Money Management

The average punters lose their money to the bookmakers when wagering on their soccer picks largely as a result of poor money management. Bookmakers will at times offer good odds especially when they have a good run of profits for few weeks. It is to lure punters to deposit more money into their bookmakers’ account and punters will mostly win at that time. This is fine for the bookmaker because they know that sooner or later the money will be back to them due to punters poor management of money. The bookmakers sees the loss as a short term investment because average punters will increase his bet after few winning streaks. Inevitably, the bookmakers will get their money back with interest.

Professional punters know how bookmakers work (presenting good price now and then, get more money for circulation, let’s customers feel they are winning, thus generating more cash and eventually more money in the bookmaker coffers). Hence, professional punters wait patiently for the next round where extra good odds are offered. They do not get carried away after few wins. They may not necessary better in their predictions but definitely better in their money managements. Money management is one of the most important skills required in all form of betting, from simple casino games like bingo gambling through to spread betting.

There are generally 3 systems for money management, Martingale; Row of numbers; and Kelly criteria.

1 Martingale

This system is originally designed for casino. It is a system which helps you control your stakes. With Martingale, you can be a lousy bettor, but still win money. Please not that Martingale is a system with very high risk of going broke.

It is called “double up” in layman’s terms. If you lose a bet, you just increased your wager by double in your next bet. If you win, you start all over again on your starting stake. This means that you eventually will be ensured a profit. Follow this example: You've found a game with odds 2.0 for home victory. You bet $100, but lose. Next time you bet $200 on a game with odds 2.0. If you lose again, you must bet $400 on a game with odds=2.0. If you win this time, you've placed a total stake of 100+200+400 =$700, and you've won $100 for your efforts. The $100 payoff is equal to what you would've won on your first bet.

This system requires the punters to have unlimited funds available and no nerve. Also, there shouldn’t be a maximum limit for betting. Martingale is not really a suitable money management system for the average punter due to it heavy level of progression.

2 Row of numbers

This system is somewhere similar with Martingale, recovering from losses by increasing your stakes. But Row of numbers is not as tough as Martingale though. While Martingale can quickly give you your stakes back including a profit, Row of numbers does not repay your losses that quick, but it does not lead to big stakes either (which Martingale does).

Row of numbers gives you more flexibility compared to Martingale because you can adjust your stakes in a more suitable way. The disadvantage is that this system requires more effort from you, as you have to make a row of numbers on a piece of paper and add numbers when you lose, and remove numbers when you win. You need to have better control with your betting, so to say. Let’s take a look at the system.

First decide how much you want to win. E.g $1000. Decide an average probability for a win, given a fixed odds. If you want to play on games with an average odds of 2.0, set your probability to 40% (or thereabouts). It's better to underestimate rather than overestimate your abilities. If you overestimate your ability, you will have to make up for it by increasing your stakes, and increasing the stakes can easily become rather unpleasant if you hit a losing streak. If we split the $1000 into 20 $50 wins, and draw it as a row on numbers, it would look like this:

50 50 50 50 50 50 50 50 50 50 50 50 50 50 50 50 50 50 50 50

When you win, you remove the first and last number in the row, but when you lose you must add a number to the row. For example,

The first and last number will be removed if you win. 50+50=100. In order to win $100, you must use a stake which will give you $100 in net profit. If the odds given is 2.0, you'll have to bet $100. If the odd is 1.50 you must bet $200. If the odds is 1.75 you must bet $133,33. The method of determining the stake is:

Net winning


odd - 1

The stakes for your forthcoming bets can be calculated in the same way. If the first bet is $125 at odds 1.8, and you lose this bet, you must add 125 at the end of the list. The next bet will then be the first and last number in the row, which now is 50+125, divided by (odds-1).



odd - 1

You must of course substitute "odd" with the actual odd offered on your object.
If you win, you must remove the first and last number in the row, and then start fresh with (50+50)/(odds-1) again.

Even though this system does not produce such a high level of progression as Martingale, it's still a rather dangerous system. If you hit a losing streak, things can easily get out of hand. Therefore, your pre-betting calculation is of highest importance. Before starting with this kind of system, be sure to run a test period with fake stakes for a month or so. You will learn the system, and see the importance of modesty when determining your own predicting ability.

3 Kelly Criteria

Systems like Martingale and Row of numbers use high level of progression to make up for the punters lack of margins. In these systems, stakes are successively increased when losing, thus the punter are running a high risk of bankruptcy.

In the Kelly Criteria, progression increases when you are winning, and decreases when you are losing. The stakes are decided by a percentage of the size of your funds. In the Kelly Criteria, the risk of bankruptcy is virtually eliminated.

The Kelly Criteria requires that the punter have the probabilities on his side. When using Kelly, it's expected that the punter can bet even with, or better than the bookmaker. If a home team has got odds = 2.0, you will only bet on the home team if you think it has a 50% chance or more.

With Kelly you make money by having only a small advantage on every game you pick. If you instead have a small disadvantage for every game you pick (i.e you overestimate your predictions), you will lose money compared to flat stake betting.

3.1 Size of your fund
A fund sized 10-15 times the size of your normal single bet is enough. Of course these funds must be funds you can afford to lose. Remember that with the Kelly Criteria, you will not lose all your money straight away, because the stakes are decided as a percentage of the actual size of your fund.

3.2 Length of the project
How long will you continue to play with this system? If you have set yourself a goal with your betting, finish the project when your goal is reached, and start all over again. This way you get to realize the money you've earned, and thereby strengthening your moral and discipline. If you've not set yourself a goal, reset your fund when it approaches 100% payoff. Remember as long as your money is in the bookmaker account, it's the bookmaker who possesses the money, not you. And what's the point of earning money when you cannot use them as you please? Therefore, decide when to reset your fund when you have reached a predefined amount, and start it all over again. Make your earnings visible.

The biggest advantage with the Kelly Criteria is that you will lose less money when your fund is low. This is due to the fact that your next stake is a percentage of the fund's actual size. When the size of the fund is low, your next stake will also be low. If your average stake is 10% of your total funds, then you can lose 6 times in a row, and still have nearly 48% of your funds left (take 0.9 and multiply with itself 6 times).

Kelly is not a system which provides rapid changes to your account. With Kelly you make money by having the required little margin, the extra 5% on each game. If you have the margins on your side, Kelly makes your stakes increase. If you lose, stakes will decrease. As a result of this, you will not experience great changes to your account. Kelly is a system for punters who do not bet just for the sake of money, but also for the sake of their own satisfaction (when the prediction turns out to be a good one).


If you are a punter with a high risk profile (you like to gamble), and you know that you rarely predict better than the bookmaker, then Martingale, or Row of numbers, could be your money management system. But be ware of the dangers represented with these systems. Their progression rate can be devastating, and can take the mockery out of your project long before it's even started.

If you have a low risk profile and you know you are able to predict slightly better than the bookmaker, then Kelly is your system. Kelly is the system of the professional punter, a system for punters who thrive for perfection, a system that optimizes the return of your funds, if and only if, you can predict better than the "enemy", i.e the bookmaker.

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