The pitfalls of progressive staking

Punting Pointers

The term “progressive staking” sounds fairly professional and the concept appeals to many punters as a way of (supposedly) making marginally profitable methods very profitable.

But if the concept was called by a more appropriate term such as “aggressive loss chasing plans” then not nearly as many punters would be tempted.

In case you don’t already know, progressive staking plans involve increasing your bet size following a loser or series of losers. This approach may seem OK on paper and may work in the short term, but at some stage you are absolutely certain to wipe out your betting bank. Most punters already bet too much of their bank on each bet and this problem is simply exacerbated by progressive betting.

Increasing your bets following a losing streak does not make any mathematical sense. Previous unrelated results (good or bad) have no material effect on the next result, yet you are increasing your bet size and risk. Relate it back to a coin toss and hopefully you are aware that whether there have been 5 heads in a row or 500, the chance of the next toss also being a head is exactly 50%, no more and no less. If you choose to use a progressive staking plan you are effectively betting against established mathematics and probability which is a surefire recipe for financial ruin.

Another key ingredient in money management is factoring in the role of winning strike-rates.

For example, say that your records show a 30% winning strike-rate and you’re quite active with 40 bets per week.

For all but 1 week of the year you will have between 6 and 18 winners from your 40 bets that week.

68% of the time you will have between 9 and 15 winners per week.

But it’s also a cold hard mathematical fact that you are a 98% chance of encountering a losing streak of 14 or more at some stage throughout the year.

In fact you can expect 4 such losing streaks of 14 over a 12 month period.

And you’re an even money chance (50%) of having a losing streak of 19.

The stats above refer to a 30% winning strike-rate which is higher than most punters achieve. What kind of progressive plan can cope with those kinds of losing runs or worse?

My advice to the vast majority of punters is to research money management in detail, consider proportionate staking, eliminate progressive plans and before making a decision you should carefully consider the following:

(1) Winning strike-rate – based on actual long-term records, not what you’d like to achieve in the future.

(2) Losing streak – what is your longest run of outs or worst drawdown? When determining the size of your bank, consider doubling your worst ever run so you can be very confident that you’ll never blow up your entire bank.

(3) Psychology – your money management plan needs to match your psyche. Are you an aggressive risk-taker, or more conservative and risk-averse?

(4) ‘Gambler’s ruin’ – google it for more information on the downfall of many punters.

After carefully considering the above factors and choosing a suitable money management plan, you should then ‘paper-trade’ prior to going live with your hard-earned money.

Many punters believe that a progressive staking plan is the magic ingredient to be successful. They are partially right because good money management principles are essential.

But to expect a progressive plan to be the secret to punting riches is very naive and mathematically flawed. Promoters play on this naiveté to tout expensive loss-chasing plans that are doomed to fail – if your system/method/tipster can’t make a profit on its own you will eventually go broke.