Sports betting staking plans

All sports fans like to think they know a little bit more about their preferred game than the next person. And that may very well be true for many, particularly when we are talking about a sport they may have played or at least been immersed in since a young age.

But here at the World Gambling List, one truism we have learnt is that superior knowledge counts for nothing if you don’t know what to do with it when it comes to placing a bet.

That is where a staking plan comes into play. It won’t guarantee you will be a regular winner, but it will ensure that if you are on the money with more than 50 per cent of your head-to-head tips, you won’t be paying for a bookmaker’s grandkids to have their teeth whitened.

Having said that, if your tips are missing the mark, no staking plan in the world can save you. You need to find a new sport, or rethink your approach.

Here is a beginner’s guide to some of the best-known staking plans for betting on sports or racing.

Fixed bet amount

With this system you simply bet the same amount every time, regardless of the odds on offer. At the very least it can prevent you from doubling down to try to turn around a loss. Requires a disciplined approach.

Fixed win amount

Here you take into account the odds and try to win the same amount regardless of what you are betting on. Problem here is your bankroll can take a beating if you are betting large amounts on short-priced favourites and your luck takes a bad turn.

Kelly Criterion

A risky but potentially profitable formula that tells you what fraction of your bankroll you should invest on a given wager. Can be complicated, maybe too much so for the average gambler. We will go into detail about this option later.

Proportional betting

This is our favoured method of bankroll management for sports betting as it can keep you in the game for longer. Here you simply wager a fixed percentage of your bank, usually 5 per cent. So if your bankroll is $1000 you would bet $50. If that first bet loses and you have $950 you would then bet $47.50 and so on. Not too exciting but again will keep you disciplined and focused on picking winners.


We rate this one as a quick path to the poor house. The theory is quite simple: If you are betting on even-money chances, for example, after a loss you simply double your bet until you strike a winner. Then when you back a winner go back to your original stake. For example, if you are trying to win $20 and fail at the first attempt, your second bet would be $40; enough to recover your initial $20 and still win $20. The problem is, the amount wagered can skyrocket if you get on a losing streak. So much so you might not be able to get set for a bet even if you have the funds to make the bet.

Reverse Martingale

As the name suggests, the opposite of the Martingale. You double your bet each time you back a winner. This can work for streaky punters, but we believe you must set a limit on how many winners you will back in a row before you revert to your initial stake. We think three winners in a row is generally as good as one can hope for.


This system employs the mathematical sequence named after the Italian mathematician Leonardo of Pisa (also known as Fibonacci). The sequence runs 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,144 and continues by adding the latest two numbers to find the next. In wagering terms it works by using the sequence as a base, discarding the first 0 and 1. So you decide your stake and place you first bet. If it wins the stake remains the same; if it loses you move up the sequence, to 2 x your bet. If you lose again you move up to 3 times and then 5 times and so on. You move up one for each losing bet, but then move down the sequence two steps with each winning bet. Again the long losing streak can bring you undone quickly.


This is the holy grail for gamblers and occurs where you can find a disparity in the odds between different bookmakers or a market that moves sufficiently to allow you can back all possible outcomes with a guaranteed profit. This is not as fanciful as it sounds, though usually the percentage profits will be tiny. Still, as a late, great friend of the WGL used to say, “Little fish are sweet.”

Arbitrage or arb opportunities can also arise from the in-play and cash-out facilities offered by many sportsbook today. With some practice you can lock in a profit well before a match is decided.