In Hollywood, the most popular image of a gambler is of a desperate soul who bets everything on one event. The ensuing event —anything from a horse race or boxing match to a kids’ baseball game — is inevitably a nail-biter, with the outcome determined in the final few seconds. Depending on the script, the poor soul who wagered his entire fortune either comes out a winner with his problems solved or sinks even further into despair.
Needless to say, Hollywood is not real life. Most experienced gamblers will tell you wagering your entire bankroll (the money you have available for betting) is a bad idea. Instead, the most successful bettors develop a bankroll-management strategy that allows for consistent winnings that offset losses while maximizing sportsbook bonuses and other perks.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
When you hear of sports bettors who lose everything or find trouble, it’s generally because they failed to use smart bankroll management. Instead of determining how much money they can afford to spend on sports betting sites and sticking with it, they start funneling money away from other things, like rent and bills, and toward the elusive “big payoff.” They bet on long-shot odds in hopes of a big payday or make huge wagers based on overconfidence in their knowledge of a team or league.
The result? A major financial mess.
Most experienced gamblers and experts recommend disciplined bankroll management. This starts with determining the maximum bankroll you can afford, anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands. Most importantly, only bet as much as you can afford to lose without impacting your overall financial health. As you start to collect winnings, you can add to your bankroll, but start conservatively.
Use your bankroll to set a conservative unit size. A unit generally should be no more than one percent of your total bankroll. If your bankroll is $1,000, then an individual unit should be no more than $70. Go higher and you risk major losses.
Finally, develop a sports-betting plan. Aim to double your bankroll up to four times over the course of the entire season. To do that, you’ll need to increase the value of a unit as your bankroll grows, so determine at the season’s beginning the points when you’ll increase your bets. Having a solid plan and strategy is key to staying disciplined — and will keep you on track when you’re tempted to chase after a hot streak.
Go Big or Go Home? Not This Time
Another important part of managing your bankroll is managing your bet size. It’s easy to be tempted by the big paydays — who doesn’t want to collect several thousand dollars on a long-shot bet? However, you have a better chance of reaching your goals and increasing your bankroll through smaller bets.
Consider this scenario: You have $1,000 in bankroll going into the weekend. A novice bettor might risk $200 on five different games under the theory if he loses on two or three games, the winnings from other games will offset those loses. But what if he loses all five games? He’s lost his entire bankroll and must start over again.
Instead, avoid betting more than 10 percent of your total bankroll at any time and more than two percent of the bankroll on one event. It’s similar to diversifying investments in the stock market; if one investment (or wager) takes a hit, it doesn’t devastate the entire portfolio. If you win, you’ll gradually increase your bankroll until you meet your goals. If you feel especially confident about a particular game or match, increase your bet to three or four percent; if you aren’t as confident about the results, reduce the bet to one percent of the total bankroll.
The idea of taking a huge risk and betting everything on a single contest is a romantic one, but smart bettors know the path to huge gains is guided by discipline and moderation. Instead of worrying about paying your debts, you can focus on having fun and enjoy watching your winnings — and bankroll — gradually grow.
About the Author: Larry Lynch learned about bankroll management the hard way, when he lost several thousand dollars in the space of two hours one Sunday afternoon. Never one to make the same mistake twice, he decided to read more and learn about bankroll management.