Best Football Betting Systems

Learn about different football betting systems

Football is the most popular sport worldwide and particularly in the UK where it far outreaches any other sport. Recently, more than ever, it has taken over as the most popular sport for betting with matches taking place every minute of the day around the world - all offering a new opportunity for us to place football bets.

But with so many matches on offer and an overload of information at our disposal from stats and form to tipping services, sometimes it can feel a bit like we are wading through treacle when trying to make a profit from our betting.

This is where betting systems come in. Betting systems allow us to find bets without having to make emotional decisions - one of the main problems with betting on this popular sport. With betting systems, we get straight to the bets without having to make conscious decisions, with a successful system leading to profit in the long term and helping us to hopefully win.

Of course there are no perfect systems and each will go through periods where they more or less successful - remember, there is no guarantee when it comes to betting on football and profits can never be certain.

Systems can be a great way to approach our betting, though, and some of the best have been shown to give success and are definitely worth looking at, although winning betting systems can be hard to find. If betting systems aren’t for you, there are other ways to win at football betting.

Martingale System

The Martingale System is one of the most popular betting systems going, and probably because it is the easiest system to understand. Despite this, it is one of the most dangerous systems to use, even though on the face of it it seems fairly attractive.

The system was originally used on the outside bets of a roulette table (such as red/black, odd/even), with odds at even money, meaning there is an equal chance of winning as losing. The principle is simply to double the stake with each loss, meaning it will only take a single win to make a profit equal to the original stake.

The system can be applied to football betting when looking at markets where we often have even money odds on both sides, which we can find in various markets such as:

  • Both teams to score

  • Over/under goals

  • Asian handicaps

  • Corner markets

For example, if you start with a bet of £1 and lose, your next bet would be £2. If that loses, you would increase the next bet to £4. If that bet wins, your winnings would be £8. Your total amount staked would be £7, so you would have won £1 at the end of the chain. Of course, this seems like a good system, and in principle, if you had an unlimited betting bank, you would be guaranteed to win in the end.

Unfortunately, in reality, it would only take a few losses until we are staking very large amounts, and the system relies on the user never having a long ‘cold streak’. In practice, and over a period of time, this isn’t the case, and we are likely to end up losing a large amount of money at some point. Using the above example, for instance, it would only take 7 consecutive losses before we are having to stake over £100 in order to attain only an eventual £1 profit.

StakeResult
£1LOSE
£2LOSE
£4LOSE
£8LOSE
£16LOSE
£32LOSE
£64LOSE
£128??

So the Martingale can be fun used in the short term and without expectations of a guaranteed profit. If used consistently or long term, however, it is likely to catch you out with losses that outweigh all of those previous wins.

Martingale System Pros & Cons

ProsCons
  • Easy to understand and implement

  • Requires only a single win to go into profit

  • Losing streaks quickly wipe out your betting bank

  • Easy to lose control of the amount you are wagering

  • Would require an unlimited betting bank to ensure success

Labouchere System

The Labouchere system works in a similar way to Martingale but is more complicated. It is actually sometimes called the Split Martingale system. In this case, we decide how much we want to win before starting the bet. We then split this into a set of numbers and put these into a sequence. For example, if we want to win £10, we need to come up with a sequence including numbers that add up to 10. For example:

1-2-3-4

Again, the simplest way to use the system is to use bets with even money. Originally, once again, this was used for the outside bets in roulette, but this can be translated into football betting if using even money odds.

The bet stake is always the sum of the first and last number in your chain, so using the above example, our initial bet would be £5. If the bet wins, we cross off the two numbers used to make the betting stake, leaving us with 2-3. If it loses, we add the losing stake to the end of the sequence (e.g. 1-2-3-4-5). The betting pattern continues until we end up with no numbers left in the sequence, meaning we have attained our profit goal.

Below is an example of how using the sequence could unfold:

Sequence/ChainStakeResult
1-2-3-4£5WIN
2-3£5LOSE
2-3-5£7LOSE
2-3-5-7£9WIN
3-5£8LOSE
3-5-8£11WIN
5£5WIN

In the above example, we’ve staked £50 and won a total of £60, and so hence achieved the target profit of £10.

Of course, like with the Martingale system, it would take an unlimited bank balance to guarantee a win with the system. However, unlike the Martingale system, we don’t have to increase our bets with each loss at such a dramatic rate. That makes it easier to remain in control using the Labouchere system, and if we set ourselves a specific betting bank, then we can ensure that any losses don’t get out of control and are limited to the value of the bank.

The Labouchere system is, like the Martingale system, a progressive staking system, and in the long term it only guarantees a loss. It’s more complicated than Martingale but also a lot safer and controlled, so is probably a better system to use and can be fun, but again, don’t be fooled into thinking it is a guaranteed profit maker.

There are other progressive staking systems that can also be tried which work in similar ways, such as the Fibonacci system and the D’Alembert system.

Labouchere System Pros & Cons

Pros

Cons

  • More adaptable than the Martingale system, allowing you to choose the amount you want to win as well as your maximum betting bank

  • Easier to retain control of your betting, with stakes rising much more slowly if a losing streak occurs

  • Like with Martingale or any progressive staking system, it would take an indefinite betting bank to ensure success

Value Betting and the Kelly Criterion

Of course, while the above systems are easy to implement and don’t require much thinking, we are always much better off if we are betting at odds that are better than the actual probability of the event happening. If we find these occasions, we can call the bet ‘value’. Of course, this is completely subjective based on the views of the person betting and depends on the user being a good judge of the probability of an event happening.

To work out if a bet is good value, it only takes a simple calculation. Multiply the probability of the event happening by the highest decimal odds you can find from the best bookmakers. If the answer is bigger than 1.00, then you have yourself a value bet.

For example, you believe the odds of Arsenal beating Everton are around 60%, and the odds are 2.1. Multiply 2.1 x 60% and we get 1.26. Therefore this is a value bet and we can feel confident in the selection.

To work out the value of the stake to use, we can use the Kelly Criterion. This mathematical equation gives us the fraction of our total bankroll to use when betting if the odds are in our favour:

F = (decimal odds-1)*(decimal probability)-(decimal probability of losing)/(decimal odds)

For example, in the example above, the fraction of our bankroll would be 0.236 or 23.6%.

There are a number of sites available with Kelly Criterion calculators, allowing you to put your basic numbers in, with the calculator giving you the amount or percentage of your bank to stake.

Using the value calculator and the Kelly Criterion we can make sure we are betting with value and using the right stakes to give us the best chance of winning with football betting. It doesn’t guarantee we’ll make a profit, as the system relies on the subjective probabilities given by the punter, but it certainly gives us our best shot of making money from our football betting and is one of the most successful football betting systems around when used correctly.

Value Betting and Kelly Criterion Pros & Cons

ProsCons
  • Gives a bettor the chance to gain a true edge over the bookies if they are a good judge of the probability of an event

  • More control over the betting bank than with progressive staking plans

  • Formulae make it easy for us to decide which bets are value and how much to bet

  • Requires conscious selection of a bet rather than relying on chance

  • Subjective and relies on the bettor being a good judge of probability

Using Welcome Bonuses

Bookmakers make money by including margins into their prices. That means that, in any market, the percentage probability of each event happening, as represented by the odds offered, won’t add up to 100%. For example, in markets where we have an even chance of both probabilities happening, we are likely to have odds of 1.91 being offered rather than 2. This represents a 48% chance of the event happening, so in this case, the bookmakers have written in a margin of 4% overall, which will give them a profit in the long term across all of their customers. In order to get you using their sites in the first place, though, bookmakers tend to offer welcome bonuses and free bets to entice you in. Of course, in the long run, with their margins worked in, they will make a profit from most of their customers, but by using a number of bookmakers and taking advantage of their welcome bonuses and special offers, we have the advantage as long as we stay disciplined. Of course, once more, there is no guaranteed profit, but we are giving ourselves a better chance by using the bookmaker’s money for our initial bets.

For the best welcome bonuses and introductory offers from our highest rated football bookmakers, head over to our main sports betting sites page and follow the links to take advantage of the best welcome bonuses and free bets.

Pros & Cons of Using Welcome Bonuses

ProsCons
  • Gives us a headstart over the bookies by using free bets and bonuses on top of our own initial deposits

  • Allows us to open multiple accounts, meaning we have access to a wider selection of odds

  • Disciplined bettors should come away ahead even with only an average ability to predict events

  • Limited by the number of bookies available offering free bets and bonuses available

  • Opening multiple accounts and having money in different places can be confusing

  • Some bookies require you to turn over your bonus funds a number of times before a withdrawal can be made, potentially negating the original benefit of using the system

Start Using Systems and Make Your Betting More Profitable

No football betting system will ever guarantee you a profit, but by making use of a system, we are gaining more control over our betting and in some cases giving ourselves a better chance of winning.

Essentially, a betting system can be anything, so long as we use strict rules to dictate the bets we use and the stakes that we choose when betting. There is the potential to create your own betting systems based on any trends or patterns you notice if you want, and there is plenty of room for experimentation using the above systems, or any others you might come across and find interesting.

As long as you remain realistic with your expectations, betting with systems is fun, and can be a successful way to bet on football games, from top league games to major events like the World Cup.

About the Author

Dan Bradley

Ever since he was 6 years old and made the fatal mistake of asking his Dad, 'What's that on the TV?', Dan has been engrossed by football, and many other sports have since had a similar impact on him. Sadly, he was never good enough to open the batting for England, or to don the famous number 7 shirt for Southampton, but his love for sport remains. Dan has been blogging and writing about sport for the last few years, usually looking at things from the perspective of a bettor, but most of all as a true sports fanatic. From golf to ten pin bowling: You name it, Dan’ll have an opinion on it.

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