Long before sports betting, the best mathematical minds applied their science to casinos, and particularly the roulette wheel. The Labouchere system is one of the most famous systems developed that claim to give the roulette player a statistical advantage over the wheel. Arguments about whether it actually does so or does not are not of interest to us here, but its application to sports betting is.
Decide how much money you want to win, say £100. Write down a list of numbers that add to that, e.g.: 1;2;3;4;5;6;7;8;9;10;14;15;16. Stake equals the total of the first and last number on the list, eg 1;16=17. If you win remove both numbers from the list, e.g. it becomes: 2;3;4;5;6;7;8;9;10;14;15;. If you lose, add the amount lost to the end of the list, e.g.: 1;2;3;4;5;6;7;8;9;10;14;15;16;17. Continue until there is only one number left on the list, and if only one number remains then that is the amount of the stake. When you cross off the last number the desired amount to win has been won.
This system is great fun, and if you cross off all of the numbers then you have won the amount you wanted to. To complete the list you need a win rate of a third. Therefore you can bet say on all horses at Evens (expected win rate 50% less bookmakers’ margin) and expect to return more than 33% and win what you set out to with confidence.
Easy money apart from the fact that you might hit a losing run and therefore your bets may become so high that you can’t stake them or you can’t lay them off. The mathematical way to counter this would be to have a bank at which you quit betting. The size that the bank exceeded the target win amount each time would be the confidence generated. For example a bank of £100 supporting a win target of £10 (ten times cover) would be likely to end in tears fairly quickly, where a bank of £10,000 supporting a win target of £25 (four hundred times would be unlikely to expire within your lifetime.)
Potential sport betting events that the Labouchere system can be applied to include:
Horse Racing (say Evens favourites)
Greyhound Racing (say Traps 1 and 6)
Football (say Premiership Draws)
Tennis and Boxing (say the favourite)
The system would work particularly work well with reliable tipsters.
Always be aware of “increasing stake systems” because they can become like putting one grain of rice on the first square of a chess-board, and doubling the number of grains put on each subsequent square, until by the time you get to the last square the number of grains exceeds the world’s supply. On the other hand, don’t write them off. It is quite possible to strategise for an expected overall win if you allocate a reasonable pool and aim for consistent moderate wins over a period of time. By utilizing the Labouchere System you are tapping into a rich vein of advanced and mature statistical enquiry.