What Is the Maria Staking Plan in Sports Betting?

Patrick Lynch
By Patrick Lynch
Sports & Casino Expert
Updated Jan 18, 2023
Read time 9 min

The betting industry is rife with supposedly ‘foolproof’ staking plans. However, virtually all have at least one fatal flaw; an inability to pick winners! Regardless of how complex and clever your staking plan is, it can’t guarantee a profit because you must still have enough winning selections to profit.

What a sensible staking plan can do is maximize your profit and ensure you make the most of winning streaks. Proponents of the Maria Staking Plan claim that this seemingly innovative form of bankroll management does just that, even though it had caused a storm of controversy at the time. Almost two decades on, it still invokes heated debate.

This article looks into the Maria Staking Plan, outlining how it works, along with its pros and cons.

What Is the Maria Staking Plan?

On September 2, 2005, a person who called themselves Maria Santonix posted a lengthy message about her special staking plan and betting system on a horse racing forum called Expert Betting Advice. This means of managing your bankroll became known as the Maria Lay Staking Plan.

The bettor used it exclusively for lay betting on exchanges. This means you bet on a horse NOT to win the race. Here is a quick example of how lay betting works. 

Suppose you think Laser Guided will not win this race at Newcastle. In that case, you lay the horse to win on the Betfair Exchange by clicking on the pink box beside its name. The blue box is for back bets.

You bet £10 on Laser Guided not to win at lay odds of 4.1. However, as the lay odds are above evens (2.00), your liability is greater than what you stand to win. It is the equivalent of an odds-on wager. Therefore, while you could earn a profit of £10, you will lose £31 if Laser Guided wins the race. 

Initially, forum users likely believed the Maria Staking Plan was yet another magic formula that would fail, with the creator disappearing within a few weeks.

However, what happened next is the stuff of legend. Maria began with a bankroll of £3,000 and earned a profit of close to £100,000 within ten months. Eventually, she did disappear, leaving a legacy that persists to this day.

The Maria Staking Plan involves betting a specific percentage of your bankroll on every bet. This percentage varies according to the odds you place the bets at. While the plan was originally for lay betting only, you can also use it for back bets by following the same principles surrounding odds.

An Overview of the Maria Staking Plan

The plan involves staking a specific percentage of your overall bankroll according to the lay odds. Here is a short table outlining how much you’re supposed to bet according to the decimal odds of the lay wager:

Decimal OddsBankroll Percentage BetMaximum Liability (As A Percentage of Bankroll)
1.01 – 3.501%2.5%
3.6 – 7.40.6%3.84%
7.5 – 110.4%4%

Maria did not place lay bets on horses at decimal odds greater than 11.00.

Please remember that this is a laying system. This means your liability is greater than the available profit once the odds go beyond 2.00. For example, if you lay a horse at odds of 11.00, you risk $10 for every $1 potential profit. It is the equivalent of backing a horse to win at odds of 1.10. As a result, your ‘stake size’ is how much profit you’ll win rather than representing how much you’re risking.

Regular Compounding

Maria also spoke about the importance of daily ‘ratcheting,’ which means compounding. She increased stakes in proportion to the bank daily to maximize profit. As she won about 85% of her wagers, it was an effective way to take advantage of winning streaks.

For instance, suppose you begin with a $1,000 bankroll. Your stakes would look like this on day one:

Decimal OddsStake Size
1.01 – 3.50$10
3.6 – 7.4$6
7.5 – 11$4

However, if you earned a profit of $100 on the first day, you’d calculate your stakes off the new bankroll of $1,100, which means the following:

Decimal OddsStake Size
1.01 – 3.50$11
3.6 – 7.4$6.60
7.5 – 11$4.40

One final part of the Maria Staking Plan involves only reducing stakes when your bankroll falls by 35%. Therefore, you wouldn’t change how much you bet with a $1,000 bankroll unless it fell to $650. At that point, your stake sizes would look as follows:

Decimal OddsStake Size
1.01 – 3.50$6.50
3.6 – 7.4$3.90
7.5 – 11$2.60

You keep the above stakes until the bankroll returns to $1,000. You would adjust the stakes again if it falls another 35% from $650 down to $422.50.

According to Maria, the drop is always calculated from the highest point of the bank. Therefore, if you get to $2,000, you only adjust the stakes downward if your bankroll falls to $1,300.

Incidentally, Maria assured everyone that she had yet to experience a 35% drop in her bankroll!

The Maria Staking Plan in Action

Here is an example of how the Maria Lay Staking Plan works in action, assuming that there are five bets on the first day and your starting bankroll is $1,000.

As you can see, your first day ends in a loss of $4.96. Maria lost money in the first few days too. Indeed, day #1 resulted in a loss of £75.90 from her £3,000 bankroll. However, as the months rolled by, her profits began to soar, showing that patience was a virtue in this instance.

You can use the Maria Staking Plan for back bets, but you’ll need to reverse the odds. For instance, if you back a horse at odds of 5.00, it is the equivalent of laying at 1.25. This means you would bet 1% of your bankroll. However, if you back a horse to win at 1.20, it is the same odds as laying a horse at 6.00. Therefore, you would risk 0.6% of your bankroll.

Some bettors even use this plan for football matches, although this is only advisable if you have a high winning percentage.

Please note that if using a betting exchange, you pay a commission on all profits. For example, this payment can range from 2% to 8% of your winnings on the Betfair Exchange. Make sure you account for the commission when calculating your likely earnings.

Pros and Cons of the Maria Staking Plan

The Maria Lay Staking Plan is controversial, with plenty of naysayers to go along with those who believe it is God’s gift to bankroll management! Certainly, there are reasons to consider this plan but also downsides. Let’s look at both sides of the coin below.


  • Relatively Low Risk: When you use the Maria Lay Staking Plan as explained, you never risk more than 4% of your bankroll on a single wager. Indeed, this situation only arises when you lay a horse at odds of 11.00. Statistically, there is a 90.9% chance of winning that bet!
  • Potential for Fast Bankroll Growth: It is an excellent method of growing your bankroll during a winning spell. You increase your stakes as your bankroll increases, which means your profits grow faster than if you use the standard flat staking plan
  • Short Losing Runs: Assuming you use a similar strategy to Maria’s, which had a win rate of 85%, you should avoid long losing spells that crush your bankroll


  • It’s Not Magic; It’s Compounding: The plan hit the headlines because the original user earned huge money. However, she enjoyed an incredible strike rate, so her bankroll would also have grown significantly had she used a basic staking plan with compounding
  • Reliant on a High Win Rate: Maria would have suffered significant losses if her strike rate had dipped slightly. For example, a strike rate of 78% instead of the 85% she enjoyed would have caused her bankroll to dwindle rapidly, because the average lay odds were 6.00. This means she needed a win rate of 83.33% to break even. Her edge was rather small, but due to compounding, she made the most of it
  • Cutting Stake Size Is a Bad Idea: Once your bankroll falls below 35%, the stake size is reduced. This means it will take longer to get back to parity, and you will no longer benefit from winning streaks. Suppose your $1,000 bankroll falls to $650, and you cut your stakes by 35%. Then you benefit from a winning run that adds $300 to your bank. Had you used your original stake size, your profit would have been over $450

Who Was Maria?

It is widely believed that Maria Santonix was a pseudonym. The most commonly accepted theory is that Adrian Massey, a man who owned a well-known racing website at that time, pretended to be Maria. The fact that ‘she’ later posted on the Adrian Massey forum, later renamed Maria’s Racing Forum, added fuel to the fire.

Maria claimed that she had connections in UK racing, most pertinently, her father, who she claimed was an expert in British racing. She supposedly lived in Riga, Latvia, which led many people to wonder how her father had become a UK racing expert.

It is a mystery why Massey would use a fake name rather than take ownership of his staking plan. After all, he was heavily involved in horse racing, and being associated with a winning system would only be good for his reputation.  As a general rule, successful betting tipsters are seldom shrinking violets who don’t take credit for their work!

If nothing else, it is something for horse racing lovers to ponder.

Incidentally, no one is sure of Maria’s whereabouts these days. One theory suggests she completed a PhD and plays poker full-time.

Is the Maria Lay Staking Plan Legitimate?

All available evidence suggests that, at the very least, the Maria Staking Plan is no scam. She posted the selections before the races began and clearly outlined her profit and loss each day. Therefore, her picks and strike rate are unquestionably legitimate.

However, one of the big issues with betting systems did surface. Maria would claim that she got certain lay odds on her selections, but by the time she posted her picks, those odds were gone. Therefore, anyone seeking to follow her system benefited from the same strike rate but inferior odds. For instance, Maria might say she laid at a horse at odds of 3.8, yet forum users couldn’t get better odds than 4.6.

Since value odds are the cornerstone of profitable betting, this is a major problem. Remember, Maria’s edge was relatively tiny. If you get poorer odds with almost every bet, it is almost certain that you will lose money following Maria’s tips and staking plan.

Another issue is that on at least one occasion, Rule 4 affected a race Maria bet on. However, she reported a full profit for that wager, which skews her figures, since Rule 4 cuts the odds.

Some forum users checked to see whether any bets were matched at the odds Maria claimed. It turned out that the odds were real, but no one could tell whether it was Maria’s money. One suggestion is that Maria ‘paper traded,’ which means she didn’t risk the money. If true, the staking plan is solid, but the creator didn’t earn a near six-figure profit.

It is also worth noting that Maria tried similar threads after her initial success. One, which is from 2009, ended in a heavy loss, perhaps a sign that the original winning run was a fluke.

Should You Use the Maria Staking Plan?

It is worth considering if you have a betting system with a high win rate, enabling you to make the most out of a winning run. If you follow the original model and don’t try to tweak it, you could earn a sizable profit, but only if your betting strategy is sound.

Yet, the Maria Lay Staking Plan is not ‘magic,’ and you could incur heavy losses whenever your system hits a downturn. There is no evidence to suggest that it is superior to a standard staking plan that includes regular compounding.

One final point; if you get to a stage where your bankroll swells, you will begin to wager large sums of money. Suppose your bankroll reaches $40,000; this means a 1% bet is $400. Most horse racing lay betting systems involve lots of volume, with 10+ bets a day common. Consider whether you’re comfortable risking thousands of dollars each day before embarking on the Maria Lay Staking Plan.

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Patrick Lynch
Patrick Lynch
Sports & Casino Expert

Patrick has been a professional writer since 2009. He knows the issues players face when trying to find reputable casinos and performs forensic analysis on every site he reviews. Since joining in 2021, Patrick has had his eyes opened by the potential of the cryptocurrency market. With a background in sports betting, he realizes the possibilities afforded to successful bettors when using digital currency.