Sports betting bankroll management

If you’re a poker player, you probably know how important bankroll management is in the game’s long-term balance. You secure EV+ through proper strategy, skills and rakeback deals. You then have to make sure that the EV+ (positive expected value) gets a chance to surface to start earning money for you.

The very same thing goes for sports betting. You need a decent bankroll and you need to learn exactly how much you can bet on an individual game in order not to endanger your bankroll.

Here’s an example to illustrate how the EV+ works and why you need to manage your bankroll.

In order to secure EV+ in a game, you need to be able to reverse-handicap games, track lines and find the hidden value. When you do find it, and you take advantage of it, the hidden value will give you an edge of a couple of percents over the bookie, whose vig/juice (a commission which is a lot like the rake in poker) would otherwise place him way out of your reach odds-wise. Those few percents of positive EV do not guarantee you anything, especially not in the short-run. In the long-run, they do in fact guarantee that you’ll walk away a winner, but for that, you’ll have to be around for the long-run.

The bottom line is: even if you’re capable of securing EV+ where most bettors can’t, it won’t do you much good if you fail to manage your bankroll properly.

Enough small-talk though: how much should you post on any given game then to make sure your bankroll exists for long enough to see the EV+ kick in for you?

betting bankroll management

Regardless of the actual size of your bankroll, you should never post more than 2-3% of it on any given game. Of course, there will be special games you’ll feel extremely strongly about. On such games – in order to maximize your profits – you can go as high as 5% but NEVER more than that.

The reasoning behind the numbers is simple: if you bet more than 5% of your bankroll on any one game, you’re practically guaranteed to run out of money if you hit around 54-58%. If you post less on every match-up though, your bankroll will survive and you will make money using this strategy.

The potential problems with this setup are obvious, and they’re mostly discipline related ones. Every sports bettor has a tendency to become greedy when he hits a winning streak. Why not bet more and risk more if you feel you’re going to end up with the win anyway? The temptation is certainly there but cold-hard math tells you not to give in to it. Just stick to your 2-5% and don’t waver.

The weird thing about successful sports betting is that winning feels a lot like losing. Even as a winner, you’ll have to accept the fact that you lose a lot. It has nothing to do with the exhilaration of hitting the jackpot in a casino, there’s nothing glamorous about it. Much like in online poker, winning’s about putting in tons and tons of hard work and then settling for the fact that a lot of the time you will lose even when you’re 100% certain you’ve delivered your best. Don’t chase your losses trying to fight losing weeks. You can’t fight losing streaks, you can only create the impression that you’re fighting at a great cost. Just ride along and accept the fact that losing streaks do happen. Never forget: winning feels pretty much like losing in sports betting. Don’t chase that “feeling like a winner” thing, you will not find it here.

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