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Complete Bankroll Management and Strategies Guide for Sports Betting

Bankroll management for sports betting might not be the most exciting topic, but it’s critical if you are interested in being a professional bettor. Even as a casual gambler, bankroll management is equally important since it helps mitigate your losses. With sportsbooks deducting 10% vig or more on some wagers, there is a thin line between winning and losing. As such, every decision you make before placing your wager matters in your overall sports betting experience.

In this sports betting bankroll management guide, we will discuss the basics of managing your money, including key principles such as the D’alembert Strategy.

What is Bankroll Betting Management?

Before we get to what bankroll betting management is, you first need to understand the meaning of a bankroll. A bankroll is the amount of money in your account that is available for betting. This must be disposable income that you can comfortably lose. Once you have identified how much money you can gamble with, developing a proper bankroll management strategy becomes easier.

So what is bankroll management for sports betting? This simply involves personal outlining rules on how best to use your betting money. Effective sports betting bankroll management is typically based on two key aspects: bet sizing and tracking. Hence, depending on how much money you have in your account, you need to be precise on your bet size and be vigilant in tracking your bets’ performance. 

How much should you wager on each game? The general rules for a beginner or conservative sports bettor state that the bets should be 1%-2% of the bankroll. 3% works great for average bettors, while for aggressive punters it will often range between 4%-5%.

image with a calculator withthe text bankroll management with a pair of glasses and saving pig

The Importance of Bankroll Management

Why is bankroll management important? Being conscious about your bet sizing and keeping track of your spending are the key pillars of a successful sports betting career. How you handle your money is what determines whether you end up with a positive or negative bankroll. Although there are many benefits of bankroll management for sports betting, below are some of the main ones;

  • Reduces the chances of losing your entire bankroll
  • Protects you from the temptation of going for the big score
  • Helps you survive multiple losses during a losing streak.
  • Cultivate the discipline to know when to cut your losses.

Sports Betting Bankroll Management Key Principles

If you are planning to come up with effective sports betting bankroll management, there are several simple practices you can implement. One basic principle is never to wager amounts you cannot afford to lose. This is why our experts here at Betyep always recommend to determine your bet units, and track your bets. Below, let’s take a look at the key principles on how to manage your bankroll.

Choose a Unit Size

Choosing a unit size is one of the best ways to determine how much you are up compared to your standard wager. In sports betting, units are used to make it easier to compare the results of different punters. The best unit size lies between 1%-5% depending on your bankroll and how much you are willing to bet. If you start your betting with €/$/£500, your biggest bet should be €/$/£25. Notably, your bet size should decrease as your bankroll does and not the other way around. Stick around to learn more about this in the sections below.

Track Every Bet

There are various online tools that you can use to keep a record of your bets. BetStats and The Grid are some of the best tracking tools for sports betting. With such information, you can easily audit the performance of your bets. You’ll also understand which sports or betting markets are killing your bankroll and those that you excel at. Thus, you are in a better position to make informed decisions. If you are betting with different sportsbooks, tracking your bets also gives you insight into bookmakers with better odds.

Use Data to Make Smart Bets

Proud fans and supporters often bet on their favorite team regardless of the odds or team’s current performance. This is not the wisest decision, especially if you want to grow your bankroll. Always do your research before betting on a specific team. Some of the data to look out for include their recent performance, and key changes in the club. Also, keep an eye on the latest news about the games or team.

Never Involve Emotions

Sports betting can trigger several emotions. From the initial rush of excitement when you identify a valuable opportunity to the elation or despair depending on how the bet plays out. When betting, it’s important to keep your emotions in check by viewing things from a different perspective. One of the best rational ways to help control your emotions is by implementing the unit system and placing smaller bets. Hence, you can bet more freely without feeling stressed about losing too much money at a go.

Avoid Parlays

Parlays are often popular among recreational punters, but most professional bettors will stay away from these bets. A parlay bet is usually a combo bet with two or more wagers. These bet types offer attractive potential payouts by risking only a small amount. For example, risking €/$/£100 on a 6-team parlay will reward you with a large payout in potential profit. On the other hand, such bets are highly risky. This is because if any of the bets in the parlay loses, then your entire wager is gone.

Never Bet More Than You Can Afford

This is probably the easiest, but a fundamental sports betting bankroll management principle. Having a clear budget cultivates the discipline to walk away and avoid chasing your losses. Before placing your wager, have a budget of how much money you wish to spend, your maximum winning or losing limit, and the time frame of your betting session. This will not only save your bankroll, but it’s one of the effective ways to prevent problem gambling.

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Bankroll management Betting Strategies

Now that you understand the basic bankroll betting management principles, in this section, we’ll highlight the different bankroll management sports betting strategies. The flat-stake model is the most common money management strategy. Nonetheless, we will also outline other effective methods, such as the potential return, confidence, and percentage bankroll models.

Flat Betting Model28

The flat betting model is considered the simplest and safest bankroll management strategy. With this model, you only need to set your unit size and then bet exactly one unit for every wager. For example, if you have a €/$/£1,000 bankroll, you can decide to only wager €/$/£10 with each bet. With a €/$/£100 profit, your new bankroll will be €/$/£1100 in which case, your new stake will be €/$/£11.

PROS
  • A straightforward strategy suitable for every punter
  • Protects you from draining your bankroll
  • Accumulate small but consistent wins
  • Flexible and can be used with other strategies
CONS
  • To make bigger profits, you need a bigger initial capital
  • Only profitable when the success rate is above 50%
  • Slow bankroll betting growth

Percentage Bankroll Model

The percentage model is quite similar to the flat unit model. However, instead of betting a fixed unit size, your unit size is determined by a percentage of your bankroll. Generally, the numbers will be quite similar at the start, but your unit size will increase or decrease faster than the flat model.

For example, if you begin with a €/$/£1,000 bankroll, with a standard unit of 2%, your first wager will be €/$/£20 in both the flat and percentage model. However, the unit size starts to change in the subsequent wagers. If you win your first bet, your new bankroll will increase to €/$/£1,020. This means that your next bet will be 2% x €/$/£1,020 = €/$/£20.4.

PROS
  • Winning streaks increasing your bet responsibly
  • Bet size adjusts appropriately after a win or loss
CONS
  • Takes longer to recover from a losing streak
  • Number of wins affects your overall profitability

Potential Return Model

The flat and percentage bankroll models are both based on the bankroll size. However, the potential return model takes a different approach by considering the odds of a bet. Typically, with this model, your aim is to win one unit per bet rather than wagering one unit per bet.

For example, if you are betting against the over/under market, you will see odds of (100/110=0.91). Using the potential return model, instead of wagering 1 unit to win 0.91, you would wager 1.10 to win 1 unit (1/0.91=1.099 ~1.1).

What if you are betting on an underdog? If the odds to win are 1.20, to win 1 unit, you would need to wager (1/1.2=0.83).

As evident from both examples, this model considers that favorites should win more often, hence they are less risky than underdogs.

PROS
  • The model takes into account the risk level
  • Can be more profitable than a flat method
CONS
  • The bet amount varies irrespective of confidence level
  • Betting on underdogs doesn’t maximize your win potential

Confidence model

The confidence model tends to be more advanced and is often used alongside other bankroll betting models. Typically, this method gives you the flexibility to increase your bet size in games where you feel more confident. If you’d like to combine this with the potential return model, then you can bet to win multiple units.

Based on your level of risk aversion, you can choose to use a 1-3 or 1-5 unit scale. The 1-3 is the most recommended range unless your confidence levels have proven accurate. If you are interested in using this model, it’s essential to constantly track your confidence levels, even in markets where you don’t have an active bet.

If your confidence level is low, start with 1 unit, 2 units if it’s medium, and 3 units if it’s high. Conservative punters often stick to 2 units even on high confidence levels. Discipline is one of the key aspects that are necessary when using this model.

PROS
  • More profitable compared to flat/percentage models
  • Can give you flexibility to increase your bet size
  • Can be used together with other strategies
CONS
  • Inaccurate confidence levels will consume your bankroll

Bankroll Management Betting Systems that Works

Besides the bet bankroll strategies discussed above, there are also systems proven to work effectively in sports betting. For example, the classic D’alembert is probably one of the most famous among online punters. In this section, we’ll expound on some common sports betting bankroll systems that will help you manage your capital and make it last longer.

Kelly Criterion Model

The Kelly Criterion model is similar to the confidence model but more advanced. Instead of assigning a confidence level to each pick, the Kelly Criterion formula allows you to determine your winning percentage for each wager. You’re then required to use that number in the formula below to decide what percentage of your bankroll will be in play.

(Odds of the wager x win probability-loss probability)/odds of your wager)

For example, if you are looking to bet on a market with odds of 0.91 and you expect your wager to win 55% of the time, then the percentage of your bankroll to wager will be 5.5%;

(0.91 x 0.55)-0,45/0.91=0.055)

PROS
  • Can be profitable if accurate win percentage
CONS
  • It’s quite complex
  • There are many variables to consider
  • Requires extreme accuracy to be profitable

D’alembert Strategy

The D’Alembert is one of the most popular sports betting bankroll management strategies and is often considered a less risky model. When using the D’Alembert system, you should increase your bet’s stake by an equal unit after each loss and decrease it after each win.

Therefore, if your bet losses, you are required to increase your wager by one unit strictly. This should continue until your bet wins, after which the cycle is over, and you have to start a new cycle. Unfortunately, the bankroll betting system does not have specifications on when you should stop placing wagers during a losing streak. 

Let’s take a case where you are willing to bet €/$/£10 with a €/$/£100 bankroll, and the odds are 2.00. If your bet wins, you will have £10 a profit, and your bankroll will be €/$/£110. The next stake will remain the same (€/$/£10). However, if this time you lose, your next wager should be €/$/£20.

PROS
  • It decreases the probability of massive losses
  • Can be a profitable strategy in the short term
  • It’s an easy-to-understand strategy
CONS
  • It’s highly unlikely to land a huge profit
  • The recovery is prolonged after heavy loses

Oscar Grind System

Similar to the D’Alembert system, the Oscar Grind bankroll strategy is only suitable for events with odds of 2.0 or higher. The essence of this system is to make a profit at the end of each betting cycle and it mainly aims to capitalize on a winning streak. Basically, you should keep your bet size the same after a loss and increase your wager by 1 unit after a win. Notably, your one-unit bet should also be your winning goal. 

For example,

If you have a €/$/£100 bankroll and your unit bet is €/$/£10, then your winning goals should also be €/$/£10. If your first bet loses, your next bet should remain €/$/£10. If you win your second bet, your next bet should increase to €/$/£20.

You should continue with this sequence until either you reach your winning goals or blow the entire bankroll.

PROS
  • Very straightforward strategy
  • Able to handle many losses in a row
CONS
  • Several wrong predictions destroys your bankroll
  • Winning accumulate slowly

 Fibonacci

The Fibonacci sports betting bankroll model is a negative progression betting system that requires you to increase your stake with every losing bet. This system is based on the idea that you are more likely to win a larger amount on winning bets than the money you lose. With the Fibonacci sequence, every new number equals the sum of the previous two numbers as shown here below;

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144….

Using this Fibonacci sequence, if you place a €/$/£10 wager, then your betting sequence could be as follow;

€/$/£10, €/$/£10, €/$/£20, €/$/£30, €/$/£50, €/$/£80, €/$/£130, €/$/£210, €/$/£340, €/$/£550, €/$/£890, €/$/£1440….

Essentially every time you lose a bet, you should move one number to the right. On the other hand, when you win a bet, you move two numbers to the left. If you haven’t moved up at least two numbers in the sequence before hitting a win, you simply have to start the sequence again.

PROS
  • Enough bankroll will likely to win all losses back
  • The system is easy to follow
  • Easy to build up many small profits
CONS
  • Could lose your entire bankroll on one loss streak

Are there any Risks With Bankroll Management in Sports Betting?

Absolutely! When you set a huge bet bankroll percentage or if you bet a small percentage for a more extended period, you could end up making tons of losses. So what is the best bankroll management strategy for sports betting? Since there is always some risk involved, you can evaluate the systems we have discussed above and settle for the most appropriate. These systems aim to reduce risk and work well in different betting markets. Also, consider your bankroll before settling for a specific bankroll strategy.

The best way to manage your bankroll is to identify the most convenient risk window depending on the size of your bankroll, confidence level, and experience. Check out the three risk windows below.

  • Low-Risk Percentage 0%-2%: This is the safest risk rate convenient for beginners and conservative punters. While the risk of draining your bankroll is highly reduced, the profits are significantly low
  • Neutral Risk Percentage 0-3%: Most professional and average punters prefer this range since the risk and profits often balance out.
  • High-Risk Percentage 0-5%: This risk window is convenient for high rollers and bettors with higher risk tolerance. While the risk is higher, you are likely to land high profits for correct predictions.

Bankroll Management Pros & Cons

PROS
  • Reduces the chances of blowing your balance
  • Maintaining your bankroll during a losing streak
  • Cultivates the discipline and overconfidence
  • Manages your spending
  • Convenient for beginners
  • Allows you to explore several betting markets
CONS
  • You can lose your bankroll with the wrong strategy
  • Some bankroll management models are complicated

FAQs

The best unit size ranges between 1%-5% depending on your bankroll and how much you are willing to bet. However, 1%-2% is the most convenient for both conventional and professional punters.

There are several effective sports betting bankroll management systems that you can choose from. They include the Kelly Criterion model, D’Alembert, and the Fibonacci sequence.

The flat betting system is the most effective money management strategy if you don’t have a huge bankroll. Basically, based on your balance, you are only required to determine your unit size and then bet the same unit for every wager.

A bankroll is the amount of money set aside for sports betting. Although the funds are available, you should imply an effective bankroll management strategy to help you determine the size of your bets.

Basically, units are used to help compare winning and losses regardless of the amount of money wagered. In most cases, one unit is used to refer to one percent of a bankroll. However, this is not the same for everyone. For instance, instead of betting 1%, you could choose to bet 2% of your bankroll.

Our Verdict

Bankroll management for sports betting is one of the most crucial aspects of becoming a successful sports punter. With sportsbooks taking up to 10% vig or more on some wagers, improper bankroll management will definitely make sports betting more challenging, even for the most seasoned punters. 

Determining a reasonable unit size is the first step toward good bankroll management. In this bankroll management guide for sports betting, we have discussed some key strategies that can help you protect your bankroll over the long term.

On a personal note, we find the flat betting model the most reliable, but we will often use it alongside the Confidence model. Therefore, in most cases, bet 1 unit, but depending on the confidence level, we occasionally bet 2 units. Again, this is the system that works best for us. 

Nonetheless, be open to learning new strategies. From the models discussed above, you’ll likely find one that fits your betting technique. We have several recommended sportsbooks on our page which offer reasonable odds and on which you can try these strategies. All the best!