I’ve been in the sports betting industry for more than 25 years now and I can assure you the largest single hurdle sports bettors face when trying to find long-term success is the inability to properly manage their money. I’ve known many incredibly talented handicappers/bettors that saw the angles and had an edge that helped them win a high percentage of their bets only to see poor money management destroy their bankroll.
Money management seems simple and intuitive which is probably why most people brush off the idea that they need to actually sit down and draw up a plan. This inevitably leads to lessons learned the hard way that could have been easily avoided with a sound plan, long-term focus, and discipline.
These are the three keys to sports betting money management success:
1) Put together a money management plan for the season and write it down. Don’t just think about it and have it in the back of your head. Type it up, write down on paper, document it somehow so that you are more invested in committing to it.
2) The cliché nobody ever wants to hear but is 100% true is that sports betting is a marathon not a sprint. You want to be a successful sports bettor? Then understand this now – sports betting is not a get-rich-quick plan. It is a grind that can provide solid long-term profits but there will be ups and downs and your sole focus must always be on the big picture.
3) You understand and believe in the two principles above. Now the hard part. Do you have the discipline to commit to and follow these principles day after day, week after week? Without fail an unsuccessful sports bettor will bet more than their bankroll actually allows or will chase losses after a tough run or will bet emotionally. A successful bettor has the discipline to avoid these pitfalls.
The discipline to put together and follow a sound money management plan and the discipline to maintain a long-term focus that doesn’t overreact to a bad loss or a cold run will be what makes or breaks you as a successful sports bettor.
Now let’s focus on what actually goes in to putting together a sound money management plan. The first thing to do is figure out what your bankroll is. I won’t waste your time with obvious edicts like don’t bet money you can’t afford to lose, don’t bet money that you need to pay bills, etc. If you are serious about becoming a successful sports bettor then you already know all of this.
You need to sit down before the season starts, analyze your finances and determine your bankroll for the season. This is no different than deciding how much you are going to invest in a particular stock or any investment opportunity. Once you’ve determined what your bankroll is for the season then set it aside and keep it separate from your personal checking account. You do not want to have your sports betting bankroll mixed in with the funds you use to pay bills.
If you have an online betting account then you deposit your bankroll into an account and you are ready to start the season. If you bet with a local bookie or sportsbook then I would recommend having a separate bank account for your betting bankroll.
The most common question I am asked by beginning sports bettors is how much should I bet on each game? There is no “right” answer to this question but I will tell you the system I use and many other players that make a living betting on sports use.
I never want more than 15 to 25 percent of my bankroll in play on any weekend with my standard being 20%. If you are more risk averse then don’t go above 15%. If you are more aggressive then you can set your cap at 25%. For purposes of this article we are going to say never bet more than 20% of your bankroll on any one week.
It is week one of the football season. You’ve analyzed your finances and set aside $6,500 as your bankroll for the upcoming season. That means that you have a cap of $1,300 (20% of $6,500) to bet with on opening week.
Let’s say you’ve received seven picks for the weekend:
1 unit play on FloridaState
2 unit play on Texas
2 unit play on Stanford
1 unit play on NY Giants
2 unit play on Green Bay
1 unit play on Kansas City
2 unit play on Seattle
Now you apply simple math to determine the bet size of each wager you will make for the weekend. There are a total of 11 units (sum of all seven plays) so a one-unit bet for this week will be $118 ($1,300 divided by 11) and a two-unit bet will be $236 ($118 x 2).
I release all of my plays here on Sportspicks.com as one or two unit plays. There are many other talented handicappers on the website and they may use different unit increments. As long as you use one standard unit system then the system will work so if you are getting picks from multiple different handicappers make sure you convert the various unit systems the handicappers use to one standard unit system.