Welcome to lesson 4 in my Back to Basics Betting Class!
If there is one simple thing you can do to get better at betting, it’s to use a robust staking plan. There is no glamour to it, and very few systems providers explain it properly (except occasionally to go a bit mystical about Fibonacci or something similar!). But in my experience, good staking is the bedrock of successful betting. Do it right, and you’re already halfway there. Do it wrong, and you are almost certain to haemorrhage money.
Here then are the rules that I personally follow. There are other approaches but I don’t believe you can go far wrong with these four ideas.
1. When you’re trying out a new system, please use level staking only. Any decent system can benefit from a good staking plan, but until you’ve proven it’s a decent system, you should be using level stakes. Otherwise the staking plan will distort your results (for better or worse), and cloud the issue (which should simply be – ‘is this system any good?’).
2. There is one exception to rule 1. I will allow myself to adopt a level liability approach for laying systems that permit high prices (i.e. laying to SP), but only as a risk mitigation strategy (which is a fancy way of admitting to cowardice).
Like the bookies, I’m scared to death of the Foinavon effect (i.e. getting torched by some runaway longshot), but unlike them, I am unable to persuade mug punters to take lousy odds from me on rank outsiders. So SP laying it sometimes has to be. But even then, you should keep records of what would have happened if you’d used level stakes.
I have switched to using Chris’s wonderful new spreadsheet to test ZeroHype’s Laying service, precisely because it allows us to track to both fixed liabilities and fixed stakes.
3. Once you have a great system, use ratcheted staking. This means betting with a set percentage of your bank, in such a way that your stakes grow gradually as your bank balance rises. For a low-risk system (e.g. betting at short prices), 5% is an acceptable figure. For higher risk methods, you may wish to consider 3%, or even 2%.
The most important points though are that the chosen percentage should:
- “feel right” – i.e. you don’t get too down if you lose, because you know you have a winning system that will come right in the end
- be a figure you decide on in the morning then stick to all day. Don’t try working it out on the fly as you’ll only get confused.
Ratcheted staking also protects your bank balance if you start to lose, by making it last longer. A 5% ratcheted stake might sound a lot, but it lasts a lot longer than the 20 bets that first come to mind. In fact, after 50 straight losing bets on a £100 bank, you would still have a little money left (£7.69, assuming 1 bet per day). Such is the joy of exponential mathematics! (do I need to get out more!?)
You may be tempted, during a dry spell, to keep on going with the same stakes (a flat £5, in my example) in order to accelerate a recovery, but this is seriously flawed thinking. Be professional and stick to your percentage. If you have a sound system, then it will only be a matter of time before things improve, and your bank starts to climb again.
And of course when you do start to make progress, ratcheting benefits from the miracle of exponential mathematics when going upwards too, so that the results can be extraordinary. I digress slightly, but I love the old ‘wheat on the chessboard problem’, which, paraphrasing Wikipedia, illustrates this point quite wonderfully:
- When the creator of the game of chess showed his invention to the ruler of the country, the ruler was so pleased that he gave the inventor the right to name his prize for the invention. The man, who was very wise, asked the king this: that for the first square of the chess board, he would receive one grain of wheat, two for the second one, four on the third one, and so forth, doubling the amount each time. The ruler, arithmetically unaware, quickly accepted the inventor’s offer, even getting offended by his perceived notion that the inventor was asking for such a low price, and ordered the treasurer to count and hand over the wheat to the inventor. However, when the treasurer took more than a week to calculate the amount of wheat, the ruler asked him for a reason for his tardiness. The treasurer then gave him the result of the calculation, and explained that it would be impossible to give the inventor the reward. The ruler then, to get back at the inventor who tried to outsmart him, cut off the inventor’s head to discourage such trickery!
- On the entire chessboard there would be 264 − 1 = 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 grains of rice, weighing 461,168,602,000 metric tons, which would be a heap of rice larger than Mount Everest. This is around 1,000 times the global production of rice in 2010 (464,000,000 metric tons).
Nowadays of course, you are more likely to find that your account is simply closed by your bookie without the need for decapitation, but it is still a problem that a sensible staking plan can easily leave you with… so do look at my article on eight ways to stop your bookie from closing you down.
4. Never chase losses. It really is the fastest way to the poor house. Everyone knows this deep down, but somehow it’s easy to forget when things are going against you.
Why do so many people do it? Because they keep losing, and they want a quick way out, that’s why. Hence the popularity of systems like Fancy Fillies, which has a cute name, but is little more than a well-packaged, loss-chasing plan.
I ditched the Fancy Fillies system after a handful of bets on account of its suicidal approach to staking. This sort of stuff should be avoided at all costs.
And of course, if you really want to play Russian roulette, there’s always Martingale…
And that’s all there is to it!