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Bankroll management for sports betting

Many players think they can sign up with great sports betting services, get great advice and relax making millions from sports betting for the rest of their lives. While it is true that there are many great services out there who will give you great advice, the fact of the matter is this: if you can’t successfully manage your sports betting bankroll then no amount of money will keep you in the game long enough for you to make any serious cash.

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What is bankroll management?

There are two things that every professional player must be able to handle within the world of betting in order to succeed. The first thing is the ability to find good odds in the betting market. The second is to be able to manage their betting account correctly and know about risk vs. reward. The latter involves bankroll management or money management. In short - managing your account.

There are lots of players who are sports experts and can find valuable odds, but they slip up by not being able to manage their account with a risk-minimizing strategy.

It doesn’t matter how good you are at working out the value in a game or finding misjudged odds offered by betting companies if you don’t have the ability to evaluate the size of the capital you are betting per game. There are lots of players who are sports experts and can find valuable odds, but they slip up by not being able to manage their account with a risk-minimizing strategy.

An example of Bankroll management:

An example of bankroll management can be that you never bet on more than 2% of your total betting account. If your account grows, so do your bets. If your account shrinks so do your bets. But you never bet on more than 2 % of your account, ever.

Why is bankroll management important?

How much should you invest in a bet in relation to the size of your account? What value should you attach to what odds and on what bet? And how much risk are you willing to take to win?

These questions are the key to being successful within bankroll management. It’s about protecting your betting account. To clarify how important it is to being able to manage your betting account, we will provide you with four clear benefits to using bankroll management.

  1. It ensures that you don’t start chasing the money you have lost, for example, by betting more than you can afford to lose.
  2. This ensures that you do not get greedy when you are doing well and start making bigger bets that are not in proportion with your account size.
  3. It allows you to cope with a longer period of losses, without losing your whole account.
  4. It makes you more likely to take measured decisions during your betting.

Variation within betting

The importance of variation within betting is huge. Only because you can always find value in a bet, and regardless if you handle your account correctly or not, this does not mean you will be making a profit every week or month - if you manage to win some bets, then you should still be thinking in the long-term.

You can spend hours analyzing matches and finding odds that have a large value, but ultimately, it’s the outcome of the game that determines whether you go home with a profit or a loss.

If you are a winning, finding value in bets and managing your account correctly, then there will be no problem in the long run. But, in the short term, variation can affect you psychologically. You may have analyzed a bet perfectly, and found great value in it - you beat the closing odds with a big margin, but you still lost your bet because of the variation within sports betting.

An example of variation:

You bet on Arsenal who are playing at home against Stoke. After you have analysed the match, you evaluate that Arsenal’s chances of winning are 60%, which equals 1.66 in odds. You find odds of 2.00 which is good value. You put down a large investment on the match at 2.00. As the match approaches, the odds begin to drop and by kick-off, the odds are down at 1.50 for an Arsenal win, so you have a 0.50 advantage. However, Arsenal loses the match 0-1.

This is an example of how tough variation can be within betting. But, if in the long run you always place these sorts of bets and beat the market, then you will end up winning overall. But, remember it is always possible - if not unlikely - that you lose 25 bets in a row, even though your bets were “winning’ ones. Betting will always rely on luck as it does skill.


Sometimes you can beat the market's closing odds but still lose your bet.

Managing periods where you lose

Everyone who bets on sports will sooner or later have a losing streak. It will happen to those who bet as a hobby, but also to the professional players. Periods of losing can stretch from a few days to several months. What separates a professional player from a recreational player, is how they handle their form. You can experience periods where everything you touch you lose, and managing these periods is not always easy.

What separates a professional player from a recreational player, is how they handle their form.

The normal mistake you can make when you are in this period is to begin to raise the stakes. You deviate from your discipline and try to win back your lost money with higher investments, which leads to you betting amounts you don’t have the money for.

For professional players, this is a period which signals how important it is to maintain a discipline of your bankroll management. It may also signal that you should analyze your betting techniques and strategies to identify any possible weaknesses.

An example of how not to handle your period of losing

You have a betting account with £/€1,000 and normally bet £/€10 per game. You lose ten games in a row and your betting account shrinks to £/€900. You begin to get frustrated and want to earn back your £/€100. So you increase your bet size to £/€100 on your next bet, in order to win back your losses. This bet is also a loss and your betting account is now at £/€800.

Now you are only thinking about the £/€200 you have lost. So you put down the full £/€800 on Barcelona to win at 1.25. A “sure” bet you think, and with a win, your betting account will be back to £/€1,000. Barcelona draws 0-0 and you have lost all your money in your account.

An example of how you should handle a period of loosing

It’s the same situation here, you have an account with £/€1,000 in it and you normally bet £/€10. You lose 10 bets in a row, and now your account is at £/€900. Now, instead of increasing the size of your bets and deviate from your strategy, take a break from betting for a week. Instead of betting during this week, analyze your strategy and see if you can find your strengths and weaknesses in your betting, by looking at your history and statistics.

After a week-long break, you’ll have analyzed and come to the conclusion that you should stop betting on the Premier League after this has attributed to a large portion of your lost bets. You sink the amount you bet to £/€9 per game in accordance with how big your account is. Slowly but surely, you begin winning again, and after 30 bets, you are up around £/€1,050 and you have turned your loss period into a winning streak.

Handling periods of winning

Luckily, you can also find yourself in periods where you are winning your bets. These periods are what everyone is striving to obtain, but remember they can quickly turn into the opposite if you don’t handle your account with discipline.

It’s not unusual that as a gambler, you begin to increase your stakes too much when things are going well. This can be down to and increased self-confidence but also greed and the feeling you want more. Things can turn around quickly, and in a short time, you can lose all of your winnings by raising your stakes by excessive proportions. However, as we mentioned earlier, there is no problem if you manage your bankroll correctly.

it’s about having control and following a long term strategy without exception, even when things are going well.

It is important to point out that of course, you can increase your stakes in relation to how much your account grows. But it’s about having control and following a long term strategy without exception, even when things are going well.

An example of how not to handle a period of winning:

You have a betting account of £/€1,000 and a standard betting amount of £/€10 per bet. After winning ten bets in a row, you now have £/€1,100 in your account. You are full of self-confidence but you think that your account is growing too slowly. So, on the eleventh bet, you put down £/€100 as you are certain this one will win as well. You lose the bet and you lose all the winnings you made with those ten bets - all with one loss.

An example of how you should handle a period of winning:

There is the same situation here. You have a betting account of £/€1,000 and a standard betting amount of £/€10 per bet. After winning ten bets in a row, you now have £/€1,100 in your account. You are satisfied but are not prepared to increase your stake. This is because you do not think your account has grown enough to raise your bet per game in accordance with your strategy plan. You lose your eleventh bet but continue to work at the same pace with the same bet and your account grows slowly but surely.


Slowly does it, bankroll management is a marathon not a race.


There exist many different strategies and theories within bankroll management that claim to be a winning concept. Many are taken directly from the financial market or the casino market, some are more profitable than others, but views can vary.

The Martingale betting system, the Fibonacci System, the Kelly Criterion and the unit system are several well-known strategies that are used within gambling. It is important when you use one of these strategies that you have found the one that fits just you. Different strategies suit different players, depending on what sports you play and how much risk you are willing to take as a player. You don’t need to follow a certain number of strategies, but rather a strategy that works for you and how you want to play.


An important aspect of bankroll management is the accounting. This allows you to follow how you manage your account in the long run. It also allows you to see what sort of games you are winning and what sort of games you are having difficulty with. Perhaps the over/under market is the winning concept for you. It is good to know about this by going through your audit of all your bets and by doing so analyse and develop your betting.

How you decide to audit your betting is less important. There are a number of programs on the internet that give you a very clear idea of how to exactly audit your betting. But you can just as easily do this in Excel or with a pen and paper. The important thing is that you make it possible to follow and develop your betting.

An example of how to audit your betting:

Decide on one day in the week or one day in the month, depending on how much you need to audit. For the serious bettors, you should be accounting for all the bets you have placed over a certain period, in order to then analyze your betting statistics. If you think this will take too long, then it might be enough just to account for how your betting account has developed over a certain period. You do this to be able to keep control of your strategy and ensure you are profitable, whilst checking if you are in the red or the black over a certain period.

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