Level staking is for losers

If you are going to have any serious success as a horse racing punter you need a proven staking plan to believe in and to stick to at all times. Level staking is not it.

Betting the same amount every race may be the simplest of all staking plans, but it is inherently flawed. Outlaying the same amount on every bet you have will make you over-reliant on big priced winners and cause larger than normal drawdowns on your betting bank.

Consider the following scenario: a punter takes $200 to the track and bets $25 a race on whichever horse he fancies. Whether a horse is even money or 10/1 doesn’t matter to him, he just bets $25 the win each time. Well the problem is he is outlaying the exact same amount on a horse that the market suggests has a 50% chance of winning the race as he is on a horse the market rates a 9% chance. Does that sound like a smart approach to you? One horse is more than 5 times as likely to win, yet the amount staked is the same.

This approach makes little mathematical or punting sense yet is used by many. Level stakes does not reward the punter well enough for backing shorter priced winners, instead your results are basically made or broken by what the longer priced horses do. This leads to substantial fluctuations in your betting bank, especially when compared to a proportionate approach where you outlay more on the likely winners and less on the likely losers.

Level stakes punters also become victims of an ongoing market miscalculation that we have written about many times. The favourite/longshot bias has been proven over many years and across many markets and in simple terms it means that outsiders should be at a bigger price than they actually are, and favourites should be shorter. So flat betting all of your selections short-changes you in that way as well. While level staking is for losers, an even more dangerous approach is progressive staking. This is where you increase the size of your bets after a loss or series of losses. Unless you have a literally unlimited betting bank, this method is guaranteed to end in tears, the only doubt is how long it will take before you’re wiped out.

Progressive plans are far too aggressive and are fundamentally flawed because probability has no memory. One independent event (for example the result of your bet at Flemington race 7) is not influenced by another independent event (whether you won or lost Warwick Farm race 6) so why would you arrange your staking as if they were? It’s a road to ruin and a fast one at that. Many progressive staking promoters will show you the 20 examples of their method magically recouping previous losses. What they won’t show you is on the 21st occasion when it blows up your entire bank and then some.

The flip side to this is a regressive staking plan where (supposedly) in order to protect your bank you reduce your bet size after a loss. The problem of course is that it means you are guaranteed to have your biggest bet on losers and smallest bet on the winners. If I ever meet a professional punter who bets level stakes, or uses progressive or regressive plans I will let you know. It hasn’t happened yet.