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Betting Strategies: Prepare a game plan to improve your betting outcomes

Develop schemes and systems to boost your sports and horse racing betting
Betting Strategies

Betting Strategies

  • Bankroll and Staking Plan
  • Betting Bankroll Management - The Kelly Criterion
  • Patience and Discipline
  • Understand Accumulators
  • Keep Track
  • Develop Betting Models

Bankroll and Staking Plan

A bankroll in betting terms is an amount of money you’re willing to both risk and invest in your betting. Sports betting is not a get rich quick scheme, it requires patience and long term planning. One of the best ways you begin planning is by setting up and maintaining a bankroll.

Essentially your bankroll is the amount you're willing to both risk and invest in your betting. It's important that you start with a bankroll that will allow you to bet in a manner so as to see consistent growth.

Let’s say you can afford a bankroll of $100, the next step is to stop thinking of your bankroll as a monetary amount. The amount of money in your bankroll might increase or decrease depending on your success and situation, the key is splitting your bankroll into units.

Units are just a percentage of your bankroll. It is advisable to split your bankroll into a minimum of 50 units, so assuming a bankroll of $100, you should split it up into 50 units of $2. 

The idea is to train yourself in betting in amounts of units, retaining the same strategy and principles no matter the size of your bankroll. You should never bet more than 1-3% of your bankroll on any given bet. This may seem too low to most people, but as stated earlier, when it comes to sports betting slow and steady definitely wins the race.

Understanding odds and value is vital for knowing how much of your bankroll you should risk for each bet. For instance, it makes little sense to bet the same amount on a 1.70 favourite compared to a 4.30 chance. Take the odds and value into account and bet accordingly.

Random swings will always occur in sports betting as winning and losing streaks are inevitable. Disciplined bankroll management reduces the chances of bankruptcy and gives you the best possible chance of genuine long term profits.

Betting Bankroll Management - The Kelly Criterion

The Kelly Criterion was created by John Larry Kelly Junior in 1956 as a way to calculate how much of your bankroll should be risked on any particular bet. As Kelly himself stated, the criterion only works “when the investment or game is played many times over, with the same probability of winning or losing each time, and the same payout ratio”. 

In sports betting there is never the same probability in two different events, however we can use the Kelly Criterion as a basis for sound bankroll management. In simple terms, the Kelly is interested in the relationship between probability and value of the odds, referred to as the overlay. The intention is to minimise risk and maximise your advantage.

There are different forms of Kelly such as the Full Kelly, Fractional Kelly and Constant Kelly each with their own particular advantages and flaws. They all suggest adjusting your bets according to how much value there is, but the calculations rely on your ability to assess the probability or an outcome with consistency.

Kelly Criterion Calculator

Let’s take a look at a football match where the odds on a draw is 3.40 (12/5 with an implied probability of 29.4%), but you estimate there is a 40% probability of a draw occurring.

The formula for calculating the Kelly stake would be:

[(Probability multiplied by odds) - 1] divided by (odds-1).
[(0.4 * 3.40) - 1] / (3.40 - 1)
[1.36 - 1] / 2.4
0.36 / 2.4

The Kelly Criterion is suggesting the stake on this particular bet should be 15% of your bankroll.

You can see quite clearly that the Kelly is suggesting 15% of your bankroll but we stated earlier that you should never bet more than 1-3% of your bankroll on any given bet. Therefore you should recheck your own probability estimation and always err on the side of caution. 

One way to be more cautious is by using the Fractional Kelly. You can use the formula above but simply divide the Kelly outcome by a percentage, for instance 50% which is known as the Half Kelly and track your betting over time to see what works best for you.

It is advisable to setup your own Kelly Criterion formula excel spreadsheet that you can use to calculate the optimum stake for your bet. Simply use the formula above and input your betting bankroll, the odds on offer, your assessed probability for that outcome occurring and your Kelly fraction. 

If it seems your bankroll is not growing fast enough, don’t despair. Stick with the process because it is inevitable that losing runs will happen and by betting sensibly using the Kelly Criterion your bankroll will increase slowly in the long run, but the risk of blowing the bankroll is significantly reduced.

Patience and Discipline

Patience is a virtue as the old proverb goes, and it couldn’t be more relevant in the world of sports betting. Sports betting should be viewed as a form of serious investment, a marathon not a sprint, with a long term view to exponential growth.

Patience is not a virtue that is exercised regularly by most of the general public. The emergence of online gambling and mobile phones has enabled people to bet anywhere they are 24 hours a day. Punters have a big advantage over bookmakers in the fact that they don’t have to bet on every single game, they can simply sit out, wait for value to emerge and bet accordingly.

One of the major psychological aspects connected with all forms of gambling is chasing losses. That means that after a loss many people want to win their money back straight away, doing so without proper thought, reflection, patience or discipline.

Chasing losses is a sure fire way to walk into a gambling trap and destroy your bankroll. There is a reason casinos try and keep people glued to the tables and machines as long as possible, most of them are chasing losses and not taking time to reflect on the big picture.

It’s important not to let a losing run alter your strategy or bankroll management, have faith in your analysis and look forward. Similarly, don’t allow a winning streak to lead you to think you can do no wrong and you have the bookmakers at your mercy. Stay consistent and disciplined with your analysis and bankroll management.

Developing an ability to find value bets in different markets requires time and experience. Bookmakers want you exploit your emotional weakness such as chasing losses or overconfidence during a winning streak. Identify your emotional weaknesses and eliminate them from your process. Be patient and disciplined.

Understand Accumulators

Accumulators, sometimes called multi-bets, parlays or teasers, should be understood for what they are. Like the lottery you have a small chance of winning and the idea of a big pay day is enticing, but the actual chances of winning are quite low.

We established earlier that in any game of football in the popular win/draw/win market there are three possible outcomes; a home win, draw, and away win with a 33% chance for each outcome. Once we add another game into the bet, there are nine possible outcomes and your chance of hitting your two bets is reduced to 22%.

Let’s add another game into the bet. Suddenly there are 27 possible outcomes and your chance of hitting all three is reduced to 11%. You can see the pattern here, and when aligned with understanding and identifying value there are obvious disadvantages when adding multiple bets into an accumulator.

Although generally a terrible way to bet, accumulators can provide tremendous value if you have done your homework. For example, they can be extremely useful for various bets such as draws in football where the odds are higher and the games are not played at the same time. 

Provided you find value regularly, your bankroll will of course grow faster if you stake more per bet. But if you stake too much per bet, you risk bankruptcy. Sadly this aspect is often severely underestimated by most people. The can be brutal even if you mostly place value bets. Luckily this can be handled easily by a very simple rule: 

If you are able to come up with a reasonably accurate estimation of your actual value, you can use the Kelly-formula to make the most of your edge – and stake ever more efficiently. 

Keep Track of your Bets

The only way to know exactly how you are performing in sports betting is by keeping track of your wins and losses. Collecting a large sample size and creating an unbiased account and of your betting record allows you to study, review and analyse your results over time to see where you can improve.

You need a basic understanding of spreadsheets; how to create them, input and analyse data, and how to create formulas. If you are unfamiliar with Excel, do yourself a favour and learn the basics, start small and go from there. Before you know it the information will grow and you will be able to look at your sports betting in a rational and calculated way. 

For instance you could use a spreadsheet to track all your football bets, but what will that tell you after a month or one year? One strategy is to split up all the different types of football bets you place such as win, draw, first goal scorer, over/under and correct score, to see what types of bets are more profitable than others and change your staking plan accordingly.

The more detail the better though, such as tracking certain competitions or teams. Is home advantage providing value over a particular length of time? Is a certain team being under or over-valued? If you want to be successful in sports betting be prepared to work, it will help you to train your mind in the continual search for value.

Keeping track also allows you to see trends in fixture timing, such as betting after the All Star break in the NBA which is can be very profitable, or laying off betting on football matches early in the season or the week after an international break because historically they are less profitable.

Develop Betting Models

Developing a sports betting model takes plenty of time and hard work, but the results can be extremely satisfying and profitable. Betting model spreadsheets can quickly get out of hand with endless amounts of data scrambling your brain, so there are some fundamentals to consider when starting a sports betting model.

The main idea should be to create a likely outcome based on different sets of criteria, then match your results with the odds and identify value. Once you develop your model for a particular sport, league or team, you will see opportunities the general betting public don't consider.

For any betting model to be successful you need to know the intricacies of the sport or league you decide to cover. You also need to know the various betting markets for that sport. You also need a massive amount of data, which you will need to look for in different parts of the internet. It will all be there, it’s just a matter of finding it.

Data entry can be extremely laborious and time consuming, fortunately there is data scraping software that allows you to scrape data from websites directly into spreadsheet format. If you intend to build complex betting models, data scraping software will save you a huge amount of time.

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