How to use Kelly Criterion for betting ?

Bettors should always look for a mathematical edge rather than rely on their impulses. Learning how to use the Kelly Criterion, for example, is a great way for bettors to determine how much they should stake. Read on to find out.

Prior to placing a bet bettors should consider six important questions: who, what, when, where, why and how? But for this article, it is the how, as in how much to bet, we are interested in.

In essence, the Kelly Criterion calculates the proportion of your own funds to bet on an outcome whose odds are higher than expected, so that your own funds grow exponentially. 

 

The Kelly Criterion formula is:

(BP - Q) / B

 

B = the Decimal odds -1
P = the probability of success
Q = the probability of failure (i.e. 1-p)

 

Using a coin as an example of Kelly Criterion staking

 

For example, consider you are betting on a coin to land on heads at 2.00. However, the coin is biased and has a 52% chance of ending up on heads.

 

In this case:

 

P= 0.52
Q = 1-0.52 = 0.48
B = 2-1 = 1.

 

This works out at: (0.52x1 – 0.48) / 1 = 0.04

 

Therefore the Kelly Criterion would recommend you bet 4%. A positive percentage implies an edge in favour of your bankroll, so your funds grow exponentially. You can also test the criterion for different values in this online sheet by using the code below.

 

Decimal Odds:  
Probability of Success: 
Percentage of own stake: 0 

A negative percentage implies that you should not wager on this outcome.

 

Ultimately the Kelly Criterion offers a distinct advantage over other staking methods such as Fibonacci and Arbitrage methods as there is a lower risk. However, it does require precise calculation of the likelihood of an event outcome, and discipline of this method will not provide explosive growth of your bankroll.

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