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Setting Your Staking Levels

Written By Rich Mawer

Rich has been in horse racing since a small boy growing up in Yorkshire and heading to the Malton open days. At University Rich shared a house with a bookmakers son for 3 years, in that time he learned how to read form, course stats, use speed ratings and price up a card. In 1996 Rich went full-time with his betting, then with the advent of Betfair in 2002 Rich switched to the exchanges, learning to trade and lay horses.

Now you have your betting bank set up, you have adopted the right mindset and started developing out your betting strategy, you must decide how much to bet and how this will vary depending on whether you are back or laying horses. I cover both in this post to help you get this right.

Staking levels, staking plans, how much stake is a source of countless articles, videos, books and posts from those so called “gurus” – but my approach is pretty simple and straight forward. I cover it here in this video.


As you can see setting your staking levels is all about protecting your betting bank but also maximising your wins to grow your bank in a predictable manner. If you stake too little you will be safe, but your bank will grow slowly and you will be more tempted to place random bets to force it to grow. If you stake too much, you will not be able ride out any losing runs and you will end up going bust, so this is important.

Important – You must be making Level Stakes Profits with your system or strategy

The first thing I want to say is that adjusting your stakes to try to make a losing system or strategy profitable is not what setting staking levels is about. If you have done the work and got a system that is achieving a level stakes profit (LSP) over a period of time then this becomes far simpler. 

The problem is if you are not achieving LSP then you will adjust your staking levels to make up for that and it is only a matter of time before you go bust. Both of my lay systems have achieved a 90%+ strike rate since 2009, so these are the types of systems you need to develop yourself or use for laying. If you are selecting your own back bets then make sure you “paper trade” for at least 6 months before you set your staking levels.

Setting Your Staking Levels To Back A Horse

The key consideration here is setting your staking levels at a level where you are staking enough to give good returns on the wins but also protecting our bank from any losing runs.

I did a series of videos on a typical month backing horses for me and you can see the variance across the month – I set this up as a playlist here – Guide To Successful Backing Of Horses – if you watch all three videos in the series you will see how I view backing horses, I ended the month making +52pts profit, so £2600 profit from my back bets, but there were short runs across the month where my bets did not win.

As I discussed in the Setting Up Your Betting Bank post, I recommend that you set your staking levels as a % of you bank, either 0.5% with a 200 pt bank or 1% for a 100 pt bank.

As a rule of thumb NEVER risk more than 5% of your total bank on a single back bet.

When should you increase or decrease your stakes?

As we increase the size of our betting bank, we will naturally start to increase our stakes (as a proportion of that bank). 

“I recommend increasing your stakes with every 10% increase in your betting bank”

As an example, if you started with a betting bank of £1000, you would maintain stakes of £5 per point until you would then look to increase your stakes once you get to £1100, when you would move to £5.50 per point or 0.5% of your new bank.

The same principle would apply on a losing run, maintain your staking level until your bank reduces by 10% then adjust it accordingly. This will protect your bank.

It is natural in any betting cycle for your betting bank to move up and down, but by adopting this approach to backing stakes, it will stop you over compensating and doing anything stupid.

Doncaster Racecourse Racing

What about staking on Lay bets?

The very nature of laying horses gives you a dilemma as a better, you will have a higher strike rate of winning bets, but you will also incur a far greater liability on any losing bets, which will give a greater impact on your betting bank.

There are two approaches to staking on lay bets:

  • Fixed Stake – Variable liability with a loss.
  • Limited Liability – Set liability with variable stakes and profit.

It is up to you which you prefer, I have used Limited Liability staking on my lay bets for the past 10 years, as my profits come from mixed betting tactics in my betting strategy.

If you are using my Racing Profits Lay Systems – they both have a 90%+ strike rate, so you will have long runs of 20 – 30 winning lays and I find that Limited Liability gives you the peace of mind that on the odd losing bet you are still minimising the impact on your betting bank.

I hope that helps you set your own staking levels and remember that the mantra must always be to build your bank slowly, as it grows you grow your stakes. 

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