Underlaying & Overlaying Your Bets

‘Underlay’ and ‘Overlay’ are terms which you’ll no doubt come across while matched betting and they can both be extremely useful methods to apply depending on the type of offer.

Both terms relate to making adjustments to your lay stake which will result in different returns compared to a standard lay.

Usually, the ideal lay stake is calculated so that the same profit is made or the same qualifying loss is incurred whether your back bet wins with the bookmaker or your lay bet wins with the exchange. However, by underlaying or overlaying your bet, you’re able to change the returns so that you make more profit or incur less of a loss if one of your two bets win. This strategy can come in extremely useful for certain types of bets and can make a non-risk-free offer, risk-free.

Don’t worry if you don’t understand the maths behind overlaying and underlaying. After all, many matched bettors wouldn’t know how to calculate the ideal lay stake for a standard matched bet as they rely on a matched betting calculator to do the hard work for them. The same applies when calculating your lay stakes for overlays and underlays as you simply use the calculator to do this.

In this matched betting guide, well be taking a look at how underlaying and overlaying your bets work and when you would apply these methods.

 

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Underlaying

Underlaying is when you lay less than you would with a standard lay.

So, when would we underlay our bets?

Free Bet on Loss

These offers are common with a lot of bookmakers. An example would be: ‘Bet £20 on Man Utd v Arsenal and get a £20 Free Bet if it loses’. You could of course use the ‘Free Bet on Loss’ setting on the calculator to lock in a profit regardless of the result but some may opt for a risk-free chance of making a larger profit by underlaying their bet.

Let’s take a look at the possible outcomes depending on if we chose to lay our bet normally, underlay it or use the free bet on loss setting.

 

NORMALLAY

 

UNDERLAYING

 

FREE BET ON LOSS

 

Normal LayUnderlayFree Bet on Loss
  • Bookmaker bet wins: We lose £0.20
  • Exchange bet wins: We lose £0.20 & get a free bet
  • Max risk: £0.20
  • Max Profit: £15.80 (assuming we make £16 profit from our free bet)
  • Bookmaker bet wins: We break even
  • Exchange bet wins: We lose £0.40 & get a free bet
  • Max risk: ZERO
  • Max Profit: £15.60 (assuming we make £16 profit from our free bet)
  • Bookmaker bet wins: We win £3.84
  • Exchange bet wins: We lose £4.16 & get a free bet
  • Max risk: ZERO
  • Max Profit: £3.84 (assuming we make £16 profit from our free bet

As you can see, by applying the underlay option, we have reduced the risk to zero. By doing so, we reduce our profit slightly should we trigger the refund. Our other option is to use the free bet on loss setting which would return a profit either way, albeit for a much lower amount.

Bonus Wagering

Some sports offers require wagering. For example, ‘Deposit £20 and get a £20 bonus which needs to be wagered five times’.

With these offers, we hope that our initial bet loses so that our profit is in the exchange and we don’t have to complete the wagering. If our initial bet wins, we will have to keep wagering the bonus until we have either met the wagering requirements or have lost the bonus. Each time we wager our bonus, we are likely to incur a loss which eats into our overall profits for the offer but by underlaying our bet, we’re able to retain 100% of the bonus until we have completed the wagering.

 

bonus wagering

 

The image above shows the returns based on a normal lay and an underlay. 

We’ve deposited £20 and received our £20 bonus. We then place a bet with our deposit + bonus (£40).

If using the standard lay option, we will make a £0.80 loss whether our bet wins or loses. If using the underlay option, we will incur no loss should our bet win with the bookmaker and so we have retained 100% of the bonus for wagering but we will make a £1 loss should our bet win with the exchange. However, if our bet wins with the exchange, we won’t need to complete the wagering and can spend our time on other offers. 

Price Boosts

Price boosts are another promotion where you can underlay your bets. Bookmakers often offer price boosts which can simply be layed on the exchange for a guaranteed profit. These profits are generally quite small which is why some matched bettors opt to underlay them.

By underlaying price boosts, you’re able to return a much larger profit if the bet wins with the bookmaker and break even if it doesn’t.

 

price boosts

 

In the example above, a bookmaker has boosted the odds to 5.0 with the lay odds being 4.0.

If we did a standard lay on this bet, we would be able to lock in a profit of around £2.32 whether the boosted bet won or not. However, if we underlayed our bet, we would make £9.40 profit if the bet won and lose nothing if it didn’t. You may opt to underlay price boosts when the profit using a standard lay is relatively low.

Overlaying

Overlaying your bets is less common but can have advantages in certain circumstances. 

Free Bet on Win

Some bookmakers offer a free bet if you place a bet and it wins. An example of this is Bet365’s long-standing 4/1 offer where you place a bet on an eligible horse race at odds of 4/1 or greater and if it wins, you’ll receive a free bet to the value of your stake up to a maximum of £50.

You could use the ‘Free Bet on Win’ setting on the matched betting calculator to lock in a profit if you find a close match or you could overlay your bet for a chance to make a much greater profit should your horse win.

 

free bet on win

 

The example above shows us the returns based on whether we overlay our bet or not.

Standard LayOverlay
  • Bookmaker bet wins: We lose £34.07 & get a £50 free bet
  • Exchange bet wins: We win £5.95
  • Max risk: ZERO
  • Max Profit: £5.95 (assuming we make £50 profit from our free bet)
  • Bookmaker bet wins: We lose £9.18 & get a £50 free bet
  • Exchange bet wins: We break even
  • Max risk: ZERO
  • Max Profit: £30.82 (assuming we make £40 profit from our free bet)

As you can see, both options have zero risk. However, by overlaying our bet, we will return a significantly higher profit should our horse win as we have incurred a lower qualifying loss. The disadvantage of overlaying our bets is that we won’t make a profit should our horse not win. However, we will not lose anything either. You may opt for overlaying your bets if the horse is a favourite and you are confident it stands a good chance of winning.

Summary

You won’t need to underlay or overlay your bets all of the time but they do have their advantages in certain circumstances with specific offer types. They are a useful method to be aware of but even if you don’t fully understand them, you can simply use the setting on the calculator to view your returns and decide whether to overlay or underlay your bets or not.

 

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