In-Play Vs Pre Match betting

Bookmakers have spent years tweaking their betting markets and odds to offer the most appealing ways to place bets. They want customers to enjoy the betting experience and essentially continue wagering bets. To do this customers need to know they are finding value and choice. 

Sportsbooks are continuously striving to enhance the whole experience by offering new products and facilities. There are however two main ways a customer can place a bet; In play (live betting) and pre-match, but which is better?

Pre Match

Pre-match is the classic way customers are able to place a bet. Bookmakers will offer betting markets and odds long before the event happens. In some instances, odds can be given up to a year before a tournament or sporting fixture. Customers may have seen this happen for sporting events such as the football world cup or golf Ryder cup. Of course the disadvantage of placing a bet up to a year before the event is that many factors can change before the start. Star players may be missing through injury or a certain team changes a manager and so do their performances. It would take a brave punter to bet in this manner. 

Normally pre-match odds are displayed on regular sporting events that happen during a season. For example, Aussie rules football fixtures will have odds regularly updated for each fixture. The next markets will be created soon after the conclusion of a match; for the next game. These markets and odds will usually be available up to the blow of the referee’s whistle.


In-play betting simply means that bookmakers offer ways to bet during a sporting fixture. Once the whistle blows, odds and markets are offered as the event is played out live. In-play (live betting) is a relatively new bet and not all sportsbooks offer this facility, nevertheless, it is a very popular type of bet. Within In-Play betting, there are many different markets that are offered. For example within Aussie rules, a customer can bet as the action unfolds. They can be the judge how one team is playing and place the bet accordingly. Examples of In-play bets for Aussie rules include winning margins, individual player points and half time results.

With the advent of In-Play betting, sportsbooks are now offering cash-out facilities and the two work well hand in hand. If a bet is placed in-play and it doesn't appear to be succeeding then the customer may be offered the opportunity to cash out the bet and take a small win. They could, however, keep in place the bet until the commencement, as usually a cashed out bets return will be lower. Not all bookmakers offer cash out and not all markets are given this service.

Which sports have pre-match and In-Play

Of course, all sportsbooks will offer pre-match odds on every sport however, not all sports are given the In-play treatment. The more popular the sport and demand the likelihood a customer can bet whilst live. Sports in Australia that are given In-Play markets are Aussie rules football, soccer, rugby, tennis and golf, although there are many more depending which bookmaker is being used.

Pre-match odds Vs In-Play odds

A big difference between the two types of bet is the odds. Pre-match or fixed odds are exactly that. They have been determined by the sportsbook and clear favourites and likelihoods have been decided upon. It is then up to the customer to decide where the value is. Pre-match odds can be affected by the number of bets placed on the outcome. In-Play odds will regularly change and update, according to how the sporting event is being played out. It is likely then that in-play odds are much lower than pre-match odds and so any return will be.

What are the risks?

Betting in play can carry a huge risk for the novice and inexperienced customers. As the action unfolds, emotions can get the better of judgement and quite quickly many bets can be placed in a short space of time. The risks involved with pre-match betting can also include the fluctuation of odds, however, what may seem like value before an event can change due to circumstances beyond the control of anybody, such as player injuries, weather or form. 

A real concern with in-play betting can be lag. Lag is when there is a delay updating stats or odds and the in-play bet can be affected. To overcome this, customers can bet in play when they have a good internet connection or choose to bet whilst actually watching the event rather than solely relying on the bookmakers live statistical information.

Simple Pre-match & In-Play strategies

Having a plan is a good way to get full enjoyment out of these two types of bet. A simple Pre-match bet is to look for a lay (betting against an outcome). Soccer fans who know a teams form are able to find markets on betting against a draw and some pre-match odds reflect this. 

An example of an In-Play strategy is to place a bet where the event is close and tight between two teams. As the game progresses an in-play bet can be placed on the stronger side to win, where odds can be of value.

Pre-match vs In Play - To summarise

It is entirely a customers choice and what is deemed as good value. In-Play can really add to the experience and enjoyment of a live event, however, the fluctuation of odds and the markets on offer may not satisfy what the customer is watching.  A careful and considered approach may suit customers who prefer pre-match markets, where the odds are determined before the commencement of an event. Of course, there is no right or wrong way and both types of bet are good in their own individual ways. 

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