when betting on high profile events or even low profile events with basic wagers such as who will win. However, niche wagers such as who will score the next goal during a smaller matchup sometimes have total markets of less than £50.
Other than niche wagers during small matchups, the live betting interface at Betfair is very active and should have what you want 99% of the time. You’ll also get live score updates and information presented in real time right there on the website.
Live video is offered for hundreds of events every month for sports as diverse as horse racing, football, ice hockey, cricket, darts and more. All you have to do is log in to your account and check the upcoming “live” schedule to see when to tune in. These games are streamed live in real time at no cost to members as long as you have a bet on the event.
Fixed Odds Betting
In 2013, Betfair made the very smart decision to add a traditional fixed odds sportsbook to its lineup. This move makes Betfair not only more appealing to recreational punters (exchange betting is a bit more complicated), but it also addresses any liquidity issues. If you can’t find someone to take the other side on some obscure wager you have in mind, you can just head over to the sportsbook and bet against the house like you would at any other online bookmaker.
Just click on the “sportsbook” tab near the top of the Betfair homepage and you’ll go straight to the sportsbook where you can bet on a wide variety of markets for 25 sports. Considering Betfair is known as the betting exchange of them all, the sportsbook here is surprisingly thorough. They offer hundreds of markets for major matchups and even have an in-play betting area with dozens more wagers that you can place as any match progresses.
One often-overlooked feature at the sportsbook is a head-to-head statistics analysis available for any matchup. Select a match and then “head to head stats” and you’ll see a little information box that looks like this:
Horse Racing Betting and Greyhounds at Betfair.com
Betfair has one of the most comprehensive racing betting products between the exchange, racing markets in the fixed-odds sportsbook and a separate tote-betting interface that is integrated into real track pools from around the world. In addition to all of that, Betfair has a handy horse finder tool that can be used to find the most promising horses of the day based on criteria you select.
Horse and Greyhound Exchange Markets
The horse racing exchange at Betfair allows you to back and lay horses across all daily across as the major racetracks around the world. The horse and greyhound markets are not the most liquid markets at Betfair, but you should be able to find a decent bit of money for casual bets during the week. Action is usually pretty solid on the weekends and you will find it easier to have your bets matched on all horses and in all types of bets.
The racing exchange markets support win bets, each way bets, place bets, 2-places bets, 4-places bets and matchup wagers between specific horses. You will also find that Betfair covers a large number of tracks from all around the world. Tracks in the UK, Australia, Ireland, Japan, France, Hong Kong and more are all available throughout the week whenever races run in those countries. Liquidity will likely be an issue at the smaller racetracks during the week, but there are many options here overall.
Visiting any particular race card in the exchange provides all the relevant info you need to place your bets as well as a timeform view that offers a basic preview of the race and quick profiles of each runner. All in all, I think you will find it easy to bet on horses and greyhounds in the exchange at Betfair.com.
Racing Betting in the Betfair Sportsbook
The fixed-odds sportsbook at Betfair also offers full coverage of international horse and greyhound racing. If you’re having liquidity problems in the exchange or would like to take advantage of additional offers from Betfair, the fixed-odds sportsbook is always worth a look. The odds here are on-par with competing bookmakers and Betfair itself is as reputable as they come.
Betfair provides the usual complement of horse and dog racing bets including win and each way, forecasts, tricasts and others on occasion. The betting interface here is organized in a manner similar to other horse racing betting sites: today’s races are displayed right up front so you can get straight to the action, with links across the top of the page that can be used to see tomorrow’s races and all futures markets for major race meets.
Betfair Sportsbook has a unique “each way edge” feature that allows you to customize your each-way bets to add or remove places in return for higher or lower odds. For example, a standard £10 each-way bet would put £10 on the win portion and another £10 on the place portion which pays out up to 3 places at Betfair. If you choose, you could take a lower price in order to extend the winning places out to 4th and sometimes even 5th place. Alternatively, you could take away one place so that the bet only pays if your horse reaches 1st or 2nd in return for receiving higher payout odds.
Betfair’s tote betting markets allow you to participate directly in horse and greyhound racing pools from around the world. Any time you’re inside the horse racing section of the sportsbook, look for the “tote” button near the top of the betting interface to see the day’s list of totalisators.
What makes tote betting unique is that the wagers you place online are mixed with wagers taken in-person at the actual track. Not only does this support local horse racing, but it also ensures you are paid at full track odds and it provides access to additional types of wagers such as quinellas, trifectas, placepots and Scoop6 wagers. Furthermore, you do not pay a commission on your tote bets.
Live Racing Video
Both sportsbook and exchange customers can watch live horse and greyhound races provided they have an account and have placed a wager on that particular race. In the sportsbook, a minimum bet of €/£ 0.50 is enough to grant access to the live streams. The exchange requires a matched bet of at least £5 in order to watch that race.
The Betfair horse finder is a handy tool that can be used to find strong horses competing in today’s races. You can choose from seven filters to see a list of horses competing in today’s races that meet those criteria. These include timeform tips, winners last time out, course winners, distance winners, course and distance winners, top jockeys and top trainers. Just set your filters, hit “save” and then you’ll see all horses that match your filters.
Exchange betting may get all the attention, but Betfair has a real money casino that is seriously underrated. It has more than 200 games by multiple software providers as well as the only collection of zero house advantage games on the internet. That’s right – Betfair actually hosts a number of casino games that you can play indefinitely without ever seeing a house advantage.
Let’s start with the best part of all: the Zero Lounge. Head to the Zero Lounge for a collection of four games with absolutely zero house edge:
- Blackjack: Player friendly rules and enhanced payouts make this the only form of online blackjack with 0% house advantage. This one pays 2:1 for suited blackjacks and 5-card 21s.
- Roulette: If it looks like something’s missing from this roulette wheel, that’s because there is. The zero slot has been removed and all bets are paid at true odds.
- Baccarat: The commission on the banker bet is reduced to 2.75%, which makes this the best game of baccarat you’ll ever play.
- Video Poker: Play Jacks or Better video poker in the lounge with a Royal Flush payout 22% higher than standard, resulting in no edge for the house.
Betfair makes the majority of its money by collecting commissions from exchange bettors so it can afford to host a few games with no house advantage. Of course, this is by no means a guarantee you’ll win every time. There’s still a lot of luck involved in every game, but at least you know you’re not going to be fighting a losing battle against the casino every time. For once, you’re on fair ground with the house.
You can also head over to the main casino lounge for a broad selection of standard payout games including slots, video poker, table games and specialty games. The house does have an advantage in these, but even here the advantage is quite a bit lower than average. You could call this Betfair’s competitive advantage. They’re willing to give up high margins in return for attracting more players and a very positive brand image.
There are about a hundred slot machines to choose from, and these come in all different styles. You’ll find standard 3-reel slots, 5-reel slots, complex video slots and a whole variety of progressive games with life-changing jackpots. You’ll find, fun and quirky games such as Jackpot Giant along with games themed after entertainment icons such as the Incredible Hulk. The majority of Betfair’s games are powered by Playtech and they look great but load quickly. You can see my screenshots below for an idea of what they look like in action.
Table games are equally well done with crisp graphics and a broad selection of games that include the likes of blackjack, blackjack surrender, Red Dog, casino war, baccarat, craps and 3D roulette. Betfair also hosts a number of live dealer games that use webcams and streaming video to put you in touch with a human dealer for the most authentic experience short of actually driving to the nearest casino.
One thing Betfair Casino does that really earns my respect is include a loss limit option that you can set inside your account. If you log in at the Betfair website and then select “my Betfair account” and then “player protection,” you can set a loss limit based on length of time and amount of money.
You can set loss limits for one day, one week, a month or a year and set the maximum amount you’re allowed to lose. If you reach your limit before the selected time period is up, Betfair won’t let you play for real money until the end of your specified time period.
Betfair Poker is a member of the iPoker Network and ranks as a medium-sized poker room with an international clientele. This is a strong poker site overall but there are a couple of areas that could use some improvement. I’ll explain all below so you can see if this poker site fits your needs.
Beginning with its strong points, Betfair Poker has an active player base with action at all levels. Cash games run at levels as low as £0.02/£0.04 and go as high as £5/£10 for no-limit and £20/£40 for fixed limit. The site offers a nice selection of game variety with tables and tournaments for Texas Holdem, Omaha, Omaha Hi-Lo, 7 Card Stud, 5 Card Stud and Razz.
Another point in Betfair’s favor is the degree to which the iPoker Network supports Betfair and all other member poker sites. The network is very good about releasing new game types, setting up huge tournaments and processing deposits/withdrawals in a myriad of currencies. This is a rock solid network run by professionals.
The poker software also deserves some credit for being easy on the eyes without cluttering the screen. You can download the software on your PC or play on the go with Betfair’s free Android and iOS apps available through the app store. No matter which you choose, the games move along at a brisk pace and make it easy to see what’s going on at all times.
What I don’t like about the software is the complete lack of support for operating systems other than Windows and mobile. If you run a Mac or Linux machine, there’s simply no way to play poker on Betfair without running an emulator. They offer no instant play option and nothing downloadable for Mac or Linux users. This is a huge miss for a site as large and well-known as Betfair.
Betfair guarantees at least €5,000,000 in tournaments every month. Sundays are the biggest day of the week with numerous large guarantee tournaments, including one that goes off every Sunday with €100,000 up for grabs. You can buy in to any of the big tournaments directly or compete for a free seat during the week in Betfair’s many satellite tournaments for as little as €1.
There’s also a healthy sit-n-go scene with SNGs running at all levels around the clock. You can test your skills against a single opponent in heads up SNGs or against multiple opponents in 6, 9 and 10-handed contests. If you’re looking to build a big bankroll, you should take a look at the step-style jackpot tournaments that offer huge payouts if you’re able to win multiple in a row.
Here’s a look at the various jackpot tournaments hosted at Betfair.
- Maui: Play in these 10-handed SNGs for regular prizes, but get an extra €10,000 if you win five in a row. The jackpot grows by €5,000 a week if nobody manages to hit a streak of five.
- Fort Knox: Compete in these 6-handed SNGs and take down six in a row for at least €35,000. The jackpot grows by €7,000 each week in which there isn’t a winner.
- Dirty Dozen: Win four of these in a row for a €2,000 jackpot. Dirty Dozens are organized into two six-table tournaments, with the winner at each table playing in a final heads-up battle to determine the winner.
- Rio Jackpots: These are six-handed tournaments with a €20 buyin. Take first place in six consecutive tournaments for a €20,000 top prize. The prize pool in this one grows by €10,000 after the first week.
The exchange games at Betfair offer a unique and fast-paced twist on traditional casino games in which you place bets as a spectator rather than as a player. For example, you can watch a computer generated game of blackjack or Texas Holdem progress in real time and place exchange-style wagers with other players on the outcome of each round and hand.
Betting works in a similar manner to the sports exchange with you and other people placing back and lay bets on various outcomes. In the Texas Holdem game, four poker hands are dealt face up. You can back or lay each hand as the game progresses and community cards are revealed. The odds update in real time, and you can also set your own odds if you think someone will be willing to take you up on the bet.
These games move along quickly as there is only a limited amount of time between each round of betting. You need to think quickly and make snap decisions or else you’ll run out of time and have to wait for the next round. It’s easy to get sucked in and place a lot of bets, but I can also imagine there being opportunities to earn quick money if you’re able to find value or set favorable odds.
The games list includes baccarat, blackjack, roulette, a type of card/horse racing game, hi-lo, Texas Holdem and Omaha. Again, you don’t actually participate in any of these games. You take the spot as a spectator betting with other spectators on the outcome of each round.
Tradefair is Betfair’s financial spread betting arm although it does operate on its own website over at www.tradefair.com. If you’re not familiar with spread betting, the basic idea is that you can buy and sell positions in stocks, indices and commodities in a manner similar to regular old fashioned trading. The big difference here is that you never actually own the underlying instrument. All you do is place wagers on how that instrument will perform over periods of time.
I should make it clear that Tradefair goes way beyond the basic financial betting offered by sites such as WilliamHill.com. This is actual, real-deal spread betting in which you earn or lose money for every point the underlying asset rises or falls. It’s possible to win a ton of tax-free money (well, depending on where you live), but it’s also possible to lose a lot of money (even more than your original investment).
Betfair’s trading platform is extensive with more than 3200 markets on offer. You can place spread bets on commodities, indices, bonds, 100+ currency pairs and equities. Within each of those categories are hundreds or thousands of individual spread betting options and a ton of opportunities.
Quick Spread Betting Explanation
Our financial betting page explains spread betting in greater detail, but it might be helpful to go ahead and run through a quick review right here in case you’re not yet acquainted with spread betting. At Tradefair and similar sites, you can “invest” in the market without actually investing. What this means is you and the other customers buy and sell contracts on an exchange managed by Tradefair/Betfair.
The whole spread betting process can be as simple or complicated as you make. At the most basic level, you can buy into a market if you think it will go up in value. For example, let’s say the Acme Company is trading at 120 and you think it will go up in value. So, you buy in at 120 for £10 per point. Acme does indeed rise in value up to 130 and you decide it’s time to close out the position and lock in your profit.
In this example, your investment grew by 10 points. You bought in at £10 per point, so your net profit is £100 (10 points x £10 invested per point). Good job. This is an absurdly basic explanation of spread betting but hopefully I’ve managed to get the general idea across. There are a ton of more complex ways to trade that you can look into as you get comfortable with the basics.
If you have even the slightest interest in spread betting, Tradefair would be a solid place to begin. They have all kinds of tutorials, guides and videos that help explain how it works, how to manage risk, trading strategies and more. Almost any question I can think of is answered somewhere on the Tradefair website.
More recently, Tradefair added mobile support for its trading platform so you can stay up to date and take advantage of opportunities on the go. The mobile apps are easy to use and free for members. You can execute trades on the go just as you would at home.
Tradefair also supports technical traders with a suite of charts and analysis tools that can quickly alert you to specific indicators as specified by you. In all, Tradefair supports more than 100 different indicators. Autochartist by Tradefair can be used to identify pricing patterns (bearish and bullish flags, pennants, triangles, wedges and more) as well as Fibonacci-based patterns.
Fundamental traders aren’t forgotten either. Tradefair streams relevant news with the assistance of Reuters, provides detailed company/market statistics, forecast numbers, historic numbers and much more.
Betfair Deposit Methods
Betfair has customers from around the world and is good about providing methods that work for everyone.
Deposit Method Minimum Deposit Fee Debit Card 10 0 Visa 10 1.5% MasterCard 10 1.5% PayPal 5 1.5% Neteller 12 2 Skrill 10 0 ClickandBuy 10 0 Bank Transfer Express 10 10 Bank Transfer 10 10 Western Union 10 Varies Cheque 10 0 POLi 5 0 iDEAL 5 0 Przelewy24 5 0 Moneta 5 0 Euteller 5 0 POLiNZ 5 0 BPAY 5 0 WebMoney 5 0 Abaqoos 5 0
Accepted Currencies: The chart below shows the currencies that Betfair supports by default and in which you can place wagers. You are still welcome to deposit with currencies not listed below, but Betfair will perform an exchange from your native currency to one of their supported currencies.
|Hong Kong Dollar||150|
Betfair does not accept customers from the following countries:
|North Korea||Russia||Slovenia||South Africa|