For serious bettors and professional traders, betting exchanges are the most convenient and reliable platforms.
Bookmakers are often very quick to limit stakes and/or close accounts of successful customers, or void individual bets or even whole markets if their books do not balance as they would like.
Don’t kid yourself – Bookmakers make a living from selling bets and to stay in business they need to ensure that more money is retained by them than is paid out to their punters. Why, therefore, should bookmakers welcome professional gamblers on their books?
On the other hand, betting exchanges profit from charging commissions. They do not care who wins or loses. In addition, the odds available are usally better than with a bookmaker.
It is therefore no surprise that professional punters use exchanges for most of their betting transactions.
However, the big question for newcomers is which exchange to choose?
This article examines the liquidity levels offered by the range of betting exchanges currently available to serious gamblers and traders.
Betting Exchanges with the best Liquidity
The selection of betting exchanges is limited. At the time of writing there are only five exchanges worth comparing: Betfair, Betdaq, Smarkets, Matchbook, and WBX.
You will also find that Matchbook and WBX are fledglings when compared to the others and thus are currently of little or no interest to professional bettors.
(1) Popular Markets in European Premier Leagues
Here are screenshots from each firm’s full-time 1×2 odds for the EPL match between Manchester United and Liverpool on 14 December 2014 – probably the biggest league game in the English football calendar each season:
These images were captured around GMT 09.30 hours (four hours before kick off) and show Betfair head and shoulders above the rest with £812,639 already matched.
Next in the list were Smarkets with a traded volume of £178,294, then Betdaq with £74,074, and WBX with matched amounts of £10,414 (back) and £15,620 (lay).
Although Matchbook’s platform is very well designed and easy to navigate, it does not display how much money has been already matched on an event. However, what you can see from our excerpt is that Matchbook showed an amount of €25,357 waiting to be matched for punters wishing to back the home team which was above the amounts displayed at Betfair and Smarkets.
For this popular market, Betfair was most definitely the winner, closely followed by Smarkets.
(2) Less Popular Markets in major European Premier Leagues
It gets trickier to find significant liquidity in less prominent markets, such as “over/under 1.5 goals”.
Below are screenshots from the same game as above, taken around the same time. Although this match was certainly followed by a massive number of fans, it is obvious that the market for over/under goals is far less popular than the full-time home, draw, or away bets.
You can spot the lack of popularity for this type of bet with Betfair; only £13,052 matched between three and four hours before kick-off. Smarkets just about troubled the scorers with £187 matched, however there was a good amount of money on offer to backers and layers – indeed, close to the amounts waiting in Betfair.
Betdaq showed no matched money at all and the gaps between the back and lay odds were huge. Although Matchbook also offered this market there was no money waiting to be matched, and for WBX, this was a market they were not offering at all.
Although Betfair was for this market the clear winner in regards of money matched, Smarkets and Betdaq had good amounts of money waiting and can be considered as serious competitors for the less popular markets in major European premier leagues.
(3) Less Marketed European Premier Leagues
Whilst Betfair is the clear leader for all major European leagues such as the EPL, Smarkets has a healthy market share in the less prominent leagues and is an attractive betting exchange for people wishing to avoid the mainstream.
For the Greek Super League game between PAOK and AOK Kerkyra, £6,829 was matched on Betfair around three hours before kick off; £503 waiting for backing the home win and £89 for laying it.
In contrast, Smarkets showed £246 waiting for backing the home team and £138 for laying. Unfortunately, there was no information on the amount already matched in Smarkets.
In Betdaq, although only £860 was matched at this time, £112 was waiting for backers and £212 for layers. You can see the odds were about the same in all three betting exchanges.
For WBX, this game was also offered but the gaps between the back and lay odds clearly indicate that liquidity levels for this match were far below its rivals.
Although less matched, this snapshot shows Smarkets with greater liquidity than either Betfair or Betdaq; there was more money waiting to be matched on the outcomes.
Essential Betting Exchange Accounts
From the liquidity perspective, Betfair is an absolute must for major leagues. Not only do they have a huge number of games on offer, but also almost every conceivable bet type, which is not the case for the other betting exchanges. Not yet.
Following closely on Betfair’s heels is Smarkets, whose liquidity is getting better all the time, not only on the big games in major leagues but, especially so in less prominent leagues. There, they may even be challenging the market leaders at the time of writing.
The lion’s share of liquidity and bets struck with exchanges is commanded by Betfair, often closely followed by Smarkets and then Betdaq, with Matchbook and WBX lower down the pecking order.
However, even if Matchbook and WBX are far smaller than the other three and have a limited range of available markets, they are competitive on the more popular bets in the larger leagues, such as the full-time 1×2 market.