Tales of high-rolling gamblers, both of the present day and yesteryear, will always have a certain romance attached to them. From legends, such as Titanic Thompson, and Australian big shot, Kerry Packer who allegedly wagered $120 million on the toss of a coin, to famed horse racing owner and punter, JP McManus, in more recent times, these big guns really capture the imagination.
Betting the GDP of a small country on heads or tails isn’t for everyone though, although we’d like to have the sort of balance for it to be an option! In this article, our focus instead is upon those who choose to operate at the other end of the staking spectrum. In other words, the small-stakes punter, or low-roller.
They may not ply their trade in the same gambling stratosphere as their high-rolling counterparts, but there’s a place for everyone at the gambling table, and in terms of fluctuations in both bankroll and blood pressure, the world of the low staking punter is likely to make for a far smoother ride.
Here we take a look at a few of the possible motivations behind low-stakes punting and take a look at exactly how small it is possible to bet in the world of online sports betting, as well as taking a look at the types of betting offers and promotions available to low-staking customers. Finally, we highlight a few real-life cases which show that just because you stake small, it doesn’t mean you can’t potentially get a big net win. And, we do mean BIG!
Reasons for Low Stakes Betting
For some, the idea of placing the type of bet which may only win enough to purchase a packet of crisps may seem a little pointless. It is of course possible to win more than this with a low stake – as we will discuss later – but there are also many fairly sensible reasons why punters opt to keep their stakes on the small side:
Potentially only winning small may be seen as one of the main handicaps of low stakes betting – you are certainly unlikely to retire on a 10p single in a horse race for example – but on the other side of the coin, if you don’t stake very much, then you likely won’t lose very much.
For many punters, keeping stakes small is a sensible, responsible strategy in order to ensure that their betting is kept as an entertaining and affordable hobby. A punter is much more likely to stick to a weekly £10 betting budget if they stake small, rather than wading in with £5 singles immediately and thus their money will last better, potentially offering more enjoyment, if they opt for low-stakes betting.
Another common group of punters who are likely to fall into the low-staking category are those who are new to the betting game. Again, this would seem to be a sensible decision; opting to get their punting feet wet before possibly stepping into deeper waters.
Trying out a New Bookmaker
Many punters may have a selection of well-established bookmakers whom they feel safe and comfortable using, both due to their personal experience and the established reputation of the bookmaker. There may however be times when a punter might be tempted to try out a new company for reasons, such as attractive promotions and offers, or excellent word of mouth reports.
When trying out something new – as in many walks life – a trial period may be advisable. In the world of betting, low stake punting can be a useful way of conducting this trial, enabling the punter to get a feel for the software and type of bets on offer, at only a minimal cost.
The Interest Bet
There are many different motivations behind a bet, ranging from those struck following hours of research on the latest horse race meeting, to those placed just as the latest TV game is about to kick off in order to spice up the action. Now, research doesn’t necessarily lock in success of course, but it makes sense that a punter would be happier to stake a higher amount on their well thought out bets, when compared to that casual punt on the footy. In the latter instance, a low-stakes punt may prove appropriate, adding interest to the result of the game without putting the bankroll in much jeopardy.
High Odds Accumulators
This is one of the most popular – if not the most popular – areas of low-stakes punting. The weekend accumulator bets on the football in particular are the definition of the type of low-stake/high reward punt beloved by bettors far and wide. After all, if your Saturday 13-fold pays out at odds of 10,000/1 or more, you really don’t need to be staking very much on it in order to make the potential payout well worth your while.
Affordability/Exchange Rate Factor
Our final factor which contributes to the popularity of low-stakes punting is perhaps the most obvious of them all: for some punters, low stakes betting is simply all that they are able to afford. Related to this is the exchange rate factor. Whilst £1 may only be a small sum in the UK, it may equate to a far greater amount in other nations – and online betting is very much an international pursuit these days.
How Small Can You Bet?
So, how small is small in the world of low stakes betting? Exactly how small is it possible for punters to bet? The answer to this depends upon the bookmaker, and also in some cases, on the type of bet in question, and/or the sport upon which the bet is being placed.
You will quickly realise if you attempt to place a bet at a stake lower than the minimum for any given event, as the site will simply fail to process your bet – and in most cases provide a pop-up explanation for the bets refusal, including the minimum acceptable stake.
However low you want to go though, you are likely to find a bookmaker willing to cater to your needs, with some firms allowing minimum stakes of just 1p. For others the minimum stake is significantly higher – probably the highest being the betting exchange Betfair, with a £2 minimum.
Be sure to check the terms of the individual bookmaker prior to signing up and depositing in order to avoid disappointment. The below table displays the minimum stake requirements at a selection of the most well-respected bookmakers on-line
Minimum Deposit Levels/Stakes
|Bookmaker||Debit Minimum||PayPal Minimum||Minimum Stake|
Minimum Deposit Versus Minimum Withdrawal
Another thing to be aware of when selecting a bookmaker are the minimum limits set for both deposits and withdrawals (deposit information also included in table above). Clearly it likely wouldn’t be too much use to the prospective low-roller should a bookmaker allow a minimum bet of 1p but have a minimum deposit limit of £50.
Likewise, a minimum stake of 1p and minimum deposit of £5 would be suitable for low-stakes punting, but should the same company have a minimum withdrawal of even £20, low stakes punters may find that their money is tied into a site for some time, unless they go on a decent winning streak.
In reality, the vast majority of firms are far more flexible than this, but it is still worth making yourself aware of the respective deposit and withdrawal limits prior to signing up. This is good practice in any case, but all the more so should you be operating on a small bankroll.
The final aspect to be clear upon regarding the minimum deposit levels is that this minimum can vary depending upon the deposit method used. The majority of bookmakers offer a minimum of just £5 for debit card or e-wallet transactions, which will likely be low enough for most smaller players.
There are firms who offer even lower minimum deposits – but usually only via an alternative means of payment such as a paysafecard, or a loyalty card which allows customers to add money to their account over the counter in a betting shop. The Ladbrokes Grid card may be of particular interest in this regard – allowing deposits of as low as £1, it’s an excellent option for the real micro-rollers – particularly as the Ladbrokes site allows 1p stakes across a range of markets.
Offers for Small Stakes Players
One of the main incentives for opening a new account with a bookmaker can be the attractive sign-up deals available, with the vast majority of firms offering some form of matched bet or free betting credits incentive to new players. But how suitable are these offers for low-staking punters?
A quick scan of the offers available (as of 03/04/20) would suggest that the majority of offers, such as one of the smallest, a bet £5 and receive a £5 free bet, aren’t particularly aimed at the really low-stakes punter. However, there are offers out there which may prove attractive to the low-roller.
Rather than a matched free bet, we would recommend low-rollers seek out “free betting credit” style offers (e.g. stake £5 and receive £5 betting credits). Generally speaking, low-rollers will still need to deposit and stake £5 in order to gain the free credits, but rather than having to wager the £5 all in one go, this may well be able to be broken down into smaller units – with the free credits then being released once the cumulative stakes reach £5. Such offers do generally have a qualifying time-frame attached, so be sure to check out the exact terms and conditions including any minimum odds stipulations.
Sign-up offers aren’t the only perk available at online betting companies though, with almost all firms also having ongoing promotions and offers available for their existing customers. These promotions come in all shapes and sizes, including free bet clubs, acca insurance, odds boosts and much more.
A scan of the market does suggest that the “Free Bet Club” type offers tend to have a minimum stake requirement of £5, whilst other accumulator boost or acca insurance style promotions require stakes of £2 or more in order to qualify. This is by no means universally the case though, and there are offers out there which will provide additional value to the low-stakes punter. As ever the advice would be to shop around and have a quick perusal of the terms and conditions.
One type of offer which will almost certainly make plenty of appeal to the low staking punter is the free to enter competition. After all, what’s not to like about something that doesn’t cost you a penny to enter.
With prize’s ranging from a handy £50 to fairly significant sums, they are certainly worth keeping an eye out for, and can be found in some form across many of the major bookmakers online. Challenges currently on offer range from selecting three correct scores on the football, to picking out seven winners on the Saturday racing. Not easy, but these prizes do get won, and offer an excellent way of adding a little excitement to the sporting action.
Accas v Single Bets Using Low Stakes
There are two main approaches when it comes to low-stake betting, namely accumulator betting and single betting – both of which have their benefits and drawbacks.
The obvious attraction of accumulator betting is the prospect of that high return for only a small stake – exactly the same type of appeal that makes the National Lottery so popular. The smaller your stake, the bigger the odds need to be in order to generate a meaningful return, and, as such, accumulator bets are the only real type of punt which can see the low-stakes punter winning a significant sum – at least all in one go anyway.
The fairly obvious downside of accumulators are that they are pretty difficult to win, and as such significant losing streaks are that much more likely. With odds that can run into the 1000s though, you don’t have to win very often to make it worth your while, and this proves enticing to many.
For the more frugal, single betting may be the way to go – and is undoubtedly the preferred option for those punters aiming to at least make their funds last as long as possible. Those betting on singles are also that much more likely to experience that “winning” feeling far more often than accumulator punters.
It is a far simpler task to predict the outcome of one football game than it is to do so for 10 matches for example. The downside is of course that those wins are likely to tend towards the miniscule end of the spectrum. 10p at 4/1 does only return 50p after all and even landing a winner at 4/1 is far from easy.
That said, it isn’t impossible for low stakes single backers to build up their bankroll over time. Should the low roller have designs on the high rolling lifestyle in the long term, a progressive staking system – such as betting 2% of their bankroll on each bet – may prove attractive. This sort of method has the benefit of protecting the deposit – likely a primary concern for many low-rollers – whilst also providing the potential to make the most of a winning streak.
There are of course options other than straight accumulators and singles. Lying somewhere in between those two extremes lies the hugely popular permutation bet, such as the Yankee, Patent or Lucky 15. The Lucky 15 for example consists of four selections, permed into 15 bets, made up of four singles, six doubles, four trebles and a fourfold, and so offers the benefit of at least returning something to the punter for one winner, whilst also containing the potential for a big win should all four come home in front.
One thing for low staking punters to be aware of when it comes to permutation bets, such as the Lucky 15, is whether a site’s specified minimum stake applies to the “unit” or “total” stake. Whilst a minimum 10p unit stake would equate to a minimum Lucky 15 cost of £1.50 (15 bets x 10p), a 10p minimum total stake would allow a 1p Lucky 15, for a total cost of just 15p, perfect for the smallest of small stakers.
Big Wins from Small Bets
There are betting snobs out there who are quick to deride the low-stakes punter, stating that in order to get a big net win you need to stake big. There are plenty of arguments against that viewpoint though. Primarily, that it is always important to gamble within your means, but also the fact that, for many, the prospect of financial gain only represents a small part of betting’s appeal. Focussing solely on the financial aspect overlooks the enjoyment, excitement and interest thousands gain from small-stakes punting.
And then, of course, there are those low-staking punters who provide a real poke in the eye to the betting snobs, by low-rolling their way all the way to the high life. We conclude with three of our favourite tales of low-stakers hitting it big.
From Craggs to Riches
The very definition of the low-rolling punter, Freddie Craggs, had been a betting shop regular for many years, with the Yorkshireman listing small-stakes punting on the horses as one of his main hobbies. But on February 8th of that year – one day before Freddie’s 60th Birthday – one of those small stakes punts was to turn to gold and give him a 60th to remember.
Mr Craggs’ stake on the fateful bet was only 50p, but whilst the stake was low, Freddie was certainly high on ambition. It does after all take a dose of optimism to place an eight-horse win accumulator – particularly when the combined odds of those selections mount up to 2,800,000/1!
If you are going to dream though, then you might as well dream big! Beginning with a horse by the name of Isn’t That Lucky and ending with none other than, A Dream Come True, it feels as though this was meant to be for Freddie, as all eight of his selections came home in front. His reward? A cool £1million maximum pay-out from William Hill.
Bayern Delight Red Devils Fan
Whilst Freddie Craggs only needed to wait for around 12 hours for the culmination of his bet, the next punter on our list had to hang on a little longer to see his 30p 15-fold bear fruit.
Remaining anonymous following his punting success, all we know about our hero is that he was a fan of Manchester United. As such you would expect that he may not have been best pleased when the Red Devils were dumped out of the Champion’s League at the quarter final stage by Bayern Munich. However, that success for the German side ultimately proved to be a crucial step towards a monster pay-out for our now-rich low roller.
Attempting to predict the winners of the season’s major football competitions is one of the most popular types of ante-post accumulators prior to the start of each season, and it was just this type of wager which turned that 30p stake into a whopping £500,000 payout for the mystery man.
Having successfully predicted the winners of the Premier League, Championship, League 1, League 2, the National League, Scottish Championship, Scottish League 1, Scottish League 2 and then throwing in cricket’s Natwest Trophy and Country Cricket Championship, and the Rugby Union’s Premiership for good measure – all that was needed was for Bayern Munich to prevail over Valencia in the Champion’s League final.
Bayern certainly made the United fan sweat, as the game went to a penalty shootout in the end. We all know how good the Germans are on penalties though, and our punter was soon collecting that very, very tidy cheque for half a million quid!
Lady Luck Shows Hubby How It’s Done
Allegedly fed up with feeling left out as her husband and son watched the football scores coming in with their betting slips on a Saturday afternoon, a Leysdown-On-Sea housewife took the attitude of, “if you can’t beat them, join them”, and began placing accumulator bets of her own.
Whereas her husband had been placing football bets for 40 years or so – with only minimal success – six years into her new hobby, our Leysdown lady struck the kind of acca which football punters up and down the country can mainly only dream of.
Admittedly putting little thought into her 12 selections, which were made up of six home wins and six away wins – including only one odds-on shot – her only rationale is reportedly selecting team names which “sounded nice”.
Thanks to a 90th minute winner from Bournemouth’s Steve Cook, those nice sounding names handed the 59 year old a check for £574,278.41. All for a stake of just £1, as reported in the Metro.