SportsBook 101: Bankroll Management

Las Vegas Hilton SportsBookIn our continuing series on sports book wagering, this month we would like to tackle Bankroll Management.

As with any sort of wagering you need to set a budget. Most people wagering on sports call this their “bankroll”. This is the amount of money you have allotted to the cause that you are willing to lose if everything goes bad. If you are going to gamble on sports, you need to be prepared to lose it all. That’s why they call it gambling and going past your limit and dipping into other funds to cover bets is not smart. You may want to check out Gamblers Anonymous and get help if that is the case. So here are a few tips on managing your bankroll so that your sports wagering experience is a positive one.

Let’s say you have a friend who has a hot tip or you are checking out the betting experts providing you some NCAA Football Picks. Your natural reaction might be to go and immediately bet more than what you have allocated yourself for that week’s set of games. You hear of games being “can’t miss” and “5 star play of the year”. Keep in mind that when it comes to college football, some decisive plays come down to a 19 year old kid who a year ago was at his high school homecoming dance. A mishandled punt within the final two minutes of a game can be the difference between covering the spread or telling your buddies what a bad beat you took on that game. The true advice here is to resist going too big on those “can’t miss” games. If they were truly guaranteed, everyone would have their mortgage payments on them.

Another technique sports gamblers will enlist is betting on the early games of college football that start at noon eastern. Many gamblers will take the attitude that if the early games cash for them, they can bet other games the remainder of the day and they are using “house money”. This is a nice thought in theory but what happens when it goes bad? That can lead to two things.

1) Sports bettors end up chasing. Chasing is when you have lost a certain amount early and place larger bets on later games just trying to make it back to your break even point of the day. This is bad for obvious reasons because chasing is never recommended and can turn a bad day into a worse day.
2) If you do lose a number of the early games and resist the urge to chase, you have blown your allotted bankroll for the day on early games and have no action in the later games. There is nothing like seeing a game you like on the board and not betting on it and having it come through. So the key here is to not stack bets based on kickoff times. Just like in your 401K, diversify your portfolio.

When managing your bankroll, here is a nice rule of thumb. Place bets based on 10% of your bankroll and try not to deviate. So for ease of explanation, if your bankroll for this weekend is $100, placing bets of $10 a piece is a good way to mitigate heavy loses. If you have a great weekend and all your bets come in and you double your money, your bankroll would be around $200. Now you can place $20 bets if you so choose knowing you are staying within your 10% budget. By keeping your bankroll percentages straight and sticking to your agreed upon limits, this will help you survive the season without being broke by Halloween.

If you are a sports gambler and have other advice for those reading, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

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