Betting Guides and Strategies

There are several ways to hasten the exponential growth of your betting performance and winnings, many of which are undoubtedly in line with the level of ambition you are bringing to the table. On this page, we'll provide you with some of the most common ones. We'll start by providing you with a selection of the most important betting tips for beginners, and then we'll identify more than a dozen of the most popular betting strategies currently being used by betting fans.

This guide is intended to provide you with a broad overview, and so you will need to explore the ideas and strategies that you want to use in more depth before doing so.

Betting Tips for Beginners: How to Bet

There is more to betting than simply adding a prediction and stake to a betting slip and hoping for the best. Those who know how to bet effectively also follow a number of basic principles. Here are six of the best betting tips and explain why they are so important.

1. Bankroll Management

Bankroll management is all about the proper handling of your money in a rational and relatively risk-averse manner. Your ‘bankroll’ is a sum of money that you set aside specifically for betting purposes, and how you manage that money can have a big impact on how you fare over the long term. Most successful bettors choose to risk only a small portion of their bankroll at any given time, as that leaves them something to bet with once the going gets tough.

2. Return on Investment

Experienced bettors keep a close eye on their return on investment or ROI. This is the amount of profit that they receive, expressed as a percentage of the money paid out in betting stakes. For example, if you bet a total of £100 and get £123 back from the bookmakers, you’ve made a £23 profit, which is an ROI of 23%. All bettors will be aiming to achieve a consistently positive ROI figure.

3. Value Betting

Value betting means betting when the expected payoff exceeds the estimated chances of success. If you were able to practise value betting consistently, you could expect to emerge an overall profit at some point. For example, if a bookmaker offered you odds of 11/10 on the outcome of a “coin flip being heads”, you’d take those odds all day long. That’s because the true odds of a coin flip are 50/50, so odds of 11/10 give you excellent value.

4. Gambler’s Fallacy

The gambler’s fallacy is that an event is more or less likely to take place, even if the actual odds of that event are consistent. For example, if a coin is flipped 10 times and it has been heads every time, what are the chances of the next flip showing Heads? They are 50/50, as always, but someone’s falling for the gambler’s fallacy would think that tails is somehow more likely to show. Being aware of this psychological trap will help you to avoid it and bet more sensibly.

5. Line Shopping

Line shopping is an American term that simply means shopping around for the best betting lines, or odds. If you already know that you want to bet on a particular outcome for a specific event, look at all the bookmakers who are offering odds so that you can place your bet with the most generous one. This is essential if you want to practise value betting, as described earlier.

6. Patience When Betting

The sixth principle of successful betting is simply being patient. As they say, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day,’ so if you can consistently make small and steady profits, long-term success is assured.

For example, if you were to start with a bankroll of £100 and could make just 2% profit on your available bankroll per week, the power of compounding would turn your £100 into £280 in a year. Be patient and it would be worth £2,965,441.19 after a decade, before accounting for inflation.

Popular Betting Strategies

There are probably as many betting strategies in the world as there are people who bet for a hobby. No strategy can guarantee success by any means, but some of the more popular strategies are useful. Here are the most popular UK betting strategies.

Looking for Outliers

An outlier is more often referred to as an outsider in UK sports betting. This term is used for any outcome in a betting market that is offered at significantly larger odds than most of the others. Although outsiders win less often than favourites, they can and do win, so looking for outsiders with a chance (based on your assessment of past form) could help you spot a value betting opportunity.

Fading the Public

This strategy involves betting contrary to the majority opinion. Since we know that favourites can and do lose and that most people who bet on sports fail to make money over the long term, betting in opposition to the masses has a certain logic to it. We wouldn't apply this strategy (or any other) blindly, but it could definitely prove useful in the right circumstances.

For example, betting on an underdog to win because they have the home advantage.

Chasing Steam

An outcome in a betting event is termed a 'steamer' when so much money is being bet on it that the bookmakers are forced to reduce its odds in a significant way. The strategy of 'chasing steam' means to look for such an event (such as a horse being back from fifth favourite position to second or outright favourite) and consider betting on it. The idea here is that the money could be coming from 'people in the know', so if you place a bet, you just might profit from any 'insider knowledge' that they could have.

Heavy Favourites Preference

Look at the stats and you'll see that favourites win a good percentage of their events. That isn't surprising given the amount of work that the bookmakers put into assessing form. Put simply, focusing on the favourites. Profits from such favourites will be modest, but their winning strike rate can be impressive.

Winning Streak Edge

The idea behind this strategy is that individuals and teams that are on a winning streak will have the edge - at least psychologically, if not objectively - in their next competition. Focus on following those winning streak competitors, and if their success continues, then you can go along for the ride.

Hedge Betting

Hedge betting is a strategy that involves placing one main bet in an event and then placing secondary bets in the same event on the higher risk-reward positions. You should adjust your stakes so that a secondary winner will cover your overall outlay if the big one lets you down.

For example, if you place a primary bet where you risk ₤100 to win ₤50, also consider placing a secondary bet where you bet ₤50 to win ₤100.

Dutch Betting

Dutch betting, or Dutching, is similar to hedge betting, but instead of having one primary selection and one or more 'saver' bets, you stake in a way that gives you the same profit no matter which one wins.

For example, you might bet on the first and second favourites in a horse race and guarantee yourself a specified profit if either one of them passes the post first. Your overall profit from Dutching will be lower, in percentage terms, than an outright bet on just one selection, but your chances of getting a winner will be higher.

Arbitrage Betting

Arbitrage betting is similar to Dutching, but here you bet on every possible outcome to guarantee yourself a profit. This isn't easy, as arbitrage opportunities take time to find, but they are out there.

Consider a tennis match where two players are closely tied on their current form. One bookmaker might make Player 1 the 11/10 underdog, and another might make Player 2 the 11/10 underdog. This would make it possible to bet on the underdog with both bookmakers and enjoy a slim but certain profit no matter who wins.

Statistical Models

A minority of sports bettors like to use statistical models to help them make their betting selections. A statistical model is simply a mathematical representation of some aspect of the real world, so numbers are crunched in order to try and identify patterns, traits and probabilities. Such modelling can be very complicated, at least to the layman, so if you don't already understand the science of modelling and you want to explore this approach, you should be prepared to hit the books quite heavily.

Betting Software

There are a number of ways in which betting software applications can be used to help the sports bettor. Applications exist for everything from assessing form and making selections to helping you calculate your hedging, Dutching or arbitrage betting stakes. There are even software programs that will bet on your behalf on a betting exchange such as Betfair. Not all software is useful, and no program will guarantee success, but using software of one type or another is becoming increasingly common in the sports betting world.

Tipster Tallying

This is a simple strategy that is as useful to beginners as it is to experienced bettors. It involves monitoring a number of professional sports betting tipsters and keeping a tally of how many opt for each possible selection. The selection that is tipped most often by those tipsters is then adopted as your own selection for betting purposes.

The idea here is that there is strength in numbers, and a selection that is made by 8 out of 10 tipsters might be a better bet than a selection made by just 1 out of 10.

Matched Betting

Look around and you'll see a huge number of bookmakers offering risk-free bets and bonuses to attract new customers. Match betting takes full advantage of those offers to try and guarantee profits. For example, you might sign up with a bookmaker to use your risk-free bet on one player in a tennis match while placing a second bet on the opposing player in the same match.

Draw Betting

The draw betting strategy is used in events that can end in a draw, such as a soccer match. Here you place a bet on whichever team you think will win, and then you place a smaller bet on the draw to cover your total outlay. It is therefore a form of hedging, and the only way you will lose money is if the opposing team wins the game.

Staking Plans

Another tool used by betting enthusiasts is the staking plan. This is a method of staking over a series of bets that is intended to help you make money at the end of a winning series.

Three of the most famous staking plans are the Fibonacci, the Labouchère and the Martingale, all of which were originally developed for casino gaming. Knowing how they work is useful, but don't think that staking plans are without their own risks, because they aren't. In fact, they could result in you losing far more money than you would when betting to level stakes. Let's take a look at the three big ones just mentioned and you'll see what we mean.

The Fibonacci Staking Plan

The Fibonacci series of numbers starts with 0, 1 and then continues with the next digit being the sum of the previous two digits. The first eight numbers in the series are therefore 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 and so on.

To use the Fibonacci series as a staking plan, you would skip the 0 at the beginning and start by staking 1 unit on your first bet. If a bet loses, you stake the next number in the series. If a bet wins, you shift two steps back in the series and continue from there. If shifting two steps back takes you to 0, you start over.

The idea here is that a sufficient number of winners will wipe out all previous losses in the series and give you an overall profit. The downside is that nobody knows when that will happen, and stakes can get out of hand quite quickly if you experience an extended losing run.

The Labouchère Staking Plan

This staking plan requires you to write down a series of consecutive numbers and then stake the sum of the first and last digits. If your bet wins, cross out the first and last digits and stake the sum of the new first and last digits on the next bet. If your bet loses, don't cross out any numbers but instead add the value of the lost stake to the end of the series.

For example, let's say you write down the series 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Your first bet would be for 1+5=6. The bet loses, so you add 6 to the series. Your next stake would therefore be 1+6=7. The bet wins, so you cross out the 1 and 6, making your next stake 2+5=7, and so on.

This is a staking plan that is quite popular with sports bettors. However, you should bear in mind that it was originally invented for the game of Roulette. It is therefore potentially useful only if every bet you place is at odds of 1/1 or bigger. And, once again, an extended series of losses could be costly.

The Martingale Staking Plan

Perhaps the most famous staking plan in the world - and certainly one of the most potentially dangerous - is the Martingale. This is yet another staking plan that was originally designed for roulette games, and so it assumes that you will be betting on outcomes offered at even money or better.

Using the Martingale staking plan is simple. Start with a 1 unit bet on your first selection, and then double your stake on each subsequent selection until you hit a winner. At that point, start over from the beginning.

Assuming odds of 1/1, this plan will give you a 1 unit profit at the end of a winning series. The problem is that stakes escalate very quickly, and if you were to start with a stake of just £1, a losing run of seven bets would require you to stake £128 on your eighth selection. If the losing run were to continue, the stake for the twelfth bet would be £2,048, and so on. All in the quest for a £1 profit.

The 80/20 Rule

Otherwise known as the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule states that 80% of your results tend to come from just 20% of your efforts. Some people have found that this well-known rule of thumb holds true for sports betting too, with the majority of their profits coming from a minority of their bets.

By looking at your own betting records with this principle in mind, you may find that the bulk of your successes come from a rather narrow range of bets. If so, you can focus on those types of bets and hopefully experience a subsequent increase in your profits.

Multiple Betting Accounts

One of the biggest advantages of betting online is that it makes it easy to bet with a number of different companies. Not only will that give you a much wider range of choices in terms of betting markets, but it will also allow you to shop around for the best odds for each of your selections.

Setting up accounts with two or more bookmakers also means that you can take advantage of multiple welcome bonus offers. This could be a big help in boosting your bankroll, and it could also be useful if you want to try match betting at some point, as described earlier.

Betting Odds Aggregator

A betting odds aggregator is an online tool that automatically pulls in the available odds about an event from several bookmakers so that you can see at a glance where the best odds are. Such aggregators are particularly useful if you have multiple betting accounts.

Betting Guide Summary

As you've seen, there's a lot more to knowing how to bet effectively than most people imagine. We've covered a lot of ground here, so we would recommend going over it again to identify the betting tips and strategies that you'd like to explore further. Like anything else, successful sports betting becomes easier the more you work at it, so study the ideas and betting strategies outlined in this guide and your chances of success will improve as a result.

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