Betfair In Play delay – Beating it with a ladder

When you’re trading on Betfair, there are two states to market conditions that you see. There is the pre-off period, the period before an event has started and then in-play, when the sport you are trading is underway. Sometimes this is called in-running, but the industry seems to have popularised it as in-play.

Pre-off vs In-play

The pre-off trading period is determined purely by opinion. Barring unexpected events, the market tends to move in a nice smooth pattern.

In horse racing, the pre-race period means the period where horses get saddled up, parade then go to post. People change their opinion on how the horse is behaving and lock in a profit by trading on that basis.

On football matches, the team is announced one hour before the match starts and people may change their opinion at the point. But other than this. It’s fairly quiet in comparison to a horse race.

When betting inplay then a number of factors determine what happens, but predominatley the underlying state of the sport determines the pricing.

On horse racing the horses just run as fast as they can do the finishing post and therefore if it’s in the lead it’s price will shorten quickly. On Football, Tennis or other sports it’s all down to the score and how much time is left.

Where is there an in-play delay?

If you’re Betfair trading InPlay, then one of the things that you need to take account of is the in-play delay.

This can be as short as one second or it could be nine seconds, but there will be a delay when you place a bet in play. The reason the delay was introduced on betting exchanges was basically to get over the transmission time to whatever device you’re particular watching.

If you think about the way the pictures are transmitted from a sports event, there’ll be an outside broadcast unit actually at an event itself. They will have a little desk there bringing the pictures in that gets beamed up to a satellite. The satellite then beams the raw feed down into a studio where a producer who decides what shots that they decide they want. Then they will beam that back out to somwhere.

Now, it could go by the Internet or it could go back up to the satellite and then back down to you the in a number of different ways. But effectively, there is a lot of this bouncing up and down from the actual event to you back at home.

Wherever you are watching the sports event on TV, on your phone, your tablet, UPC or on a conventional TV, it will experience a delay. You may have seen this first hand during football competitions or other major sports. You often hear the guy down the street or next door cheering a few seconds before you hear something.

The in-play delay was basically designed to mitigate the amount of time that it takes to go from the event to your screen. It was seen as a way of levelling the playing field effectively. They wanted to make it impossible that somebody who was actually at the event itself to nip in front of you and beat you by basically getting slightly faster pictures. That’s the reason the in-play delay was introduced.

Beating the in-play delay

But typically the reason that you need to be aware of this delay as well is that somebody somewhere is probably going to see the action slightly before you. Whatever in-play markets you are trading and whatever in-play betting you wish to you. It’s quite likely that somebody will beat you to some key information because of this time delay.

The way you see this manifest itself in a live betting market is that the market seems to ‘know’ what is about to happen next. People at the event will be trying to beat the in-play delay by taking a position based on something that has just happened, or by anticipating that something is about to happen. There are big bucks to be made by seeing the future a few seconds ahead of others.

This was brought to prominence when Tennis tournaments decided to take a tough line on people ‘court siding’ at Tennis matches. Events in the UK did not get much advantage because the transmission speed was so quick. But if you are in South America or Asia then the tranmission delay could be significant and the advantage of being at the event, will be huge.

Because of the short in-play time and speed of a horse racing market, people have been trying to beat the delay almost since the inception of in-play betting on Horse racing. This was highlighted again by Simon Nott who witnessed a whole bunch of people at Bath racecourse trying to get an advantage. Have a read of the article here, which also includes pictures of the culprits!: –

It’s easier to get away with this sort of thing on Horse Racing as a lot of racecourses are on, or cross, public land. So getting an advantageous position is more likely than in a Tennis match. Most major Tennis tournaments require that you get admission into a stadium and therefore, it’s become much harder.

A watershed moment for Tennis courtsiding was Dan Dobson was arrested at the Australian Open in Melbourne and the world of Tennis courtsiding became a lot riskier for aspiring individuals. Whatever the risks though, it won’t stop people from trying to gain an advantage by being at an event.

When people post P&L’s I always find it interesting. This is because there are clearly defined moments in an in-play event where the prices can move significantly. If they seem to have captured that exact moment, that hints that they are active around critical points in the market. Using any other strategy, there are only a limited number of things you can do. This is particularly prominent in football, for example.

But sometimes you get more obvious clues that people are trying to get an advantage.

I’ll never forget the image I captured on TV of the 1m start at Thirsk one year. In racing the start is significant, If a horse gets a good break it can hold the rail and dominate proceedings. If that happens then it’s obvious that a better chance produces shorter odds that you can trade or bet on.

At Thirsk, a couple of ‘enterprising’ individuals set up an alternative sort of ladder trade. They drove to the start and hoisted themselves up a ladder to get a good look at which horse broke the best, or worst. Ultimately, if you are active in the market at these points, that’s what you are up against!

Thirsk 1m Ladders
  1. Shanky Kanoria 3 years ago

    Hi Peter,
    I am an avid reader of your blogs here. I trade some strategies in Cricket on Betfair (match odds).
    Things are otherwise ok but for sometime now I have been stuck with the fact that there is someone (or 2) who are able to beat the 5 sec delay on Match odds events.
    All usual explanations have been tested and rejected. I have even tested from the ground when a match was taking place in my city. The fact is someone gets an instant update. Betfair explanations are insufficient and evading in nature.
    I am reaching out to you as kind of a last hope to help me unravel this. Is Betfair not been honest? Unlikely I would think but who knows. Or maybe there is loophole ?
    Do you know anything about this?

    Thanks so much in advance,


    • Peter Webb 3 years ago

      I went through the same thing many years ago. But had the benefit of seeing how things have evolved in that time also.

      Typically what happens is everybody tries to be the fastest they possibly can. So it becomes a race of fastest finger & feed wins

      But, for example, when I studied this in Tennis at a tournament, you realise people have gradually gone from exploiting the action to anticipating it. So people are putting in bets before something has happened in order to beat other people use fast feeds.

      There have been some anomalies over the years, have a watch of this video –

  2. Shanky 3 years ago

    Ah really cool video.
    My former company had discovered something similar but on a derivatives exchange. Worked out pretty well for them :p
    I get your point about watching tennis and anticipating where the point is heading. Though in cricket 100% of the information comes at the same moment so anticipation is not theoretically possible.
    I have been to grounds like you to check this. For cricket in play, I am fairly confident there is no anticipation involved.
    Your video above makes me think that some lucky person somewhere has found a loophole like the one you talk about in your video. So curious what that might be.
    I also read some blogs saying its Betfair Sportbook trading team which is getting past the delay.
    Any truth you reckon in these?
    Thanks again for your engagement

    • Peter Webb 3 years ago

      I guess we will never know for sure. But ultimately the people in the best position to take advantage of these delays are the people who are closest to source and potential advantage.

      The first Betfair millionaire was reported to be an SIS engineer and I know that the hawkeye guys were caught trading challenges at Tennis matches. When I went to a golf tournament bets must have been placed as the ball was hit. In reality, I guess it’s a combination of a number of things.

      But I can make money in-play without resorting to these tactics, so I guess the opportunity is where you choose to see it.

  3. Stephen 1 year ago

    Hi Peter and Shanky,

    I have been reading the blog about in-play delays and I agree with Shanky that in Cricket you cannot anticipate result. I regularly go to cricket matches and just recently I saw a team putting bets from their mobile screens. They appears to be from the UK. So, I sneak behind one of the member and saw what he was doing.

    To my surprise his bets were matched within 3 seconds. I stood behind him for more than 20 minutes to make sure about market types, match etc and it was obvious that they have advantage from rest of us. The team was betting on Live Cricket match odds which have 5 seconds delay for everyone but they have 2-3 seconds to match it. They were making sure that it is 4-6 or wicket before placing bets. They bet same amount each time and after event happened and whatever is matched at the odds, they will cash out before next ball is delivered. His book was big-big green. I was shocked to see this. Unfortunately, I could not make a video so I don’t have any proof.

    It is practically impossible to convince betfair. I have noted some details of their account but will not share here.


    • Peter Webb 1 year ago

      If anybody wants to provide specific evidence of people on faster bet placement, I can represent it at the highest levels with Betfair. But to date, nobody has been able to do that.

      There is a game of anticipation going on with a lot of sports, making it look like people are ahead. But that’s all I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen any modern evidence that people are beating the delay, just they have a fast feed and are anticipating.

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