Betfair odds screenshot

Smarkets vs. Betfair – Betting Exchange Comparison (Which One Is Best?)

Whether you’re just getting into matched betting, or if you’re a seasoned matched bettor, you’ll have no doubt been looking at Betfair and Smarkets in order to decide which one you’re going to use as your main betting exchange.

In this post we compare the two to help you make a decision on which one to use going forward.


Which exchange is better: Betfair or Smarkets?

This is a question that we get asked a hell of a lot, almost as frequently as we get asked for our honest thoughts on Profit Accumulator, and it’s quite easy to come to a conclusion.

As you can expect – and as is with most things – there are lot of positives for each side.

In order to summarise the benefits of both, we’ve came up with the following chart based on our extensive experience with both sites:

Betting exchange comparison

It’s all pretty self-explanatory, but more information is always required.

Before we start, if you’re not signed up to either site, you can sign up to Betfair here.

Alternatively, your first losing £10 with Smarkets will be refunded as cash if you go through this link: sign up to Smarkets here.



When it comes down to which one is the more reliable, we believe it’s Betfair.

Betfair has been well established as the leading betting exchange for a number of years; they revolutionised the idea and almost single handedly took on the bookies at their own game – taking the edge away from the house and allowing punters a much more level playing field.

With this experience, they’ve grown as a company and therefore have a much bigger technical team than Smarkets does.

This means they have more IT staff and developers, but better servers too.

On extremely busy days of the year (think the Grand National, the Gold Cup, big football games etc.) Betfair will almost always stand strong.

However, the same cannot always be said for Smarkets.

Whilst their commission structure is great – more on that later – their site can have a few problems from time to time.

Smarkets are always extremely quick to rectify any problems, but sometimes it may already be too late.

If you’re using Smarkets on a busy day of the year and this happens, remember to switch to Betfair as quickly as possible to lay the bet off that you need to.

UPDATE 2017: Smarkets have been really improving their site lately. There are lots of new features and reliability does appear to have improved – it’s not perfect, but it’s certainly better. 


Market Range

Both sites have an extremely diverse range of sporting events being covered.

All horse races, golf events, tennis and more sports are on offer.

With football, Betfair covers virtually any professional/semi-professional football match going (including womens and youth games) whereas Smarkets has a huge range, but doesn’t cover women or youth at this time unless they’re major competitions like the world cup or the Olympics.

Betfair also has the upper-hand when it comes to the amount of markets you can bet on in each game.

For example, in football, Smarkets covers the big hitter markets – match result, correct score, half-time/full-time, over/under 2.5 goals and a few others.

Betfair has a much more diverse range of markets to bet on.

You can also lay off selected accumulators on Betfair by searching ‘acca’ into their search bar.

UPDATE 2017: Smarkets have now increased the number of markets that they offer, particularly within football. 



Commission is where Smarkets have the upper hand. They take 2% commission on your net profits, compared to Betfair’s 5%*.

*This 5% can be reduced depending on your activity, it’s quite easy to get it down to 4.8 and lower even when matched betting infrequently. 

Let’s look at some figures:

If you’re matched betting at a level where you’re earning £1k+, which is probably the average monthly profit level of an OddsMonkey user, you’ll likely be placing around £100-£200 worth of bets every day.

It’s safe to assume that if you’re placing that volume of bets, you’re laying off the same amount. Assuming that half of your £200 daily bets win at the exchange, so £100 worth, that £100 x 30 days in a month = £3,000 won at the exchange.

If you ‘won’ £3,000 into your Smarkets account, you’d pay a total of £60 in commission.

If you ‘won’ £3,000 into your Betfair account, you’d pay a total of £150 in commission. That’s a £90 difference in your monthly profit.  Over 12 months, this works out to over £1,000 profit!

When it comes to profitability on commission, Smarkets win hands down in this area – unless you put a significant amount of money through your Betfair account, as this reduces your commission on a sliding scale.

If commissions is your primary concern, you could also consider Matchbook.

Matchbook offer 1% commission – although this is regardless of whether you win or lose, whereas you only pay if you win on the other sites.



When it comes to usability of the two sites, there isn’t much separating them.

For the amateur matched bettor, you might find Betfair’s site a little easier to navigate at first.

However, once you’re used to either of them, there isn’t much separating the two.

On Smarkets, you can actually back and lay your bets in the search bar – without having to open up the market page.


Are there any alternative betting exchanges?

There are Betfair & Smarkets alternatives out there:

The main other two exchanges you’ve got are Betdaq, which is also 5% commission but significantly less liquidity than Betfair, and Matchbook, which is just 1% commission.

Betdaq are partnered with Ladbrokes, and aren’t a huge fan of matched bettors. All other exchanges are completely fine with matched betting, even Betfair who are partnered with Paddy Power.

Matchbook are a great option to consider and you can get a great sign up bonus if you go through this link.

They’re growing year-by-year and offer just 1% commission which is the lowest in the market by far, although you will pay this commission whether you win or lose your bet which is where they make a little extra money back.

As bookies learn to adapt to the ever changing world of betting, more and more are starting to open up their own exchanges – in addition to their regular sportsbooks. Ladbrokes is a prime example of this.



Overall, when looking at Smarkets vs Betfair, it really is a toss up and you have to consider your aims and the level of matched betting or trading that you’re doing.

For complete beginners and traders, we currently recommend Betfair. There’s a sign-up offer available for them if you go through this link.

For those putting real volume into matched betting – we’re talking hundreds of pounds a day or thousands of pounds a week – you will likely be better off with Smarkets due to the lower commission.

Again, there’s a sign-up offer for Smarkets (£10 refunded as cash when you first lose a bet) and that’s available here.

When looking at other competitors, your best bet is Matchbook.

If you’re looking for another Smarkets or Betfair alternative, we’d advise BETDAQ.


ALSO READ: Advanced Mug Betting Techniques

12 thoughts on “Smarkets vs. Betfair – Betting Exchange Comparison (Which One Is Best?)

  1. What happens if you have placed your back bet (having minutes before seen that there was sufficient lay money at your desired odds in Betfair) you now find that you cannot get the lay bet matched or only partially matched since the lay money has been all or partially taken up in the few minutes it has taken to place your back bet . You are now likely lto lose your back bet unless by sheer good luck the bet wins.
    Another problem scenario is that the Bookie has the right to cancel a bet in certain circumstances –read the small print in his “rules and conditions”–leaving you with a big lay liability.-this ,however is unlikely,but still possible!
    So to say that matched or arb betting is “,risk free” is not correct or am I wrong on this or is there a strategy to avoid these risk factors?

    1. In this scenario, Jim, you have to lay at higher odds. It’s still risk-free and profitable, just not as profitable as it was if you’d have got matched at better odds.

  2. Interesting comparison. Betfair seem to know they have the monopoly that is betting exchanges. Would be refreshing to see smarkets or one of the others really push them to take them on.

    Although I fear if that happened they would somehow buck their ideas up a bit. There’s no premium charges with smarkets right?


    1. Nice of you to stop by, Caan!

      We’d love to see someone take on Betfair and offer more competition. Unfortunately, we don’t think that company is Smarkets right now.

  3. I was shocked to read your comment about Betfair “Always reliable”. I would argue that it is anything but reliable. I quit using Betafir about 4 years ago as I found the exchange would go down regularly on a Saturday afternoon and I would be unable to place ebts or worse lay back my original bets. The website refresh was slow/unusable at times.

    Recently I opened another Betfair account to see if things had improved and the very first Saturday afternoon the exchange was down for about 4 hours!! So 4 years on, nothing has changed with Betfair, the same unreliable website and exchange.

    Just wished there was a viable, reliable alternative to the unreliable Betfair

    1. Thanks for your comment Si. I have to say that this is in complete contrast to the vast experience we have with Betfair over the past 3 years or so, and with the experiences of many, many matched bettors and traders that we work with and speak to.

      There was a recent issue of downtime on Betfair, but downtime is nothing compared to the likes of Smarkets that have a tendency to show that you’re unmatched on bets that you’re actually matched on, or have bets disappear entirely so you have no record of a bet unless you contact them via live chat. This option is obviously not a viable option when you are covering 20+ bets a day as you don’t spot the mistakes until it’s too late and cost you a lot of money. The worst part is there’s never any form of compensation – they’d rather roll out ‘new’ features (that Betfair have already offered for years) rather than fix their continual errors.

      Always happy to have a bit of debate on the site, thanks for stopping by!

    1. I’m not sure on that, you’ll have to check their terms and conditions. I’d say that is unlikely to be honest, Steve.

  4. Betfair have this market completely wrapped up at the moment which is why they can get away with charging 20% commission to successful customers (played through 300 markets and +ve P&L etc etc) and 40% commission to those even more successful still that have a +ve P&L of >£250k. As soon as another exchange is able to attract the sort of liquidity that betfair has (no one is any where near close at the moment) betfair will have to drop these premium charges which effectively amount to income tax. I hope Smarkets gets there but they need to make their interface more appealing and functionality more user friendly – in short more similar to Betfair

    1. I agree, seems like they have it nailed at the moment. They’re experimenting with 2% commission on the football currently, too – that could be massive for fighting off the challengers!

  5. “Zero risk” is inaccurate. It’s a phrase that is usually used inaccurately.

    Matched betting is low risk. The risk of the largest loss comes from the possibility that the bookie making the offer is about to close. Closure can be caused by fraud, or by running out of cash. It happened to me a few years ago, and by the Rule of Sod, my winning bet was with the dodgy Bookie, and therefore the loss was a multiple of my £50 deposit.

    It’s not zero risk, it’s low risk. You can keep the risk lower by taking shorter price bets when you’re dealing with flakey bookies, though you do need to check their terms about minimum odds.

    1. You’re correct Pete, but where do you see us say zero risk? We agree with you, and any ‘zero’ or ‘no’ risk content was changed to say “low risk” quite a while back.

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