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How to Manage Your Sports Betting Bankroll

by May 22, 2020

Whether you’re new to sports betting or a betting pro, our How To Bet and Sports Betting Strategy and Advice pages are for you. You can get started with our 101 section — including Common Sports Betting Terms — or head to more advanced strategy — like 10 Tips to Become a Sharper Sports Bettor — to learn more.

There are many types of sports bettors, and they employ many types of strategies. Some bettors simply indulge in sports betting for leisure while others treat it as a second job.

No matter what kind of bettor you are, there are certain things that all responsible bettors should practice. One of the most important things a sports bettor should do is practice good bankroll management. Managing your bankroll poorly is an easy way to get yourself in an uncomfortable financial position rather quickly. Also, it takes away from the fun that sports betting should be.

In this article, we offer an overview of how sports bettors should keep track of their bankroll. We will discuss appropriate betting amounts and other helpful strategies for managing your sports betting bankroll.

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Bankroll Management in Three Steps

  1. The first step of successful bankroll management is determining and setting aside a proper budget solely for the purpose of sports betting. “Do not risk what you cannot afford to lose,” is a popular saying with regards to gambling of any kind. The appropriate budget will vary from bettor to bettor, but the idea of it being minimal enough to not have it affect your everyday life should be the same.
  2. You should set rules or guidelines for yourself on how much to wager on each bet. Typically, it’s advised never to wager more than 5% of your bankroll on any individual bet.
  3. Adhere to the first two rules every step of the way in your betting journey. There are going to be times where you lose all of your initial deposit. It happens to everyone. However, it’s important not to change your disciplined routine just because it did not work the first time around.

While all these steps are important for good bankroll management, the third one is especially important. Sports bettors quickly get themselves into trouble by trying to “chase” their losses to overcome their debts quickly. It is important to remember to stay the course, and with every bad spell, you should believe that a good streak is right around the corner.

The Importance of Bankroll Management

In the fine print of every gambling-related advertisement, they remind bettors to gamble responsibly. In short, bankroll management strategies and practices help you to be responsible.

The idea of “chasing losses” is just one example of something to avoid. However, the opposite is just as important to not fall victim to. If you are on a hot streak, it’s very tempting to ride your momentum and increase the amounts of your bets. However, that’s an easy way to lose back rather quickly everything you worked so hard to build.

When you are at a casino, do you go into your gambling experience thinking that you are going to play all night, or are you resigned to it being a short-lived experience? Sports bettors should have the same mentality. Betting on sports is an extremely hard thing to “get rich quickly” at. Instead, one should take a long-term approach with sports betting. This will help withstand inevitable losses and allows a bettor to dig out of potential holes early on.

Bankroll Management Strategies

Fixed Unit Model

A “unit” is a term every bettor should be familiar with. If you are one who likes to read the betting advice of others, you have likely heard the term “five-unit play” often. A unit is 1% of your bankroll. Therefore, if your budget allows you to initially deposit $1,000, a unit in these terms would be $10, and a five-unit play would be $50.

Employing the fixed unit model strategy means you will always wager one unit and one unit only on every pick. Therefore, regardless of the odds, your perceived confidence, or your recent win/loss streak, your betting amount always remains the same.

The good thing about this strategy is that it’s easy to track your wins and losses, which is a practice that every responsible bettor should do. Sports bettors will be profitable if they get at least 52.4% of their bets correct. Thus, bettors who employ this strategy know exactly what they need to do to be successful.

However, not many bettors will have the discipline for this kind of approach. Bettors, in many cases, will be inevitably tempted to increase their stake when they are more confident in a bet than usual.

Percentage Model

The percentage model is similar to the fixed model, in that one’s percentage of bets is fixed with each bet — though that percentage can fluctuate.

Suppose a bettor deposits $1,000 and bets 2% of their bankroll on their first bet. If they win that $20 bet, they likely now have $1018 in their account, since roughly $2 in juice was taken out. Now, a bet of 2% of the new bankroll would be $20.36.

Bettors tend to like this model better than the fixed unit model since it pays off more when one goes on a hot streak. If one grows their bankroll, they stand to win even more money since their betting amount and subsequent potential winning amount increases. The downside of this model is that it takes longer to dig out of a deficit. Since bettors who have lost bets early have less of a bankroll, their betting amounts would also be less.

Confidence Model

A confidence model allows bettors much more freedom and flexibility than the fixed unit or percentage models. With the confidence model, a bettor can establish anywhere from one-unit to five-unit plays based on their confidence in that particular play. For example, if one bet on three separate games in a day, it’s likely that bettor could wager three different betting amounts if their confidence in each pick varied.

With this particular model, bettors need to remain honest and disciplined. It would be easy for a bettor to say they were confident in a five-unit play and wager accordingly. However, that bettor may only be making that five-unit play so that they can get recoup losses faster. The only reason to make a five-unit play is that you are extremely confident regardless of your current financial position. It also goes without saying that bettors need to be disciplined enough to max their plays out with five-unit plays and not stretch beyond that limit.

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Mike Spector is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeSpector01.

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