When it comes to betting, a lot of articles and media coverage tends to focus on high rollers. There is no doubt that so-called whales dropping five-, six- or even seven-figure sums at the blackjack table or on a sports bet is fascinating to read about. The perceived glamour and excitement such bets arouse allows many of us to imagine “what if…”. But, in reality, the vast majority of punters are small-stakes players who gamble for a bit of fun.
In this article, we take a look at the less celebrated end of the gambling spectrum: the low rollers. Gambling should be fun and not cause you any worry or stress and one of the easiest ways to ensure it stays that way is to keep your stakes small, so you are never in danger of losing more than you can afford to lose. But how small is small? What are the very lowest stakes you can bet with, what bets can you make with small stakes and what are the minimum deposits required at betting sites? We’ll look at those questions, plus we’ll give information on the best deposit method for lower stakes and more. Keep reading for the full lowdown on small stakes betting.
What Is the Smallest Bet You Can Make?
Our aim here is to provide a general guide to small stakes betting, rather than a comprehensive bookie by bookie list of minimum stakes. From time to time bookies change their rules regarding this so here we speak in broad terms. Always check whichever site you are betting with for the most specific and current information.
Whilst we might advise high rollers to use betting exchanges as there are no limits and no risk of being banned or restricted, this form of betting site may well be the worst place for those wanting to bet small. In general, exchanges have a minimum stake of £2 on all bets and whilst that might not seem like a lot to some punters, for others that would represent a considerable wager. The key point though is that many “normal” bookies facilitate much smaller bets and so if that’s what you’re looking for, save the exchanges for another time.
In general, the smallest stakes possible at most major UK bookies ranges from just a penny up to 10p. Some smaller sites and, as said, exchanges may have a higher minimum level but in general all of the major players that are household names will allow you to have a bet with 10p. You can usually see details of a site’s minimum bets under their general rules, sport-specific rules or FAQ. Alternatively, just try and place a bet of whatever size you want and if it is below the bookie’s minimum, an error message will usually appear informing you what level to which you need to increase your stake. As one final alternative, if in doubt, just pop to live chat and ask customer support.
What About Minimum Deposits?
Of course, before you can place your bets, you’ll need to fund your account and if cash is low, finding a site with the lowest minimum deposit restriction is crucial. Being able to place a bet for 10p is all well and good but if you’re down to your last fiver and the site in question requires a deposit of £10 or more, you’re stumped. If you really are looking to make as small a bet as possible then being aware of the minimum stakes and the minimum deposit before you join or attempt to fund a site is wise. It would be frustrating, for example, to add funds to your account only to discover that the minimum bet is higher than you really wanted to make.
In terms of minimum deposit levels, it is a similar picture to that which we saw with regards to stakes. It varies from site to site but in general, most major UK bookmakers have a low minimum deposit of just £5. Some may have a higher minimum of £10 and sometimes it varies according to what method you use as we shall detail.
None the less though, you can find the latest information about this in much the same way as before. Usually, it will detail the minimum level on the deposit page, or else you can check with customer support, take a look at the bookies’ Ts and Cs or simply try to make whatever deposit you want. If you try to make a deposit of £5 and the site’s minimum is £10, the deposit will not go through and you will usually get some form of error message requesting a higher deposit amount.
What Deposit Method Has the Lowest Minimum?
Sorry to sound like a stuck record player (hmm, what is the digital equivalent?!) but once again this will vary between different online bookmakers. Sometimes the minimum amount will be the same no matter which method you use, or certainly for the major ones like debit cards and the biggest e-wallets. Typically, if you want to use a bank transfer or cash (for sites that have retail betting shops and facilitate this method) then the minimum will be higher. That said, some bookies, such as Ladbrokes, allow very low minimum deposits through their shops.
It really does vary but in general debit cards and PayPal tend to have the lowest minimum deposit levels. Other e-wallets, such as Neteller and Skrill, are sometimes higher than PayPal, though often they are the same. If pushed we would say that debit card tends to be the best option for small stakes betting, though some of the more unusual third-party processors may occasionally have very low minimums. However, as with previous issues, for the most accurate and up to date info, just check with customer support, check out the Ts and Cs or simply try to make a deposit and see what happens.
What About Minimum Withdrawals?
Bookies are now subject to stricter regulations than ever before and that means they favour the customer, in general, to a greater degree than they have in the past. Previously, less scrupulous betting sites used a range of slightly unfair tactics to try to make as much profit as possible from each customer. One such ploy was allowing very low deposits but having a relatively high minimum withdrawal amount.
This often encouraged punters to keep betting when they wanted to withdraw to try and increase their balance to the required minimum level. In theory, you could make extra deposits (assuming you had the available cash) to get your balance to a high enough level to permit a withdrawal, although some sites include terms meaning you must wager any funds you deposit before you withdraw.
Thankfully, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) have become a lot stricter with sharp practices such as these. You are unlikely to find a high minimum withdrawal level nowadays, certainly at the very best UK betting sites. Some of the major players now allow withdrawals of any amount, which seems fair given it is your cash after all. Others may have very low withdrawal requirements of, say £1, £5, or perhaps £10 at the very most. As ever, if in doubt, be sure to check, although note that if this issue is going to be important to you it is definitely best to check before you add funds to your account.
Pros of Small Stakes Betting
There are several reasons why people might choose to bet with very small stakes and this type of punting certainly has a good number of things in its favour. The most straightforward explanation for why some use very small stakes is because of necessity and its most obvious advantage is that you don’t need a lot of money.
Whilst some high rollers have sufficient spare funds to lay down £10,000 on a dark horse at Kelso on a Wednesday afternoon, many punters have very limited cash flow. Luckily, with some bookies excepting stakes of just 1p, even those with hardly any spare cash can still enjoy the thrill of betting without too much risk.
No Risk of Losing Big
Perhaps the number one benefit of only using small stakes is related to the above and is quite simply that if you don’t bet big, you can’t lose big. Problem gambling, which can manifest itself in a range of ways, is a growing issue. Perhaps the most straightforward approach to keeping gambling is fun is to use very small stakes. The fact of the matter is, most people lose when they bet (overall, in the long run). Therefore, it makes sense to make betting less about the amount of cash that you win and more about the actual simple fact of winning.
If you can get as much of a thrill from winning £5 as you can from winning £50 then you can use small stakes and not experience anxiety, upset, or financial malaise should you lose. If the thrill is simply beating the bookie and seeing your assessment proved right, then all of a sudden it is possible to view gambling very differently. Less a means of making money and more simply a fun addition to a sport you love.
Great for Newbies
Using small stakes is also perfect for those who are new at betting and/or new to a particular bookie. When you try just about anything new, the old adage about learning to walk before you run is often worth heeding. If you are an inexperienced bettor then putting your month’s salary on the big match is probably not wise. Well, it’s probably never wise actually but metaphorically speaking, even less so.
Whether you are new to betting in general, have just started making wagers on a new sport or even a new market, it is prudent to ease yourself in. Try some smaller bets first just to confirm to yourself that you fully understand what is going on. Even experienced punters can make errors, for example with new markets. One might see a bet that appears to be great value and pile in with a big stake, only to realise when it is too later that you have misunderstood the market or the event and the bet is not what you thought it was. That’s no big deal if you have bet just a couple of quid but more of an issue if you opted for £500.
Testing Out Systems, Tipsters & Theories
Using small stakes is especially beneficial if you are testing a betting system, tipster or theory. You might believe you have discovered the Holy Grail, be it a tipping service that nails winners, a mate who knows a man who knows a man, or simply a mathematical model you have created that you believe sees something the oddsmakers have missed.
Sorry to be all pint-half-empty, but you probably haven’t. Given there is at least a chance your system/scheme/idea is not foolproof, it makes sense to try it with small stakes first.
Using New Bookmakers
The same can also be said when it comes to trying out a new bookmaker. All of the sites we work with are UKGC licensed and, we believe, respectable operators. Even so, rather than depositing a huge sum to see for yourself, why not start small and see what they have to offer before you pile in?
Make sure their app works, that payments are processed quickly and that you can contact their customer service team without waiting for hours. Once you have checked that, by all means, increase your deposits and bets. But a little caution in the short-term might save you a lot of hassle down the line.
Cons of Small Stakes Betting
The only real downside to using small stakes is, as with many of the upsides, rather obvious: you won’t win as much when your bet comes in. For many, the thrill of betting comes from the financial side of things and some punters just cannot get excited about winning a small amount. Of course, what is a small amount is subjective and if you are an 18 year old student you may well be thrilled with winning enough to buy a pint or two in your local dive bar. In contrast, to deliver the same excitement and dopamine hit a millionaire may need to win thousands or even tens of thousands.
No matter what the numbers are, the principle is the same: some people gamble for excitement and if the stakes are too small then it just is not the same. In the same way, whilst we said that small stakes avoid any anxiety about losing, others may perceive that anxiety as thrilling instead and without the jeopardy of losing, not feel it is worth betting.
If you are the sort of person who needs a higher stake to get fun from betting then it is especially crucial you do not chase losses and do not lose more than you can afford. Losing enough to make you briefly sad is one thing. Losing so much that it consumes you and has a lasting negative impact on your life is quite another. If you find yourself falling into that latter camp, perhaps trying some small stakes betting might be just the tonic you need.