Bankroll Management & Staking Plans

Bankroll management is the area of sports betting that most bettors struggle with more than any other. It’s difficult enough alone to beat the 10% vigorish charged by sportsbooks on straight wagers (something that very few bettors successfully do), but managing their bankroll is another hurdle that bettors must overcome.

Lack of bankroll management and betting too much on each game is a leak that has ruined the careers of many sports bettors before they even gave themselves a chance at becoming successful.

Bankroll Management Is Paramount

Even the best sports handicappers in the world would be nothing without bankroll management. While line shopping is often referred to as the holy grail of sports betting success, it’s useless without proper bankroll management. In sports betting and all other forms of gambling, money is the tool of the trade. Without it, you’re out of action.

For a profitable bettor who understands value, line shopping, and handicapping, being out of action is the worst possible scenario. Bankroll management allows players to minimize (or outright eliminate) the possibility of going broke if they are profitable bettors.

Developing a Plan

Before bettors begin their wagering career, it’s best to develop a bankroll management plan. Few follow this advice when they first start to bet on sports. That is to be expected, as they are new to this career and haven’t looked at sports betting as a skill to be honed but rather as a form of entertainment.

If you’re betting sports and don’t have a bankroll management plan, today is the time to change that. Keeping records of your wagers, including wins and losses in dollar amounts and units, is an excellent way to keep track of your wins and losses, along with keeping tabs on your bankroll.

Betting Units

The basis of bankroll management revolves around betting units, and it’s imperative that you develop a unit system. Betting units signify a specific percentage of your bankroll that you are willing to risk on each play. For instance, if you have a $10,000 bankroll and have a betting unit of $100 per wager, your unit would amount to 1% of your bankroll per wager.

The value of each unit should be proportional to the size of your bankroll. The ratio of bankroll to wager on each bet is a hotly debated topic in sports betting circles, but it comes down to how aggressive or conservative you want to be with your bankroll.

Those looking to minimize the risk of ruin and avoid large swings can opt for a more moderate 1–2% of their bankroll per unit. Professional-level bettors generally adopt this range for most of their bets. It allows them to handle swings and not worry about the health of their bankroll.

Some bettors might want to be somewhat more aggressive, but betting anything more than 3% of your bankroll on any given play is far too reckless. Sadly, the vast majority of sports bettors do exactly that. In some cases, they have no bankroll management strategy and have other bad habits like upping their bets to chase losses.

Chasing Your Losses

Aside from having no bankroll strategy at all, one of the biggest pitfalls for sports bettors is increasing their stakes after a run of losses. This is self-destructive for many reasons, and it’s absolutely avoidable.

Adopting a bankroll strategy and sticking to it is a giant help in avoiding situations like raising your wagers to make up for past losses. There are so many potential pitfalls with sports betting, in addition to beating the sportsbook’s built-in edge. Keeping your emotions out of it and sticking to a predetermined and proven strategy is the only way to grow your bankroll.

Fixed or Variable

Once you’ve established the size of your betting unit, you will need to decide if you wish to vary your bets based on the perceived strength of the play or opt to bet a fixed amount on each bet.

A fixed staking plan is straightforward and simple. It involves flat betting one unit every time you place a bet. Bettors using this strategy make each unit a fixed percentage of their bankroll and always place that amount on each bet.

Our above example of 1% of your bankroll being utilized as your betting unit is as complicated as fixed staking plans get. As players’ bankrolls increase and decrease, their unit size will change along with it in terms of monetary amount, but the amount bet on each play will remain static at one unit.

A variable staking plan allows bettors to alter their wager amount depending on how strongly they feel about the bet using a variety of factors. For instance, if you feel particularly strong about a bet, you may want to bet two units instead of just one.

Increasing your bet size can be done for a number of reasons. Perhaps you feel that you handicapped the game extremely well and that the oddsmakers’ numbers are simply off. Beating the market price or getting an off-market line can be another reason to increase your number of units on a particular play.

Variable betting plans will vary. The most popular form of variable fixed betting is the Kelly criterion. The Kelly strategy employs a formula to determine the optimal amount for each bet. There are several sites online that offer Kelly betting calculators specifically for sports betting.

Rather than go over it in depth here, utilizing one of these calculators is the fastest and most accurate way to go about employing Kelly staking. Using the Kelly criterion for sports betting is regarded as the optimal way to bet on sports by many, but it is quite aggressive in terms of bankroll strategy.

Whether you decide go with a fixed or variable bankroll strategy, it’s crucial that you have a bankroll management plan worked out. A strict rule for bankroll management won’t make you a winning bettor, but it paves the way for a long-lasting betting career and minimizes losses.