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Bankroll management is one of the most critical concepts for a professional bettor. Since you’ve chosen to make this your primary or secondary source of income, you need to keep at least some money at all times – you can’t bet for profit if you have no money left! Bankroll management is the art and science of not going broke. (Again, your bankroll is an amount of money you have set aside for wagering purposes. You should set aside the greatest amount you’re prepared to lose, without drastically hurting your life – remember, sports betting is just a means to the end of financial independence!)
You should also know that the chances of losing your complete bankroll with proper betting and bankroll management are slim, but it can always happen.
What is the Best Approach to not Lose Your Whole Bankroll?
First things first: your bankroll can be as small as 100 €, but in that case you’ll be making very small wagers and will have to be very patient and plan on the long run.
Say you have a bankroll of 100 €. Ideally, you shouldn’t bet more than 5 € per day. We derive the 10 € figure from a concept called units. Your bankroll is divided into these units. Say your starting point is 100 units – this is the most common amount, but some more conservative punters subdivide their bankrolls into 200, 300, 400, or up to 500 units; and some more enterprising punters have gone as low as 20 units.
To determine the size of one of your single units, take however many units you’ve chosen to start with – in this case, 100 – then divide 1 by that number, and multiply by the size of your bankroll.
Here we divide 1 by 100 – our chosen unit subdivision – yielding 1 / 100. We then multiply 1 / 100 by 100 €, and get our unit size of 1 €. This makes intuitive sense: one percent of 100 euros is 1 euro. If we counted our 100 € as 500 units, our units would be 0.20 € each – with a small bankroll, this would be excessively cautious. If we instead had 500 € and counted it as 100 units, our units would be 5 € each. If we had 500 € and counted it as 500 units, our units would be 1 € each. And so on. (After 100 units, 200 units – 0.5 percent per unit – is the next-most-popular definition, and you’ll see that from time to time on other sites. Here at bettingstrategy.org, for the purposes of this article, we’ll continue to count a unit as 1 percent of your bankroll.)
You don’t want to bet more than 5 units per day, so when making wagers, your total bet sizing for the day would be 5 € (the number a few paragraphs up!) Given that even the very best punters have an even-money win-rate around 55 to 60 percent, forward progress will be quite slow! A profit of 50 € the first month would be very optimistic, but possible, if you’re on a heater (a short-term run of good luck).
Bettors with small bankrolls tend to take risks such as betting larger than they should in order to increase it faster or lose it all. I generally don’t mind that because you’re dealing with small amounts of money and it’s not really that big of a deal to lose 100 € or less, for most people, especially in the world of gambling. Go big or go home!
With larger sums of money, a more careful approach is often correct. When managing or building a decent bankroll up to a point that it matters, you should always apply proper bankroll management. Remember that the size of a unit is a function of your bankroll, which will fluctuate up and down (we hope mostly up!) based on the outcomes of your wagers. Let’s say you have a good few days, and your bankroll increases from 100 € to 120 €. Now a single unit would be 1.20 €, and you could risk up to 6 € per day without increasing your risk of ruin. However, we at betting-strategy.com recommend waiting to lift your wager size, or recalculating your units based on your current bankroll.
We think it’s best to wait to lift your wager size until the end of the month. We also think it’s best to not decrease your wager size – like lifting your wager size, except if you have a bad run and your bankroll shrinks – too hastily.
Let’s illustrate these ideas with some concrete examples. Say you have a bankroll of 1000 € subdivided into 100 units, and, during the first week, you make a profit of 200 €. Your bankroll is now 1200 €, and you could resize your units from 10 € to 12 €. We recommend that you do not increase the size of the bet based on that short-term success – keep it at 10 €, for the time being. Likewise, if you lose 200 € of that 1000 €, don’t adjust your units down to 8 € just yet – but, if you take another hit, down to about 650 €, or fail to recover the losses by the end of the month, then you should probably decrease your wager sizes. At betting-strategy.org, both partners come from the poker world, where good players observe similar bankroll management practices.
Finally, after having a successful month, we recommend that you withdraw some of your winnings and enjoy them. If you’re not happy with the size of the bankroll after doing so, just withdraw a part of the winnings and keep the rest so it continues to build up. It’s your money! Since sports betting isn’t like poker – it’s the same difficulty, all the time, and doesn’t get harder as you ‘move up’ in stakes — bankrolls should build exponentially. If you start with 100 € and grow your bankroll by 50 percent each month, you’ll only have made 50 € in the first month, which doesn’t seem like much. Even in the sixth month, you’ll only profit around 380 € (cumulatively about 1140 €). But, by the end of the year, you’ll have accumulated nearly 13,000 €! Suddenly the 50 € in the first month doesn’t seem so small. If you continue to win at the same clip the next year, you’ll have almost 1,700,000 €.
In conclusion, just ‘go with’ the winnings or losings – don’t be stupid and chase losses. It’s important that you keep your units as they are, even if you’re on a losing streak. But in case of a losing streak – DO NOT (and I can’t even stress that enough) increase your wagers trying to chase your loses. That will lead to disaster. You have to be patient, analyze your bets as objectively as you can, and see if it’s you that’s doing something wrong or is it just bad luck. Always try and learn, read information that is posted on forums and overall on the internet, and make the best of it. The key to sports betting is being able to analyze and get rid of your own biases – otherwise, it wouldn’t be nearly as fun. This can be hard, since variance is always there, and you can’t help it – but that’s why they play the game, right?
The Two Ways of Betting
There are two major schools of thought on how much punters should wager on a single bet: flat betting and straight betting.
Flat betting – You’re flat betting when you’re always using the same unit size. For example, you choose that you’ll always bet 1 unit per game. If you made 3 bets of 10 € each at odds of 1.20, and you won 2 out of 3, you’d be 6 € in the red. With flat betting, you’re therefore almost always aiming at games that you find the most value in, with odds around 2.00. If the odds were 2.00 on each of those three wagers, you’d be 10 € in the black!
Straight betting – Straight betting is betting that is divided into units from 1 to 10, where you wager 1 unit on the game you trust the least, and 10 units on the game that you trust the most. (Remember that you can choose to define a unit of your bankroll as anywhere from 0.2 percent to 1 percent.) So, if you were to pick the same three bets at 1.20, but instead you bet 50 € on the one you felt most confident about, 5 € on the one you most disliked, and 10 € on the other one, and you won the 50 € and 10 € bets but lost the 5 € bet, you’d still make a profit of 50 € * .2 + 10 € * .2 – 5 € = 7 € in the black. (However, if you lost the 50 € wager and won the 5 € wager instead, you’d be significantly in the red, even though you’d made two out of three wagers correctly.)
One more thing I’d like emphasize is that you should always look for value when betting. Go with quality over quantity. It’s never a good idea to bet on 20 different games in one day; there’s simply too much information. You can probably analyze a few matches where you see value, but 20 games is overambitious. More often than not, at the end of the day, you’ll be in the red. There are professional bettors that can do such things but you should stay away if you’re a beginning or intermediate punter.