Sports Betting Strategies

Bankroll management

Everyone dreams of big wins and the luxury of being able to live as a professional bettor, but it isn't all smiles and roses. As much as you want to make profit from betting, equally you should protect your gains.

Bankroll management is a hugely important factor that contributes to successful betting. The term bankroll refers to the amount of money that you have set aside specifically for betting when you first start out, and that aim is to grow this slow and steady.

Bankrolls are generally supposed to be anywhere from 20 to 50 times the amount of money you place per bet so you don't risk running out of bankroll to bet with. That's one part of managing your bankroll along with having a clear staking plan, which is how much money you bet on each bet, and exercising discipline during losing runs.

Pros & Cons of Bankroll Management

  • Pro - Good bankroll management means you'll never run out of funds. Being prepared for a losing run makes it easier to deal with and bounce back from.
  • Pro - Using a bankroll and having a staking plan will help keep you disciplined and manage your exposure to risk.
  • Con - Using a strict bankroll management method can test your patience. First and foremost, having a bankroll is about protecting what you have rather than being too eager to add to it.

There are three questions that need answering here: What is a bankroll? What is bankroll management? and what are some useful bankroll management methods? Betting is all about opinion and there's no right or wrong method to make money from sports betting, but what's clear is there are two key principles if you truly want to beat the bookies. One is finding value, and the other is having good bankroll management.

What is a bankroll?

A bankroll is the pot of money that you make available for betting. Every time you wish to place a bet with your staking method of choice (how much you bet), it comes from your bankroll. Some casual bettors may be comfortable depositing from their bank as and when they want to place a bet, but this is deemed a bad betting strategy.

There should be one carefully planned out pot of money, from which you bet a set amount each time you bet. Most commonly, this will be a set and small percentage of your overall bankroll.

Your bankroll can be stored in one of several places. Some people opt to store their money with one bookmaker, although this can limit your options in terms of available betting market and finding best odds. Others have a bank account set up just for their betting funds, and deposit to various bookmakers as and when an amount is needed, and final option is to use e-Wallets such as PayPal, Skrill or Neteller. It's much easier and quicker to transfer money around when using an e-Wallet.

What is bankroll management?

We know that a bankroll is a set amount of money that should be separate to your personal finances and it's where your betting funds come from. Each time you place a bet, it comes from your bankroll. But how do you determine your bankroll in the first place?

There are two ways of doing this and it's essentially the first step of managing your bankroll. If you don't put enough careful consideration into your starting bankroll, then even the best methods may see things unravel. This is because a bankroll should be specific to each person and each sport. Some methods of betting carrying more risk of lengthy losing runs than others, as do some sports.

It is suggested most methods involve staking between 1% and 5% maximum of your total bankroll, but the latter is risky. The percentage method on paper means you could start with any amount of bankroll, but the smaller it is the less you'll bet, and the bigger it is, the more you'll bet. Whilst the theory is you never should really run out, losing runs at 5% stake with a small bankroll could result in you betting pennies quite quickly.

The safer and more precise way is to determine what you bet per unit. If you use a unit staking system, you will bet a flat amount per unit. Let's say it is £50. It's your call if you place 1 unit, 2 units or even sometimes 3 units on a bet, but all of this needs to be taking into account. Let's say for this example you bet £50 per bet, and strictly one unit per bet.

Factoring in your sports and bet types

The sport you're betting on counts for a lot. If it's football, you might only place a couple of football bets midweek and a couple of football bets on the weekend.

This is more of a low risk sport as you have big periods to adjust and react. Something like basketball, for example, is higher risk and it requires a higher starting bankroll. These are all things to consider when managing your bankroll wisely, which starts with choosing the correct amount.

By looking over previous seasons results, or even using a losing run calculator which you can find online, you can plan what your worst possible run could be. You never want to be in the uncomfortable position of blowing half a bankroll or more. If your worst losing run is predicted to be -15 units in one month, we want to protect against that over the full course of a season. Blowing a bankroll is an utter disaster.

If there are seven months in an NBA season and you suspect your worst run could be -15 units, that's an (unlikely) worst case scene of 105 units. A good starting point might be 105 units plus 10%, giving you around 115 units, which in our case is £5,750.

If you find that you're aiming to bet £50 but can't spare more than a couple of hundred for your bankroll, then you're a working class family saving for a £1m mansion! Realistically, you should be betting in £5 to maximum £10 increments on a bankroll in the lower hundreds.

If you put a correctly sized bankroll in place, then disciplined betting should take care of itself. Following your staking plan to a T from there should ensure that you won't run out of funds and you're only taking necessary and considered risks.

Bankroll Management Methods

We've looked at the two most basic (and common) methods of managing your bankroll, but another thing that can dictate the size of your bankroll is the method which you use to bet. You can stake 1% to 5% per bet, or you can work with a unit system. These are solid methods that focus purely on careful, low-risk, long-term growth.

A professional bettor or someone with experience may know when to strike when the iron is hot or how to appropriately stake higher on certain bets. However, there are some set methods such as the Martingale System or Fibonacci sequence which are designed to make the most of the betting odds, and some that utilise a sequence of increasing stakes to ensure that losses are eradicated quickly and wins can be big.

But these are, of course, much higher risk methods than flat staking with a big bankroll and they take careful consideration and understanding.

Who should implement a bankroll management strategy?

A bankroll is something that arguably every bettor should utilise, but it is mainly professionals who actually do. There are varying levels of the casual punter, but many casual punters seem happy to bet on a whim or as a daily or weekly habit or pastime. Some casual punters may at least make the effort to set aside an amount of money they won't fuss over losing, but many bet as and when directly from their bank account, and that's a risky betting strategy that can affect your personal life. Whichever sport you're betting on, having a bankroll is a good betting strategy.

A bankroll is of key importance. Whether you're a professional bettor or a casual punter, making the effort to set aside a bankroll, devise a staking plan and tackle your chosen sport carefully, can help to develop an organised and winning mentality. If you're failing to prepare, then be prepared to fail. Having a bankroll and a plan which helps you understand the importance of staking and bankroll preservation will encourage bettors to think more carefully about the decisions they're making and the process they're going through to make those decisions.

In summary, a properly managed betting bankroll is a key part of any strategy.

Even if you plan to casually bet accumulators that take your fancy last minute on a Saturday, a bankroll can still be of benefit to you. It protects your personal assets and helps control your habits. For a professional, a bankroll will always remain key to remaining disciplined and will help assess true performance through pitting the amount staked against the amount won.

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