What are Staking Plans?

Staking Plans

Staking plans are an important part of sports betting. If you've ended up on this page, then the odds are that you're looking for information and insights on them. Luckily, you've come to the right place. In our in-depth coverage of staking plans, we'll educate you about what they are and why you should consider using one, and we'll also cover the different types of these plans.

Understanding the Basics

If you don't know what a staking plan is, let's start there. Simply put, a staking plan is a method that helps you determine how much money you should risk on a wager. As opposed to you just guessing that you'll bet $20 on the Jets game this Sunday, a staking plan will apply some logic to how much you'll wager.

With a staking plan, you'll use more than just your gut instincts. Depending on the plan, you might also take into consideration your recent track record, the odds of you winning and the size of your bankroll. As you'll see below, things vary a bit from plan to plan.

Next, you might be asking yourself why you should consider using a staking plan. First and foremost, the best reason to use a plan is that it gives you a good method for helping with bankroll management. For many bettors, bankroll management is one of the largest struggles. Without a plan, it is very easy to squander your bankroll.

Another great reason to use a staking plan is that it can be used as a way for you to help manage risk. By using one of these plans, you can develop a risk versus reward tradeoff that fits your needs. Staking plans offer a great variety of options when it comes to risk. Those that prefer a higher risk and reward can choose that as opposed to selecting a plan with a lower risk and reward tradeoff.

When it comes to staking plans, there are two main buckets that they fall into. Those buckets are fixed plans and variable plans. In the next couple of sections, we'll cover each of these types in greater detail. We'll also provide you some samples along the way to help you get a better feel for how these plans work.

Fixed Staking Plans

Up first, we'll talk about fixed staking plans. For these types of plans, the amount that you wager or the percentage of your bankroll that you wager will be fixed. Unlike the variable staking plans that we'll discuss later on, these do not move. Below, we'll go into detail on some of the most popular fixed staking plans out there so that you can learn more about them.

SportsFixed Wager Staking

In a fixed wager staking plan, you'll bet the same amount on every sports bet that you place. It doesn't matter what sport it is, what the odds are or anything else. You'll always wager the same amount every time. Another name for fixed wager staking is level staking. The level in the name comes from the fact that the amount you bet each time is level or flat.

If you're going to use a fixed wager staking plan, you'll need to determine how much your fixed wager should be. The general school of thought is that you should typically keep any wager at 5% or less of your bankroll. For example, if you had a bankroll of $100, you'd want to risk no more than $5 for each wager.

The idea behind keeping your wager to 5% or less of your bankroll is that it lowers the risk of you quickly eating up your entire bankroll. Imagine if you risked 50% of your bankroll on every bet. After just two losses, you'd be out of your betting bankroll. By only risking 5% at a time, you'll be able to extend your bankroll through ups and downs. One drawback to limiting it to just 5% or less is that when you do win, you'll collect smaller returns. The idea here is that you grow things over time, bit by bit. Remember that Rome wasn't built in a day and neither should your betting bankroll.

Ultimately, it's up to you to decide how much you want to risk. What's important is that once you pick an amount, you'll need to stick to it under a fixed wager staking plan.

SportsBankroll Percentage Staking

A different type of fixed staking plans is the percentage staking plan. For this type of staking plan, you'll bet a fixed percentage of your total bankroll on each wager. While the percentage is fixed, how much you actually wager will fluctuate depending on the value of your bankroll.

If you're going to adopt a bankroll percentage staking plan, you'll need to determine what your fixed percentage will be. Most often, people will wager 1-2% on each wager. Ultimately, it's up to you to determine what is best for you. The idea of keeping the percentage low is the same as it was for the fixed wager staking above.

To help illustrate how a bankroll percentage staking plan works, we've worked up a sample graphic below. In this sample, assume that you have a $500 bankroll and that you've decided on 2% as your fixed percentage to wager. As you'll see in the graphic, the amount that you wager each time will vary as your bankroll changes.

Percentage Staking Example

What's nice about this plan is that it allows you to adjust your wagers based on how your success is or isn't. In the case where you're winning more often than not, your bankroll will grow and your amount wagered will also grow. By wagering more, you'll be set to win more if you pick correctly, which will also aid in you building your bankroll.

On the converse, if you hit a losing streak, you'll risk less money each time. By doing this, it will aid you in preserving your bankroll for a longer period of time. This is a nice advantage of this plan compared to a fixed wager staking plan since you'll adjust your wager depending on how your success is going.

SportsBet It All Every Time Staking

Another form of a fixed staking plan is the bet it all every time approach. Under this plan, you'd wager your entire bankroll for every bet. For example, if your betting bankroll were $100, you'd wager $100 on every wager.

What's great about the bet it all every time set up is that it can allow you to see some mega returns if your bets are correct. By going about it this way, you can quickly double your cash. On the flip side, you can also lose everything in just one failed bet. Once you've lost, you're out of bankroll, and therefore, done betting for the time being.

Because of the all or nothing nature of the bet it all every time approach, it is extremely risky. Before using the bet it all every time approach to staking, make sure that you're fully aware that you could lose your entire bankroll in one loss.

Variable Staking Plans

The other major type of staking plans are variable staking plans. For these plans, the amount that you wager will vary every time. Below, we'll go into detail on some of the most popular variable staking plans out there.

SportsMartingale System

Perhaps the most popular of all variable staking plans is the Martingale System. This is a negative progression system meaning that you'll decrease your bets when you win, and you'll increase your bets when you lose.

If you'd like to use the Martingale System as your staking plan, the first thing that you'll need to do is determine your base betting unit. This amount is your starting wager. It is important to remember that things will go up from here. Therefore, you'll want your base unit to be something pretty low in terms of your overall bankroll. Ideally, we'd suggest that your base unit is something around 1 or 2% of your overall bankroll.

The core idea behind the Martingale System is that you'll double your bet after each loss. After a win, you'll return back to your base wager. The reason that the system has you double your bet after a loss it that it is working to help you recoup from your losses.

In order to help you visualize the Martingale System, consider the following example. Let's say that you've set yourself a base betting unit of $5. For your first sports bet, you'd simply wager your base unit of $5. If you pick correctly and you win that first bet, then you'd bet $5 again on your next wager. Let's then assume that you pick incorrectly and lose on your next wager. In that scenario, you would then double your bet and bet $10 on the following bet. You would continue to double your bet until you finally won. At that point, you'd return back to your original $5 wager.

One of the main issues with the Martingale System is that it can get expensive very quickly. Due to this, it can limit folks from being able to use the system fully. With this system, things start to add up if you go on repetitive losses. In some cases, the suggested double bet amount will outgrow your potential bankroll, which leaves you tapped out from using the system.

Consider an example again where your base betting unit was $5. If you went on a losing streak of nine losses in a row, your 10th wager would be a staggering $2,560! Check out the chart below to see how this sample plays out.

Bet Wager Outcome Your Action
#1 $5 Loss Double Bet
#2 $10 Loss Double Bet
#3 $20 Loss Double Bet
#4 $40 Loss Double Bet
#5 $80 Loss Double Bet
#6 $160 Loss Double Bet
#7 $320 Loss Double Bet
#8 $640 Loss Double Bet
#9 $1,280 Loss Double Bet
#10 $2,560 NA NA

As you can see from the sample chart above, things escalate quickly. Because of this, many folks simply can't hang with the Martingale System for long when they go on a long streak of losses. You'll want to keep this in mind before considering using this system as your staking plan. If you don't have the bankroll to go deep into the system, you might not be able to use it to recoup your losses.

Another potential limiting factor of the Martingale System is your betting limit. Your local or online sportsbook might have you capped when it comes to how much you can place on an individual wager. In the beginning stages of the system, this shouldn't be an issue. However, if you go on a run of losses and you bump up against some form of betting limit from your bookie, your hands are then tied.

For the Martingale System to work perfectly, you would need to have both an unlimited bankroll and unlimited betting limits. In reality, neither of these are easy to have individually, let alone at the same time. For these reasons, this system has some flaws.

SportsFibonacci Sequence

One other variable staking plan option is the Fibonacci Sequence. This system is a bit more complicated than the Martingale System, but it is still pretty easy to learn. Don't worry; we'll help get you up to speed on it!

Developed by an Italian mathematician named Leonardo Pisano in the 13th century, the Fibonacci Sequence is based on a sequence of numbers. This sequence has many applications, and it is often used in casino and sports betting. Below, we'll go into more detail on how you can use this sequence to help develop your own variable staking plan.

Each Fibonacci Sequence must start with a zero. After that, a base unit will be next. Each following number will then be the sum of the two previous numbers. To help you visualize this, consider the following example with a base unit of 1:

Example Sequence

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144...

As you can see, the sequence started off with a 0 and our base unit of 1. After that, every number that followed in the sequence was the sum of the two previous numbers. Notice how quickly things begin to build the further the sequence goes on.

Next up, we'll talk about how you can apply a Fibonacci Sequence to sports betting. For you to get started, you'll first need to determine what your base unit for the sequence is going to be. Your base unit will be the smallest bet that you'll place. Our suggestion for you is to use a small amount here such as $1 or $2. It is very important for you to remember that this is only your base unit, and things can quickly climb upwards from there. The larger your base unit is, the higher your bets will be down the sequence.

Once your base unit is determined, your next step would be to build out your sequence. Remember that you start with a 0 and your base unit. After that, the next number is simply the sum of the previous two units. This can be done by hand if you'd like. Our preference is to use a program like Microsoft Excel to help us quickly formulate the sequence. Either way, make sure that you have your sequence recorded before you begin using the system.

When using the Fibonacci Sequence in sports betting, your first bet would be your base unit. If you make a bet and lose, the sequence says that you should move your wagered amount to the next value in your sequence. If you win your wager, then you should move yourself backward two numbers in the sequence.

To help you visualize this, we've provided a sample below based on our example sequence found above. As a reminder, this sequence has a base unit of just $1.

Bet Wager Outcome Action
#1 $1 Loss Move to next number in sequence
#2 $2 Loss Move to next number in sequence
#3 $3 Loss Move to next number in sequence
#4 $5 Loss Move to next number in sequence
#5 $8 Loss Move to next number in sequence
#6 $13 Loss Move to next number in sequence
#7 $21 Win Move back 2 numbers in sequence
#8 $8 Loss Move to next number in sequence
#9 $13 Win Move back 2 numbers in sequence

As you can see from this example, the sequence moves your bet up when you lose, and it moves your wager back down when you win. It's worth pointing out that things can build quickly if you go on a run of multiple losses. However, as soon as you win, you'll decrease your wager.

We should point out a couple of things about the Fibonacci Sequence so that you are using it correctly. First, you should always move back to the start of the sequence once you're in a profitable scenario. To make sure that you properly do this, you'll want to track your wins and losses as a collective whole. You can easily track things with paper and pencil or with a computer program such as Microsoft Excel. The main idea is that if you are currently profitable, you should start the sequence over again.

Secondly, it is important to note that your base bet should never be less than your base unit. For example, if your base unit is $1, you should never bet $0.50. If you have not moved at least two numbers up in the sequence yet, you'll just go back to your base starting unit. Be sure to keep this in mind as you exercise the Fibonacci Sequence.

The Fibonacci Sequence also tends to face the same limitations as the Martingale System does. Those limitations are a bettor's bankroll and their betting limits. In a scenario with a long string of losses, it is possible that a bettor's bankroll or betting limit could cap them from completing their sequence. You'll want to take this into full consideration before you move forward with using the Fibonacci Sequence.

SportsProportional Betting

Another variable staking plan option for you to use is proportional betting. Under this type of staking plan, your wager will be a percentage of your total bankroll in proportion to the edge. The basis for this plan is based on the Kelly formula. We'll cover this in more detail below.

The Kelly formula was developed by a Bell Labs employee named J.L. Kelly Jr. The formula has found many applications in sports betting as well as financial management. The goal of the formula is to help you grow your stake if you're winning and to decrease the size of your stake if you're losing.

The actual Kelly formula looks like this: (BP-Q)/B

  • B = The wager's decimal odds minus one.
  • P = Your probability of success.
  • Q = Your probability of failure.

To help illustrate this formula, consider the following example. Let's assume that you're betting with a friend on a coin toss. Your friend offers you 2.00 odds on the coin landing on tails and tells you that the coin has a slight bias for tails. He tells you that the coin has a 54% chance of ending up on heads. Using this information, how much of your bankroll should you wager on this bet?

Using the Kelly formula, it will look like this: (1*.54 - .46) / 1 = 8.

That means that based on the information, you should wager 8% of your bankroll on that wager. What's nice about the Kelly formula is that it will adjust things for you based on your chances of winning. Using the same coin flip example from above, your bet percentage would increase to 20% if the coin landed on tails 60% of the time. In contrast, if the coin only landed on tails 51% of the time, you would only wager 2% of your bankroll.

Using the Kelly formula will help lower your risk compared to the other systems described above. The reason for this is that this formula is taking into account the odds of your wager. While the other systems are great, they fail to take into account your edge when making determinations of your next wager.

If you'd like to learn more about the Kelly Criterion, you can check out our in-depth coverage.

Which Plan is Right for You?

If you're searching for the magic answer, unfortunately, it's not that easy. Different bettors require different things. Therefore, a plan that works well for one bettor may not work well for another one. Ultimately, each individual's needs are unique, and therefore, it's not a one size fits all answer.

When evaluating potential staking plans, there are a few different things that you should consider. For your convenience, we've listed these things below. Be sure to take these into consideration when looking for a staking plan to use for your betting:

  • What is your risk threshold, and which plan is most compatible with it?
  • What is the size of your bankroll, and which plan is most compatible with it?
  • What are your betting goals, and which plan is most compatible with it?
  • What is your betting style, and which plan is most compatible with it?

While we wish that we could give you the right answer for you, only you will know which one is best for your needs. If you're unsure, we'd suggest you try some of the staking plans out on a limited test basis. Be sure to keep your wagers small while testing things out. By doing this, you'll get a better feel for how these plans work.

One last thing to keep in mind is that you don't have to use one of the preexisting staking plans out there. If you'd like, you can go ahead make your own system. As we mentioned earlier, this is what many of the professional gamblers do. Once again, you can experiment and see what works for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

To close things out, we've compiled some of the most common questions that we get about staking plans. If you've still got questions, check these out and see if they help you answer anything you're still unsure about.

Do I need to use a staking plan?
The use of a staking plan is not a requirement. However, we would suggest that you consider using one as a method of helping your bankroll management. Without a staking plan, it is possible that you could quickly burn through your entire bankroll, which would leave you without any further funds to wager with. Ultimately, the choice is yours.
Do professional sports gamblers use staking plans?
Absolutely! Professional gamblers use staking plans as a method to help them manage their bankroll. In many cases, these gamblers have developed their own proprietary plans to help them calculate how much to wager on any given bet.
How long should I try a staking plan before deciding it might not be the best fit for me?
We'd suggest that you give the staking plan system that you are trying out some time to run. If you only try it over one or two wagers, you're not really giving yourself a good sample set to work from. Ideally, it is best if you keep your bets small so that you can allow the plan to work over many different bets. If you've tried it over at least a dozen bets or so and you're not pleased, then it might be time to consider trying out a different plan.

Summary

Hopefully, you now have a good understanding of staking plans. While they are not for everyone, they are something that you should at least consider using as a part of your sports betting. Don't be afraid to try some of these on a limited basis to see if they help you better manage your bankroll. In the end, remember that all plans have their advantages and disadvantages. Your end goal should be to find or develop a plan that is the best fit for you and your needs.

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