The LAY THE FIELD STRATEGY is one of the oldest used on Betfair but it still works well to this very day. This is not a strategy that will stop performing anytime soon since as long as sports such as horse racing have competitive races then you will see strategies such as Lay The Field work.
If you have still not managed to make Lay The Field work for you then check out a few of these tips.
Data is KING!
If you are serious about this strategy you need to record lots of data. This means you need your OWN data without relying on the timeform data available on Betfair. You should look at the courses, the field size, the time of the day and the type of prices that were matched to try and work out patterns. The real secret to profiting long term with lay the field is by developing your own formula. The markets are simply not big enough for lots of traders to be laying at the same prices.
Measure Your Risk
The problem some have when laying the field is not realising that every lay you make does add up and the higher the price you lay at, the more you need to get matched in order to make a profit. For example, if you were to lay the field @ 2 with £100 that means that everytime you lose you are going to lose £100.
Everytime you get 2 horses matched @ 2 you are breaking even and only when you get 3 horses matched @ 2 are you going to make £100 (less commission) profit. This means you have a risk-reward ratio of 1:1 and you need to be winning over 50% of your trades in order to make a long term profit doing it at this price. Therefore you will need to look to your data and decide if you need to go for a shorter price in order to make the break even point more achievable.
Even if you were to lay the field @ 1.50 you will have risk-reward ratio of 1:1 but you only need 2 horses to get matched to make a profit. It is only at prices below 1.50 whereby the risk-reward ratio falls in your favour and you are potentially winning more then you risk. This underlines why data is king. You are probably better served by targeting races where you will get lots of short prices below 1.50 turned but only the data can tell you which ones.
No one size fits all
A big mistake many novices make with laying the field is by thinking that they can just repeat the same strategy on multiple races and make a profit. If you were to be laying at every race all day long @ 1.50 then you will not profit long term. Take the field size into account along with how competitive you think the race will be. A short priced favourite will make it much harder for multiple horses to be backed at short odds so they are the type of races you should avoid with this strategy.
A small hint, those who do well at Lay The Field, rarely repeat the same trade in a single afternoon.
Lay At Multiple Prices
It is also worth keeping in mind that you can lay at multiple prices which can create a “jackpot” style win when it comes off. For example, you can put in lay orders @ 1.50, 1.25 & 1.15 for £100 each. You are risking £90 but potentially winning £210 or more if it comes off. You might even still make money if you manage to get a few horses matched @ 1.50 in the race, anything can happen.
This will obviously lower your strike rate so it all depends your own punting style and patience.
As mentioned earlier, these markets are simply not big enough for everyone. If you want to ensure being matched then you might have to move your prices slightly higher. For example, instead of laying @1.50 you move it to 1.51 or 1.52. Main reason is that you will find most other in-play racing traders will go for round numbers that end in a 0 or 5 which will make it harder to get matched. We are dealing with split seconds when in-play remember. I am also speaking from experience here as I used to have orders in at round numbers and not get matched only to see the 1 price above actually did get matched or that my price did get matched but there was money in the que before me.
Activate Lay The Field In-play
Those who are doing well with Lay The Field these days are also those who are deciding to activate it in-play. This is something that will definitely help give you the edge and it requires software to activate it. I know that their main strategy is just to watch the race live and then wait to see if it is competitive. If it is they will activate their lay orders and sit back to see it develop. If they can see early on that one horse is dominating they will just wait for the next race. This will definitely improve your strike rate but does require patience and a good Internet connection.
There is not that much information available online about Lay The Field but this issue of The Trend Report had some interesting stats and data about the best courses to use the strategy on. This is a good starting point for those interested in this method.