Bankroll Management

Supposing we were to tell you that every time you bet on a sports event you are betting too much. You would probably wonder how we can say that without even knowing you! But the fact is that very few sports bettors are placing the correct amount of money when they wager, and therefore we can predict with pretty good accuracy that you fall into this category. Does this seem like a gross generalization to you? After reading the rest of this article on money management you might not think so.

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Assuming that you have done enough research into the sport you are betting on and that you know with a good bit of certainty that you can pick winners even slightly better than 50% of the time there is no reason why you should not make money on sportsbetting. We have already seen that a winning percentage of 53% is sufficient to profit from sports wagering when standard odds are used. But one more thing needs to be taken into account when deciding how much of your bankroll to wager. You must realize that winning and losing your wagers often comes in streaks. Winning streaks are no problem, but a losing streak can wipe out your bankroll if you have not learned to manage it correctly.

The laws of probability and statistics are well known to many gamblers, especially those betting on games with a highly mathematical structure such as poker. But are you aware that the same knowledge of how those odds apply to money management is vital to your success at sports betting? Most people are not. You might be cautious about the kinds of investments you place your retirement money into, but take more risks when it comes to betting on sports, and that just makes no sense. If you wouldn’t put 20% of your nest egg into a stock that has a 50% chance of doubling tomorrow but also has a 50% chance of losing all its value then you probably shouldn’t be taking that risk with your sports wagers.

Let’s say you have set aside $1000 for wagering on NFL football this season. The first weekend of the season features a rematch between last years AFC champion and a team that started the season 0-5 last year and wound up going 5-11 in regular league games. The moneyline is (-250) for the former AFC champs and you are confident that they will win. How much do you bet? If you said something like $200 then you are making the most basic of errors in bankroll management. Placing 20% of your total on a single game is a strategy that almost guaranteed to bankrupt you before long. The possibility of losing 5 consecutive bets at some point in the season is by no means far fetched, in fact history shows that it is much more likely than not.

If you came here thinking that our articles on sportsbetting were going to give you a method of getting rich quickly on sports wagers then you haven’t yet grasped the principles we advocate. We believe that a patient, steadfast approach to betting on sports using odds that have been well researched and are known to be favorable will allow you to slowly but steadily increase your bankroll. Our advice is to normally bet 2% of your bankroll on any given game. In no case should you ever risk more than 5% of your bankroll on a single event, and even then it should be done only when you have received very good odds on a team that has a huge edge in power rankings. To see how this plays out in actual practice look at the following bankroll management plan.

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You have decided that you can afford to set aside $5000 of your hard earned money for sportsbetting, and your sport of choice is NFL football. Your plan is to wager on 6 games each week of the regular football season. With a 16 game pro football schedule, you will be betting on a total of 96 games. Based on your ability to find good deals among the betting lines and your overall knowledge of all 32 pro football teams, you feel confident that you ought to be able to win 55% of your bets. We will assume for the purpose of this exercise that you are betting with odds that are fairly close to the standard line of (-110), or that at least you are taking points or price on the underdog in about the same number of games that you lay bets on the favorite.

At the end of the regular season, a 55% success rate will have resulted in 43 of your bets being losers and 53 bets being winners. If you have been risking only 2% of your bankroll on every game you will have been betting about $100 a game. Obviously if your bankroll has increased as the season has progressed your bets may exceed $100 but they will be pretty close to that in any case. Since you have a net gain of 10 winners on the season, your bankroll has increased 10 x $100 or about $1000. That’s a 20% return on your money, and that’s only for the half of the year that football is in season. If you look at that as an annual return it comes to 40% interest on your money!

If you have any doubts that even a 20% return on your money is a good deal, go talk to an investment adviser and ask him how much he can expect to get for you with a diverse portfolio of stocks. What you will find is that betting on sports can give you a tremendous return on your bankroll compared to traditional investments, and it can do this even with only a conservative rate of success. The key is not to get greedy and start betting more money than your bankroll warrants. If you believe you can exercise the discipline and restraint needed to bet intelligently on sports for the long haul, you have an excellent chance of making good money at the sportsbooks.