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what does stake mean

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For those wanting to learn about what does stake mean in betting terms, it’s simply the amount of money you put on a wager. By the time you’ve finished reading this page, you’ll understand what stakes are, how they work, and the limits in place. Our experts make sense of this gambling industry jargon, so you know all the lingo.

What Does Stake Mean in Betting?

what does stake mean in betting

You can’t place bets without stakes. So, let’s just recap precisely what is a stake in betting? It’s the word used to describe the amount of money you gamble with online bookies on a wager. The stake meaning in betting is as simple as that. Once the money is down on a wager, stakes are said to have been placed.

How Does a Stake in Sports Betting Work?

The great thing about stakes is that you, and not the bookmakers, are in control. It’s entirely your decision how much or little you want to bet. Stake limits may apply to certain wagers of course, but we’ll get to that. So long as you have the amount of money in your account balance, then you can bet it all in one go.

It’s as much the betting odds available as the stake you place that determines how much you can win from a wager. This is because together they form a ratio. Multiply your desired stake by the price on offer at the bookies and see what you could win. This is the only the potential profit, however. For total returns you must then add the amount staked.

Stake Limits

With the stake definition now firmly established, you must understand there are limits to what you can gamble. After all, you can only bet a maximum of the amount of money in your account balance on your next wager. While you can always make a deposit and top up funds, this is thus a soft limit. There are more rigid ones in place with certain bets, however, that can’t be got around.

Whenever the bookies provide price boosts or enhanced odds, these come with strict maximum stake limits for good reason. As they offer a bigger than normal return on such bets, there’s greater liabilities, i.e. payouts to punters, if the outcome wins. These are loss leaders for online betting sites with the theory being you and other punters will reinvest profits in subsequent wagers.

Common stake limits in the UK are £20, £10 and £5, depending on the size of the enhancement. The more generous that betting offers are in terms of boosting a price, then the less you can be at the upgraded odds. You may not be able to get all the money you want on such a wager, but this also helps in its own way to promote responsible gambling.

What Does Unit Stake Mean in Betting?

Moving on to what is a unit stake in betting terms, this refers to when there are multiple parts to the same wager. Take an each way bet, for example. The unit stake here doubles because your wager contains a win only element and a separate one for finishing placed. Rather than complicate things further by putting on outright win and place bets individually, it’s more convenient if you go each way. Just remember to multiply the unit stake by two for your total outlay.

There are also a series of combination and system wagers, also called full cover bets, which go much further. Depending on the number of legs and whether or not you include singles in them, these soon become high multiples of the unit stake gambled. The list below contains the most common wagers of this kind:

  • Trixie – unit stake x4 on three Doubles and a Treble.
  • Patent – unit stake x7 on three Singles, three Doubles and a Treble.
  • Yankee – unit stake x11 on six Doubles, four Trebles and a Four-fold acca.
  • Lucky 15 – unit stake x15 on four Singles, six Doubles, four Trebles and a Four-fold acca.
  • Canadian – unit stake x26 on 10 Doubles, 10 Trebles, five Four-folds and a Five-fold acca.
  • Lucky 31 – unit stake x31 on five Singles, 10 Doubles, 10 Trebles, five Four-folds and a Five-fold acca.
  • Heinz – unit stake x57 on 15 Doubles, 20 Trebles, 15 Four-folds, 6 Five-folds and a Six-fold acca.
  • Lucky 63 – unit stake x63 on 6 Singles, 15 Doubles, 20 Trebles, 15 Four-folds, 6 Five-folds and a Six-fold acca.
  • Super Heinz – unit stake x120 on 21 Doubles, 35 Trebles, 34 Four-folds, 21 Five-folds, 7 Six-folds and a Seven-fold acca.
  • Goliath – unit stake x247 on 28 Doubles, 56 Trebles, 70 Four-folds, 56 Five-folds, 28 Six-folds, 8 Seven-folds and an Eight-fold acca.

Stake Calculator

If you use a staking calculator, this shows you what you stand to gain off bets of different sizes and odds. Remember, unless there are limits in place, you have complete control over how much or little you put on a wager. Check out the free bet calculator here before you place your next bet if you want to see potential profits and payouts from stakes of different amounts.

What Does Total Stake Mean in Betting?

The total stake meaning is however much the complete outlay is on a bet as a whole. We’ve explained above that unit stakes with full cover, combination and system wagers need multiplying by however many parts there are to them. The total betting stake meaning refers to this final sum. If, for example, you placed a Lucky 15 with a £2 unit stake, the total outlay is £30.

How to Decide on a Total Stake

It’s all well and good knowing what does stake mean in betting terms, but deciding how much to wager is another matter entirely. As noted above, what you win is a ratio of the total stake to the available odds. The shorter the price on a bet, then the more money needed to turn a bigger profit. If you place a wager at Evens, for instance, then you can only double your money no matter how large the stake.

Looking behind the odds, there’s the implied probability of any bet to consider. Evens is a 50-50 chance, so anything at a shorter price than that is more likely than not to happen. Anything at odds against, meanwhile, is the opposite. There’s a greater implied risk as prices get bigger. It follows, then, that you should place a smaller total stake the greater the odds available.

Staking Plan

There is absolutely nothing stopping you from betting on more than one outcome in the same event. This is what smart gamblers do. In order to ensure that you turn a profit no matter which results occurs, though, you need a staking plan. It’s particularly important with horse racing betting as there are multiple potential winners to events. Similar comments apply when there’s a unit stake involved too.

If you’re unsure how to budget correctly, then use a betting stake calculator to help you. This shows you what you win if you place certain amounts on respective bets. In addition to the automatic arithmetic done by these, you will also need to subtract your losing stake from the other wager from total returns and profits. Before placing the bets, you should adjust the stakes accordingly so it doesn’t matter which selection wins and you receive a similar amount back.

Here’s an example of what we mean. Let’s say that there are two horses that you think are all in with a chance of winning a big race. Your total budget is £20 and the prices on offer are 100/30 for Horse A and 9/2 for Horse B. If you just bet £10 on each, then you would receive more back from the bigger priced runner, Horse B. Adjusting the stakes to reflect the odds, an £11.50 bet on Horse A at 100/30 returns £38.30. Meanwhile, an £8.50 stake on Horse B at 9/2 returns £38.25. There’s just 5p difference in the returns.

Betting Sites with the Lowest Stakes

As part of the Social Responsibility Code for combating problem gambling laid out by the UK Gambling Commission, all bookies that want to keep their license must offer a minimum stake for bets. This will in all likelihood be a few pence. It also helps promote responsible gambling. There is absolutely nothing wrong with low stakes betting, especially if it ensure that you wager within your means.


Where does the word stake come from in betting?

If you win a bet do you get your stake back?

What is the difference between odds and stakes?

Do you get your stake back on an each way bet?

What is the difference between bet and stake?

Do you get your stake back if your horse doesn’t run?

What does inc stake mean in betting?

Can you win money from stakes?

Jamie Clark
Jamie Clark
Jamie Clark

Jamie Clark has been with from the very beginning and penned the very first pieces of content that appeared right here. Known for his horse racing expertise, his strong gambling knowledge comes from childhood where he was surrounded by both horses and betting. The godson of a former on-track bookmaker at Market Rasen Racecourse, Jamie ended up working in the same industry and became Sports Editor of heavyweight bookies Coral for three years before they merged with Ladbrokes. After a successful spell freelancing for other big names in the business, he helped us launch this site with his skills, experience and ability coming in useful. Read long form content across a range of betting subjects from Jamie right here.