Beginner’s Guide to Live In-Play Betting

Lee Jackson by Lee Jackson | Published: June 22, 2019

Live in-play betting is one of the biggest revolutions in gambling, and it happened because of online betting. It is a method of betting that involves placing wagers on aspects of a sporting event, while that event is still on-going.

So the limitations of only placing bets on the outcome of an event before it starts are removed with live in-play betting. Bookmaker bet365 was really the pioneer of all of this as they were one of the first to offer the innovative betting method.

This meant that customers suddenly had a whole new world of betting opportunities opened up to them. Live in-play adds a whole extra dynamic and range of betting options to a given event. Because of the rapidly changing market prices, it adds another level of excitement as well.

How to place an in-play bet?

Visit any online bookmaker and you will see the Live In-Play section. More often than not you will be able to see in-play markets right on the homepage of an operator. Below is an example of Bet365’s listing of live bets. Displayed are the current scores and the time that has expired in the events. Any of the matches could be clicked on, to take you to the live markets available for that specific event.

If you are a new customer looking to place an in-play bet on Bet365, use one of the latest bonus codes when opening an account.

Example of in-play betting on football

The majority of live in-play betting that you will see in the main sections at bookmakers, will be focused on football. That is just because of how popular the sport is for punters, so it makes sense for the bookmaker to give as many options.

Below is an example of a match that is available for live betting at Bet365. You can see the current scoreline was in favour of France after 37 minutes. Presented beside the teams are the odds on some of the popular in-play markets for that game.

France, for example, were 1/7 to score the next goal in the game and were at 1/66 to win the game outright at that point. Over on the right hand side shows that there were 93 other market options available for that one game.

Live in-play betting markets

You can still bet on the Full-Time Result through live in-play. However, if at the time that you look, one of the teams are winning by a two-goal margin, they are not going to be a great deal of value. They will be considerably shorter odds to win than they were in the pre-match markets (learn about how betting odds work).

A lot of the common in-play markets on football are going to be involving the goalscorer and score markets. The popular Correct Score options will be there, along with the First Goal (team) and First, Last, Anytime and Next Goalscorer markets.

You will have Over/Under goal line markets open, Total Match Corners, First Goalscorer, Anytime Goalscorer and even the Method of the Next Goal. So that is just a generalization of football markets that you can find with live in-play betting. As you can see in the example above with Bet365’s 93 options on that game, there is a lot to explore.

How do in-play odds work?

There is a lot of value with in-play betting for punters because it can create some wonderful opportunities (learn more about how to find value bets).

Think of a horse race. Instead of betting pre-race you wait for the live markets. Your selection starts at 5/1 but then halfway through the race, he is a few lengths back and he drifts in price out to 7/1. You may at that point deduce that he is worth a flutter. Then the horse puts on a late spurt of pace to take the win. The closer he gets to the front, the further his odds will tumble.

Backing him while he was drifting would have been the perfect time. But then of course you have to assess at that point if he could actually get back into the race to make the bet any value. When you look more and more at in-play markets then you will see how crucial the timing of bets become. The events in the game and the timing in the game are what affects live odds, drastically so at times.

Live streaming

Another great thing that has come along hand in hand with in-play betting is live streaming. When you are able to watch a live stream of an event you are naturally going to be able to make stronger judgements about the flow of the game.

Bookmakers do have graphical representations to summarize the action in a match, like possession and territory, but that doesn’t beat watching a game. Bet365 are one of the many bookmakers that offer live streams, which means that you can watch a fixture and get some live betting action down at the same time (take a look at Bet365’s live streaming schedule).

The live streams allow you to get into things a little more in depth. Generally, you just have to be a funded account holder to access a live stream, or in the case of horse racing, place a pre-race bet to get access. Note that all live streams (as with any live tv broadcast) are always subject to a very subtle delay. When you are watching a game you may be seeing it three seconds behind, which allows the bookmakers to keep ahead in terms of updating markets.

Best in-play betting sites

Because of the number of sports covered and the amount of live streams that they show, Bet365 are one of the best in-play betting sites out there. That includes things like Baseball, Basketball, Tennis, Cricket and Volleyball.

Another of the most popular in-play sites is the betting exchange, Betfair. Even in live in-play markets the peer to peer betting platform still rolls on. Again one of the huge factors that makes the operator so popular is simply a variety of markets, live streams and of course value. If you are a new customer, check for the latest Betfair bonus codes.

What are the best in-play bets to consider?

There are so many different ways to approach live in-play betting. Patience is a big factor in digging up value. If you expect Liverpool to win a game, then it may be worth waiting for around 20 minutes to tick by before backing them. If you are able to watch that game through a stream you will have a feel for how well they (and their opponents) are respectively playing.

You can actually assess if Liverpool look an attacking threat on the day or not. If Liverpool had been 8/11 odds-on pre-match then perhaps at half time with the score at 0-0 they may be Even Money or much better value in the match outright. The longer the second half goes on at 0-0 the bigger the odds on Liverpool winning will get. So it becomes a matter of when is it the right time to play the bet.

The half time break is a great thing for live in-play betting. You can really take the time to consider what has happened in the game and make judgement calls from them. Maybe Mo Salah has peppered the goal with shots, but couldn’t make the breakthrough in the first half. But he consistently looked the most likely to score, so you could then approach the First Goalscorer market.

Basically, some of the best in-play bets to consider are those which you were thinking about before the start of the match but haven’t happened by the half time break. Even though Liverpool were 0-0 at half time you would still expect them to win. Patience can reward with extra value. But you can never lose sight of value and risk as with any betting situation.

Is the in-play betting option good value?

It can be under the right circumstances. The great thing about live in-play betting is that it creates options for you to be flexible. This is good because you don’t just have to put all of your eggs into one pre-match basket.

You have to be ready to react and assess what is happening in a game just as bookmakers are. If Chelsea are at home against Blackburn in an FA Cup game and Chelsea are losing at the start of the second half, how much stock do you put in them mounting a comeback?

If the Blues were at 1.5 for example to win the game pre-match, if they were to fall behind in the second half you would be looking at 2.0 odds and bigger, depending on when they conceded. So that’s when you have a big decision in the match outright. Do you back the Blues to turn the game around, jump on the draw or simply back Blackburn to stick it out?

It’s also great for things like goalscorer markets. Imagine that you have placed a pre-match wager on Lionel Messi to be the first goal scorer in a game for Argentina. The game is 0-0 at 75 minutes, Messi is substituted for Sergo Aguero. That would leave your bet with no chance of winning.

But you could perhaps have a flutter on Aguero to be the First Goalscorer at that point, he’d be a fresh pair of legs up front, is a proven goalscorer and therefore, decent value even though he’s only playing for fifteen minutes. It is that kind of versatility that live in-play betting brings to the table.


It is just understanding the markets and the opportunities that are there. Some sports like golf, tennis and cricket also work very well with live betting, because they tick along at a bit of a slower pace than football. So they do give a little extra time to assess how things are going.

At the end of the day with live betting, the assessment of the opportunities is the key. But it can be a thrilling ride watching and waiting for the markets to turn over, playing the waiting game until you feel the time and the price are just right.

Want to learn more? Check out our other beginner betting guides.

Beginner's Guide to Live In-Play Betting
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Beginner's Guide to Live In-Play Betting
Learn what live in-play betting is and how to place an in-play bet. Also find out why this online feature can offer excellent value in a variety of markets.
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Best Free Bets
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Article by Lee Jackson

Lee has built a vast working knowledge of different bet types, betting systems, probability and all-important experience. His experience within the betting industry extends to over a decade of researching and writing betting guides. Understanding the statistical and mathematical side of betting is something that fascinates Lee. The study of statistics and implied probability in odds are factors that he finds engaging and important to understanding the inner workings of the practice of betting.