Many punters are still unaware of the advantages of a betting exchange, and which bookmakers to choose out of Matchbook and Betfair. Our comprehensive guide will give you all the information you need to pick the right one.
What is a betting exchange?
A betting exchange is not the same as a traditional bookmakers, instead it provides a match making service which combines bets made by backers and layers. When you place a bet you are doing it against another punter, instead of against the bookmaker itself.
The main advantage is simple: a bookie wants you to lose, because you’re wagering against them, but with an exchange bet you are simply wagering against another player. In fact, because a bookie takes commission from exchange bets, it’s to their advantage that you win more.
How do exchanges work?
The process is simple, one punter will place a wager on a particular outcome, known as a back bet. This is no different to a standard bet against a bookies odds.
The exchange then matches this back bet to another punter who believes this outcome will not happen. The sporting event will take place and at the end the winning punter will take their money directly from the pool of money held by the operator, who guarantee there is enough to cover every outcome.
The advantage is you can have much more freedom in dictating your bets, meaning there is enhanced flexibility and the opportunity to win more money.
Review – Matchbook or Betfair
Betting markets – Betfair
Unlike a normal review, we cannot compare the odds of each exchange market, because they’re determined by the punters at the time. However we can analyse the range of betting markets available.
A crucial factor of betting exchanges is the liquidity of the market. In simple terms, the liquidity of a particular wager is the amount of money in lays and backs that is placed on an individual wager. If there is only £10 worth of liquidity on a selection, and you wish to wager £20 on it, you could still place your wager, but you would have have to wait for another punter to deposit £10 on the opposite result for it to be matched.
For large events, like a cup final or Ascot, you won’t have any trouble with liquidity because of the volume of punters who will be betting on the event, but for an obscure match, say a Russian 2nd division match, this is a different matter.
With Betfair the volume of available bets is huge, with markets running across dozens of sports, and right down to obscure leagues. The huge customer base means even a niche sport will have a good liquidity.
Matchbook still offers a huge range of markets, and the average exchange punter will never encounter any problems with finding their bet, but because of its smaller customer base the liquidity of their exchange bets and range of markets is still smaller than their rival.
Special features – Betfair
When it comes to special features, both operators offer customers a range of additional services.
Matchbook, being a smaller bookmakers, have a much smaller set of features however. The main one is their “lounge”, which is essentially a blog with betting previews for selected upcoming events. While this is a helpful option to have, the average punter may well take their tips from other sources, or simply do their own research.
Betfair are the 3rd largest bookmakers in the UK, and therefore offer considerably more to their customers. One of the best features available is their live streaming service, allowing users to watch a whole host of sports through Betfair.
They also offer a blog with match previews and betting insight, which can be accessed by everyone.
Live streaming is a game changer for bookmakers, and allows punters access to great quality HD streams without having to pay for Sky or Digital packages. For this reason alone Betfair wins on the special features debate.
Promotions – Matchbook
Both operators offer a welcome bonus for new players who are setting up an exchange account.
- When you open your first account you’re eligible for a £20 risk free bet on their exchange. After your account is set up, simply place any “lay” wager on the Befair exchange and they will refund any unsuccessful wagers, up to a value of £20.
- New customers get up to £50 cashback when they earn Matchbook points. You earn one Matchbook point for every £100 you win or lose during betting. Getting 5 Matchbook points will earn you a total of £50 cashback to withdraw.
Despite the higher amount of Matchbook’s cashback offer, you have to wager a considerable amount to accumulate Matchbook points.
Commission – Matchbook
Commission rates are a huge factor when it comes to deciding between operators, and here Matchbook sneak a win over Betfair.
At Betfair you will be charged 5% on any winnings you make through their exchange. However, losing bets are not subjected to commission and by accumulating loyalty points through Betfair, players can reduce their rate of commission. The more bets you place, the more points you receive.
With Matchbook you are subject to two different types of commission.
- A winning bet will be charged 1% on your profits
- A losing bet will be charged 1% on your stake
It could be argued that less fortunate punters should stick to Betfair, however exchange punters are more likely to enjoy successful wagers, Matchbook offers a better deal.
Best user experience – Betfair
While it’s not always highest on punters priority list, the user experience is an important factor when choosing an operator.
Clunky and confusing website interfaces can make the experience long winded and overly complicated, and more importantly, might mean you miss out on features that are poorly signposted on the nav bars.
Matchbook has often drawn criticism for its user-unfriendliness, and we had a similar experience. While it’s not impossible to use, Betfair’s interface is much more comfortable to navigate and it’s easier to see the range of bets available.
Final verdict – Betfair
While it’s a close call between the two operators, Betfair remain the best exchange market around. With a huge range of markets, live streaming and an excellent overall user experience their service is excellent.
However, don’t be too keen to dismiss Matchbook, especially if you are primarily interested in wagering on big events.
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