Complete Betfair scalping guide

Be quick. That's all.

Thank you for reading.

What? You wanted more? You want me to charge you something so that you feel as though you really learned something?

Did you want a book, a few videos and a day out at the conference suite of a dingy hotel off the M1 motorway?

Scalping is simply being the quickest to the draw. Most times scalping is the taking of money from slower scalpers. In effect, you are taking the scalps of those less able than you.

So-called scalping is the waiting for a price move, making the right bet (back or lay) and closing out with the opposite bet a few ticks later. There is nothing more to it.

What moves the price? Either new information or the perception that the market has acquired new information. New information can lead to an increased or decreased probability of a horse's ability, which will move its price.

A price may move falsely, which may also attract the scalpers. Often it is the scalpers who initiate this false move. The fastest scalpers will jump in and trade on the false perception of momentum. Slower scalpers will then move in and move the price some more.

The fastest scalpers can now close out their trades. However, the slower scalpers will now be left hanging there, hoping that the momentum will continue. More often than not though, arbitrageurs (in this case, value traders) will correct the price back to where it started and the slower scalpers will have made a loss.

In summary, scalping is a form of momentum trading whereby one trades on events (sudden news) or technicals (prices not being where they should be). You take a position, if it moves against you then you employ your scratch trade for a loss (but preferably a zero tick, zero loss trade). If the position goes in your favour then you close out for a certain number of ticks profit or until the momentum is gone.

That's all there is to scalping. Get the best hardware you can afford, the best trading software, a source of information and a fast connection to the Internet. Oh and good luck.

Many of the best scalpers have no clue as to why they are successful. They will ascribe their success to being able to 'feel' a market. They don't. Simply, they are quicker than the less successful scalpers. That is all. They have a hardware, software and/or skill superiority over other scalpers.

To determine your success as a scalper you will need to keep track of your bets; how many you make, how many are winners and losers and the profit and loss of each bet. You will then see if you are a winning or losing scalper. If you are a winner then you can start sizing your bets according to Kelly criterion. If you are a losing scalper then I am sorry but you will either have to find a different trading route as a fundamental or technical (or both) trader or find a new hobby.

By reading this you have saved yourself a bit of money from signing up for a dodgy trading course and saved you from eating the awful sandwiches catering hands out in those dingy motorway hotels. You don't even have to look at any videos, unless you have no idea how a sports exchange works.

Do give scalping a go but for minimum £2 stakes at first. There is no magic to it. There are no hunches or feelings. Just simple logic. Scalping the sports exchanges is no different to scalping the forex or futures market. Observe momentum and trade it. Be the quickest in and out. Oh and good luck.


  1. Interesting post.

    I was tempted to post this on a certain Betfair forum, but I decided against it! LOL!

    I'm not a scalper myself, but if we're talking about the kind of one tick scalping where you offer on both sides of the book, I can see why it might work. If you have a stable market and offer at (say) 6.6 and 6.8, then you may be able to profit from impatient bettors and traders who take the asking price rather than putting money in the queue. However, I'm not convinced that the successful trades you have will compensate you for when the market spikes down to 6.0-6.2, and you have to red up at 6.0 or offer at 6.2 and risk the market moving further away from you.

    I know guys who scalp successfully long-term, but I find I generally do well for a while before getting unstuck by a big market move, so I give it a wide berth these days.


  2. Thanks for your comment Jeff.

    What you outline with your offer on both sides of the book I would call spread trading, a term I borrow from the financial world.

    Scalping as far as betting exchanges are concerned means taking a position on one side and hoping for a move that will allow you to close out for a profit.

    Such a position requires a prediction that the market will move in the direction you believe it will move to or your ability to scratch and get out before the market moves in the opposite direction.

    Too many uncertainties for my liking. I believe the successful scalpers have a technological and/or insider advantange. Technologically, if you get your bet in before the slower scalpers then the slower scalpers will move the market for you. You can then close out whilst the slower scalpers get nothing or a reversal as the value traders or arbitrageurs then move in.

    As I don't work as a trader for a well-known Betfair forum that is the advertising arm of a well-known 3rd party trading platform then I do not have access to the required technological advantage.

    No large syndicate that I know of uses scalping, just value/statistical arbitrage. However, scalping is easy to explain and advertise to one-man operations so that they might buy well-known 3rd party trading platforms.

  3. Thanks James.

    With regards to making predictions about directions, would you say that the future direction of the market is at all predictable? For example, if the market has dropped from 3.0 to 2.5, would you say that it is more likely to continue steaming than to drift strongly, as there is momentum in that direction?

    How do the syndicates ascertain whether they have obtained value? I've long wondered how those guys operate, but their methods appear to be (understandably) shrouded in secrecy.


    1. Each trend has its own time scale so one might be long and you are okay to jump on it and others might be short. Of course, the scalpers will jump down my throat about their 'feelings'. All nonsense. They just jump on what they think is a trend and if they are first in the queue then they are lucky to make something out of it.

      I have met a few syndicates over the past few months. The horse racing syndicates work predominantly through insider trading and with some rough price prediction of their own. Football, tennis and other such in-play syndicates use watchers and trading models. Syndicates are indistinguishable from financial traders. The only difference is market capacity and scale of operation.

    2. Thanks James

      I agree re. the feel for the market thing - it's a dangerous delusion, which lures losers into remaining losers.

      There was a guy on the aforementioned forum who lost money consistently. He apparently felt that what he needed was more practice to gain that elusive feel for the market. I always pictured him as a man trying to rid himself of a headache by banging his head against a wall, thinking it would go away if he just kept on doing it long enough. There is now the word 'CLOSED' in his profile picture...