Top 10 Betting Strategies

Many mathematicians have tried and failed to create the perfect betting strategy. Each betting system has its shortcomings no matter how badly someone tries to convince you that their strategy is guaranteed.

But does this mean that all betting strategies are total junk?

No, some strategies do have merit and provide short or even long-term results. The only catch is figuring out which betting systems are worth using.

Let’s discuss 10 wagering strategies that work. Some of these systems only work on specific games like baccarat or roulette, while others can apply to any casino game.

1. Betting 2% or Less of Your Bankroll

A common scenario for casual gamblers is to walk into the casino with around $200 dollars and make bets between $10 and $25.

This seems harmless in theory, if you’re gambling with expendable income. But the problem is that you’re very likely to run out of money this way.

One good idea that comes from sports betting is only risking 2% or less of your bankroll on any given wager.

Professional and serious amateur sports bettors do this to minimize their short-term risk. But you can really apply this system to any casino game.

HERE’S AN EXAMPLE:

  • Your bankroll is $2,000.
  • 2% of your bankroll is $40.
  • You can place bets worth $40 or lower.

Pros of Betting 2% or Less of Your Bankroll

The biggest benefit to wagering 2% or less of your bankroll is that it keeps you in the game. You’re not risking chunks worth 5. 20% of your bankroll like most players.

This is helpful in any casino game from blackjack to Caribbean stud poker. But it’s especially useful in skill-based games like daily fantasy sports (DFS), poker, and sports betting.

The reason why is because skill-based games are prone to more streakiness than house-banked games. In these games, it’s common to experience long dry streaks that make you question if they’ll ever end.

The best way to get through them is by risking small amounts of your bankroll on each wager. Furthermore, you’ll dramatically lower your risk of ruin.

Cons of Betting 2% or Less of Your Bankroll

The first problem with this system is that most players don’t have a large enough bankroll to only wager 2% or less per bet. Under this system, you’ll need at least $1,000 in just to make a $20 wager (2%).

Professionals can afford to be disciplined like this because they have large bankrolls. But if you’re just a casual blackjack or craps player, you probably don’t walk into the casino with thousands of dollars.

Another downside is that some players find that this system doesn’t offer enough action. These same players may like varying their wagers from big to small depending upon how lucky they feel.

But, as long as you have a large enough bankroll, this system is definitely worth using.

2. The Martingale

The Martingale betting strategy has two things going for it:

  • It’s easy.
  • This system will theoretically provide a profit every time.

The Martingale calls on you to double bets after every loss. The goal is to always win back your losses and earn a small profit in the process.

You should also make even-money bets with the Martingale in order to simplify things and minimize your risk.

HERE’S AN EXAMPLE:

  • You bet $10 and win (+10).
  • You bet $10 and lose (0).
  • You bet $20 and lose (- 20).
  • You bet $40 and lose (- 60).
  • You bet $80 and lose (- 140).
  • You bet $160 and lose (- 300).
  • You bet $320 and win (+20).
  • Next bet returns to $10.

Pros of the Martingale

The Martingale’s best aspects include its ease of use and how it can theoretically be successful.

As long as you have the funds to continue doubling bets after losses, you’ll eventually win back your money. You’ll also book small profits along the way every time you win.

The Martingale is one of the best systems for those looking for consistent short-term profits.

Cons of the Martingale

The Martingale’s downside is that it’s an extremely risky strategy. You’ll be betting far more than your original wager after 5 to 6 losing wagers.

This can make you hesitant to pull the trigger on the next double bet.  Even worse is that your bankroll will vanish if the losing streak continues.

Another problem is that casinos impose table limits to prevent wealthy gamblers from the using the Martingale to the fullest. Otherwise, Mark Zuckerberg ($56 billion net worth) would always win with the Martingale because his bankroll would likely never run out.

You’ll eventually run into a losing streak that’s long enough to hit the table limit. In this case, you take a big loss because you can no longer double wagers to win everything back.

3. The Martingale in Skill-Based Games

We just covered how the Martingale is a very risky betting strategy. What’s more is that this system doesn’t do anything to alter the house edge.

But what if you could combine the Martingale’s effectiveness with skill?

This betting strategy can be profitable in skill based games like DFS and sports betting. Not only can you win back your losses with the Martingale, but you can also swing the odds in your favor with enough skill.

Here’s an example of how this works in DFS:

  • You lose a $10 + $1 (fee) head to head contest (- 11).
  • You lose a $20 + $2 head to head contest (- 33).
  • You lose a $40 + $4 head to head contest (- 77).
  • You win an $80 + $8 head to head contest (- 5).
  • You win a $10 + $1 head to head contest (+5).

The tough thing about DFS contests is that you have to pay an extra 10% entry fee to the sites. But as the above example shows, the Martingale strategy can still help you book a profit even if you lose the majority of contests.

Let’s look at one more example involving sports betting:

  • You lose an $11 bet (- 11).
  • You lose a $22 bet (- 22).
  • You lose a $44 bet (- 77).
  • You lose an $88 bet (- 165).
  • You win a $176 bet and earn a $160 profit (- 5).
  • You win an $11 bet and earn a $10 profit (+5),

The drawback to sports betting is that the house takes 10% juice from the losing side. But the Martingale can still help you be profitable when you string together two or more wins.

Pros of Using the Martingale in Skill-Based Games

The great thing about using this system in skill-based contests is that you can overcome short-term variance by consistently winning back losses.

The sports betting example above shows how you can earn back your losses plus a small profit even after several losing wagers.

Another advantage is that you’re not just using the Martingale in a casino game with a house edge. Instead, you’re playing skill based games.

The end result is that you get the enviable combination of getting your losses back and having a chance to win long-term profits.

Cons of Using the Martingale in Skill-Based Games

You’re taking a risk on three fronts with this betting strategy:

  • You might be at a skill disadvantage to opponents/other bettors.
  • You’re still dealing with the Martingale risks.
  • You must pay 10% fees (DFS) or 10% juice on losses (sports betting).

The first point is key because you could be facing an even worse proposition than house-banked casino games if you’re not better than opponents.

Add in the standard Martingale risks along with sportsbook/DFS fees, and non-skilled bettors are looking at a potential bankroll disaster.

4. Betting on Baccarat’s Banker Hand

Baccarat gives you three different betting options, including the banker hand, player hand, and tie bet. And the top system for playing baccarat involves making the banker bet every time.

The reason why is because the banker hand only has a 1.06% house edge. Compare this to the player hand and tie wager, which have 1.24% and 14.36% house edges, respectively.

Given that all you need to do is bet on the banker hand every time, baccarat is great for casual players who don’t want to deal with in-depth strategy.

Pros of Betting on the Banker Hand

The banker hand wager is one of the best in gaming. Only a handful of casino games offer a lower house edge than 1.06%.

The other advantage to wagering on the banker hand is that you don’t have to study strategy. Instead, you simply need to make the same bet every time.

Cons of Betting on the Banker Hand

The banker hand’s 1.06% house edge isn’t as harmless as it seems.

Mini baccarat games see anywhere from 120. 200 hands dealt per hour. This is 2. 3 times the hand rate that you’ll see in blackjack games and this exposes you more to the house edge.

Let’s look at the theoretical losses that you’d be facing in a fast-dealt baccarat game:

  • You’re making $10 bets on the banker
  • The table is seeing 200 hands per hour.
  • This adds up to $2,000 in total hourly bets.
  • We take 2,000 x 0.0106.
  • Your theoretical losses are $21.20 per hour.

5. Value Betting

Value betting is the process of getting maximum value out of situations where you have a long-term advantage. This term is most often used in poker, but it can also describe how blackjack card counters operate.

Value betting requires being able to spot and take advantage of favorable situations.

One example is when a poker player believes they have the best hand and bets in a way that extracts maximum value from their opponent. Going further, their wagers need to be large enough to get the most value from the opposing player, yet small enough that the opponent won’t fold.

Another example involves how card counters keep track of the deck until the count swings in their favor. They then make larger bets to maximize situations where the deck is rich in 10s and aces.

Pros of Value Betting

Anybody who wants to make long-term profits through gambling can benefit from value betting. This is how poker pros and card counters earn their living.

In poker’s case, being good at value betting can separate you from opponents. Getting the most value out of your great hands will improve your profits in the long run.

Cons of Value Betting

The problem with this betting strategy is that it calls on you to have the following qualities:

  • Being good at math.
  • Being skilled in the game you’re playing.
  •  Being able to walk a fine line with betting.

Wagering too little prevents you from capitalizing on your best poker hands. Wagering too much pushes your opponents out of hands and keeps you from making money on future streets.

For card counters, betting too high in favorable situations can attract the casino’s attention. In turn, they’ll find out that you’re a card counter and ban you for life.

6. Taking Craps Odds

The best regular bets in craps include pass line, don’t pass line, come, and don’t come. But there’s another craps wager that’s even better than these called odds.

Craps odds is the best bet in the casino because it doesn’t have a house edge. Instead, you’re paid at your true odds of winning. And one of the top betting strategies that you can use includes continually backing regular bets with odds.

To place an odds wager, you need to first make a pass line or don’t pass line bet after a point has been established. You should also inform the dealer that you’re making an odds bet.

Here are the payouts for when you back a pass line bet with odds (a.k.a. taking odds):

  • 2 to 1 on point numbers of 4 and 10.
  • 3 to 2 on points of 5 and 9.
  • 6 to 5 on points of 6 and 8.

Here are payouts for when you back a don’t pass line wager with odds (a.k.a. laying odds):

  • 1 to 2 for points of 4 and 10.
  • 2 to 3 for points of 5 and 9.
  • 5 to 6 for points of 6 and 8.

Pros of Taking Craps Odds

Odds is the only bet where the casino doesn’t have a house edge. And what’s great is that you can reduce the house advantage to almost nothing by taking higher odds.

Here’s a look at how far the house edge is reduced based on the odds you take:

Odds Pass Line/Come Don’t Pass Line/Don’t Come
0x 1.41% house edge 1.36% house edge
1x 0.848% 0.682%
2x 0.606% 0.455%
Full Double Odds 0.572% 0.431%
3x 0.471% 0.341%
3x 4x 5x 0.374% 0.273%
5x 0.326% 0.227%
10x 0.184% 0.124%
20x 0.099% 0.065%
100x 0.021% 0.014%

Cons of Taking Craps Odds

Casinos cap the size of odds because they don’t make long term profits off these wagers. The highest most casinos go is 5x odds, while others don’t even allow this amount.

A few Las Vegas casinos offer anywhere from 10x to 100x odds. And this seems like a dream based on how higher odds reduce the house edge further.

But the problem is that most players don’t have the bankroll to continue taking the highest odds available. If you put $10 on pass line and take 20x odds, you need an additional $200.

The average gambler doesn’t have this kind of money for a single bet, even if there’s no house edge involved.

7. The Labouchere

The Labouchere (a.k.a. cancellation system) is a negative progression betting strategy like the Martingale. The main difference, though, is that it’s less risky.

You start this system by creating a unit size. And the simplest way to do this is by choosing the table’s minimum bet.

The next step involves deciding how many units you want to win during your session. After deciding this, you create a string of numbers that adds up to your desired unit win.

You then add the first and last number in the sequence to determine your bet.

You cross off both of these numbers after a win. And you add the combined number to the end of your string after a loss.

Here’s an example of the Labouchere in action:

  • You want to win 18 units.
  • Your number string is: 3, 4, 5, 3, 3.
  • Your first bet is 6 units (3 + 3).
  • You win and your new string is: 4, 5, 3.
  • Your next bet is 7 units (4 + 3).
  • You lose and your new string is: 4, 5, 3, 7.

Pros of the Labouchere

One good thing about the Labouchere is that it gives you more freedom than most betting systems. You decide your unit size, desired profit, and how to achieve this profit.

Another good aspect to the cancellation system is that it’s not as risky as systems like the Martingale. Rather than doubling your bet following every loss to win back losses, you’re merely wagering a certain amount of units.

Cons of the Labouchere

The biggest problem with this system is that you’re forced to make a series of big bets during a losing streak. Let’s look at how this works by going back to the number sequence in the first example:

  • Your number sequence is: 3, 4, 5, 3, 4.
  • Your first bet is 7 units.
  • You lose and your new string is: 3, 4, 5, 3, 4, 7.
  • You lose a 10-unit bet and your new string is: 3, 4, 5, 3, 4, 7, 10.

This isn’t as bad as doubling your bets after every loss. But most players won’t feel comfortable wagering between 7 and 10 units for several bets in a row.

8. Making Even-Money Bets in French Roulette

Roulette offers three main variations, which are American roulette, European roulette, and French roulette. The best version is French roulette because it only has a 1.35% house edge.

French roulette is played on a European wheel (37 numbers). But the difference between European and French roulette is that the latter has the la partage rule.

La partage pays half your bet back on losing even-money wagers that land on zero. This effectively cuts the European roulette house edge (2.70%) in half as long as you stick with even-money bets.

Pros of Even-Money French Roulette Bets

The best aspects to making even-money bets with French roulette include the low house edge and excellent probability of winning.

As for the latter, you have a 48.64% chance of winning red/black, odd/even, and high/low. This is even better than your chances of winning a blackjack hand (42.22%) or baccarat hand (45.85%) when ties are accounted for.

The high probability of winning and the low house edge combine to create low volatility. And this is perfect for players with small bankrolls who want to last in casino games.

Cons of Even-Money French Roulette Bets

The biggest problem is that you can’t find French roulette in most land-based or online casinos.

France, Germany, and Monte Carlo offer a fair number of French roulette games. But the game is sparsely found in most other countries.

Any online casino with Microgaming or Realtime Gaming software will offer French roulette. Cryptologic (NYX Gaming) also has a European roulette variation that’s actually French roulette.

But beyond this, you’ll have a hard time even finding French roulette online.

9. Oscar’s Grind

Oscar’s Grind is another negative progression strategy in the same vein as the Martingale or Labouchere. But this one is more complicated.

You start off by betting 1 unit. And you keep your unit size the same when you’re in a winning or losing streak.

You increase your bet by 1 unit whenever you win following a loss. The bet size stays at this level until you lose, then win again.

The overall theme is to chase losses following losing streaks. Here’s an example to illustrate Oscar’s Grind:

  • You bet 1 unit and lose – Bet stays the same (bankroll at. 1)
  • You bet 1 unit and lose – Bet stays the same (bankroll at. 2)
  • You bet 1 unit and lose – Bet stays the same (bankroll at. 3)
  • You bet 1 unit and lose – Bet stays the same (bankroll at. 4)
  • You bet 1 unit and win – Next bet becomes 2 units (bankroll at. 3)
  • You bet 2 units and lose – Bet stays the same (bankroll at. 5)
  • You bet 2 units and lose – Bet stays the same (bankroll at. 7)
  • You bet 2 units and win – Next bet becomes 3 units (bankroll at. 5)
  • You bet 3 units and win – Bet stays the same (bankroll at. 2).
  • You bet 3 units and win – Next bet becomes 1 unit (bankroll at +1).

Once you book a profit following a losing streak, you start the process over again.

Pros of Oscar’s Grind

The good thing about Oscar’s Grind is that it allows you to chase losses without going overboard. You’re only increasing bets by 1 unit following a losing streak, which is less risky than both the Labouchere and Martingale.

The other benefit is that Oscar’s Grind is less likely to reach the table betting limit than the other two systems. This minimizes the problem of running into the table limit during a lengthy losing streak.

Cons of Oscar’s Grind

The first downside to Oscar’s Grind is that it’s more confusing than both the Labouchere and Martingale.

Examples help with learning Oscar’s Grind. But it’s not the easiest to start with if you’re new to betting strategies.

The other problem is that this system is also subject to risk and table limits if you use it over a long time period. The risk is minimized with Oscar’s Grind, but there’s still a small chance that you’ll run into a table limit.

10. No. 12 Seed vs. No. 5 Seed in March Madness

One of the worst kept secrets about March Madness betting is that No. 12 seeds are a good bet to beat No. 5 seeds.

The four No. 12 seeds in the NCAA Tournament usually face long odds to beat the No. 5 seeds. But they also have a high success rate when considering the disparity in rankings.

At least one No. 12 seed has beaten a No. 5 seed in the first round in 16 of the past 17 NCAA Tournaments. Over the past five years (2013 to 17), nine No. 12 seeds have triumphed in the first round.

Pros of Betting on No. 12 Seeds

You can win quite frequently by betting on No. 12 seeds to beat the spread.

In the last nine March Madness events, No. 12 seeds have gone 23-12-1 against the spreads (ATS). This includes an impressive 11–4–1 ATS over the past five seasons.

These low seeded teams can also earn you big profits through straight up bets. No. 12 seeds have a decent chance of winning versus the long odds they carry.

Cons of Betting on No. 12 Seeds

The problem with betting on No. 12 seeds is that they lose a majority of the time.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t still bet on No. 12 seeds, because they’ve been profitable over a long time period. But you still need the handicapping skills to determine which No. 12 seeds have a chance of winning, or at least covering the spread.

One more drawback is that you only have four chances to make these bets every year. This leaves you with a very limited opportunity to take advantage of No. 12 seed bets.

Conclusion

Betting strategies should never be viewed as a way to make guaranteed profits and replace your day job. But some of them can be highly effective over the short run and spice up your gambling sessions.

The most reasonable strategies include betting less than 2% of your bankroll, wagering on the banker hand, taking craps odds, and making even-money bets in French roulette. These help you pull in consistent wins and limit the risk factor.

Riskier systems include the Martingale, Labouchere, and Oscar’s Grind. The latter is the safest of these betting systems because you don’t increase your bet as much following losses.

You can also make long-term profits with betting strategies if you’re skilled enough. These strategies include value betting, using the Martingale in skill based games, and wagering on No. 12 seeds in March Madness.

As you can see, there are a variety of working systems that cater to different interests. And wagering strategies can also make gambling more exciting.

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