When it comes to sports gambling in the US, there’s no other sport that comes close to receiving the amount of attention—both monetary and otherwise—as the NFL.
Simply put, Americans don’t just love betting on pro football, they love talking about betting on it, debating their picks with friends, and trying to be one of the handful of handicappers who end the season having made a profit.
In this article, I’ll go over the ways you can maintain your bankroll to make this NFL season your best one yet. If you’re not using your bankroll the right way, you’re not making as much money as you can.
1 – First, Set Up an NFL-Specific Bankroll
You do have a bankroll in place, right? If not, I would highly suggest putting one together as soon as possible. If you’re unfamiliar with what I’m talking about, your bankroll is simply a pool of money you’ve set aside for the specific purpose of sports gambling. It’s beneficial because it will prevent you from taking unnecessary risks. And when it runs out, you’ll know that it might be time to dial down your bets.
Unfortunately, there’s really no way to sugarcoat it: Winning money betting on the NFL is tough. Because of the amount of action sportsbooks receive on the sport, the lines are as sharp as ever, and believe me when I say that the house simply has more information at their disposal. This means that money management takes on a new importance as you’ll more-than-likely have to endure some stretches where it feels like you can’t win anything.
Most bettors don’t just stick to one sport specifically, which is why I’m suggesting that you set aside money specifically for the NFL. With things like the baseball playoffs, golf majors, and eventually the NBA as betting alternatives, it’s in your best interest to keep your NFL bankroll separated from the rest. Trust me, if you don’t create an NFL-specific budget, things can go south in a hurry.
If you’re someone who really does only bet on the NFL, you can skip this step. But the bottom line remains the same regardless – make sure your NFL bankroll is getting drained by your bets on other sports.
2 – Consider Lowering Your Betting Percentage Rate
Amateur bettors often skip this step altogether then wonder why their sportsbook balances are so low on a consistent basis. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, the concept of a betting percentage rate is fairly easy to understand. It works like this: Take your overall bankroll and determine a range (in percent of total money available) between which you’ll bet. For example, most experts would recommend betting between 2% and 5% on any one play.
If you have a $1,000 bankroll heading into the season, the numbers above would have you betting between $20 on the low end of your wagers, and $50 on the high end. These specific numbers can be adjusted as your overall bankroll number rises and falls, but the important thing is that you don’t change the percentages.
When it comes to sports gambling, even the best bettors go through terrible losing stretches and even the worst gamblers get lucky for a week here and there. Often times the difference between a profitable bettor and one who loses all of his or her money is the money management component. Handicappers know that taking big risks by putting down a large chunk of their bankroll on one game isn’t a smart move.
When you have a smaller bankroll, it’s even more critical to watch every dollar. If you want to put a sort of safety valve in place, try creating a percentage rate that’s lower than it might typically be during other times on the sports calendar.
3 – Just Stop With the Parlays and Teasers
Every year, there’s a story about how some guy put down $10 on a 14-leg NFL parlay ticket and managed to hit, winning tens of thousands of dollars. You know why those stories are always in the news? Because they don’t happen very often.
I hate to be a wet blanket, but your betting strategy that includes frequent teasers and parlays is costing you money. I know that the payouts of a parlay seem like they’re worth the risk, and I know the risk on a teaser seems minimal, but the data doesn’t lie.
Think about it this way: Do you really think that sportsbooks are going to create options that give bettors any type of advantage? Absolutely not. Now, consider this, would sportsbooks create betting options that look extremely attractive to bettors, but in reality are advantageous to the house? Of course they would, that’s kind of the whole point.
Yes, it’s possible to win on a multiple-leg parlay, but it’s a completely unsustainable strategy that you’d do well to forget about altogether. Teasers, which are popular among football bettors are not a magic bullet either. It sounds kind of boring to say. But if you want to stick around with some money in your bankroll when it comes time for the playoffs, trying not to get cute with your plays is a good way to help the cause.
Perhaps you could argue that there are some scenarios where these types of bets are a smart move. And I guess there’s a chance you could be right. Still, the safest piece of advice is simply to say that it’s in your best interest to avoid them altogether.
4 – Avoid Moneyline Favorites But Don’t Ignore the Underdogs
Taking favorites on the moneyline seems like the easiest way to ensure a win. Sure, you might have to risk significantly more money than you stand to gain, but you can’t really complain about a win. The only issue with this logic is that over the course of the season, if you’re regularly betting favorites on the moneyline, upsets are going to happen and will cause catastrophic damage to your bankroll.
If you’re betting on a moneyline favorite at -200, which is the minimum number I would say qualifies as “the favorite is very likely to win,” you have to risk twice as much money as you stand to gain. And even at -200, it wouldn’t shock anyone if the underdog won the game outright.
Now, if betting on the moneyline favorite is a bad move, does that mean betting on the moneyline underdog is a smart move? In my opinion, absolutely!
Let me preface this idea by saying that I wouldn’t recommend betting on the biggest underdogs each week. That team who enters the game at +300 is probably not going to win. With that being said, I would go as far as to say anytime you can find an underdog in the +120 to +160 range, it’s a good idea to pull the trigger on the moneyline rather than the spread.
You’re going to lose more bets overall if you bet this way, but the good news is that you don’t necessarily need to win a high percentage of your bets to be profitable. When you’re winning $120 to $150 for a $100 on a moneyline underdog, you can be highly successful with a losing record.
The point spread is king when it comes to NFL handicapping, but the moneyline has tons of potential for those who are risk-tolerant enough to use it on a regular basis.
With fewer games to bet on in comparison to any other sport, both sportsbooks and handicappers need to put their best foot forward when it comes to the NFL season. Although very few make it through the season in the green, if you put in the research and manage your bankroll responsibly, there’s no reason this can’t be your year.
Remember that the results of the games themselves are out of your control but your bankroll management is absolutely within your control. The key to success in handicapping is to do everything right in the latter to minimize the damage of the former.