2% Commission Rate
The main talking point in the Smarkets vs Betfair debate is of course the difference in commission rates. With Smarkets offering a much lower flat-rate commission of just 2% on all winning bets, compared to Betfair's 5%.
You may be thinking that 3% isn't much difference in the scheme of things, however this is a -60% difference. Which if you then break down per qualifying loss will show you just how much of a difference it makes financially.
For example, if you find a 2.4 back bet with lay odds of 2.5 then you'll be looking at a qualifying loss of £3.47 from a £50 trigger bet, using Betfair Exchange. Compare this to using Smarkets for the same bet, you will have a qualifying loss of £2.59 - a difference of £0.88, which soon adds up if you're matched betting regularly.
0% Commission Rate Specials
Smarkets offer a special rate of 0% commission on all Queens Park Rangers (QPR) football matches. They are official betting partners of the English Championship team, QPR, and as a related promotion they do not take a commission on any bets placed on any of their fixtures for the 2016-2017 season!
This promotion is ideal for placing mug bets. Simply place mug bets with the bookmakers, on the QPR match and then lay them off using the 0% commission offer.
Matched betting is all about keeping the qualifying bet as low as possible. And although I always knew about the lower commission rate, I just thought the reduced commission rate was irrelevant if the liquidity meant there were no close matches available (causing higher lay odds). Which in turn would end up costing more money than the lower commission saved.
It's only in the past 18 months that the liquidity has improved significantly. To the point where the majority of lay bets on big events are the same price as they are on Betfair. Meaning that combined with the lower commission you're saving money by simply choosing to place your lay bet with Smarkets instead of Betfair.
New Betting Markets
Smarkets are serious when it comes to providing the best service for matched bettors. As such they have recently added two new markets to their football betting exchanges, to give us matched bettors more options for the varying bookmaker promotions. They've added a First Goalscorer and Asian Handicap market, with a BTTS + Match Result market to follow very soon.
This of course is not anywhere near the selection that Betfair provides, but it's a move in the right direction and could produce a potential alternative for these markets.
Smart Lay Betting
Smarkets use clever technology that helps relieve frustrations when placing your lay bet. All too often I would calculate the lay bet stake only for the odds to have dropped on the exchange, leaving me to calculate the lay bet stake again.
Smart lay betting technology makes this a thing of the past as they'll automatically change the stake to compensate for any change in price once you've clicked 'bet' - using something called 'Best Price Execution'.
Best price execution will only ever increase your profits, never will it increase your potential loss, as the bet quantity will stay the same (stake * odds). When best price execution is actioned it simply increases the stake (stake = bet quantity / improved odds), but with better odds the liability is not increased.
Smarkets have recently launched (a possibly improved version of cash out), which they call 'trade out'. Cash out allows you to cash out your exchange bets at any point, on Betfair however, you can only cash out of an entire event market. With the new Smarkets trade out you can now cash out a single bet within a market.
This is great for any matched betting mistakes. If you place the wrong lay bet amount or the wrong lay bet etc, you can simply 'trade out' and start over again.
Smarkets vs Betfair
Industry Leading Challenger
Smarkets genuinely poses great, healthy competition for Betfair. It's state of the art digital technology alongside it's easy to navigate design make for a fantastic user experience.
The site can be accessed from all devices; desktop, mobile and tablet. They have also recently launched both Android and Apple apps, to give you full access to the best Smarkets features whilst you're on the go...or whilst you're subtly placing your smarkets bets at your office desk 😉
Smarkets Free Bet
Smarkets also offer a very simple and generous free bet bonus of £10. All you need to do is make sure your first deposit is at least £20, so that any losses you incur will be refunded, up to £10 - see here.
Smarkets Review Summary
As mentioned earlier, I wouldn't go as far as to say it's a better alternative to Betfair. But I would strongly recommend having an account, to allow greater flexibility from your exchange betting.
They are exchange focused, so they put everything they've got into making it as seamless and enjoyable for the user as possible. This comes at the expense of a sportsbook or casino offering, which depending on what you like, is either a good thing or a bad thing. They have the right attitude and I can see them competing increasingly closely with the Betfair Exchange soon.
Low commission rate of 2%
Really easy to navigate and place bets
Smart lay technology
No distractions of sportsbook or casino games etc
Easy sign up bonus
(Slightly) Lower liquidity than Betfair