It is very important that sports bettors practice proper bankroll management. Solid management of your bank can make the difference between your earning a profit and losing everything. There are some basic principles that savvy sports bettors utilize to enable them to make the most of what they have. Here are five important principles that you can use to ensure that you are properly utilizing your sports betting cash.
Determine How Much You Have
It’s important that you determine how much you are willing to risk on sports betting for a specific length of time. It’s best to come up with a bankroll either for a specific sports season or an entire year. Why is this the case? One of the purposes of bankroll management is to limit losses, and one of the ways to do this is to designate how much you are actually willing to lose.
If you don’t have a predetermined amount that you have set aside and are willing to risk on sports betting, then it’s best to not engage in the activity at all. The reason for this is you don’t want to get into a situation where you are risking your rent, grocery, gas, or kid’s lunch money. Remember, no matter how good you may be at it, sports betting involves risk. You should bet only with extra cash that you can afford to lose. Setting a strict limit for a season or a year will protect you.
Always deduct any expenses that you have from your bankroll. Your bank is what you designate for the entire process of sports wagering, and that means you have to account for any expenses that will reduce your power as a handicapper and bettor.
(You’ll find more about this in our article entitled “Record Keeping and Sports Betting.”)
Make Unit Bets
Breaking your bankroll into betting units is one of the simplest and most important money management practices you can use. Units allow sports bettors to divide their cash between various games while keeping a certain amount in reserve.
As an example, let’s say your bankroll for the NFL season totals $600. Of that, $50 is allocated for expenses such as buying season previews and a subscription to an insider publication. That leaves you with $550 for betting purposes.
Before dividing the remainder into units, consider how much flexibility you’ll want and how conservative you’ll be with your bets. If you want more flexibility and use a conservative approach, you will use smaller units. A conservative approach dictates that you never want to risk more than 6 percent of your roll on one bet. That’s $33.
Here is a look at some typical unit breakdowns: If we elect to go with $5 units, then we will have 110 units total ($550/$5 = 110 units). We may elect to go with $10 units, which would result in our having 55 units ($550/$10 = 55 units). Elect to create $20 units and you would possess 27.5 betting units ($550/$20 = 27.5 units).
Your unit represents the smallest possible wager you can make on a game. Do you want large units that limit your betting potential and stand the chance of being eaten up quickly, or would you rather have smaller units, that you can utilize more precisely? You will make more by betting more money at one time, but you’ll also stand to lose more.
Smaller Bets Are Better
Smaller bets are better because they allow you to spread the risk out among more games. In one week of wagering on the NFL, you don’t want to risk any more than 15 percent of your total bankroll. That way even if you have a bad week of betting, you’ll have a lot left for the upcoming weeks. 15 percent of $550 is $82, leaving you with a bankroll of $468.
With $5 units, that would give you 16.5 units, and with $10 units, you’d have 8.25 units. If you go with $20 units, you can wager a total of 4.10 units. With a relatively small bankroll, it’s best to go with $5 or $10 units. In one week of the NFL season with $5 unit bets and a total of 16.5 units, you can do a lot.
Consider placing the following bets in one week:
• Solid Picks: 3 games at 3 units each for a total of 9 units
• Less Sure: 2 games at 2 units each for 4 units (13 units total)
• Hunches: 2 games at 1.5 units each for 3 units (16 units total)
With this use of units, you’ll just need to win the solid picks or a combination of the solid and less sure to make some cash. The basic rule of thumb is risk more units on your best picks and less on those that are a greater risk.
Have Reasonable Expectations
Finally, you need to have reasonable expectations from your bankroll. By using sound money management practices which are fairly conservative, you can hope to make about a 10 to 20 percent profit the first week. That would be $8 to $16 in terms of real money. The most you stand to lose is 15 percent of your bank, leaving you with 85 percent for the rest of the season. You’re not bringing in huge amounts of cash, but you are staying in the game and out of trouble.
A few words of caution: Don’t try to make up for losses by doubling bets. This is a very bad idea. Panic betting never works. Steady, deliberate, and slow wins this race every time. Also, don’t try to bet on every game. Choose the games you wager on carefully. Betting on the big games won’t win you any more money than betting on those that are less important. Sports betting is about picking winners, not about being right about the big game of the week. By following this advice, you will give yourself a better chance to be a successful sports bettor.