A lot of sports bettors rely on betting strategies and systems to help them be successful. While some of these do work, proper money management should trump anything if you really want to take a big step towards becoming a real sports investor. Sports betting is an investment like anything else you put your money in, and managing your bankroll correctly along with proper risk management will make you a much smarter bettor.
Before we get into managing your money, let’s take a quick look at a couple strategies and systems used around the gambling world. Perhaps the most popular, and possibly oldest is the Martingale Betting System. This system involves basic math. You place a set bet on one side and if they lose, you double that bet on the same side in the next bet. If they lose that game, you double down again in Game 3. The rational for this system is when your team does win, which the law of averages says they will, you cover all your losses and come away with a small profit.
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I have a friend who is a professional handicapper, and he digs DEEP into the numbers. He would uncover things like: NFL underdogs of 10.5 or more, following a loss by 14 or more points, versus an opponent that scored 30 or more points in their last game, are 26-4 ATS in the past 10 years. The numbers he’d uncover fascinated me, but at the end of the year, he was batting .500 on these wagers and they made him minimal cash.
This is when I got to thinking…so what is it that puts bettors over the top, turning what is a hobby for most into something that is considered more of a true investment. That’s when I came up with my money management skills.
Establish a Bankroll
This is not one of my main skills, as having a bankroll and sticking to it should be commonsense to every bettor out there. The thing I’ve grown to learn is that commonsense really isn’t too common. I’ve gotten into a lot of trouble “assuming” someone knew something.
The most fundamental aspect to proper money management is to have a set bankroll that is something you can afford. No one wants to take food off their table to pay their bookie. Make sure you bet within your means, and stick to your bank. This isn’t to say when your bankroll runs out, you can’t load it back up again, as your bankroll is usually higher than what you have in your account.
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It is always smart to set a daily bankroll as well; this will stop you from chasing your tail, betting games on emotion after a tough loss.
Formulate a Unit Size
This is easy now that you have established a bankroll. I recommend betting 1% to 3% of your bankroll on each bet. Whether you are handicapping games yourself, or you use a professional service, there are games you feel a lot more comfortable wagering on than others. Determine your percentage based on your confidence for each individual game.
Conservative bettors bet 1-2% on each play, while extremely aggressive bettors bet 4%, up to 5%. FYI, most professional bettors are in the 1% range.
Stay Committed to Your Unit Size
Like I said earlier, we all suffer bad losses, and sometimes tend to bet on emotion. This is sometimes compounded by having a few too many adult beverages, and is something that needs to be avoided if you want to be a serious bettor.
Even if you feel very good about the outcome of a certain game, don’t increase your unit size. Stick to your 1-3%, or 4-5% if you’re the aggressive type. If you’ve already maxed out your daily budget, take the rest of the night off. You’ll be happy you did in the morning.
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Of course, if you’re a long time bettor you most likely follow these guidelines in one way or another. But whether you’re an expert or a beginner, sticking to a betting structure like I have outlined will go a long way to helping you get the most out of your betting dollar. This way, you’ll be able to ride out the bad streaks and enjoy the good ones. Be sure you stay disciplined, and at the end of the year you’ll thank me.