Numerous betting strategies (a.k.a. systems) have been developed with the purpose of trying to win money through gambling.
Many of these systems have similarities such as positive or negative progressions. But the process is the same in that one is trying to gain an edge over the house with these systems.
Not all betting strategies are created equal, though, and some stand above the rest. That said, let’s look at 10 betting systems you should consider adding to your arsenal.
1. Value Betting
Value betting is a common poker term used to describe scenarios where you extract maximum value from a profitable situation.
You can’t value bet house-banked casino games like baccarat, craps, and roulette because the casino has an advantage. But you can find these betting opportunities in skill-based games like daily fantasy sports (DFS), poker, and sports betting.
Value betting by no means guarantees you’ll win. But the key is that you continually make favorable bets because you’ll be profitable over the long term.
Let’s look at an example of how a card counter uses value betting:
- The player is betting $10 while they count cards.
- The true count moves to +4 in favor of the player.
- They increase their bet to $100 to extract more value from the situation.
Again, it’s important to understand that value betting doesn’t guarantee you short-term profits. The average card counter only holds a 1% edge over the casino, which means that they lose almost as much as they win.
But the goal is to use math and strategy to consistently find favorable gambling scenarios.
Value betting isn’t an interchangeable concept when moving through different skill-based gambling activities. For example, you can’t use the same factors to spot value wagers in poker as you use in sports betting.
But if you’re good enough to beat one type of game, then you can apply the same general skills and work ethic to find value in other forms of gambling.
2. Stop-Loss & Stop-Win Limits
Many players experience situations where they’re beating the casino by a wide margin, only to continue playing and eventually lose everything.
A similar common scenario involves having a long losing streak where a player is chasing losses and loses everything.
In either case, you can benefit by setting win and loss limits for each casino session.
A stop-win limit refers to when you quit any gambling session after winning a specific amount of money. A stop-loss limit is when you quit a session after losing a certain amount.
The limits behind this betting strategy can be whatever you’d like. The main thing to consider here is how much you’re comfortable with losing, and what amount you’d be satisfied with winning.
I set my limits based on a percentage of my bankroll. Here are two examples that I personally use:
- Stop-loss limit = 10% of my bankroll
- Stop-win limit = 15% of my bankroll
The size of your bankroll and the frequency in which you gamble will play a role in what limits you choose. If you only play casino games once a month, then you may be perfectly fine with losing 50% or more of your bankroll before quitting.
But you’ll want to have lower limits like those listed above if you play casino games frequently and have a larger bankroll.
3. Flat Betting
Flat wagering is the most common betting strategy in existence. This simple system involves keeping your bets the same size on every turn.
I realize that this isn’t the most revolutionary strategy. However, flat betting is a tried-and-true system that can keep you on the tables and machines for a long time.
The average player will eventually lose their bankroll when flat betting in house-banked casino games. But many players prefer this versus constantly changing their wager size based on when they feel lucky.
The latter is a riskier proposition that can cause you to lose your bankroll much faster. But perhaps betting based on luck and or patterns spices up casino games for you.
Again, though, flat betting is a safer strategy that allows you to extend your bankroll further.
4. Bankroll Percentage Model
How do you determine your bet size? Is it by feel? Or do you simply place the table’s minimum wager?
If you don’t have a specific way of determining your wager size, then you should consider the bankroll percentage model.
This involves placing bets based on a percentage of your bankroll.
Sports bettors do this to survive rough losing streaks and preserve their bankroll. But you can apply the strategy to any casino game.
Here’s an example:
- Your bankroll is worth $1,250.
- You decide that you can place up to 2% of your bankroll on a single bet.
- You like playing blackjack.
- Your percentage guidelines allow you to bet up to $25 per hand.
The percentage that you decide on for each bet will vary based on how risk-averse you are. I personally don’t like risking any more than 2-3% of my bankroll on a single wager.
But you may decide that certain bets are worth taking a larger risk on when you have a long-term advantage. This could be the case in a sporting or DFS contest that you research well and believe you have a large edge with.
However, due to the house edge, it’s generally not a good idea to risk over 3% of your bankroll in casino games. Most players will get far more enjoyment out of limiting their risk and playing longer.
5. Advantage Play
An advantage player is somebody who’s capable of making long-term profits in a gambling activity. Advantage players can be found in card counting, DFS, poker, sports betting, and video poker.
In order to survive in the game they’re playing, an advantage gambler must have two things:
- The skills to win consistently over the long term.
- A good bankroll management plan so that they can survive losing streaks.
The second point is where this betting strategy comes in, because advantage players need their bankroll to last. Of course, bankroll management differs slightly depending upon which game you’re playing.
DFS players and sports bettors can benefit from using the bankroll percentage model. This limits the amount of their bankroll that’s at risk in the event of a loss.
Card counters need a large bankroll so that they can survive until the deck swings in their favor. They can then start increasing their bet sizes and taking advantage of favorable odds.
Poker players can base their bankroll management strategy on whether they play cash games or tournaments.
A cash game player should have enough to cover at least 30 buy-ins for the stakes they play. A tournament player should have enough to cover 75-100 tourney buy-ins.
Long story short, advantage players need a good bankroll management plan so they can survive downswings and continue reaping long-term profits.
6. Oscar’s Grind
Oscar’s Grind is a negative progressive betting system that’s used for even-money wagers. The main theme behind this betting strategy is that you keep bets low during losing streaks and increase them when you’re winning.
Oscar’s Grind begins with you dividing your bankroll into units. The unit size can be whatever you’d like, although the minimum table bet works best.
The next step is to start your session by wagering 1 unit. You keep your bet size at 1 unit as long as you continue winning or losing.
The only time that you change your bet size is following your first win after a loss. At this point, you increase your bet size by 1 unit.
Here’s an example of how Oscar’s Grind works:
- 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 win – Bet stays the same (bankroll at -1)
- You bet 2 units and win – Bankroll at +1.
- Start the system over again.
The idea behind Oscar’s Grind is to always win back your losses while earning at least 1 unit. Once you win back your losses and book a 1 unit profit, the scenario starts over again.
Theoretically, Oscar’s Grind helps you win profits in any gambling session. But there are two main problems here:
- Table limits.
- You’d need an infinite bankroll in the event of a horrific losing streak.
Nevertheless, you can still win a lot of short-term profits with this system.
Handicapping refers to two different things in sports betting:
- Bookies assigning a handicap to a favored team/player to encourage equal betting on both sides.
- Sports bettors researching a competition to find value on one side or the other.
The latter involves looking at a variety of factors to decide which outcome has a better chance of winning. Here are examples of what you consider in baseball:
- Starting pitchers
- Batting lineups
- Weather (outdoor)
- Rest time from last game (especially for pitchers)
- Recent team performances
The most successful long-term handicappers go beyond what the general public does in order to win. They also use the bankroll management techniques that we discussed in point #5 to ensure that their bankroll isn’t threatened by a losing streak.
The hope is that you become good enough at handicapping to eventually make profits. But most sports bettors will find that this takes lots of time and effort.
Also note that there are plenty of helpful tools out there to help you in your handicapping efforts. These include articles, expert picks, and software.
The latter is especially helpful when you get good at using software programs because you can enter a variety of data and get useful statistics.
8. Overlay Betting
Casinos and poker rooms offer guaranteed prize pool tournaments to draw more customers. Gambling establishments do research to come up with a guarantee that’s likely to be met by the number of entrants.
Here’s an example:
- Casino guarantees a $10,000 prize pool.
- The buy-in is $100.
- 100 players are needed for the event to meet its guarantee.
But what happens if not enough players enter the tournament to cover the guaranteed prize pool? The casino must put their own money into the pool to ensure that it reaches the guaranteed amount.
If a tourney guarantees $10,000 and there’s only $8,000 in prize money, the casino must front the other $2,000. Players are now getting more value from buy-ins too because they’re competing against fewer entrants for the prize pool.
This leads me to another betting strategy in that you can continually look for overlays in tournaments. And you might even be willing to bet outside your comfort zone when you find really generous overlays.
This is particularly useful in online DFS, poker, and slots tournaments, where overlays are common. You can even use DFS software that monitors and spots overlays for you.
I still recommend using smart tournament bankroll management when hunting for overlays. Furthermore, you should also develop the skills that will help you win consistently in these tourneys.
The Martingale is the easiest betting strategy to use because it merely involves doubling your bets after every loss.
This is similar to Oscar’s Grind in that it’s a negative progression system used to chase losses and end up with a small profit. But the difference is that the Martingale is riskier because you’re continually risking more following a loss.
Let’s look an example:
- You bet $5 and lose (-5).
- You bet $10 and lose (-15).
- You bet $20 and lose (-35).
- You bet $40 and lose (-75).
- You bet $80 and lose (-155).
- You bet $160 and lose (-315).
- You bet $320 and win (+5).
You run into the same problems with the Martingale as you will with Oscar’s Grind in that table limits and bankroll size are your nemeses.
I don’t recommend using the Martingale for any considerable amount of time due to its risk factor. But if you have a bankroll worth a few thousand dollars and want to go for some short-term profits, then this is an interesting system.
10. All-in Betting Strategy
The craziest betting system is the all-in strategy. This is exactly as it sounds in that you’re betting your entire bankroll in a single wager.
The theory here is that you want to minimize the number of bets you make so that you’re not continually exposed to the house edge. Instead, you make one even-money bet that essentially amounts to a coin flip.
Of course, the odds are still slightly in the casino’s favor, but the riskiest gamblers prefer this to continually making small bets.
The most famous example of the all-in strategy working belongs to Ashley Revel. The Brit sold his home and possessions to accumulate $135,000 for a single roulette wager.
He then travelled to Las Vegas and placed his bet on red 7. Revel rejoiced when his wager came through and he was $135k richer.
This isn’t my favorite gambling strategy, because I like to enjoy my time on the tables and machines. However, if you’re looking for the ultimate thrill from gambling, then give the all-in system a chance.
You’ll never find a perfect betting strategy. And even if you could, casinos would quickly find a way to minimize its effectiveness.
This is essentially what they’ve done with the Martingale by imposing table limits. These limits prevent someone like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos ($90 billion net worth) from a using their near infinite funds to consistently win with the Martingale.
But despite the fact that you’ll never find a perfect betting strategy, you can at least use some systems to make profits in the short-term. In the case of the advantage play strategies I covered, you can even make long-term profits and become a professional gambler.
In summary, I recommend that you give some of the systems that I’ve covered a try and see if they bring you more profits. At the very least, you’ll find a new angle on gambling that makes the activity more fun.