It is not over-exaggerating to say that the single most important element of a winning sports betting strategy is bankroll management.
THAT IS, HOW YOU ALLOCATE AND CONTROL FUNDS WHEN BETTING
Ask any professional sports bettor. It can only really go one of two different ways.
You create a solid system of bankroll management and are able to extend the period of time you are able to place bets.
You stumble blindly into sports betting with no thought for your bankroll and how to protect it. We all know how that story ends.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO PROTECT AND MANAGE YOUR BANKROLL?
The margins in sports betting are exceptionally thin. Once vigorish or ‘juice’ (the amount that sportsbooks ‘charge’ you for the privilege of betting with them) is accounted for, your break-even point is in winning 52.38% of the bets you make.
Since winning more than 60% of sports bets is virtually unheard of that doesn’t leave you much room to work with.
Read about The Best NCAA Basketball Teams to know which teams to keep your eye on during March Madness!
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WINNING AND LOSING RESTS IN JUST A FEW SLIM PERCENTAGE POINTS EITHER WAY
In sports betting, the only way you are able to bet (and therefore generate more money to continue betting) is by using whatever money you currently have. That much is obvious. You can’t bet with what you don’t have (see our aggressive dismissal of borrowing money to gamble later on) If your bankroll trickles away then you can only continue by topping up your account. We want to avoid that at all costs. The way we do that is by protecting the bankroll and growing it in a disciplined and responsible manner.
If your bankroll dwindles then it’s impossible to place more bets without adding more money. And that’s not allowed.
A frightening number of new sports bettors have no plan whatsoever when they start betting and their bankroll is not kept separate from the rest of their money. This is a huge mistake that virtually guarantees simply handing their money over to the bookmakers time and again.
THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS THIS:
That is not a sustainable way to approach sports betting. Especially if you have aspirations of carving out a sports betting career for yourself.
You may get a lucky streak and find yourself ahead. But it’s a rigged game and it will drag you back down to its depths unless you are strong-willed and stubborn about the way you proceed. You need to have a defined bankroll and put into place a workable sports bettingbankroll management strategy. Whew. That is quite the mouthful.
In this article, we will discuss how to determine the size of your bankroll. We will also look at how to determine your bet sizes and will highlight some of the most common, expensive bankroll management mistakes that have been an expensive thorn in the side of sports bettors since time immemorial.
First things first then:
ASK YOURSELF IF THIS IS FOR YOU
Really. We’re not just being facetious.
Ask yourself whether you are cut out for this. Are you able to control your gambling and stick to the rules? Nobody knows better than you how you are likely to respond to the inevitable rollercoaster ride of bettingwins and losses that come your way.
Will you take those in stride or allow them to derail you mentally? Sports bettors have to be made of tough stuff mentally. Be honest with yourself because it sounds like we’re just being overly dramatic, but countless lives have been destroyed by out-of-control gambling. Don’t get into this if yours is likely to be another of them.
One thing we all learn quickly as we journey down the bumpy road of sports betting is that it can be exciting and demoralising in equal measure. When you’re on a high it’s easy to get carried away. I have the same issue with guitars. I can do all kinds of mental gymnastics to justify an incredibly expensive new one when I get the sniff of it in my nostrils. But if I’m going to spend weeks and weeks regretting it then I have to restrain myself.
If you’re someone who likes to bet sporadically and casually in order to spice up your favourite sport once in a while then this bankroll management guide probably isn’t for you.
YOU’RE ALREADY BETTINGWITHIN YOUR MEANS FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSESONLY
Great. Crack on and the best of luck to you. That’s not to say you can’t take advantage of some of our other articles about sports betting on how to bet on the NBA. It’s just that you probably don’t need to overly concern yourself with bankroll management.
On the other hand, if you would love to turn your passion (it had better be one or you are wasting your time) into a secondary source of income and then a primary one if you are as good as you think you are, then you will need to take things more seriously and approach them with a disciplined, professional attitude.
If you can go into it and look at it as a fun side-project that gives your enjoyment of watching sports an extra kick then that’s great.
It may be that you beat the betting odds and can turn your interest into a nice little earner. But that can’t be an essential result. If it’s the be-all and end-all of your existence, and a financial necessity then a troubled journey lies ahead for sure.
DON’T EXPECT TO GET RICH QUICK
In fact, don’t expect to get rich at all. There’s a very good reason why online sportsbooks are so prevalent and have such advertising power throughout the world of sports.
They win more often than they lose.
You know that. Even if you’ve managed to suppress it the way I do the voice that tells me I don’t need a Gibson SG. But you know it’s true. If you’re going to ‘beat the bookies’ in a structured, disciplined way (more of this later) then you have to be realistic and manage your expectations.
This will be much more akin to a slow grind than a smash-and-grab. It is a long term project to be nurtured and fed with a constant stream of new information and statistics. That’s where the fun lies for many of us. We work our socks off to create a system that we believe gives us a tiny edge over the sportsbooks. We study the form with an intensity that might be borderline obsessive and then we take great pleasure in watching the games (in our case, basketball, but it applies equally whatever your sport of choice happens to be) and being proven right in our predictions. Does that happen every time? Of course not. How could it?
LESS THAN 5% OF ESTABLISHED SPORTS BETTING ACCOUNTS ARE PROFITABLE
Let that sink in.
Read it again.
Less than 5%
What makes you think you’re so special that you’re going to buck that trend effortlessly and make money hand over fist?
Take your ego out of the equation and look at it objectively
No system can ever guarantee you a consistent stream of wins. It just doesn’t work that way. But if you get the fundamentals right and never break your own rules then the worst that can happen is you spend all that time and energy for nothing and end up back at square one with only your bankroll. But that is the key!
You still have the bankroll and that’s what matters.
That’s why bankroll management is perhaps the most important feature of your whole strategy. Without it, nothing else matters.
Here at The Jump Hub, we regularly review the latest odds for the NBA futures markets, including one of the most popular NBA Futures bets, the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Betting market.
STICK TO THE RULES
We’re going to deal with the rules themselves later, but if you know that you’re the kind of person who does not easily stick to the rules then this is going to be a nightmarish experience for you.
The rules are there to protect both your mental health and your bankroll. The quicker that you are able to trust the rules, the happier and better off you’re going to be.
THE BIG PROBLEM WITH BREAKING THE RULES EVEN ONCE IS THIS:
Break the rules once and you undermine them totally. They are effectively no longer ‘the rules’ and you can now do whatever you want. Ever felt particularly benevolent and loving towards your dog and decided he can get up on the bed with you “Just this once”? Right.
This is the situation you find yourself in if you break the rules when sports betting. The precedent is set and all it takes for you to break them is to “have a feeling” or need “just one more” bet to come in and change your fortunes.
That kind of mindset is for losers and will NEVER form part of a successful sports betting strategy.
The most common rule that people break is by bettingmore on a game than their allowed maximum. Emotions get in the way. Maybe it’s their favourite team against their deadliest enemy. Maybe they’ve had a ‘red-hot tip’ from a friend who knows someone who knows someone.
Garbage. All of it.
OUTSIDE OF TEEN ROMANCES, SURE THINGS DO NOT EXIST
There are great value opportunities to be found with hard work, perseverance, and discipline. But if you’re going to blow your bankroll on a rumour heard in a bar then you are never going to win. If you get genuine tips and good information that you believe will pay off then by all means bet your maximum amount. In fact, if you get into the habit of betting below that amount 95% of the time then it will still seem like a splurge and give you the adrenaline hit and endorphins you crave.
BUT GO ABOVE IT AT YOUR PERIL
If you stick rigidly to the rules then you increase your chances of longer-term success. That means there will be plenty of other opportunities to get just as excited, and you’ll still have the required betting bankroll behind you.
Once you have decided your bankroll amount and signed a pact with yourself never to go below it, become comfortable with the rules and stick to them.
NO EXCEPTIONS for any reason.
You’ll be better off in the long run and it takes the agony of having to decide whether to go above your maximum out of the equation.
You simply never do and that’s the end of the matter.
CREATE A BANKROLL
Before you can take any steps into the world of sports betting using a ‘protected bankroll’ system, you’re going to need a bankroll.
It quite simply comes down to asking yourself this question:
How much can I afford?
And answering it honestly.
Remember, this isn’t the amount that you’re going to risk on just one bet or spread out over the course of a single weekend. This amount is intended to be ALL that you ever need to put into your sports betting bankroll.
Just as they say you should never go food shopping when you’re hungry, it is better not to plan your bettingstrategy when you’re on a high from a recent win.
Take it seriously. Sit down with pen and paper and work out exactly how much you can afford to lose. It must be an amount that you would be sorely upset to lose by accident, but that would make no difference whatsoever to your actual day-to-day existence other than being irritating.
IN OTHER WORDS – IT MUST BE DISPOSABLE INCOME ONLY
It can’t be money that should really be keeping the wolf from the door elsewhere.
It can’t be money borrowed on a credit card with the hope of paying it back if you win big. That way lie madness and ruin.
DO YOURSELF A FAVOUR
If the only way you can bankroll your betting system is by borrowing money then find something else to do for entertainment. If you only ever bet with money that you would be comfortable losing then no real harm can ever be done.
Of course, there are people who make a living out of sports betting. But they are few and far between. If your intention is to go into this because you need to make money then you are destined for disappointment and failure.
DETERMINE YOUR BETTINGRANGE
The generally accepted way to determine the size of betsyou should make is to calculate them as a percentage of your total bankroll.
The amount will represent a range, with the top of that being the absolute maximum you will bet. Under no circumstances will you go above that percentage at any time.
MAKE YOUR RANGE 0-2% OF YOUR BANKROLL
Always remember that the name of the game is not to bag huge windfalls. You may make that the name of the game if you so wish, but it will be a short and unfulfilling one. The game is never to lose your bankroll. Even if it dwindles right down you may still be able to find sportsbooks that will take small bets and you just have to get your head down and build it back up again.
NO MATTER THE CIRCUMSTANCES, YOUR MAXIMUM PERCENTAGE SHOULD NEVER BE MORE THAN 5% OF YOUR BANKROLL
Let’s make things easy and say that you have decided that the biggest bankroll you can comfortably afford is $100.
In this case, your biggest bet is $5
As your new bankroll grows, so does the amount that you can bet, but not the percentage. Stick to this rigidly. Never allow yourself to waver. Those are the rules and you must accept them.
Your chances of success just went up if you took that on board and agreed to abide by it.
We recommend Australian sportsbook PlayUp for all your NBA Betting. They have great offers and promotions, keen NBA odds, and a huge array of other sports to have a bet on. Read our full review of PlayUp.
18+ | You know the score | Stay in control | Gamble responsibly
BUT THERE IS A LONG WAY TO GO
Some people choose to bet the same amount on each game. This is known as ‘flat’ betting. There is certainly something to be said for that approach as it plays to the bigger picture. There will be ebbs and flows in your wins and losses. Even the professionals lose 40% of the betsthat they make. Always betting the same amount is possibly the most sensible way to counter that.
It just lacks a bit of excitement
Yes, there are rules. But at the end of the day, we’re here to have fun (if you’re not then please reconsider your position very carefully)
The team here at The Jump Hub love nothing more than poring over stats and figures. Soaking up the latest injury news and trying to piece it all together and make coherent, sensible predictions as to what will happen next. Please see our in-depth article on how to build an NBA betting strategy for an idea of just how far down the rabbit hole we’re prepared to go…
If all bets are the same then, although it still takes skill and judgement to pick the right ones, some of the thrill and challenge is taken out of it for us. We like to feel that we can push the limit and go for our maximum bet of 5% of the bankroll if we think we’ve found a trend or tendency that others might have missed.
The more confident we are that our perceived edge or information is accurate and will bring dividends, the more inclined we are to bet that maximum of 5%.
IT IS NEVER MORE
We could get a phone call from the head coach of the Lakers telling us to bet our houses on them winning because the other team all got no sleep and haven’t eaten for 2 days. We still wouldn’t bet more than 5%. That’s the rule and it is sacrosanct.
WHAT PERCENTAGES TO BET
The flat bet notwithstanding, your bet sizes will differ depending on your confidence in the outcome and the amount of risk you are willing to take that you are right.
IT’S THE NATURE OF GAMBLING IN A NUTSHELL, IN FACT
We would consider a low-risk bet to be between 0-2% of your bankroll.
Your chances of losing everything are significantly reduced with such small percentages and will stretch your time out much further. This is where we would advise those that are new to sports betting to start.
The mistakes that we all made throughout the learning process don’t get too expensive this way. Remember that 0% is there for a reason too. If you’re not feeling it, then don’t bet anything. You will have NO shortage of opportunities to bet.
This ‘baby steps’ approach will give you time to experiment with any theories you may have been working on. Testing them out tentatively to see if they hold any water.
There are in-depth articles discussing the virtues of different percentage models if you want to delve even further.
We decided earlier that $100 is your bankroll, so in that case, your maximum bet is $5, but we are choosing to only bet 2% ($2).
Let’s say that your hunch was right and you took odds of +250 (see this handy odds calculator for a better grasp of this or refer to our article on how to read NBA odds)
That means your $2 stake returned an extra $5 and your bankroll now stands at $105
Your previous maximum bet was $5 (5% of $100), it is now $5.25 (5% of $105)
Therein lies the basic principle involved here. Grow the bankroll carefully based on your findings and hunches, and let the gains accumulate steadily and regularly. It might seem insignificant to have an extra 25 cents to play with. But that’s after just one winning bet. We’re aiming to have dozens of them and that number will soon start to climb exponentially.
DECIDE A MAXIMUM TOTAL AMOUNT PER ROUND OF BETTING
So, we’ve established that your maximum bet size is 5% of your total bankroll. We did mention that didn’t we?
But you’re not just going to make one single bet and then that’s it.
You’re going to make lots of them.
If you want the fun to last a long time and hopefully make you some money, then it’s not advisable to make 20 bets at 5% each all in one go. That means the whole of your bankroll is ‘live’ at the same time. While you probably won’t lose all 20 bets, you will certainly lose some of them. Think carefully about how much of the TOTAL bankroll you want to invest each time.
SOFTLY, SOFTLY, CATCHY MONKEY…
If you’re happy to mix things up and add some higher risk 4-5% bets to your weekly round then that’s fine. In fact, it’s how we find things most entertaining here. But try to limit the higher percentages to one or two at a time would be our advice.
It’s worth remembering that very few professional or ‘elite’ gamblers ever risk more than 3% of their bankroll. Most seem to recommend 1% as the optimum bet, in fact.
Of course, their bankroll is likely to be significantly larger than yours, so that 1% might represent a much larger figure, but the principle remains the same. Lots of smaller bets are a safer way to grow your fortune than ludicrous speculative ones that threaten to ruin you if they fail. And they will…
If your chosen plan of attack is to consistently bet basedon the favourites, then you can expect your bankroll to grow slowly but surely this way. The existence of variance (the overall levelling out of the situation over the long term) is not as impactful on this strategy.
Your losing streaks won’t sting quite as much but any winning streak won’t give you the same amount that you’d get making bets with longer odds.
If you prefer to bet the underdogs more often then you have to accept that there will probably be more strings of losses, but that when you get a winner the returns will be higher.
It’s hard to say which strategy works best in the long run. Variance brings them close together in terms of gains and losses. For us, it’s a combination of the two that does the trick. We often bet the underdog just for the thrill if we’re honest.
However, if you don’t manage your bankroll properly, one streak of unfortunate variance can sideline you permanently.
WHERE TO BET?
The answer depends, but the best advice here would be to divide your bankroll up among multiple sportsbook accounts.
This way you can shop for the best odds at the same time as taking advantage of any ‘first-time-deposit’ bonuses that are being handed out.
Competition is fierce in the sportsbook world and there are some good deals to be found. Especially when adding more money upfront as a deposit and making your first bet.
READ THE SMALL PRINT!
In terms of making money most effectively, it pays to shop around and find the most appealing odds. Professional bettors will have the process of scouring each gambling site for the best odds down to a T.
So must you
KEEP DETAILED RECORDS
The only way that you’re going to know how successful your system is, is by keeping detailed records of your bets.
If you plan to take it seriously then the information that this record gives you is going to be invaluable moving forwards.
It gives you even more stats to analyse on top of all the NBA ones you’ve been poring over for weeks trying to make winning bets based on an edge you’ve uncovered.
This is also a good argument for having your bankroll in a separate, untouchable place so that all deposits and withdrawals can be easily tracked. If they’re mixed in with the grocery shopping then you’re going to be running in circles trying to keep up with it all.
There are articles detailing how to keep advanced betting records and make use of what they reveal. Here it will suffice to say that the minimum ‘bare bones’ details you should record are these:
Date of the bet
NEVER BET UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Whatever your mind-altering substance of choice happens to be, it is a foolish and counter-productive idea to gamble when you are enjoying yourself and in an ‘altered’ state of mind. We understand. We’re not puritans. Part of the thrill of watching your favourite NBA team play might be in having a few beers and making a few bets. That’s fine for hobbyists. We already stated that, if your sole intention is to have a bit of fun and spice up a game or two by having some skin in the game then this system is not really for you. Why are you still reading?
This is for those of you who have decided to make a serious attempt to generate a source of income by sports betting.
Be a professional. If you’re going to be a sports bettorthen act like one.
Treat it like a job and be strict with yourself.
If you’re going to enjoy a few beers or whatever with the game then do your due diligence beforehand and have all the bets in place before you start.
Abandon any ‘live’ betting for that session and just sit back and enjoy the game and keep your eyes on the bets.
If you are prone to using the incredibly easy mobile apps to gamble and cannot trust yourself not to do so when you’ve had a few, then take them off your phone. Make a pact with yourself that you’ll only ever bet from the website in a sober state and stick to it.
We all make irrational, sometimes boorish decisions when we are under the influence, and there is no surer way of blowing through your entire bankroll than getting into a heightened state of excitement and betting with your heart and not your head.
As your confidence level (artificially) increases so do the risks increase. And, usually the betting amounts. Pretty soon it’s a total mess and your bankroll will look like you the next day. Dishevelled.
You have been warned.
LEARN TO RIDE THE EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER
We hope we’ve been pretty clear on this. You’re going to lose over and over again. You’re going to win over and over again. Swings and roundabouts, ups and downs. Long dips and soaring highs. This game is not for the faint of heart. You have to be able to handle the narrate of sports betting emotionally and not let it get to you.
We’re not suggesting that it’s possible to become an automaton. There are, undoubtedly, professional gamblers out there who brush off losses like they were nothing. Water off a duck’s back…
The trouble is, they probably don’t get a big thrill from wins either. It’s just a job to them and that’s fine. But that’s not for us.
At the end of the day, we’re hoping that the reason you want to start this journey is that you are a passionate sports fan who also loves to gamble. The passion is what will give you the drive to keep progressing and putting in the work. But it is important to be even-tempered and reflective in defeat. The strategy is a long one and no win or loss is (hopefully) going to make or break the system. Don’t bet when you’re mad, or euphoric on the back of a tasty win. Always approach the act of laying the bets as professionally and calmly as you can. You can go mad and yell and scream at the TV all you want once the games start, but try not to let those emotions bleed into your bet selection process.
It is difficult to entertain this idea, perhaps, but try not to bet on teams where you have a vested interest in the outcome other than the bet itself. It is so much easier to make ill-advised bets when you have a strong affinity for one of the teams. If you can remain impartial when looking at the odds and betting then that’s ok. Just be aware of it.
WHEN THE FUN STOPS, STOP.
Seriously. Life is short. But it can also be sweet if you get it right.
Developing addictions of any kind ruins the chances that you will enjoy your life and gambling addiction is one of the world’s major problems in that regard.
In ‘professional mode’ when you are sitting down to look at that weekend’s stats, ask yourself these questions:
Am I still having fun?
Do I regularly break my own rules?
Could I stop right now if I wanted to?
Do I have a gambling problem?
As always, it’s essential to be brutally honest with yourself here. If you feel unable to take yourself out of the equation and look at the situation objectively then ask a loved one or friend for their opinion.
There’s no shame in finding ourselves addicted to things that aren’t healthy.
No one is perfect. But it’s important to be able to recognise when we’ve lost control of a situation and be strong enough to seek help.
AND HELP IS OUT THERE IF YOU WANT IT
The sports betting world can be a source of great entertainment and excitement. It can provide great waves of euphoria and crushing disappointment in equal measure. Proper bankroll management is a crucial element in the serious development of any sports betting career, and one that you ignore at your cost. Metaphorically and literally.
Professional sports bettors know this all too well. They have learned (probably the hard way like most other bettors) that picking winners is only part of the equation. Properly managing all aspects of the gambling experience is the only way to give themselves the best shot of sitting in that sweet spot just above break-even that we talked about.
Whether you are able to afford a larger bankroll or a somewhat smaller bankroll, your only goal is to avoid adding money to it at all costs. If you stick to the rules we have laid out here, then no individual bet can bring you down. Good bankroll management is the key to becoming a successful sports bettor and can unlock limitless potential if you are responsible. That losing streak won’t last forever.
We bear no responsibility if you fail, as you clearly don’t know how to follow simple instructions.