Lay The Draw Football Trading Strategy– The Ultimate 2023 Guide including examples, tips, tricks and match selection!

Ah, the old “Lay The Draw” football trading strategy! One of the most well known and most often debated ways to trade football on Betfair.

If you are new to laying the draw, or have dabbled with it for a bit with no success then this is the article for you. I am going to be explaining everything about the lay the draw strategy from start to finish and by the time you are done reading this you will know exactly how to lay the draw profitably, the ideal match selection, the ideal time to do it along with some other examples and tips and tricks to boot.

So you might want to go grab a cup of tea/coffee or a beer as this is going to be a very good read.


OK let’s get into it…

What is the lay the draw strategy?

So firstly, it is important to understand that lay the draw is an in-play football trading strategy. A common misunderstanding for those who are not quite familiar with this scene is that we are simply betting against a draw happening and that is it.

It is not quite as simple as that.

The main idea behind the lay the draw strategy is that we are initially betting AGAINST the draw safe in the knowledge that when a goal is scored in football the price on The Draw will rise and we can trade our bet out by now betting FOR the draw.

If you are new to football trading this might be a bit confusing so hopefully these screenshots will make sense.

In this above match between Valencia and Barcelona we have opened a Lay The Draw trade just before kick off by laying the draw @ 4.5 with £100 stake.

In the 49th minute, Barcelona scored the first goal to take the lead and the draw price has now risen or “drifted” out to 6.2/6.4.

The most basic version of the lay the draw strategy would be that you would instantly take advantage of the price difference by locking in a guaranteed “green screen” profit of £27.

Pretty simple stuff as you can see…

Now once upon a time, we had to do the calculations ourselves to work out how to lock in a profit but these days you can simply press the cash out button and be done with it.

Either way, if you are employing the lay the draw strategy then your aim is to be able to trade your bet out for a profit once the price on the draw rises.

For this you would NEED a goal to be scored. Since when one team is winning the market will determine the draw as less likely to happen and so the price will rise.

As a trader you will be able to have locked in a profit no matter who wins the match after a successful trade.

So you will make money EVEN if the match then goes on to finish in a draw. All you really need is that goal to get you in to that position and the simplicity of the method is why a lot of football traders (new and old) love the method.

The fact that around 92% of all football matches will have a goal scored at one point also makes this method “feel” safer than most.

And I think many novice football traders make the mistake of thinking that to find the best opportunities with lay the draw then you need to find matches not likely to end in a draw.

This is not quite right, you just need to ensure you are in the market when a goal is scored so you can profit from the price movement of the draw.

If the match does finish in a draw should not concern you since you will have already locked in your profit and (most likely) moved on to the next trade.

Of course, being profitable in the long term with this strategy is not as easy as the above makes it sound and I will explain more about that as we go further on in this article.

Lay The Draw Profitability Potential

I do get many emails asking just how profitable lay the draw can be if used as the main trading method for football.

Well the fact that you will be using this method on the Match Odds market does bode well for the potential profits that can be made. The Match Odds market is the MOST liquid market in football with many Premier League matches turning over millions on this market.

Even more obscure matches will hit at least 5 figures worth of turnover on this market so if you get good with lay the draw then you can scale very high with it and should have no problems getting 5 figure stakes matched on the top level leagues.

Lay The Draw Problems & Criticisms

So no football trading strategy is ever perfect. Every method has its flaws and every method will have some level of risk attached to it.

A common problem many have with lay the draw is the fact that it sounds “easy”. As mentioned above, all you need is to be in the market for a goal and you can make a profit and since 92% of matches will have at least one goal that means in theory you should only lose 8% of the time.

So on paper it sounds easy but once you start to practice this strategy you will very soon encounter the two below problems and flaws with the method.

Underdog scoring first

I still remember my first ever lay the draw trade. Like many I thought it would be easy, so I had a lay the draw in a Barcelona match and sat back waiting for a goal to be scored and the money to pour in.

A goal was scored by the underdog and I went to the Betfair screen to lock in my profit.

Only to find the draw price had not gone higher at all, it actually went LOWER.

And this is the most common problem with laying the draw. If the underdog scores the first goal you will not get the opportunity to lock in a profit. The market could deem a draw MORE likely if the underdog scores the first goal so the odds will more likely go lower and you are in a tricky position. (There are strategies to combat this which we will get to later in the article)

But when this scenario crops up you are often faced with some tricky decisions and this is where things start to get a bit sticky for a novice.

In the above example from the Spanish La Liga, Levante were the favourite to win the match and Girona were the underdog.

Girona took the lead in this match and you can see the draw price rose pretty much back to the starting price. So you wouldn’t be able to trade out for a profit in this instance if you had entered at the starting price.

No goals before stop loss exit point

The other common problem with lay the draw is what to do when a dreaded 0-0 comes along. With many laying the draw at kick off, they are often faced with a HUGE dilemma when it gets to around 70 minutes and there still hasn’t been a goal.

Do you lock in a red screen? “No the goal is coming I am sure”

Do you let it run? “No that would be gambling”

Many novices often let their gambling brain get the better of them in these instances and eventually face a HUGE loss when the match actually does end 0-0.

Apparently, this only happens 8% of the time but you will feel like it happens more often than that when you are a football trader 😀

Anyway,  this above is WHY match selection for the lay the draw method is SO important.

Lay The Draw match selection tips

There has been much debate about the best matches to lay the draw on.

Some would swear you should use it on a match with a strong favourite (sub 1.50) but in this case you end up being faced with the above issue of the underdog scoring first and you end up over-relying on the favourite scoring the first goal. Which begs the question why not just back the favourite?

Others say you should pick a low draw price (sub 3.90) but a match which promises lots of goals. The only problem with this is that if the markets deem the two teams quite even then the draw price will not rise significantly if there is a goal scored. So your eventual profit margin is eroded and you will need a really high strike rate to succeed.

And that would beg the question of, if you expect goals, why not get involved in the goal markets?

So whilst there is lots of debate about how to pick the best matches, my own experience found that we can negate many of the above problems by picking a better entry point than simply laying the draw at the start of the match.

In this video I talk more about match selection and the types of matches I would like to pick.

And this leads me on to the very best entry point for lay the draw..Lay the draw in the second half

Lay the draw in the second half

There are many benefits to laying the draw in the second half as opposed to getting involved earlier in the match and once you start using this strategy in the second half you will never go back.

NOTE: Notice I said lay the draw in the second half and not necessarily at the start of the second half. Any point during the second half is good and the later in the match you leave it, the BETTER!

Advantage 1 – Still profit EVEN if the underdog scores

Usually if the underdog scores in the second half you will still get the opportunity to lock in a profit. This is because you are laying at a lower price and since we are later in the match the draw price should rise enough to give you the opportunity to profit. The ideal scenario is STILL the favourite scoring first but by getting involved in the second half this issue is less of a hassle.

Advantage 2 – Less decision making

The usual advice of getting involved in the second half would be to let the trade run till the final whistle and down to 1.01.

Some would suggest this makes it a straight bet rather than a trade but as long as you actually trade out after a goal then it is still trading.

Since the risk by laying in the second half is much lower compared to laying at kick off you are probably still risking the same amount when compared to someone who entered at kick off and had a stop loss exit point.

Consider this…

Kick Off Entry Point – Lay £100 @ 5.4, Exit @ 2 if no goals = -£170

2nd Half Entry Point Lay £100 @ 2.70 Exit @ 1.01 if no goals = -£170

So in the above scenarios you are risking the same amount despite not necessarily trading out in the second half so do not feel that you always need to be trading out to make it a “real” trade.

Either way, by laying the draw in the second half you have the opportunity to lock in MORE profit when the goal arrives.

In the above scenario if the goal arrives in the first half to the favourite the expected profit that can be locked in would be £40, whereas doing the same trade in the second half would produce an expected profit anywhere from £65 to £90 depending on when the goal arrives.

The later the goal arrives the more profit that can be locked in. Whereas in the first half you are pretty much only going to get one result.

This makes it a no brainer of an entry point.

And in this video I show some live examples of using this method during the second half so you can see it for yourself

Lay The Draw Entry Point

You will often hear me say that watching the match is crucial to football trading and by following the action you can often spot the very best entry points and times to open your trade.

This could be when the action really starts to warm up and a goal seems imminent.

Or you might want to wait until an attacking substitution is made by the team chasing a goal.

Or you could even wait until there is a corner or dangerous free kick which will be a shot on goal.

Here you can see I managed to lay the draw in this match between Levante and Girona right before Girona took a dangerous free kick outside the box.

The markets suspended as soon as I was in the market and took the screenshot as Girona then scored straight from the free kick.

I was able to lock in a profit of £64 when the markets reopened. Not a bad trade at all but there is no way I could have spotted this entry point opportunity without following the live action. This was on Betfair Live video so there is no excuse not to be following along!

By the way…

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Lay The Draw Exit Strategies

Once you get the basics of lay the draw down you are likely to want to look to ways to maximise your profits with this method. After all, trading is all about “racing the winning trades” and extracting as much value as you can out of the market.

And there are various exit strategies that you can employ apart from the standard “greening up” or “cashing out” after the goal is scored.

1 – Waiting for a 2 goal lead

An angle many more experienced football traders take to increase their profits from lay the draw is waiting for a 2 goal lead before securing the profits.

If a 2 goal lead is established then the draw price will rise much higher and a bigger profit can be locked in.

Some even take the approach of only getting out of the trade if the score returns to a one goal gap. So when there is a 2 goal lead they will let the trade run till the final whistle knowing they can make the maximum possible profit from the trade. Only taking action if the 2 goal lead reduces to a single goal lead.

This can be seen as a more risky approach since after the first goal you will have to stay in the market till a second goal arrives and in some cases the lead may not be extended and you find the trailing team equalizes to put you back in a draw position once again. Now you are faced with an even bigger loss which can be frustrating considering you were just in a position to profit.

With this approach you must definitely be disciplined and ready to accept the times when it goes against you.

For example, in this above match with Motherwell leading 1-0 you can see by the cash out amount available we could exit the lay the draw trade and lock in £58 profit.

But then Motherwell doubled the lead 4 minutes later and we could exit the lay the draw trade with a bigger profit of £93.

2 – Removing risk from the draw

An alternative way to improve the profits from the lay the draw strategy can be to simply remove all risk from the draw after a goal goes in.

For this you would back the draw with enough money so that you have a profit on the home and away win selections but £0.00 sitting on the draw. This can often increase your profits by 10-20%.

The only downside is that if the match does then end in a draw you will not make any money at all. This is something many newbies can find frustrating and so this approach is probably best suggested for more experienced football traders.

Here you can see an example of removing all risk from the draw result. (Rochdale lead 1-0 but Betfair has not updated the score).

The cash out trade would give us £43 but we can make £58 this way providing either Rochdale or Milwall go on to win the match.

A 34% increase in profits, not to be sniffed at!

Anyway, these are just some of the exit strategies but I demonstrated in this below video up on the youtube channel which actually shows SEVEN exit strategies.

Definitely take a look at this so you can see all the tips and tricks that will allow you to make that little bit more from a typical trade.

Alternative Lay The Draw Strategies

As touched upon at the start of this article, Lay The Draw is one of the most well known and also most studied football trading methods. If you are reading this article trying to think of different angles or ways to trade with it then it is very likely others will have already thought of this and tried it too.

I often get emails asking me about how they can lay the draw “with insurance”. The idea being to protect themselves against a loss should there be no goals.

I actually had so many emails about it I decided to make a video explaining how to lay the draw with 0-0 insurance and you can watch that below.  

Lay the draw and back 0-0 insurance

You will have to watch the video to get the full idea of how to do it and the best matches to do it on. The main flaw with laying the draw with 0-0 insurance is that if the underdog scores you are going to lose on the match odds market and also lose your insurance bet.

You are effectively pseudo-backing the favourite to score the first goal with this way of trading and depending on the odds this may or may not offer value.

That being said, this alternative lay the draw method can be a good beginners strategy for those who want to test the waters.

Lay the draw and back 1-1 insurance

Another alternative many come up with is laying the draw but also covering the 1-1 scoreline.

The theory behind this is that the 1-1 is actually the most common scoreline when the match ends in a draw. The 1-1 occurring 11% on average vs the 0-0 occurring 8% on average.

And with most football traders confident they can avoid a 0-0 match then just covering the 1-1 scoreline should usually allow themselves into a position to extract more profit from the trade.

Of course, this strategy still has its flaws. Covering the 1-1 scoreline eats into your eventual profit from the overall trade and means your loss will be even bigger should a 0-0 scenario crop up.

You also have a big decision to make should the match go to 2-1 or 3-2 since the 2-2 and 3-3 draws are not covered. You may then still have to exit the trade for a loss when this scenario crops up depending on the time of the match mainly because of the money you have used covering the 1-1.

Lay The Draw Metaltone method

As mentioned at the start of this article, one of the big problems that can arise with Lay the draw is when the underdog scores the first goal.

What to do in this scenario has been the subject of debate for over a decade now and around 2009 a popular method was shared on an Internet forum by a user by the name of “Metaltone” who suggested the below strategy when the first goal is scored by the underdog.

“In situations where the underdog takes the lead you will then back The Draw with 50% of your liability and Lay the (now leading) underdog with 75% of your liability. The ideal scenario being a fast equaliser for the favourite which will send the odds on the underdog higher and a profit can then be locked in. You then have the option of laying the draw again as per the original strategy or just walking away with the profit.”

This is definitely an interesting approach and something those who lay the draw from the kick off should consider. However, you do still need an exit strategy in mind if the match remains 0-1 or goes to 0-2 or more.

Can you Lay the draw for a living?

You might have looked this article up because you are wondering if using lay the draw strategy could be enough to make a full time income from.

Indeed there have been various reports and mentions of football traders making their main income from the lay the draw method. One of the most well known advocates of Lay the draw trading has been Ian Erskine of FTS Income fame. He claims to have made over a million pounds from the lay the draw method alone after starting back in 2007.

In theory, there is nothing stopping you from using lay the draw as a trading strategy that you can make a living from or even a second income. You are using this method on the Match Odds market so the liquidity is usually very good and so scaling up the stakes should not be an issue if your profitable.  

Lay the draw Tips & Tricks

No doubt you are eager to go and dabble in some lay the draw trading after reading this article and watching these videos so I will leave you with a few extra tips.

Work out your BEST entry point

I said I feel the best time to lay the draw is at some time during the second half but everyone is different and much depends on your eye for spotting opportunity. Remember, we only need 1 goal to get into a profitable position so watch matches closely and anticipate when that goal is going to arrive. The later in the match you get involved, the lower your risk is and the bigger the potential profit. You might find you have best success laying the draw at the 60th minute whilst someone else likes to do it at the 76th minute.

Be aware of your strike-rate

Needing a high strike rate to be long term profitable is one of the big criticisms of this strategy. Depending on the price you enter the market, needing a strike rate of 70-80%+ is not unheard of.

But if you lay the draw at a price like 2.0 then you probably only need a 60% strike-rate to be profitable. Being aware of the strike-rate you need in order to be profitable is very important and ensures you do not let the losses get to you mentally.

Record your trades

As with all trades, keep records of all matches you trade. Soon you will spot patterns and you will realise which type of matches YOU are best at trading and picking opportunities in. This is individual to each person after all and you will find it hard to improve if you do not know where you are going wrong.

Lay the draw typical mistakes

Further to that there are some pretty typical mistakes that most make when they start messing around with lay the draw.

The main ones include using the strategy too much and trying to apply it to every match that is on the Betfair coupon.

I know this is a huge mistake since I have done this myself when I first learned of the method. I tried to lay the draw on every match and only wound up exhausted and with a break even bank account. The key to doing well with this is by spotting the opportunities and using the in-play stats as well as watching the match live is important.

This article shows some pretty common lay the draw mistakes, actually SEVEN of them.

In Conclusion

So is lay the draw still a good trading strategy? Does it even still work?

I am sure you can see by the examples in this article that it does still work but it is not as easy as some would have you believe. The key to being profitable with it is by picking the best times to use it.

I have shown you the best time of the match to get involved and so now it is down to you to get in the markets and spot these opportunities. Do not get involved for the sake of it and always ask yourself if there is value in what you are doing.

So I hope you enjoyed this article. Have you had good experience with laying the draw? Made any good money? leave a comment below.

Also, if you have any questions or comments or you feel something wasn’t covered in this guide then please leave it below. I will be aiming to update and improve this page constantly so the input from you guys is appreciated!


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  1. I like to lay draw at Half Time if there have been a minimum of 4 shots on target but not all to the same team. So if I lay at 2.50 for £100 this gives £150 liability. I stay in till the end so if no goals I lose £150. If favourite scores first I green up for profit. If underdog scores first I stay in as I am still in a winning trade. If the underdog is still winning when their odds drop to 1.20 I lay them for 3X my initial lay stake i.e £300 and £60 liability. Now if underdog go onto win I win my £100 LTD stake minus £60 liability on U/Dog so £40 profit. If fav equalises and match ends in a draw I lose £150 on draw but win £300 on U/Dog so £150 profit. If fav go onto win I win £100 LTD stake plus £300 lay on U/Dog so £400 profit. Downside is if fav equalises before U/Dog odds reach 1.20 and match ends in draw. When this happens I will lose my LTD stake which I was prepared to lose anyway or I could cashout for a smaller loss.

    1. Sports Trading Life says:

      Sounds like a really good plan and I like the idea of getting that big bonus win if the favourite turns it around late on, nice windfall when it comes in!

      Thanks for the comment Stewart!

  2. the article needs to be completed with the staking info. A newbie could stake his entire bank and loose it in the first trade and you wont refund him for sure.

    1. Sports Trading Life says:

      Hi Michael,

      Well I am not Betfair or a bookie so it is not my job to refund people. If they are over 18 they are responsible for what they do on the exchange 🙂

      But staking advice is a good idea since not many realise that laying has a bigger risk than your actual stake. I will get that included!

  3. After reading the lay the draw write up, I gave it a try by betting 2half time draw on 4 live matches that were about 70 -80mins to finish.
    And to my surprise, I won d 4 matches.
    I appreciate your article on lay the draw strategy. It is quite helpful.

    1. Sports Trading Life says:

      Nice result Jamiu. You won’t always get such a high strikerate like that but at least it shows you the possibilities!

  4. Nice article. Tried it today using small bets as I like to start small and build a bank, learning from the inevitable mistakes along the way. Made a nice £26 whist learning and having fun.

    1. Sports Trading Life says:

      Nice start Martyn and like you said, it is definitely fun!

  5. These articles and videos have been very informative for me I’ve religiously made notes and I’m hoping to print off the pdfs you have graciously let us have for free!!!!!!…….I’m a current matched bettor and made £1000 profit so I’m going to look at investing small stakes (£10 to £20) to get used to the way it works and navigate around Betfair but can I ask if Smarkets can be used in the same way as only 2% commission and do Betfair charge 5% on their rates for using them as it’s something I’ve not seen you mention yet…..keep up the great work as I’m hooked!!!

    1. Sports Trading Life says:

      Yes Gary, be sure to keep it small when starting out. Very important.

      And yes Smarkets is a good alternative, the liquidity is not always as good as Betfair but with the current stakes you are using this shouldn’t be a problem right now.

  6. I’ve been matched betting for a year now and made a decent amount, but losing accounts is a problem. Your guides nd videos are brilliant and I am beginning to get my head around this so thought I’d give it ago. Small stakes of 20 and I’ve made 50 quid in half an hour. I think I will be concentrating on learning more about trading from now on.
    Thank you.

  7. Thanks for offering this information, and your informative videos. Many others would charge for this info

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