Bankroll Management

A bankroll is the amount of money you are setting aside just for sports betting.

If you are serious about becoming a legitimate sports bettor, then the whole point of betting on a sport is to make money. Sure, it is fun to bet on certain sporting events, but what does it take to really be successful at sports betting?

Bankroll management is absolutely essential in your quest to be a sports bettor who consistently makes a profit. Bankroll management paired with knowledge and awareness of the sport and players you are betting on is a way to keep you moving forward in the world of sports betting.

The importance of unit size

The first concept to understand for bankroll management is the unit.

What is a unit?

A unit is going to be your betting baseline. This is the baseline amount that you will wager on a bet-to-bet basis. It is usually a good idea for this unit size to be around 2% to 3% of your entire sports betting bankroll.

Why are units important?

Units help you to be more organized in your sports betting endeavors. They allow you to really see how well or not so well you are doing overall. Think of a unit as a measuring tool that tracks your profits.

Units also help you to be disciplined while you are betting. Instead of just making emotional bets, units are a step into the realm of rational and strategic betting.

Models for bankroll management

Next, here are some models to give you templates for keeping on top of your bankroll.

The fixed bankroll model

If this is your first venture into the world of sports betting, then the fixed bankroll model is just what the doctor ordered. This concept is extremely simple and consistent. You stick to betting one unit, and that’s what you bet on every wager.

Now, let’s say you make some profit. At this point, you can increase the amount of your unit. Plan this all out in advance, though. For instance, every time you make a profit of $150, you will increase the value of a unit slightly.

Potential return model

The potential return model takes into account your bankroll and odds together. Suppose you are a whale and have a bankroll of $50,000. You have decided your unit size will be 1%, which is $500.

Your goal is to always try to win one unit.

We’ll use moneyline odds on an NFL bet — Chiefs vs. Bears, with Chiefs being the favorite.

Let’s say that the odds are +500 for the Bears (a huge long shot). To win one unit, you only need to bet $100. You stand to win $500 plus the $100 you put up. If you lose, you lose that $100.

Let’s say the odds on the Chiefs are -500 (a high favorite). To win one unit, you need to make a large bet. You will have to bet $2,500 to get $500 profit (one unit) plus the $2,500 you put up, but if you lose, you lose that $2,500.

That’s OK though because if you lose $2,500, it doesn’t make much of a dent in your $50,000 bankroll, and the same can be said if you only lose $500.

Now that we know how odds work, let’s look at the potential return model.

The goal of this model is to potentially win back one unit.

Let’s say you are betting $2,500 on the odds for the favorite above (-500). You take the odds and divide by the bet amount. This gives you 0.2.

So, instead of wagering one unit ($500) to win 0.2 units ($100), you’d wager five units ($2,500) to win one unit ($500).

Now, let’s take a look at what would happen if you bet on the underdog with the odds above.

If the underdog is +500, that means you would wager 0.2 units to win one unit. You would only have to put up $100 to potentially get $500 back.

A shifting bankroll model influenced by your confidence level

Once you have a feel for sports betting and seem to be getting the hang of it, you can trust your gut a little more. This model allows you to have a sliding scale of how many units you bet based on how confident you are that you will win.

So, you may fix a range from 1% to 5% of your bankroll. Then you rate yourself on your level of confidence on each bet on a scale of one to five. The amount you bet should correspond to your confidence level. If you have a confidence of five, bet 5% of your bankroll.

Make sure you are disciplined in your betting while using this model, however. If you say that 5% of your bankroll is going to be your highest bet, then you need to stick to that no matter what. This is especially important if you hit a hot streak.

Don’t let the excitement make you foolish.

Your bankroll and hedging

Hedging bets is a necessary component of managing your bankroll. Hedging is where you split up the money you want to bet and place it on different possibilities of how a sporting event will end.

The goal is to help you be in a position where no matter what ends up happening at the end of any event, you make some profit. Now, it may not always be a ton of money, but consistently done, your winnings can add up.

Think of hedging as a sort of sports betting insurance.

Keep track of your wagers

You want to keep a good record of your betting. This way you can see where you make the most profits, and where you are losing money.

For instance, you will see how you do when you bet on favorites as opposed to the underdogs. In this way, you can use this information to improve your overall betting performance.

You want to find your own unique betting system and perfect it over time. Successful sports bettors have a system, and they have the discipline to stick to it come hell or high water.

Emotional betting and bad bankroll management

Whether you are a novice or a seasoned pro at sports betting, the emotional charges that a bettor experiences in sports betting are powerful. This can lead to foolish decisions.

Sometimes a bettor will have success with implementing money management and go on a winning streak.

This can be dangerous, as sometimes bettors then abandon their money management systems in pursuit of luck and a continued hot streak.

You need to refine your bankroll system over time and always stick to the plan you have laid out.