The Live Betting Guide
Live betting (also called in-play betting) offers fantastic opportunities to judge how the game is going, get better odds and even lock-in profits. But there’s more to live betting than meets the eye.
In this guide, we’re going to reveal the best live betting sites, their different strengths and weaknesses and some in-play betting tips for live betting.
We’ll also cover the basics of how to place a bet and what setups you should have to make the most of the many live betting opportunities.
What is Live Betting?
Live betting is simply placing bets on an event that has already started, i.e. one that is “in-play”. If you’re betting on football, an in-play bet is any placed after kick-off.
In-play betting actually started in the late 1990s with some bookmakers taking bets over the phone whilst a sports event was in progress. Thankfully the internet has made things much easier now and the best live betting sites let you bet on dozens of markets as soon as an event has started. Odds are updated in real-time as the clock ticks down or goals go in.
And it’s not just football that is available. Tennis, boxing and horse-racing are other popular sports for betting in-play. Live betting is fast, exciting and you can find improved odds and valuable opportunities that just aren’t available before the event starts.
Best Bookmakers for In-Play Betting (April 2021)
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How Does Live Betting Work?
When a sporting event goes in-play the betting odds will usually be the same as they were before the event began. From this point onwards, however, the prices will change rapidly, reflecting the changing probability of each outcome winning.
Let’s look at a practical example. Paris Saint-Germain are priced at 2.0 to beat Barcelona. If the score is 1-1 at half-time, the odds of a PSG win would move out slightly, perhaps to 2.4. This is because they now have less time to score a winner. A goal for the away team would also be much harder to come back from.
If Paris Saint-Germain scored after 20 minutes, the odds of them winning would drop to something like 1.45, the odds of over 2.5 goals would drop, Barcelona’s price would go out a lot and so on.
This fluctuation of odds offers a number of opportunities. We’ll discuss those in-depth later.
Live Betting: How to Place a Bet
Log in to your favourite bookmaker and you should find a live betting console or menu option for in-play events. This will usually be prominently featured at the top and is where all the live betting markets can be found.
Now you select your bet in the same way as you would before the event started. Find the sport, match and market you want to bet on, click on your chosen outcome to add it to your betslip and then enter your stake before confirming. The main difference between betting in-play and pre-event is that the odds change very quickly – wait around and you may get a better or worse price or miss out on the opportunity altogether.
This process is the same whether you’re betting via your computer or a mobile device. Most sportsbooks offer mobile betting apps which are free to use, highlight the in-play markets and let you get your bet on without having to be at the computer.
The Best Live Betting Sites: How We’re Marking Them
In this section we give you our recommendations for the best live betting sites – but what criteria are we judging them on?
Firstly, we’re looking for choice. No operator could claim to be among the best live sports betting websites if they didn’t offer a wide range of markets. So we’re rating these bookies based on the number of live betting options they provide.
Another big plus is live streaming. Watching the match or race live will give you a lot of information, such as who is playing well, whether a team is determined to score or happy with a draw and so on. However, if the match isn’t on TV or you’re on the train to London, you’re not going to be able to watch as easily. For that reason, betting sites that offer live streaming are going to be higher up our list.
Mobile apps are very important too. We expect the best live betting sites to provide a free, reliable mobile app. While a few punters only bet from their computer, having access to a betting app gives you greater flexibility, helps you get your bets on quicker and provides a back-up option should your computer crash at the critical moment.
Live betting bonuses are going to help you so sportsbooks that offer those bonuses will get a mention. Sadly these bonuses are becoming less common nowadays. A major requirement is the cash-out feature. This allows you to close a trade and either lock-in your profit or cut your losses, usually with just one click of a button. A great time-saving device and one that is near essential in live betting, this facility is one of our top priorities.
And as always, trust and reliability are hugely important. Only trusted bookmakers that have been around long enough to build a good reputation make our list.
bet365 – Bet365 is easily one of the best live betting sites, offering top prices, a wide range of in-play betting markets and live streaming of major events including football, tennis and greyhounds racing. With their advertising campaigns focusing on live betting – quoting current prices at half-time in football matches – it’s no surprise that their live betting console is fast, reliable and easy-to-use.
Bet365 also provide a quality mobile app for free (both Android and iOS), and have a cash-out button for quick closing of trades.Bet365Best Bonus Conditions Offered
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- Min 1.50 odds
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- 7 days to claim
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888Sport – 888sport are another live betting operator that make it easy for you to bet in-play. As soon as you land on their sportsbook, you’re greeted by a “Live Betting” button at the top of the screen. Clicking on it opens their live betting console with large graphical icons for switching between sports.
As well as the usual football, cricket and tennis markets, 888sport also offer in-play betting on things like beach volleyball, cycling and table tennis. They have a free betting app for Android and iPhone and there’s a handy cash-out button too.888SportCompetitive odds for many different sports
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Betfair – the world’s biggest betting exchange you’d expect Betfair to produce a quality live betting experience… and they do. In-play betting really comes to life on a betting exchange as you have much more flexibility over your bets, being able to partially close a trade by laying the outcome you previously backed.
For convenience, Betfair have a cash-out button too and you can expect live streaming for a wide range of events including horse racing, tennis and Spain’s LaLiga. Betfair offer mobile apps for both major platforms too, allowing you to deposit and withdraw funds, bet in-play and watch live streams from your smartphone.BetfairMost popular betting exchange
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- Min 1.5 odds
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- Wide variety of markets
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Unibet – Unibet have 3 tabs on the homepage of their sportsbook: Home, In-play and Streaming. Click ‘In-play’ and you get a similar live betting console to 888sport’s with large icons depicting the various sports that are currently live.
You can watch live streams with Unibet too, providing you either have funds in your account or have bet on the event being streamed. Sports include football, baseball, cricket, tennis and ice hockey among others.
There’s a free mobile betting app to be downloaded and Unibet offer a simple cash-out feature too.Unibet£40 Cash Refer a Friend Bonus
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- Min 1.50 odds
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- Acca Rush
Royal Panda – One of the newer faces in online betting, QPR’s shirt sponsors Royal Panda launched as a casino in 2014 before adding their sportsbook in 2017.
Log in to the Royal Panda sportsbook and you will be greeted by their live betting console straight away. There’s a real focus on the in-play markets with extensive stats displayed for each event, making it easier to make informed decisions.
Where they are let down is in the lack of mobile betting apps (mobile users have to visit the site via their browser) or a cash-out facility. The main site is great for in-play betting so, if they add these features in the near future, they would certainly move up our list.Royal PandaEasy to use platform
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- Various special bets
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10Bet – 10Bet offer a similar range of live betting features to most of the other sportsbooks: easy access to the in-play events at the top of the betting site, wide range of sports and live statistics. You can get their free mobile app for Android and Apple devices too.
While 10Bet do not offer any live streaming currently, they do have a couple of very useful, unique features that make them one of the best live betting sites.
Firstly, not only do they offer a cash-out facility, you can choose a partial cash-out too! Once you have made a bet, you can use a slider to select the amount of your original bet you wish to cash-out. This is useful for when your bet is winning and you want to reduce the risk. Whereas a full cash-out would close the trade and give you some of the potential profit, you can use a partial cash-out to get your stake back while keeping the bet open in hope of a bigger win.
10Bet’s other unique feature is Pulse Betting. This lets you bet on a goal being scored in the next 30, 60 or 300 seconds. The idea is that you’re getting a feel for the “pulse” or ebb and flow of the game. With high betting odds, Pulse Betting is a great way to take advantage of that feeling of knowing a goal is imminent.10BetExcellent range of live markets
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- Min 1.5 odds
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Paddy Power – Paddy Power have everything needed to be one of the top live betting websites. There are free mobile apps, live streaming and a cash-out button too.
The live streams are free to watch although there are some requirements to watch the horse-racing. For the US and RSA horse races you need at least £2 in your account. Other horse races require that you place at least a £1 bet on that race. This shouldn’t be an issue for most people as you probably want to watch the race because you’ve bet on it!Paddy PowerSuitable for football lovers
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The Advantages of Live Betting over Pre-Match Betting
If you’re new to in-play betting you may be wondering what the advantages are over placing your bet before the event. There are advantages and disadvantages to both but one of the benefits of live betting is better odds.
Let’s take a typical situation in football as an example. You see that two teams have had 3 or more goals in 8/10 of their recent matches. The sportsbook quotes the “over 2.5 goals” market at 1.79. However, on closer inspection you see that neither side tends to score in the first 30 minutes. Most of the goals occur in the second half with some late in the first.
So instead of backing over 2.5 before kick-off, you wait until 25 minutes in. It’s still 0-0 and the betting odds have moved to 2.3. You place your bet now and get a better payout if the teams score 3 or more goals.
Another popular live bet is to watch the scores and look for matches where the big favourite is losing with 20 minutes to go. If they have a reputation for scoring late goals and completing comebacks, you can bet on them in-play and get much higher odds.
Live betting offers lots of opportunities for those able to spot them. If you’re a true sports fan and have a good feel for what’s going to happen, trust your instincts and take advantage of the higher odds that live betting offers.
Keep in mind that you should still be looking for value in your live betting odds. Even if there is a complete mismatch in a cup game, if the favourite is losing 1-0 with 10 minutes to go, odds of 2.0 on the win shouldn’t be enough to tempt you. After all, you’re expecting them to do twice in 10 minutes something they haven’t managed to do once in 80.
Which Sports Can You Bet on Live?
Up to this point in our look at the best live betting websites, we’ve mainly talked about football, but there are plenty of other sports available via live stream.
Tennis, boxing, rugby and horse-racing are all popular sports you can watch with most live betting sites but you will also find table-tennis, baseball, basketball, darts, snooker, NFL, ice hockey and greyhound racing.
The range of sports differs between bookmakers but you should be able to find a stream to accompany your live betting.
Live Betting Features
It’s in everyone’s interests for live betting websites to make it easy and enjoyable to bet in-play. Sportsbooks will offer live statistics on the betting page, helping you to make informed decisions. There are cash-out buttons that close the bet and lock-in your profit (or cut your loss) in one click. And there are preset stake buttons that allow you to place, say, a £25 bet in one click too.
On top of that, you have the ever-changing prices, giving you more opportunities to find value or get higher odds. And you can use 3rd party betting data services like Betradar to identify profitable trades.
Add in-play betting features like 10Bet’s Pulse betting and live streams and you’re going to be well looked after at the best live betting sites.
Live Betting on Mobile
Live betting via your mobile device will give you a big advantage compared to placing your bets at a computer. You don’t want to be sat in one place for hours on end and there’s no need to, with most online bookmakers offering their own mobile app.
The mobile apps are just as reliable as the desktop sites and give you all the same information. Many of the best live betting apps (like Betfair’s) will send you push notifications when a goal is scored or somebody is sent off, too.
The big advantage of betting in-play via mobile is that you could be watching a football match live, see that a player is through on goal and place a bet before the market is suspended!
Live Streaming and Commentary
If you’re betting in-play, it’s a big advantage if you can watch the live stream to see how things are playing out. But what do you need to do to watch the stream?
Requirements to Watch Events
There will be a fairly obvious button (or tab) that you click on to watch the live stream – providing you’re eligible to watch it. It shouldn’t cost anything to watch any of the live streams and most bookmakers will allow anyone logged into their site to watch for free. Some sportsbooks have special requirements however. You might have to have a funded account (i.e., have £1-2 in your betting account) or have placed a bet on the event in question.
These conditions should be easily visible in the live betting console but will pop up when you try to access the stream anyway, if you don’t meet the requirements.
Event View Live Streaming
Event view is the standard option for live streaming. It allows you to focus on a single sporting event, watching it in a small window or expanding it to full-screen mode.
Obviously there are pros and cons to full-screen mode: you get a better view of the action but can no longer see the changing odds and stats. Some sportsbooks allow you to resize the window so you get a bigger picture while still being able to see the live betting odds.
Multi-View Live Streaming
Multi-view lets you monitor more than one event at a time. Bet365 offer this feature. You can add up to 12 events into one customised page and keep track of the scores, odds, stats and live streams for each.
This is a really useful tool for looking for opportunities in multiple markets without having to keep switching between them.
Live Streaming: Which Are the Most Popular Sports?
In terms of sheer volume, live betting consoles show horse-racing more than any other sport. In the UK alone, there can be between 160 and 200 races a week. The best live betting sites will have streams for most of these.
And while TV rights mean that the English football leagues and Champions League games are rarely shown live, you can find most top tier Spanish and Italian matches on Betfair and Bet365 among other live betting sites.
Where and How to Watch Live Streams
Log in to your preferred bookmaker and look for the live betting page (usually linked to from the top of the homepage). This should bring up the live betting console with all the in-play events. From here, it’s just a case of clicking the “Watch Live” icon next to the match or race you want to watch and the stream will start.
As mentioned before, you might have to have a funded account or place a bet on the event to watch it live.
Most sportsbooks have a schedule for upcoming live streams too.
Best Betting Sites for Live Streaming?
All of these offer quality streams with commentary and make it easy for you to watch the match or race while still being able to keep track of the live betting odds.
Unibet, in particular, have a very wide range of events and are a good bet if you want to watch US sports.
Live Betting Strategies
There are a number of strategies you can use to make a quick profit in-play. Hopefully it goes without saying that you need to do a bit of research to make sure the match is a good fit for the live betting strategy you plan to use.
One popular football strategy is to lay the draw. Draws are harder to predict than home or away wins and are usually priced in the 3-4 range. Pick a match where there is likely to be an early goal and lay the draw at a betting exchange. As soon as a goal goes in, cash out of your bet for a profit. Of course, a 0-0 will see you lose your stake and the payout won’t be huge from laying at 3.5 so you have to have a good eye for matches with goals (and low draw prices).
Other live betting strategies follow a similar idea: back a likely outcome and trade out as soon as the match goes your way.
Conclusion: Is Live Betting Worth It?
If you have time to follow the match or race, yes, it’s absolutely worth betting in-play. You can get better odds and use your analytical skills to predict what’s going to happen as the game progresses.
With all of the best live betting sites offering handy features such as a cash-out button, it’s easy to jump in and out of markets, making a profit in a matter of minutes.
Betting in-play is fast-paced and exciting. While this is a good thing for most sports bettors, it’s best not to get involved if you find it tough to keep up with the rapidly changing prices and statistics.
Limit impulsive bets by having a plan and you’ll get a lot out of live betting.