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Single bets or multiple bets

Single bets or multiple bets

I see the below statement in a variate of forms written all over the internet. Its gotten to the point where its has been said so many times it’s now not even questioned and taken as fact.

“Single bets are the only way to be a successful sports betting punter, stay away from accumulators, parlays and multiples.”

I’m just going to get this off my chest straight away as it grates on me every time I see it written. This statement is completely wrong and shows a complete lack of understanding in the betting basics of value betting, staking plans and money management. Along with a shocking level of maths that anyone who is old enough to bet should have acquired in even the slackest of education systems.

Now saying that I’m not suggesting you go and perm all your bets into 10-fold accumulators. No, but you should get a grasp of the mentioned betting basics and the maths we’ll go through in this article. You should also not believe everything you read on the internet, as a lot of content will be regurgitated waffle, written by people that were too lazy to do the research into the statements they are making – and the gambling niche is worse than most for this.

So why do bookies continually push multiple bets over singles?

It’s a fair question after what I have just stated. Bookmakers are always trying to lure you away from single bets with promotions such as accumulator boosts and enhanced trebles. They surly aren’t going to do this if multiple bets hold any advantage to punters over single bets.

Well I’ll show you why they want you to place multiple bets and explain why for the exact same reason you should add it to your betting arsenal – if you are serious about your betting.

I hope if you have made it this far into the article you have also taken the time to read what value is. Bookies sure know what it is, and their intention is to lay every bet with the value in their favour. Value is given to them in the form of an inbuilt margin in their odds. This margin can give them value of anywhere from zero percent upward (zero percent is unlikely to be deliberately given unless with part of a promotion or the bookmaker is trying to offset their liability). The size of the inbuilt margin also depends on the sport, betting market and the odds range of the selection.

With the belief that they are on the right side of value in a bet, bookmakers now know that the basic maths of multiplying value together results in a better profit long term. At this point it is probably best to show an example to highlight the issue.

To get a clear understanding this example will have to be done over a series of bets. Bookmakers aren’t overly concerned with a single bet and except that some days they’ll win and some days lose. But they are in this game for the long term and as long as they are up more than they are down they can pay their bills. A mind set many punters struggle to get their heads around.

Keeping it simple we will look at a series of even money bets (decimal 2.0 or 50% change of winning). This is the true odds of the bet winning. The bookmaker you are betting with offers odds of 1.95 for each of these bets. You, the punter, place £10 on each of these bets. The below table shows a snap of shot what you’d expected to happen over a series of eight singles, doubles and trebles in this situation.

So for singles you’d expect to win one of every two bets. Winning bets would return £19.50 which would be a profit of £9.50. And obviously losing bets will result in a loss of £10.

As you can see, if you are a losing customer, then yes, place only single bets. This way you will lose your money at a slower rate. This is made even more evident in the graph over a series of 100.

But the whole point of being on a site like this is to be a winning punter. And once you have found an edge over the bookies the tables are turned. Now if you do multiples instead of singles your value is multiplied instead of being added together. To see how this works in your favour let’s do the same as before but this time say you are getting odds of 2.05 on selections that should be evens (2.0).

The table and graph now clearly shows how putting your bets in multiples grows your profit faster than it would in singles.

Now you are aware of the benefits of multiplying value it’s probably best to now reign in your enthusiasm before you go and make all your bets accumulators. And this is where knowledge of staking plans and money management come in. Because none of us have an unlimited betting bank and these examples given assume a perfect strike rate, which doesn’t happen in real world applications.

In reality variance plays a very key role in betting and dictates how much of your betting bank you should be betting on a particular odds range. This also depends on your staking plan of course, and if I was to recommend a plan I’d say go with a conservative version of Kelly criterion.

We all know that a mug bet can come good; it’s also true that the best bets can fail. In knowing by how much good bets can fail, it’ll let us know whether it’s wise to also be multiplying these bets together. Let’s look at how variance would come into play in the examples we have been using – singles, doubles and trebles at even money.


What does this mean? What is clearly shown is that the perfect 50 wins and 50 loses out of a 100 bets only happens about 8% of the time when punting at odds of even. And nearly 1% of the time you will have 10 fewer winners than you would expect.

Can your betting bank handle such as hit? Now I understand that many people top up the amount they can bet from time to time as most people starting out gambling with still have full time jobs – so you are only a month away from a little extra disposable income. Don’t think like this. Always bet under the assumption that the amount you can bet with is what your betting bank currently stands at, and not what it will become on pay day.

In the example we have been using that means your betting bank is likely to £100 less than it should be, at some point. And it’s also likely to be much greater than it should be.

Now of course variances will even itself out over time, but that’s of no consequence to you if you have already gone bust before the winners start rolling in. The best advice is to air on the side of caution when starting out betting, you’ll soon learn what the best staking amount is for you if you keep good records of all your bets.

For doubles and trebles, variance shows pretty much the same sort of pattern, although over 100 bets the swing is likely to be less than that of singles (from the amount of expected winners). But to highlight what this does to your betting bank, let’s see what the impact is of having ten more losers than expected.

Simple I hear you say, ten losers is £100 down whether it’s singles, doubles or trebles. It doesn’t matter how many selection there are, if you’re betting £10, ten losers is £100. And you’re right, but the main difference is what the betting bank balance should be. Because it’s not just what you lost, it’s also what you have now failed to win.

This table shows you the massive difference ten extra losers (from the expected amount of 50 for singles, 25 for doubles and 12.5 for trebles) does to your betting bank – using the example 2.05 odds above. The numbers get frightening pretty quickly. You must assume this can happen, not lose your bottle and account for it in your staking and betting bank strategy.

Clearly this information leads to a very straight forward bit of advice. Although multiplying value has a big benefit, it is best to only be used when you have a selection of bets in the sub even money range – Unless you have a massive betting bank.

Some other key points

Multiple boosts

Many bookmaker now also offer multiple boosts on accumulator bets.

You’ll have to read the terms and conditions of the particular site before seeing if this promotion will have a benefit to your betting system, as there are usually some restrictions such as bets must be on certain betting markets, top tier events or even a minimum odds range.

But if you are lucky and your system bets comply by all their rules you now have the potential to grow your betting bank at an even faster rate than single bets.

Risk management teams

Risk management is a massive pain for people trying to make money out of betting. Some bookies have big teams and great tools to catch arbitrage bettors and bonus abusers. But when it comes to catching, and then limiting, shrewd punters it can be a little trickier for them.

What they will look for is people always taking top or out of line prices and always betting singles – as everyone has been told this is what smart bettors solely rely on.

Throw in a few multiple bets here and there such as a Lucky 15 (which also comes with concessions and bonuses on certain sports) and you will throw them off your scent for a while longer.

Betting exchanges

A betting exchange is very likely going to be a place where you’ll find the best odds on many of your bets. And as we all know you can’t place multiples there. Also many betting systems will be taking advantage of lay betting that is on offer at exchanges, again something that can’t be multiplied.

Unfortunately there isn’t much you can do if this is the case. If one of the betting exchanges is the only place that is offering value for your chosen bet then a single bet it has to be.

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