Your approach to staking is one of three fundamental areas of improvment
One of the fundamental differences between successful football bettors and the thousands who regularly lose, is a clearly defined and well thought out staking plan. There are some bad methods, for example wagering every penny you have on every bet, and some far better methods that we’ll discuss here.
The difficulty with any staking plan is getting the balance right between risk and reward. Generally the more reward you want, the higher the risks you need to take. For example, the ‘bet it all, every bet’ approach is the most extreme version of this, with maximum risk coupled with the prospect for the highest return. The most common other options are:
Fixed Stake Betting
You’ll have learnt from our golden rules that you should have a bankroll that is dedicated to football betting. Fixed stake bettors choose one standard bet, say £20 and they continue with this amount irrespective of the size of their bankroll. This approach limits your risk as you can survive 50 straight losses before you run out of money. It also ensures you’re placing bets where the size doesn’t intimidate you. This approach however significantly limits how quickly you can build your bankroll as it will take 50 continuous winning bets at even money to double your bankroll. At this point you must increase your stake otherwise it will now take 100 continuous bets to double your bankroll again.
Martingale Staking Plan
Everyone has heard of this approach although it is generally associated with roulette. The premise is that you place a bet with the intention of winning a certain amount, if you’re unsuccessful then the bet is repeated with an increasing stake so that when you finally get it right you win your money back plus the original planned winnings. It seems fool proof but it’s not, spiralling costs almost always make it unviable.
Let’s run through an example. Say you believe that Wayne Rooney will score first at some point during the season and you want to have £100 when he does. During the opening weekend the odds on him being successful are 2-1. This means that you stake £33.33 with the intention of having exactly £100 when you win. You’re unfortunately unsuccessful and so the following week, when Rooney is offered at the same odds, you stake £44.44 so when you win you get back £133.33 to cover your lost bet and the money you originally wanted to win. Unfortunately, Rooney is on a bit of a losing streak so by the 13th game of the season you’re having to stake over £1000 just to get back to evens. If Rooney disappointed until the half way point in the season? You’d be staking £7883 to win your original measly amount and Rooney would most likely have been moved to the bench.
Pullein's Staking Plan
Kevin Pullein, author of the excellent ‘Racing Post – The definitive guide to betting on football’ and regular contributor to the paper itself, suggests a very simple plan for choosing your stake – always end up with the same winnings. We have our concerns about this approach because it could lead bettors to choose wagers with longer odds just to stake less but Kevin definitely knows his stuff, so who are we to argue! It’s not difficult for you to work out but for speeds sake, here’s a simple calculator.
Fibonacci Staking System
Named after an Italian Mathematician’s number sequence, this staking plan attempts to limit your losses when you hit a losing streak. The fibonnaci sequence is 0 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 and is simply created by adding the sum of two numbers as the next in the sequence so 0+1 = 1, 1+1 = 2, 1+2 = 3, 2+3 = 5 etc.
When betting, the first number ‘1’ in the sequence represents your standard bet, say £20. If you’re unsuccessful in your bet then you move to the second ‘1’ and stake your £20 again. After that you move to ‘2’ and stake £40 and so on. When you hit ‘21’ which is a bet of £420 you stop and only bet that amount going forward. Once successful, you return to a standard stake of ‘1’.
This staking plan has a number of faults – it increases your stake exactly when you’re being unsuccessful and it does nothing to improve your results when you are getting things right. We advise against this approach.
The Kelly Criterion
The Kelly Criterion is a well known investment and betting tool. To do it justice we've created a whole page dedicated to The Kelly Criterion, just follow the link.
Fixed Percentage of your bankroll
This is probably our second best approach to betting as it supports winning streaks but protects your bankroll when things are going wrong. The plan is simple – place a fixed percentage of your bankroll on every bet, say 5%. When you win, the amount you stake goes up proportionately and when you lose it drops proportionately also.
Furthermore, it is almost impossible for you to go bust. If you have a bankroll of £1000 and stake 5% per bet then you would still have £226 left after 30 losing bets. On the flipside you’d have over £4000 after 30 straight winning bets.
If you want to have a quick and easy to remember staking plan then we recommend this wholeheartedly, it’s great. The staking plan’s only flaw is that by increasing the size of your bet after every win then you will undoubtedly have your biggest bet on an eventual loser.
Our preferred staking plan
So what have we learnt that we need from a staking plan?
The ability to bet more when the situations are right;
The ability to bet less when the situations aren't right;
The ability to bank money so that you don't lose your hard-earned winnings;
The option for some truly stellar returns.
As we’ve discussed, results generally come in streaks so we suggest that you use a percentage of your bankroll. How much you choose is up to you but the greater the percentage, the greater the swings/risk. We generally work at around the 10% mark but if you have a very high success rate you could look to go higher than this.
We then set a cap of three times our original bankroll. At this level, you need to remove your original stake and do what you like with it – this is your profit. Why not buy something? Take it from us, it’s great when you can look at a physical thing and know that a bookmaker purchased it for you. This cap then rises to four times your bankroll, where you yet again remove your original stake and spend it/save it. The process then goes five, six, seven etc. This idea is that you are taking profits but you’re also building your betting bank so you can win bigger going forward.
If you wanted to, and as you’ll be playing with the bookmaker’s money, you could increase your stake to 20% after you’ve removed your original money. This gives you the chance to win truly significant amounts but sends the risk flying up too. It’s up to you how much you can handle the swings.
So, to finalise
Every staking plan is different and there are many that can bring interesting facets to your approach. Whilst we have specified our favourite, it is important that you choose the one that best suits you and especially your appetite for risk/reward. We specify the percentage of bankroll for each of our weekly tips and we suggest that you equally define an amount and stick to it. Rest assured, if you get this facet right then you will definitely improve your results.