Whether you’re a $5 or $5,000 bettor optimal bankroll management is essential to long term gambling success. As new states continue opening betting operations or explore the possibilities (we see you California), every player should seek options giving him or her an opportunity to keep their bankroll flourishing. It’s not just about shopping for the best numbers although vital, but making a concerted effort to explore the best fit book for your sports betting pursuits. Here are a few management tips that new bettors (and old) should keep in mind before putting a single betting dollar to work with the return of our favorite sports around the corner.
Stay within your means
This sounds simple, but you would be surprised by how many recreational bettors ask me how much they can “expect to make” betting sports. That’s actually the wrong question to ask despite social media’s love for circulating 10-team parlay wins that happen as frequently as Dallas Cowboys playoff wins. Instead, take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself; “how much can I afford to lose pursuing this hobby without it impacting my day-to-day?” Sports gambling should be viewed by the masses as a form of recreation, mentioned in the same breath as other forms of entertainment like playing a round of golf or grabbing a nice dinner before social distancing became a thing. In adopting this more pragmatic approach you become better equipped keeping valuable perspective, properly allocating the funds you feel comfortable risking during a given season. Winning is great and there’s no better feeling, but the reality of this business is that most bettors will lose over the long haul especially when first learning the craft. The amount you dedicate to gambling should be a dollar figure that won’t stress you out after a loss, meaning when you win it’s an added bonus far superior to the money pit your golf game has become.
Set aside a fixed amount and stick to it
We tell new sports bettors all the time to designate an amount of money at the start of the season and stick to it. If it’s $500, $1,000, $5,000, or $100,000 every bettor eventually needs to understand their threshold for loss. It’s too easy to let losses snowball when chasing bad money with good thinking that next heater is around the corner. Rather than continuously pumping money into your accounts, adjust your bet amounts accordingly instead. If you’re using a 1-5% spread of bankroll per investment, the amount each bet is for adjusts on your overall allocated bankroll. There’s no shame in betting smaller amounts if your primary goal this fall is to have as much action as possible with a little skin in the game for the confluence of sports we’re poised to have in September. Everyone’s bankroll constraints are different and for some, $10 can represent a bigger financial risk than $10,000. Just ask Michael Jordan about his gambling stakes at the black jack table compared to what you risked during that last trip to Vegas. Jordan blowing $15,000 during a round of golf based on his net worth is the equivalent of .68 cents for a person in 2020 with a median net worth. There’s no worse feeling in sports betting than taking money ear marked for other life pursuits, like family trips or home improvement projects, to finance gambling losses. Create a gambling budget and stick to it; it’s called being a responsible adult.
Adhere to betting principles
There’s no shame in keeping wager amounts modest based on desired objectives like previously mentioned. It then goes without saying that betting above a certain threshold becomes reckless. Nothing in this business is iron clad when it comes to the size of your positions, but realize there’s an inherent streakiness with sports betting. Even the best bettors in the world endure cold spells and it’s strong money management that keeps them in the game during these skids. I’m a big believer that sticking to bet sizes of 1, 1.5, and 2 positions for beginners eliminates unnecessary swings like risking 10x on one bet compared to a single position on another. You will see professionals step out regularly betting larger than normal when opportunity driven by information presents itself because they’ve learned how to quantify their edge. Due to many bad actors in our industry selling “game of the year locks” for “50 units” after losing a 2-unit bet the prior day, the idea of flat betting has wrongly been ingrained in bettors. Flat betting insinuates every single game is exactly the same no matter the sport, price, situation, or information. How ridiculous does that sound? When it comes to the position size of 1, 1.5, and 2 referenced above, for me personally it correlates to 2.5%, 4%, and 5% investments. If I were using a $1,000 beginning bankroll this would mean bets are $25, $40, and $50 with the majority coming at the $25 denomination level. For those looking to read more on the specifics of identifying your edge, below are a few helpful links that explain the Kelly Criterion; a formula used to determine the optimal size of a series of bets.
Betting isn’t a one size fits all hobby however, it can be enjoyed responsibly by people of all ages 21+ if they respect the game. Knowing your goals, setting your limits, and acting responsibly go a long way in helping turn sports betting into the kind of hobby perfect for social distancing once games return to action and our sports betting menu expands beyond international table tennis.