betting on a budgetYou don’t have to bet big to have fun, and you don’t have to bet big to have a chance of winning big.

There are plenty of ways to have fun with as little as 10p if you want to make a football match or afternoon of Channel 4 Racing more interesting. We’ll show you how the odds can stack up across accumulator bets, and the types of winnings you can enjoy for £1 or less by using Tote bets such as PlacePot or Quadpot.

Minimum Stakes

The minimum stakes you are allowed to bet with does vary depending on which bookmaker shop you go to, or which website you use.

You can place a bet in most bookmaker shops for as little as you want; you can back a horse with 10p if you have to, but if it wins at 3/1 then you will only win 30p, so it maybe isn’t worth the effort. Pretty much all online bookmakers set the minimum bet at 10p, apart from Betfair where it is £2. If you want to do a multiple bet such as a Lucky 15 (15 bets across 4 horses, or 30 bets if each way) then you can usually apply a 1p stake per line…so a Lucky 15 with 4 horses to win would cost 15p (15 x 1p), or an each way would be 30p.

Some bookmakers in larger cities do cite a minimum stake of perhaps 25p or 50p, but usually this is the total stake, so a 2p Lucky 15 (30p total) or a 5p Yankee (55p) would normally be OK.

Potential winnings

The key word here is ‘Potential’. You have been kissed by every angel in heaven if you can get your 10p accumulator bet to win and pay out big, but it is not beyond the realms of possibility, and it is a real treat when it happens. Usually, if you want to stake small but have a chance of winning big then you have to place a bet across a number of races, or football/tennis matches, etc in an accumulator or a multiple. The more events you include in your accumulator then the more chances you have of one of them going wrong and spoiling your bet. This means, as reality does bite, that you are likely to get a lot of these wrong before you hit one.

But let’s not be pessimistic, and let’s have a look at that Lucky 15 again from earlier. Let’s say you have done your research on the horses for a particular day, and you have found 4 you really, really like and they are all 4/1. You back them in a Lucky 15 to win at 2pm per line (30p total stake).

All four of them win! You go to the counter and collect a return of £28.49. Not too shabby, 30p staked and £28.19 in profit (including the usual 10% bonus for getting all 4 correct). If one of those horses is swapped out for a 10/1 horse that wins then your returns are £57.00.

If 3 of them win but the other fails then you still collect £4.30. If only 2 win then you get 70p back, but hey, profit is profit. You’d get nothing back if only one won.

Budget Bet Ideas

OK, so we’ve established that you don’t have to bet big, but there is then the decision to make as to what sort of bet you will go for with your little coin collection. Here’s a few suggestions or examples:

    1. You are learning to study the horses, and practising reading the form and adapting to changes in handicaps and weather conditions. You choose a racecard and try to pick the winner from the first 6 races for practice. Why not back up your practice with a 10p each way accumulator on all 6 selections. If they all win at just 2/1 then your return will be around £73.50. You’ll then kick yourself for not putting £1 each way on and winning over £700!
    2. Saturday football – put together an accumulator of ‘Both Teams To Score’ bets with 10 matches on the coupon. If the odds averaged out to all being Evens then a 50p accumulator would return £512 if you got them all up. Rare, but doable.
    3. You’ve read the tipping sites, been through the forums, visited all the facebook pages and now have 4 horses you really like (all at 3/1) and 2 outsiders at 10/1. Too risky for an accumulator as one might let you down….try an each way Heinz with a 1p stake. A Heinz has 57 bets in it, made up of 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 fourfolds, 6 fivefolds and 1 accumulator! So an each way Heinz has 114 bets, so that’s a total stake of £1.14. If they all win you get a cool £900 back in your hand. If one of those 10/1 long shots loses but the rest win then you still get over £75 profit back. If you had gone for the accumulator then that horse losing would have meant you lost. Here’s where the maths gets interesting…if you backed those 6 horses at those odds in a 50p each way sixfold (accumulator) and they all won then you’d collect over £15.5k in winnings for your £1. This is fairytale stuff, but a small stake and a HUGE amount of luck can fair you very well. If you manage to get a feel for which tipsters do well and can combine the winners on a particular day then who knows…
    4. Bundle a few ‘dead certs’ up across a range of different sports into an accumulator to make the weekend more interesting. For example, if you are convinced Horse X will win the 2.30, and are sure Lewis Hamilton will win the F1 race, and Murray will win his tennis match, and Man United will beat Crystal Palace, and England will beat Australia at the cricket, and so on then roll them into an accumulator. The odds will be a mix of odds on (e.g. Man Utd to win) through to 2/1 or 3/1 maybe but if you have 5 or 6 of them together then it might be worth sticking a pound on them all. NB: A ‘dead cert’ at a Formula 1 race winner probably doesn’t exist, so this is more of a ‘money where your mouth is’ idea for a bet.
    5. Bet on the Irish Lottery (or Spanish, New York, etc). Instead of buying a Lotto ticket here in the UK you can go to a bookmakers (or go online) and pick some numbers and place a bet on them coming up. For example, with William Hill you can choose 1 number(s), and if you get 1 correct you win 6 x your stake. Choose 2 number(s), get 2 correct and it’s 53 time x your stake. Choose 3 number(s), get 3 correct and receive 576 x stake. So £1 on 3 numbers can get you £6 if one appears, £53 for 2 and a weekend changing £576 if all 3 come up.

Now, these pence bets are all good fun, but there are other ways to bet on a budget. It doesn’t have to be pennies but it should be controlled and managed (in our opinion anyway).

If you set yourself an affordable amount to play with each week then betting can stay fun and won’t cause any problems if you hit a losing streak. Use betting as a reward for savings somewhere else in your life. For example, if you quit smoking then why not allow yourself £10 or £15 a week to bet with…you used to set fire to at least double that every week when you smoked so why not burn it on the horses or sports betting instead? If you have fun with it then that is reward enough, but you might just pay for a holiday through it on any given lucky day.

If you are working to a weekly budget then don’t start ‘borrowing’ from next week to chase losses. If you lose your budget for the week then leave it until next week, no matter how good that horse or golf player looks. It’s a slippery slope if you start chasing losses.

If you give yourself £5 or £10 a week for football bets then by all means have fun with a big accumulator at a low stake, but you can give yourself more of a chance of winning regularly if you have one ‘big’ bet on a treble as well. £5 on a treble with 3 football match results with one at 4/6 and two at Evens will return £33.33. It’s not going to change your life but you might find you can land 2 of these a month and suddenly you can go to that restaurant for ‘free’ (kinda) once a month, and you get the pleasure of winning.

Whatever you do, just try and have a plan and stick to it, whether you just want loads of 20p bets, or one £10 bet a week, or £70 to take to the races try to keep to your budget and always, always only bet what you can afford to lose.