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What is a “Layoff” in Sports Gambling Terms

April 9, 2018

You may have heard the sports betting term “layoff”. But maybe you never spent the effort to find out what it truly means. In its simplest definition it means to reduce exposure on a game by placing that bet somewhere else. This will usually occur when a bookie or sportsbook has very lopsided action, that if lost, could seriously threaten the bottom line or even worse, in a small bankroll bookie operation, threaten to crash the entire operation.

Large operations that are heavily backed will often times just take on all action. Even a lopsided Super Bowl loss will not threaten the deep pockets of a major sportsbook. And in reality, the notion that sportsbooks make their money simply from the vig (bookmaking fee charged to the loser) is a fallacy. They also make their money from a public that generally loses more than they win and the fact that they can outlast almost any single player’s bankroll.

You can see a now famous example of a layoff on the infamous Pete Rose betting sheets. His bookmaker laid off some of Rose’s baseball bets. There is no way to tell if this was because he thought Rose had some type of advantage (being a MLB player/manager) or if he layed off the best just so he wasn’t as exposed. Word is that Rose had owed some $400,000 to various bookies and loan sharks, so the idea that he had any inside feel for the games seems ludicrous.

Threat Mitigation

One way they minimize being exposed to one force working against them is that they will sometimes identify sharp players who win on a regular basis overtime and limit his bet size. Sportsbooks have been known to blacklist a player and simply tell him that his action is not wanted there anymore.

Many online sportsbooks will have limits on games and have rules about how and when you can bet games with regards to large wagers.

Another way they reduce exposure is identifying what they call “syndicate play”. This is when a bettor is part of a group of bettors that work together to get around the betting limits at a sportsbook. There are usually terms and conditions at the sportsbook that cite this as a reason that they can confiscate your funds and ban you from future play. This is a very grey area though as some sportsbooks in past have been accused of enacting this rule without providing proof. Those sportsbooks usually rank low on sportsbook review websites like ours.

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