Home / All Guides / Smarkets Review

Smarkets Review

Updated: January 21, 2021

When I started matched betting, I only ever heard people talk about one betting exchange, the almighty Betfair. As far as I was concerned, the Betfair Exchange was unbeatable and I couldn’t ever see that changing. I was wrong.

More and more people were mentioning Smarkets as a cheaper alternative, but for a long time I stuck with Betfair, convinced they were the better option. Eventually, I decided to sign up for a Smarkets account and give them a chance and I’m so glad I did.

I’ve been using Smarkets to lay my bets ever since and it’s now very rare that I use my Betfair account. Let me give you seven reasons why every matched bettor should be using Smarkets to lay their bets…

2% Commission

Smarkets offer a fantastic flat-rate commission of just 2% on net winnings for each market, compared to Betfair’s 5%. As you know, matched betting is all about minimising qualifying losses and maximising profits, so a commission rate of 2% is hard to ignore. Having said that, it’s easy to be lazy and think it can’t make a huge amount of difference (as did I for so many months), but it does.

Take this Vernons in-play free bet offer, for example. We needed to place a £20.00 qualifying bet on five different Premier League matches and Vernons would then give us a £10.00 in-play free bet to use on each match. The following table shows the difference between placing our qualifying bets with Smarkets (2%) and Betfair (5%)…

Qualifying Bet Back Odds Lay Odds Smarkets Loss Betfair Loss Saving
Swansea to beat Sunderland 2.05 2.16 £1.22 £1.54 £0.32
Leicester City to beat West Ham 2.55 2.68 £1.21 £1.58 £0.37
Crystal Palace to beat Aston Villa 1.90 1.97 £0.90 £1.20 £0.30
Norwich City to beat Stoke City 2.30 2.38 £0.90 £1.24 £0.34
West Ham to beat Bournemouth 2.35 2.46 £1.12 £1.47 £0.35
Totals £5.35 £7.03 £1.68

As you can see, our total qualifying loss with Betfair would have been £1.68 more than it was with Smarkets, which is a big saving on five straightforward qualifying bets. This was before we’d even matched our in-play free bets. If we did this offer every week for a year, it would be £87.36 cheaper to place our qualifying bets with Smarkets.

I was intrigued by the above figures and had a look at my betting activity for a random Saturday in August 2015. I worked out that if I’d placed all my lay bets with Betfair, I would have made £8.26 less profit than I did by laying them with Smarkets. That’s £429.52 less profit over the course of a year and that’s just Saturdays!

Great Liquidity

It doesn’t matter how good their website looks or how easy it is to use, if a betting exchange lacks liquidity, then it’s no good for matched betting. You’ll therefore be pleased to hear that Smarkets ticks the liquidity box for the main markets.

Liquidity has been an issue for Smarkets in the past, but as they continue to grow and challenge Betfair, their liquidity figures are gaining all the time.

Smarkets Liquidity
Smarkets odds and liquidity for a La Liga match between Sevilla and Atletico Madrid.
Betfair Liquidity
Betfair odds and liquidity for a La Liga match between Sevilla and Atletico Madrid.

As you can see from the two screenshots above, the available back and lay odds are exactly the same. Betfair are still ahead in terms of the liquidity available for each selection, but the liquidity at Smarkets is more than enough for us matched bettors to take advantage of their 2% commission rate.

Cutting Edge Technology

When I made the switch from Betfair to Smarkets, the thing that impressed me most of all was the user experience.

The desktop version of the site is incredibly smooth, easy to navigate and there are no distractions.

In January 2017, Smarkets launched their brand new mobile site. Like many people, I’m not a great lover of change, but there’s no question that it’s a big improvement on it’s predecessor.

There’s faster functionality, the navigation is vastly improved and it now looks the part with a modern design that’s nice and responsive. There is also a light display version available in your account settings if you’re not a fan of the dark colour scheme.

Smarkets - New mobile site

In their own words, “Taking the role of the industry challenger, Smarkets is set to outperform the competition by offering consumers access to its agile trading platform at unparalleled value. By creating a modern betting exchange that combines cutting edge technology with a focus on transparency and treating the customer fairly, Smarkets is leading the innovation in the sports betting industry. The Smarkets platform is fast and efficient, capable of processing a transaction in milliseconds and coping with over a thousand transactions per second. With continuing attention to the site’s engineering and speed, Smarkets are gearing up their platform to pose a serious challenge to other established betting exchange operators.”

Clever Lay Betting

If you’ve used other betting exchanges such as Betfair, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the frustration of trying to lay bets with fluctuating odds. Time and time again, I would be ready to place a lay bet having entered the correct lay stake only for the odds to drop at the last minute. I would then have to recalculate my lay stake with the new odds and try and stake the new amount before the odds changed again. You’ll be glad to know that with Smarkets, there’s no messing about.

Draw lay odds for Tottenham v Everton
Imagine that we need to lay £2.00 on Tottenham to draw with Everton at odds of 3.05, giving us a potential liability of £4.10…
Fluctuated odds before placement
…Just before we place our bet, the lay odds drop to 3.00. Instead of getting the matched betting calculator out and recalculating our lay stake to be £2.03, we can click ‘Place Bet’ and Smarkets will do the adjusting for us…
Adjusted stake after placement
…As you can see, our stake was adjusted to £2.03, giving us a reduced liability of £4.07.

If the lay odds had fluctuated up instead of down, our bet would be pending until someone matches it.

Smarkets Instant Match

Sticking with the topic of fluctuating odds, in-play betting can be somewhat tricky for that very reason alone. Odds fluctuate massively when an event is in-play and it’s always a race against the clock to work out our lay stakes and get our bets placed before the odds change. The Smarkets ‘Instant Match’ feature makes matched betting in-play a whole lot easier.

Smarkets Instant Match Markets
‘Instant Match’ markets are indicated by a football icon and in the blue bar as shown here.

The beauty of placing bets on markets where ‘Instant Match’ is available is that our bets will be submitted and placed into a market without being subject to an in-play betting delay. Instead, once our bets have been matched, they will be subject to a confirmation period of 8 seconds and will show as ‘Pending’ on our bet slips until they have been confirmed. Bets will be confirmed so long as nothing major happens within that 8 second confirmation period that might have a decisive impact on any team’s chances of winning, such as goals, red cards or penalty kicks.

So we simply place our in-play bets and they are effectively ‘reserved’ pending confirmation. The available liquidity will decrease as soon as we place our bet. If our bet isn’t confirmed, then our bet will become ‘unreserved’ and the liquidity available on that market will increase accordingly.

New Features

Smarkets are committed to providing the very best user experience possible. They’ve recently released two brand new features; ‘Keep Bets In-Play’ and ‘Trade Out’.

The ‘Keep Bets In-Play’ feature enables customers to keep their unmatched bets live once the market goes in-play. Ordinarily, any unmatched bets would be cancelled once an event starts but by keeping their bets in-play, customers now have a greater chance of their bet being matched at their requested price.

Smarkets - Keep In Play & Trade Out

The ‘Trade Out’ feature enables customers to effectively cash out an exchange bet, both pre-match and in-play. This means they can either lock in a profit or cut their losses, which is particularly handy for traders.

The trade out is calculated in real time based on live contract prices.

On the Betfair Exchange, if a customer wants to trade out, they have to trade out the entire market. However, with Smarkets, customers are able to trade out single contracts. So, for example, if a customer has placed bets on multiple horses in the same race and they wish to trade out one particular horse, they are able to do so without having to trade out all horses.

Smarkets Sign Up Bonus

Having already highlighted so many selling points, the Smarkets sign up bonus really is the icing on the cake. All we have to do is make sure we deposit at least £20.00 in a single amount and our losing bets thereafter will be refunded up to a maximum of £10.00.

Smarkets Welcome Bonus 2

Conclusion: Smarkets v Betfair

Smarkets’ commission rate of 2% enables us to maximise our profits to a whole different level. In my opinion, the user experience with Smarkets beats Betfair hands down. I just love the fact that their focus is on making everything easier for us and they certainly succeed in doing so.

The only area I feel Smarkets need to improve is the amount of available markets. This is something they’re currently working on, having added First Goalscorer and Asian Handicap markets in February 2017. Betfair undoubtedly offer a wider range of markets, but as far as matched betting is concerned, Smarkets offer plenty. The vast majority of offers can be done using Smarkets and it’s very rare that we have to use our Betfair accounts.

Anyone who is serious about matched betting should be using Smarkets for the many reasons outlined above. Sign up now to increase your profits and make the matched betting process a whole lot easier!

Share me!

Got a question?
Leave me a comment below

I usually respond within 24 hours.

Matt Kirman - Matched Betting Blogger

Matt KirmanMatched Betting Blogger

Since 2014, I’ve blogged over £50,000 worth of profit, and made it my mission to make matched betting accessible to everyone.