How to Manage Your Sports Betting Bankroll Like a Professional
What separates the professional bettors from the casual players isn’t just a win-loss record, it’s consistency in how they bet their money.
Every “sharp” bettor understands the importance of managing your sports betting bankroll, and even if you are just starting with sports betting and anticipating playing with just a few dollars, learning the basics of managing your hard-earned money is crucial to ensuring you leave with a little bit (or ideally, a lot) of profit.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the necessities of proper bankroll management.
I’m Barely Starting, Do I Need Bankroll Management?
The simple answer is yes.
It doesn’t matter if you’re brand new to sports betting and only playing with $50, or if you’re more experienced and playing with $1,000. The same baseline principle applies, every sports bettor should be fully aware of their bankroll, no matter how often or how much they intend to bet.
The name of the game in sports betting is consistency. You are just as likely to get on a hot streak as you are a losing skid, that’s just the nature of betting on competitive sports. However, if you are consistent in how much you risk you will avoid having a losing streak that leaves your sportsbook account empty as quickly as you built it up.
The Three Steps to Managing Your Sports Betting Bankroll
The best means to have consistency in your sports betting comes with just these three simple steps. These aren’t some cutting edge secrets that will guarantee winners, but they are basic principles to abide by to ensure your sports betting experience is the most enjoyable it can be.
Determine the Size of Your Sports Betting Bankroll
The easiest way to determine this is to promise that you will never bet any money that you cannot afford to lose. How much money depends entirely on your financial situation. Be realistic about this and understand that there is a very good possibility the money you are allocating to bet on sports will be lost betting on sports.
Once you have figured out what your budget will be, and what you would hypothetically be willing to lose, this is where we can hone in on a good percentage that you will risk going forward.
Choose Your Unit Size
In the lexicon of sports bettors, you will often hear the term “units” used to describe what a bettor is risking on a certain event.
In the simplest terms, a “unit” is the percentage of a sports bettor’s bankroll that is being risked on whatever is being wagered on. If you have a bankroll of $100 and you wish to bet $5 a play, $5 would be your “unit”.
Once you have set aside your bankroll amount and made your first initial deposit, you’re going to want to dial in on a steady betting system to ensure you’re not all over the map with all of your various wagers. We know that when you first get started the immediate instinct is to make numerous bets that vary in type and dollar amount risked, but the smart strategy is to keep your bets consistent with the same dollar amount risked on each and every wager. This is better known as flat betting.
For beginner bettors, we recommend starting with a unit size of 1-5%. Many sharp bettors, believe it or not, will actually bet in unit sizes of 1%, so don’t be discouraged if you see any gambling experts boasting about betting $10,000 on a parlay. Those are the exact type of players that every sportsbook in the country love because they are as likely to win big as they are to set all of their profits on fire in a single betting window.
Consistency. Find your unit size and stick to it. This allows you to stay focused and disciplined in sports betting. Many bettors in their day have had their share of “tilt” moments. Bankroll management helps avoid those terrible days.
Always Reassess Your Current Bankroll Situation
While consistency is important, so is logic. If you have lost 13 straight bets, consider dialing back your unit size until your bad luck falls back.
Don’t chase a bad bet with more bad bets. When you’re on a brutal losing skid where every bounce is going against you, don’t feel like you need to keep betting to get out of it. Take a night off, recharge the batteries. Shrinking your unit size during these ruts helps prevent you from making a bad stretch a whole lot worse.
If you have won 10 straight bets, maybe your unit size has adjusted as well. If you were betting $5 per game, maybe you can increase that up to $10 per game in the short-term. At the same point, do not feel too confident and bet way over your set limit. Stay within your betting parameters at all times and adjust accordingly.
Track Your Wagers
There are a lot of reasons beyond bankroll management for why tracking your wagers is useful. Perhaps you’ve noticed a trend with a certain team and you can see that you’ve correctly bet on them every single time, or perhaps you’ve noticed that every time you take another team to go over the total, they go under.
Whatever the case may be, we strongly encourage tracking your bets, if for anything else to aid you in tracking how much money you have risked and won.
We suggest creating a spreadsheet to track the following:
- Date of the Game
- Point Spread/Total/Moneyline
- Number of Units Risked
- Number of Units Won/Lost
- Your Wager
The benefit of tracking these picks is to create your own database of what you’ve been betting on. This way you can pinpoint where exactly you’ve been doing well and where you have been losing. At the very least if you do not use this for your own betting data, this will also help keep track of your bankroll management and accurately track your profits and losses.