Catch-up Strategy: Pros, Cons, Examples

The catch-up strategy works in which the size of each subsequent bet depends on the results in the previous bet. Each new bet should at least override the loss of the previous bets of the same chain and bring profit from above.

This strategy gives you a much safer way to chase your losses, and ovveride any previous drops of your bankroll. The strategy operates on a steady money management in order to not provide any major losses while still be able to slowly profit over long term. 

How the Catch-Up Strategy Works

The game begins with the selection of the nominal bet and the selection of the event for the paddock. Then, after each loss, the player must increase the bet so that in the event that he wins he will recoup all the past losses in this series and start to gain an income.

At odds of 2.0 (+100) (classic for Martingale) and the sum of the first bet of $10, the chain of bets will go as follows: 10→20→40→80→160→320→640→1280 etc. If all the conditions, odds and necessary stakesare met, the player's profit will be equal to the initial par value when winning.

Calculating the right amounts with different odds is most convenient to produce according to the following formula: S = X+Y/K-1

  • S - is the stake or the amount of the required bet.
  • X - is the amount of potential profit from the first bet, minus the stake.
  • Y - is the sum of all previous losses.
  • K - is the odds of the upcoming event.

For example, we have the second iteration (i.e. the second bet after losing the first one). We made the first bet of $10 at odds of 1.85 (-118). That means we expect to win $8.50 net profit (X). We have only lost $10 (Y) (first losing bet) at this stage, and the next event is at odds of 1.7 (-143) (K), for example.

Let's put the numbers into the formula:

In our case, the S = X+Y/K-1 is equal to 8.5 + 10 / 1.7-1 = $26.42

That is, to meet all the conditions of expected profitability, the next bet requires that you stake $26.42.

Lets check: 26.42*1.7 = $44.92. The sportsbook will pay out $44.92 if the second bet is won. We take from this the amount of our costs (the size of the second bet, as well as the size of the first bet):

$44.92 - $26.42 (second stake) - $10 (first stake) = $8.5 net profit as originally planned.

As you can see, the formula gave us a clear stake amount for each bet. Most importantly, do not forget to get the sum of all losses (Y) to get the correct calculation.

After winning, the strategy provides for a return to the original starting bet.

When to Use the Catch-Up Strategy

The most popular bet type with the catch-up strategy are bets on the totals. Here the parallel casino bet would be even/odd or red/black, the only thing that is different is that the ratio is not always 2.0 (+100).

Also, many fans of the catch-up strategy like to use it with higher odds. The probability of winning these bets is somewhat lower, but the high odds allow you to either claim a large profit, or apply a more gentle financial progression, prolonging the possibility of catch-up by several iterations.

Most often players use the "catch up" on draws, also popular bets like red cards in soccer.

If we are talking about sports, most often the catch-up strategy is appropriate in soccer, only because there are usually large limits, allowing to operate the necessary financial space. However many popular American leagues here on US Sportsbooks are also popular like the NBA, NFL and MLB. 

Also practice catch-up against a particular tennis player-favorite, if you believe that he should lose in the near future. The high odds for this type of outcome will allow you to stay in the game over a long period, but still do not guarantee the overall success.

Catch-up can be used not only in bets on a particular team, athlete, tournament. "Catch up" can be your own failures, increasing the bet each time, based on the odds, until the series of defeats is overturned.

It is also possible to use the catch up with the advice of an expert who makes predictions. It should be understood that following the advice of even the best experts, its possible to get into a nasty losing streak. Just look at their statistics, where for every thousand perfect bets you can find at least one series of 8-10 defeats, which can be critical for your bank.

Pros of the Catch-Up Strategy

Catch-up is quite popular in the betting environment largely due to the fact that it allows you to count on a balance plus, even if the total losing bets are more than the winning. Indeed, if your series is not delayed and you manage to keep each new bet within 5-7 games, then your bankroll will grow.

Consider the example on NHL games.

Lets create an example with the New Jersey Devils. After five games the team has two wins, one draw (overtime) and two losses. NJ started with a four game home series, for which we will continue to bet on a win. Any number of wins is enough to try to catch up from the first games.

GameOdds Bet Amount (S=X+Y/K-1)Results
New York Rangers - New Jersey Devils1.7 (-143)10 2-2
Buffalo Sabres - New Jersey Devils 2.1 (+110)15.453-2
Pittsburgh Penguins - New Jersey Devils1.7 (-143)46.362-1
Philadelphia Flyers - New Jersey Devils1.75 (-133)105.082-4

On the 4th variation, our bet won, and we received a payout of $183.89. We subtract all the amounts of bets (10-15.45-46.36-105.08) and get the seven dollars of net profit that we expected to receive on the first game. Thus, this bet managed to earn 3.8% of the turnover.

Cons of the Catch-Up Strategy

It is important to understand that sooner or later you will get to a series that will require more bets than originally planned, which can lead to a financial collapse.

Another drawback of the system is that if your chain of bets is delayed by consecutive losses, you are forced to stake large sums to win a small amount. This can cause some hesitancy to continue on the path of the strategy. 

It is also worth considering the psychological component, when you after each defeat you need to increase the bet and operate decent means. Your actions will be under pressure, and in this situation it is easier to make mistakes.

This strategy can be considered a win-win under two conditions:

  1. Unlimited supply of money from the player
  2. No betting limits at the sportsbooks

Practice shows that this is basically impossible, because such a strategy carries enough risks. Lets consider the NHL example that we used above through a different lens.

The New Jersey Devils did a great job in the off-season. It was quite reasonable to expect a decent start. It was possible to skip the opening game, which they lost, and to start the catch up strategy with a series of home games - there were as many as five.

GameOddsBet Amount (S=X+Y/K-1)Results
Buffalo Sabres - New Jersey Devils 2.9 (+190)10  2-2
Pittsburgh Penguins - New Jersey Devils2.2 (+120)24.167-2
Colorado Avalanche - New Jersey Devils2.1 (+110)48.333-3
New York Rangers - New Jersey Devils 2.1 (+110)92.252-0
Washington Capitals - New Jersey Devils 2.8 (+180)107.632-2

Five games have passed, a total sum of $282.39 has been invested, and the desired result has not come. It is possible to stop and accept the loss, and it is possible to continue in hopes to acheive victory and erase the past losses. The amount of time this will take is unpredictable.  

Lets say only in the 11th game New Jersey finally won. This would require a total of $2,730. It would be necessary to operate such a sum for a total net profit of $19. This example is a clear explanation of the reason why sportsbooks do not particularly prevent players from using the catch-up strategy by applying standard limits to leagues and sports.


With that said, we come to the conclusion that catch-up is a risky strategy that does not guarantee default profits. This strategy should best be considered as a tool in a game with a sportsbook with a clear limitation of risks and funds.

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