Making Sure Your Bankroll is Healthy

It’s almost the start of the football season. Finally. That means that for most sports bettors in North America their bankroll is going to come under more strain from now until Christmas than it does at any other time in the year. When you are making more bets than at any time of the year you need to be sure your bankroll is in good shape – especially because most of your bets will be made in just two days each week. This is a good time, then, to do two things – to review why we need a bankroll, and to review whether our bankroll is ready for the strains of the football season:

Why you need a bankroll

Established and successful sports bettors will tell you that you need to have a specific bankroll set aside for your betting. It seems unnecessary to many casual bettors, but it’s very rare that a bettor will succeed in the long term without having one. There are a number of reasons for that, including:

To ensure you are betting what you can afford to lose – There is no more important rule for bettors who want to be around for the long term to remember than this one. If you are playing with cash that you can’t lose then you may be getting an extra thrill, but you just aren’t going to be a long term winner. Having a bankroll set aside makes sure that you can pay your rent and buy food for you and your family regardless of what happens on the football field.

To make sure that capital is readily accessible when you need it – There is nothing worse than finding a significant betting edge and then not having the money available to properly exploit it. When you have a bankroll established then the money you need is on hand and available where you need it – in your pocket if you place your bets live, or in your account if you bet online.

To make sure that your bet size and frequency is consistent with the risk you are willing to take – Some sports bettors like to wager a small portion of their overall bankroll each time because they are conservative and like to avoid significant risk. Others are comfortable betting more of their bankroll each time because the potential reward outweighs the risk in their minds. No matter what approach you prefer you need to have a bankroll in place to properly manage the risk and bet according to your needs.

To be psychologically sure that you can weather an inevitable losing streak – The biggest enemy of sports bettors is their own minds. If you bet then you are going to lose, and from time to time you are going to lose several games in a row. If you have a proper bankroll in place then you know that you are going to be able to survive these streaks and still be in good shape when it ends. If you don’t have a good betting bankroll established then you might run out of money before the streak ends, or start taking unnecessary risks that won’t turn out well.


Here are seven questions to ask yourself as a sports bettor to get ready for the season to start to make sure your bankroll is in good shape:

What kind of bets are you going to be making? The types of bets will determine the amount of risk you are taking, how often you can expect to win, and therefore how much of a bankroll you need and how much of it you should risk each time. A sports bettor who typically bets favorites will likely win more often than one who bets parlays or teasers, so they will likely need a deeper bankroll.  You can also consider the frequency of bets here. Are you typically just looking for the best one or two bets on a weekend, or do you like to make a lot of bets. The more bets you are willing to make at the same time, the deeper your bankroll needs to be.

What are your goals for the season? Do you want to make a living off of your bets, or do you just want to have a team to cheer for when you are drinking beer with the boys on Sunday? The more serious your goals are, the more important good bankroll management will be.

Does your bankroll size make sense? Once you know what your goals and your intended types of bet are you can have a sense of how big your bankroll should be. If your bankroll isn’t as big as it needs to be then you can decide whether you want to increase your bankroll or adjust your strategy or unit size.

Do you have an actual, tangible bankroll? A lot of bettors – especially casual ones – think they have a bankroll, but they really don’t. They will say that they are going to bet a certain amount of money during the season, but they won’t actually separate that money and keep it separate from the rest of their cash. If the bankroll isn’t clearly separate then it is too hard to track where you are at, and too easy to bet more than you intend to.

Is the bankroll where it needs to be? Having the best sports betting bankroll in the world doesn’t make any difference if it isn’t where you need it. If you bet online then your bankroll needs to be in your account so it is accessible, or ideally split between a couple of sportsbooks so you can shop for the best lines. If you bet live then you need to have the bankroll on hand so you can make your bets when you want to.

Do you have a strategy? I’m not a big believer that there is only one way to manage a bankroll. Some people will tell you that your unit size must be 5 percent of your bankroll, or 2 percent. Others will tell you that you must flat bet, or that you must assess your edge and bet to maximize that edge. In my eyes that’s all personal preference. What’s important, though, is that you have a strategy that you believe in, and that you are going to stick to that strategy whether you win or lose. If you don’t have a strategy you can commit to then you are just randomly making bets, and that’s never going to turn out well in the long term.

What happens when you lose? If you are a sports bettor then you need to come to terms with the fact that you are going to lose. A lot. Very good spread bettors will still lose about four out of every ten bets. Underdog moneyline bettors have to expect to lose more bets than they win. Because you are going to lose so many bets you are inevitably going to lose a lot of bets in a row at some point. You can’t be scared of that reality or let it affect your betting, but you do need to think about it. Is your bankroll ready for that inevitability? Is it big enough that you can still be confident and comfortable when you go on a slide? Do you have a betting strategy in place when the losses mount up? More casual bettors lose because they can’t endure losing streaks than for any other reason. If as a serious sports handicapper, you don’t have a big bankroll then you can’t last long enough to still be able to bet when the losses turn into wins, and you are more likely to do things that aren’t in your long term best interest.

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