Your stake is traditionally thought of as the money (or other thing of value) that you are prepared to lose when committing to a bet.
But, of course, when you place a bet you are hoping to win.
Any kid who ever dropped a 10 pence coin into a fruit machine along a candy-flossed and weather-battered pier at the seaside, wanted that 10p coin to come good and reap reward. We all imagine the ching-ching-ching of coin after coin spilling into the metal tray and into our open palms, as we let the single coin drop. It’s exciting.
No kid drops the coin and imagines the complete absence of sound, as the machine silently swallows a small portion of his tiny wealth. But of course, that’s what happens – time after time, so much more often than the dang thing pays out.
Which is what makes matched betting such a radical departure from traditional betting. Every action taken that puts your stake at risk is countered by an action to protect that stake. A back bet is placed on an outcome – the very backbone of matched betting demands that a corresponding lay bet be placed on that same outcome. The stake must be protected, which entirely removes the risk of forfeit. This is why matched betting is an as yet unsung revelation.
Have you ever watched young kids play on a park see-saw? When they’re giggling and getting along the see-saw works in perfect balance – up and down, up and down, both kids safe.
But, you know, sooner or later the kids fall out, or the oldest decides to play a trick on his little brother. As soon as one kid jumps off, the equilibrium is broken and the other kid hits the ground with a big old bump. The see-saw needs both sides to bring smiles – otherwise there’ll be bruises and tears before bedtime.
That’s why any back bet needs to be swiftly followed with a corresponding lay bet, so that there’s no big bump back down to Earth.
Wouldn’t ‘Zero Risk Betting’, be such a great marketing tool? I wish such a thing existed. Unfortunately, any first bet is always placed in the knowledge that something might go wrong. A technology failure could prevent the counter bet being placed. The vendor’s website or server may fail, or the intervention may be at your end if you lose your internet connection or suffer a power cut. There were some pretty hot tempers and outpourings when Betfair had its much-publicised downtime recently.
Or worse yet (the horror!), you may yourself trip up in the execution of the counter bet. A simple typo when entering the amount would be enough to skew the match, and leave your stake uncovered – although it is my opinion that a careful and unhurried approach to the set up of your bets will negate these kind of risks to an absolute minimum.
Although these potential technical and human errors pose a small threat, they are a world away from the gambling mentality of placing a true bet where no attempt is made to protect the stake.
If, during the course of matched betting, you are ever tempted to keep your bet open as a true bet in the hope of bagging more money, then you can only really blame yourself when you find your free bet wasted – or worse, find your float is down. Discipline is the key to success at matched betting and should be exercised at all times.
My Grandad used to bet on the horses all his life. He stopped at the age of 75, only when he befriended a retired bookie who told him it was ‘a mug’s game’. These days we are lucky enough to have betting exchanges, so we don’t need to play mug to the bookies.
Placing an uncovered bet is buying into a dream (with a splash of adrenalin for added excitement) and, to my mind, this is OK if you’re at the seaside, whiling away the time at the amusement arcades with a few spare 10ps.
But if you’re actually making a real attempt to make money (rather than lose money), this type of approach is just not sustainable.
The only way to consistently build a bank of money that is not periodically decimated is to match all your bets, and keep your stakes covered.