Staking Plan: Instantly Improve Betting Results

Written by: Alex Windsor
Fact checked by Brian Webb  
Updated: June 18, 2024

In sports betting, the adage “fail to plan, plan to fail” rings true. Picking winners is only half the battle, you also need to come up with a staking plan and then, trickiest of all, actually follow it!

While a betting strategy tells you what you should bet on, a staking plan reveals how much you should bet. In this article, I’ll show you how staking plans work and the most popular ones you can use today!

What Is a Staking Plan?

After you’ve decided to back a certain team, you open the betting slip and start wondering how much to risk, that’s when your staking plan comes into play. A staking plan instructs you on the amount you should wager when betting on sports.

The amount you bet can vary significantly based on the staking plan you follow. For example, if you’re flat betting, your stake will be determined by your bankroll, while if you opt for the Martingale method, your wager will be twice the size of your previous bet.

What Are the Best Staking Plans?

There are hundreds of different staking plans out there. They all have one thing in common: the inventors are convinced they’ve come up with the ultimate method. While I’m not smart enough to develop my methods, these are ones I’ve successfully used over the years:

Fixed Bet

In fixed or flat betting, you risk a certain pre-determined percentage of your bankroll every time you wager. For example, if your fixed bet is 5% and your bankroll is £1,000, you would bet £50. As your bankroll increases or decreases, you adjust your stake so you’re always risking the same percentage of your bankroll.

When flat betting, wager between 1% and 5% of your bankroll per bet. I personally stick to the 2% to 3% mark, as 5% is a little aggressive for me. Also, keep a close eye on your bankroll because you’ll have to adjust your stake frequently.

Kelly Criterion

Kelly Criterion is by far the most effective and profitable staking plan. Maths genius Ed Thorp is famous for deploying this method in Vegas, where he won millions card counting at the blackjack table.

With the Kelly Criterion, you enter your bankroll, your perceived chance of winning and the odds offered by the bookies. The mathematical formula then spits out your ideal stake. Instead of working this out yourself, you can use our Kelly Criterion calculator for free.

The Kelly Criterion has been scientifically proven to maximise your winnings while preventing you from losing your bankroll completely. It’s the only staking plan which eliminates the risk of ruin completely.

If that’s the case, how come everyone doesn’t use the Kelly Criterion? Well, this staking plan only works if you have an edge on the bookie and you know exactly what that edge is. If you don’t have an edge on the bookie, which most punters don’t, then this staking plan tells you not to bet a single pound.

Many punters who think they have an edge on the bookie use the Kelly Criterion and end up blowing through their bankroll because their edge was smaller than they estimated or non-existent.

Martingale System

I don’t use this method but it’s a popular staking plan. How it works is if you lose your bet, you double your stake. You keep doubling your bet until you win. In theory, you’ll end in profit to the tune of your original bet. For example, if you bet £10 at 2.00 and lose and then £20 at 2.00 odds, your profit will be £10.

I say the Martingale system only works in theory because, eventually, you will lose 10+ bets in a row, and you’ll either run out of money or hit the bookie’s max betting limits.

If you’re going to use the Martingale system, make sure you stick to two-way markets with as close to 2.00 odds as possible. Also, start with a small stake because going on losing streaks is common, and your required stake can compound quickly.

Fibonacci

I’ve never been a big believer in old Leonardo Fibonacci. To me, his discovery seems like a random pattern, but some punters swear by it. This method is similar to the Martingale method, where you increase your stake after losses, however, instead of simply doubling your stake, you follow the Fibonacci sequence (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 56). If you win a bet, you move back down two numbers in the sequence.

Here is how it looks in practice:

  • Bet £10 – Lose
  • Bet £10 – Lose
  • Bet £20 – Lose
  • Bet £30 – Win
  • Bet £10 – Win

The logic is that by increasing your stake after lost bets, it is easier to recoup losses. It’s basically a risk-averse version of the Martingale. However, there is no evidence to suggest the Fibonacci staking plan outperforms the simple flat betting method.

Why Should You Use a Staking Plan

A staking plan stops you from emotional betting and chasing losses. We’ve all suffered a bad beat and immediately started trawling through the markets, looking for a way to win back our losses. If you have a strict staking plan, you won’t be tempted to bet above your pay grade, which your bankroll will appreciate!

A staking plan extends your play. Even if you’re a recreational bettor and don’t expect to outsmart the bookies over the long term, a staking plan is still a wise idea as it’ll reduce your losses. For example, if you have the same win rate, you’ll make 5x as many bets if you only risk 2% of your bankroll vs 10%.

A staking plan reduces your risk. If you bet too big, then a few bad beats and suddenly your bankroll is toast. With a conservative staking plan, you can endure periods of volatility and bad luck without doing irreparable damage to your bankroll.

A staking plan maximises your winnings. If you have an edge on the bookie, then by selecting the right staking, you can exploit that edge fully. For example, using the Kelly Criterion will result in much greater profit compared to simply flat betting.

Will a Staking Plan Make You a Winner?

Some novice punters get confused and think that selecting the optimal staking plan will suddenly turn them into winners. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Ultimately, your ability to handicap sporting events better than the bookie will determine if you win over the long term.

For example, it doesn’t matter if you’re only risking a conservative 2% of your bankroll every time you bet if every wager you make has a negative expected value. You’ll still go broke, just slower than the person risking 10% of their bankroll every bet.

However, don’t think I’m downplaying staking plans. Even if you’re the best handicapper in the world, if you take too much risk, you’ll eventually blow up, and if you don’t take enough risk, you’ll leave so much money on the table. When you pair an optimal betting strategy with a well-thought-out staking plan, the winnings start piling up!

Final Thoughts

A staking plan is a critical part of sports betting as it determines the exact amount you should bet. If you select the right staking plan, you’ll reduce your chance of blowing through your bankroll while maximising your winnings. The most effective staking plan is the Kelly Criterion; however, the kicker is you need to accurately determine your edge.

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Alex, a ten-year iGaming industry veteran and Managing Editor at BettingTools specializes in sports betting and betting tools. He also provides insightful reviews, ensures the accuracy of all offers, and maintains content quality helping you make informed choices. Combining professional expertise with a passion for football and soccer, Alex ensures we offer you a reliable resource, focusing on betting tools to assist with odds, parlays, and other betting strategies.