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How to Manage Your Bankroll as a Sports Bettor

Updated: Apr 14, 2022

Tips for managing your bankroll, determining your betting strategy, and choosing your unit size.

As a sports bettor, bankroll management is one of the most important skills you can learn. If you don't manage your bankroll properly, you can quickly go bankrupt and be forced to quit betting altogether.

In this blog post, we will discuss how to track your bankroll and manage it effectively so that you can not only enjoy sports betting more, but can also become more profitable over the long term. We will also provide some actionable tips to help you improve today. Let's dive in!

Sports Betting: Managing Your Bankroll

What is bankroll management and why it's important 🤔

Bankroll management is the process of managing your betting bankroll (the money you have set aside for sports betting) in a way that minimizes risk and maximizes profits.

Simply put, this means knowing how much money you can afford to lose and sticking to that amount. This may seem like common sense, but it's surprising how many people fail to do this when their emotions get the best of them.

When you're on a winning streak, it's easy to get carried away and start making larger bets than you can afford. Similarly, when you're on a losing streak, it's tempting to try and recoup your losses by gambling more aggressively. However, both of these approaches are likely to lead to ruin.

By maintaining strict control over your bankroll, you can minimize your losses and maximize your chances of coming out ahead in the long run.

You can be a great bettor who makes exceptional picks, but if you don't manage your bankroll properly, you'll end up in the negative.

Choose the size of your bankroll 💰

Step one of effective money management is determining the size of your bankroll. This is the amount of money you're willing to set aside for betting, and it should be an amount that you're comfortable losing.

It may be wise to start with a smaller bankroll and then gradually increase it over time as you become more comfortable with sports betting.

Let's say you choose to start with a bankroll of $500, for example. Put this money into your sportsbook, or distribute it evenly among your sportsbooks (I go into detail about the importance of spreading your bankroll across multiple books in this separate article)

*Side note: There are a number of ways to make your bankroll go further that bettors often overlook. Some of these include avoiding excessive parlays and taking advantage of any bonuses or promotions that you find. (Psst, here's a great bonus from BetMGM for a $600 risk-free bet!)

Determine your bankroll strategy ♟

Now that you have your bankroll established in your sportsbook(s), it's time to determine your bankroll strategy. This is simply how you choose how much to wager on a given bet.

If you've ever asked the question, "How much do I bet on a game?", here's your answer!

If you've ever asked the question, "How much do I bet on a game?", choosing your bankroll strategy will give you your answer!

There are four general methods of choosing how much to wager. These are:

  1. Flat/Unit betting

  2. Percentage betting

  3. Confidence betting

  4. Kelly Criterion

Flat/Unit Betting

The flat betting model is the most popular and straightforward way to approach sports betting. You simply bet the same amount on every wager. While this may work in theory, in practice it's often difficult to stick to a flat bet when you're on a hot streak or losing streak.

The idea of flat betting is that it's simple to use, easy to understand, and offers a go-to answer in any situation where you're wondering how much to bet.

We recommend choosing a flat wager amount between 1%-3% of your bankroll, although some bettors will go as high as 5% at times. It just depends on how much you are willing to risk.

Let's say you choose $15 (3% of your starting $500) as your flat wager amount. This $15 would be considered 1 unit for you. So if you were to bet $15 on a game, you could say you bet 1 unit. Or if you bet $30, 2 units, etc.

Because different bettors have different bet sizes and bankrolls, it's can be more common to talk in units bet, rather than in dollars.

The Flat/Unit sports betting strategy

Percentage Betting

Percentage betting is similar to flat betting in that you choose your wager size based on your bankroll. The only difference is percentage betting factors in changes to your bankroll.

For example, if you have a bankroll of $500 and you bet 3%, then your first bet would be for $15. Maybe you win a few bets and now your bankroll is at $600. Your next bet will be 3% of $600, or $18.

This strategy allows you to risk more when you have a larger bankroll, and bet more conservatively when you have a smaller bankroll. The downside of this method is it's not as straightforward because you need to check your bankroll amount before you bet. The Vault app makes this pretty simple, however!

The Percentage sports betting strategy

Confidence Betting

Just like it sounds, confidence betting allows you to wager more or less based on how confident you feel about that particular game.

For example, if you feel very confident about a particular game, you might wager 3% of your bankroll on it. However, if you only feel slightly confident, you might only want to wager 1%. This system can be applied to any sport, and it can be helpful for both casual and professional bettors.

One of the advantages of this system is it gives you the flexibility to make adjustments on a per-bet basis.

However, the flexibility can also be a disadvantage because you may find that you are losing more on games you thought you were confident in, and not winning as much as you could have betting on games you weren't confident in.

As with everything in sports betting, just keep an eye out by tracking your bets in a spreadsheet or bet tracking app and seeing if this method is worth it for you!

The Confidence sports betting strategy

Kelly Criterion Betting

The Kelly Criterion is a formula that can be used to determine the optimal amount to bet on a given game. This is actually what many professional sports bettors use! Stick around as I'll be writing a separate article on this method as it tends to be a bit more complex. (Sorry for the cliffhanger!)

Tips for managing your bankroll effectively 📊

Bankroll management is a vital skill for any gambler who wants to be successful in the long run. It's not enough to simply know how much you can afford to lose on any given day or session - you also need to have a plan for what to do with your winnings. That way, you can minimize your losses when the inevitable downswing occurs.

Here are a few final tips for effective bankroll management:

  1. Set a limit for how much you're willing to lose in a day or week, and stick to it. This will help you avoid chasing your losses, stacking your wins, and going broke.

  2. When you win, put some of the money away so you don't risk losing it all again. This way, you can begin to build up some true profit.

  3. Track the bets you place along with how much you've wagered, as well as the net profit or loss. This allows you to spot mistakes you've made along the way and where you tend to be the most profitable.

Managing your bankroll is a critical skill you need to learn as a bettor. Using a bet tracking app is an easy way to do this. You need one that tracks your bets, amount wagered, your net profit, and shows you where your strengths and weaknesses are.

Managing your bankroll is a critical skill you need to learn as a bettor. Using a bet tracking app is an easy way to do this. You need one that tracks your bets, amount wagered, your net profit, and shows you where your strengths and weaknesses are.

Vault is a free app for iPhone that helps you do all of these things and more. It's why so many sports bettors are turning to it to track their bets!

Download the Vault app today!

Download Vault the sports bet tracking app for iPhone


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