Sports Betting Bankroll Management


Sports betting as a career or as a source of secondary income requires that you do a few extra tasks to ensure your success. Extra work? Booo! Yes, we know; this is probably not what you want to hear.

However, if you’re serious about your sports betting, like winning money, and don’t ever want to have to reload your bankroll, you’re going to want to pay attention to what we have for you today.

When you’re betting just for fun and winning isn’t vital to your survival, it doesn’t matter as much that you do things by the book. When you start taking your betting more seriously, though, you’re going to need to step your game up if you want to make money. Today, we’re going to be talking specifically about managing your bankroll.

Bankroll management is the practices and procedures that you put in place to manage the monies that you’re using to make your sports bets. In other words, it’s how much you choose to bet on each game and how you react to winning and losing sessions.

Important:If you don’t have procedures in place before you start your betting career, you’re going to be in a world of hurt. You’ll constantly be guessing on what is right, and you’ll ultimately end up burning through all your money even if you’re the sharpest bettor on the planet.

Part of what makes a sports bettor elite-level is their ability to manage their money. We’re not kidding when we say that the sharpest and smartest bettor on the planet would end up going belly-up if they didn’t have great bankroll management practices.

This is really that important. If you’re someone who wants to take your betting to the next level, please grab a seat and take note of the information we have for you today. Applying this information will be crucial if you want to have any sort of longevity in the sports betting world.

The Importance of Managing Your Sports Betting Bankroll

Before we go any further into how to manage your bankroll, we want to make sure that you fully understand why this is so important. By understanding the importance, we hope that you’ll be more inclined to stick to the rules and guidelines that we lay out for you.

While there is a long list of reasons why bankroll management is important, there are two main reasons that we want to talk to you about today – longevity in the industry, and your mental sanity.

Longevity in the Industry

Longevity in the industry is a fancy way of saying “how long you will be around.” If you achieve longevity in the sports betting industry, it means that you’ll be around for years.

Lack of longevity means that you fizzled out, lost your money, and moved on to something else. Obviously, longevity in the industry is the goal.

Note:Achieving this goal depends on two things. First, you need to be good at sports betting and be able to pick winners. That’s the given. Second, you have to be able to manage your money well or else you’ll be out of here in no time. Think of it as a business.

Even if a business is wildly successful, if the owner doesn’t manage their money well, it doesn’t matter. They’ll end up closing up shop and missing out on a great opportunity to continue making some serious money.

Mental Sanity

The second reason that bankroll management is important is to preserve your mental sanity. No, sports betting isn’t going to make you crazy, though some bettors might argue on the contrary. What we’re referring to is your ability to continue making rational decisions throughout tough mental times.

You have to be able to maintain a sense of mental sanity and balance in order to stay the course when things are going extremely well or extremely poorly.

The structure provided by bankroll management will do just that. As long as you are disciplined enough to follow through with the guidelines we lay out, you’ll have no problems when things get tough.

What is the right move will be so ingrained in you from doing it so many times that you’ll automatically do it when things get tough.

It’s a lot like military training. They train their soldiers to do everything a certain way so that when times get tough in war, they’ll automatically do what is right. While we aren’t going to be putting any of you through boot camp, we are hoping to be able to get you prepared to do the right thing no matter where on the sports betting emotional roller coaster you find yourself.

Setting Your Overall Bankroll

The first step in the bankroll process is setting your overall bankroll. This is not the amount you want to bet on games this weekend or the amount that you want to bet on games next week. Your total bankroll is the amount of money that you want to completely set aside from your everyday funds to be used solely for sports betting from now until forever.

This is money that you will not touch or use for anything other than sports betting.

The best way to think of your bankroll is like an investment in a company. When you make an investment in a company, you give them your money and then you don’t see any of that money until you receive profits based on a pre-determined schedule of payment. If the company ever needs more money or wants to reinvest money, that’s a decision that you get to make.

Your bankroll for sports betting should be viewed the exact same way. Decide how much money you want to commit to sports betting and completely separate it from the rest of your money. Make sure that this amount of money is not something that you will need to tap into to pay bills or anything like that in the foreseeable future.

The idea is that you will never have to invest any more money into sports betting again unless you decide you want to grow your bankroll manually, which we will cover later.

So, how much should you put in your initial bankroll?

Well, it’s going to be up to you and what your current situation is. The biggest thing to remember is not to put in any money that you are not willing to lose.

Sports betting is tougher than a lot of people think, and the possibility of you losing your money is very real. We’re going to do our best to help you prevent that, but you need to be aware that it is possible.

Note:Keep in mind that this might mean your bankroll isn’t as large as what you ultimately want it to be. That’s okay. In later sections, we are going to discuss the different methods that you can take to grow your bankroll.

For now, focus on putting in an amount you are comfortable with losing in case things don’t go as planned. Remember, this is not the amount that you will be betting right away. This is not an amount that you will need to replenish right away if things don’t go well. Our plan is to teach you to make this money last and hopefully use it to start turning a profit.

Many first-time bettors start with a couple hundred dollars ($100-$500). More experienced bettors or knowledgeable sports fans sometimes start in a bit higher bracket with bankrolls of $500-$2,500. If you’re someone with a lot of disposable income or are already a bettor looking to make things more serious, you can start with a bankroll $2500+.

In reality, it does not matter what number you start with, as long as you’re able to make plenty of wagers with the amount that you put into your bankroll. We will also cover many ways to grow your bankroll later, so if it’s not yet at the level you eventually want it to be, that’s okay, too.

If you’re not sure where to start, read the next section on individual bet amounts and work backward. As we lay out the different routes you can take, you’ll be able to see how much you might need in your bankroll for the route that you want to take.

Individual Bet Amounts

We’d like to talk now about choosing the sizing for your individual bets. The amount you bet is going to be dependent on two things – how much risk you want to take on, and how confident you are in your pick.

By analyzing the risk in relation to your bankroll size, you’ll be able to develop a range in which you can bet. Where you choose to bet within that range will be dependent on your betting strategy and your confidence in the value of your pick.

Let’s start by looking at the three different risk profiles you can assume and where your betting maximum and range will fall for each.

Risk-Averse – The Safe Play

If you’re someone who does not like risk and prefers to play things as safely as possible, you’re going to want to be in the risk-averse camp. Within this group, your maximum bet size will be 1%-2% of your total bankroll.

For ExampleIf your bankroll is $500, your maximum bet will be somewhere between $5 (1% of $500) and $10 (2% of $500). The bottom of your bet size range will be $0.

What we recommend is that you choose a percentage and stick with it. So if you want your max bet to be 2%, then your betting range would be between $0 and $10.

Risk-Neutral – The Normal Play

The middle of the field that neither wants to play it safe or be overly aggressive are the people that are risk-neutral. Those wishing to bet under this plan will have their maximum bet in the 3%-4% range. This means that if you have a bankroll of $500, your maximum single bet you can make is going to be between $15 and $20.

Again, choose either 3% or 4% and stick with it. Having a range at the top of a range is just too confusing and doesn’t bring any benefit. If you choose to have your maximum bet be 3% ($15), then your betting range will be between $0 and $15.

As you can see, the bottom of every range is $0 because you always have the option of not betting a bet and you are never required to bet toward the top of that range.

Risk-Seeking – The Aggressive Play

The final course of action you could take with your sports bet is the risk-seeking course. This is reserved for the group of bettors who want to take the more risky approach to their betting. If you choose this course, your maximum bet should be 5% of your total bankroll. So if you have a $500 bankroll, your maximum bet should be $25. Your range that you should be betting in should be between $0 and $25.

When to Adjust Your Bet Sizes

As you see, we did not tell you that your bet sizing should be exactly those amounts. We said that you should bet somewhere within that range. So how do you decide how much to bet? Well, it all depends on what your betting strategy is.

Some people like to bet the exact same amount for every bet they make. Others like to assign a confidence level to their bets and wager more on the bets that they are more confident in and less on the bets they are less confident in. Both of these schools of thought are correct.

As long as you make sure that you’re not betting over your maximum bet size, you will be just fine.

Set Reset Time Frames

So what happens if your bankroll goes up or down after you make your bets? This is going to happen, and you need to be prepared for how you want to proceed. The first thing you need to do is decide on a time frame that you will use to reevaluate your bankroll.

Recommended Reading:You can’t reevaluate after every single bet you make, or your head will start to spin. Most bettors reevaluate weekly or monthly depending on how much they are betting.

If you are betting a lot of games, we recommend doing this weekly or daily. If you only bet sporadically, monthly will be just fine for you. Most people, though, do this weekly if they are betting with any sort of regularity.

Let’s say that you decide to do this weekly on every Wednesday. On Wednesday, figure out the total amount that you currently have in your bankroll. Let’s say that you started betting with a $500 bankroll. After a successful week one, you have a bankroll of $800.

What most people do is take the $300 in profit and transfer it out of their bankroll. This resets their bankroll to $500, and the percentages for their maximum bets will be the exact same.

If you have a bad week, though, you will need to adjust your bet maximum. Let’s say you start with a bankroll of $500 and you have a rough first week, losing $100. Your bankroll is now $400. What you would then do is recalculate your maximum bet based on your risk profile.

Let’s say you were a risk-seeking person betting at a 5% maximum bet. Your maximum bet when you started was $25. Now, though, your bankroll is $400. 5% of $400 is $20. Your new bet maximum for the next week is going to be $20.

If your bankroll gets back to $500 the next week, you can readjust, and your new maximum bet size will be back at $25.

Growth or Sustainment

One thing that has an effect on this process that you will need to decide is whether or not you are looking to grow your bankroll or if you are content sustaining it where it’s at. If you’re content with things where they are, then follow all of the instructions above.

Any time your bankroll gets over $500 (in our example), take that money off and transfer it over into your everyday bank account. Any time your bankroll gets below $500, adjust your bet size accordingly. Keep adjusting it until it gets back to $500 and then start taking out your profits again.

If you’re looking to grow your bankroll, though, you’ll need to take some different steps when you get over your starting mark. In our example, that starting mark is $500. If you choose to add funds to your bankroll manually or reinvest some of your profits, you will want to refigure your betting maximum percentages based on that new number.

You’ll also want to reset your starting mark to that new number. What does this mean and why is it important? Well, when you are keeping your starting mark at $500 (from our example), any time that you have a profitable week but are below $500, you don’t take that money out as profit.

For ExampleIf you lose $100 your first week and get down to $400, and then you make $100 the next week, you don’t take that $100 out as profit. You consider it making up for your losses, and it stays in your bankroll until you get back over the $500 starting mark.

If you make $100 and decide that you want to reinvest all of that, your new bankroll amount is $600. If you lose $100 and then make it back the next week, that money doesn’t count as profit, even though it’s over the $500 mark. Your bankroll now has to be above the $600 mark for it to count as profit that you can take out.

Ways to Grow Your Bankroll

Since we’re on the topic of growing your bankroll, let’s talk about the different ways that you can go about that. Sometimes when you start sports betting, you might not want to risk as much as you’ll eventually want to, or you might not have as much disposable cash as you’d like to use.

All of this is fine, and we commend you for not overexerting yourself. Sports betting is never going anywhere, so there really is no need to rush things and potentially cause yourself to fail.

There are two main ways that you can grow your sports betting bankroll – manual additions and reinvesting profits. Let’s take a look at both of them.

Manual Additions

A manual addition to your bankroll refers to you adding cash to your bankroll. This isn’t money you’ve won or anything like that. This is you taking money from your everyday accounts and shifting it into your bankroll. One thing that a lot of people do is schedule manual additions. For example, some people that want to grow their bankroll faster than with just their profits will decide a certain amount to put in every week or every month.

For ExampleMaybe you decide to take $25 out of each of your paychecks and add it to your bankroll. Or maybe you get a bonus from work and you decide you want to put part of it toward your sports betting bankroll.

These are examples of manual additions. Make sure that you don’t accidentally count them as profit when you record these on your tracking spreadsheet. You want to make sure that you are accurately tracking your wins and losses.

Reinvesting Profits

The second option you have for growing your bankroll is to reinvest your profits. This is the lower-risk method, as it requires you to be winning in order to increase the size of your roll. It also forces you to lower your bet sizing if you’re losing.

Reinvesting your profits refers to taking money that you’ve won above your starting bankroll mark and adding it back to your bankroll during your reset time instead of withdrawing it. You have to decide what percentage of your profit you’re going to reinvest and what percentage you’re going to take out.

Important:You also need to figure out where you’d ultimately like your bankroll to be. You probably don’t want to keep growing your bankroll forever, so figure out where you’d like it to end up. You can work backward by bet sizes and risk profile here as well, if you’d like.

Typically, we see people either reinvest 100% of their profits until they reach their desired bankroll size, or a 50/50 split. With the split, they take half of the money they profit over their bankroll mark as profit and then reinvest the other half.

Things to Be Cautious About

The last things we want to talk about today are the potential threats to your bankroll. These are the factors that are part of life that you need to be aware of and protect yourself and your bankroll from.

Theft and Loss

When you’re sports betting at the local book, you’re forced to take a lot of money with you. When you cash winning tickets, you’re forced to carry a lot of cash on you. This puts you at risk of potentially being robbed or losing your money.

Criminals know that people in sportsbooks typically have large sums of money on them, which makes you and anyone in the book a target. You think losing a game is going to hurt your bottom line? Imagine if a large chunk of your bankroll just magically disappears to loss or theft.

This is one of the big reasons why we’re advocates of betting online. You’re never required to move large sums of money around on your person.

This eliminates a lot of the risk that you have when you bet in a brick-and-mortar setting.

That being said, there are still risks with betting online that you need to be careful of. If someone gets their hands on your account, they could try to unload the money. Thankfully, online sites have safeguards in place to protect this, but you certainly don’t want to take any risks. Protect your passwords and make sure that you log out of your accounts when you are done placing your bets.

Controlling Your Emotions

The biggest threat to your bankroll very well might be you. If you’re someone who gets emotional often, you want to make sure that you don’t ever allow that to affect the bets and decisions that you make. One of the biggest times of vulnerability is when you’re on a losing streak.

Losing streaks in sports betting are inevitable. No matter how sharp you are, you’re going to go through some rough patches where it feels like you can’t pick a game right to save your life.

Important:These are the times when you’re going to have to be strong and make sure to stick to your strategy. This means you’re going to have to make sure that you don’t make an emotional pick on a game. It also means that you need to make sure not to chase your losses by betting more on games you’re less confident in or betting more than your allotted bet maximum.

You have to be honest with yourself if you struggle with letting your actions negatively affect your emotions. Note that even if you win your out-of-character bet, it doesn’t mean that it’s right. The fact that you go outside of your strategy means that you have something you need to correct immediately.

You don’t get to claim it was right just because it worked out. It’s easy to be results-oriented in sports betting, but it’s a bad and unhealthy habit to get into.

Substance Abuse

We are not here to put a damper on any of your fun. We aren’t going to tell you that you can’t drink or do whatever it is that you like to do when you watch games. What we are going to tell you, though, is that if any of this affects the way you bet, then you need to make an adjustment.

We’ve heard way too many stories of sports bettors who got too drunk or high and ended up betting way more than they wanted to or betting on games they never intended to.

There’s nothing wrong with having a good time when you’re betting, but the second it starts affecting your bets, it’s time for something to change

Either you need to lay off the sauce, or you need to make sure you’re not able to place bets while you’re inebriated. Remember, if you want to take your betting seriously, sometimes it requires you to take “the less fun road.”

The Big Picture

Properly managing your bankroll is one of the most important skills that you must learn and apply if you’ve got any hopes of making it long-term as a sports bettor. It’s really not hard; it just requires the basic knowledge (which we’ve provided here) and some discipline from you.

We highly recommend getting your bankroll management rules in place before you even make your first bet. That way, you can ensure that you’re going to have good practices and be prepared for any situation that you might run into.

Jim Beviglia
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About Jim Beviglia
Jim Beviglia has been a gambling writer at since 2018. During that time, he’s written just about every type of article related to gambling, including reviews of betting sites, guides to popular casino games, betting tips on both casino and sports betting, sports and casino blog posts, and game picks. In addition to online gambling, one of Jim’s other major interests is music. He has been doing freelance work for various music sites and magazines for two decades. Among his outlets past and present are American Songwriter, VinylMePlease, Treble, and The Bluegrass Situation. Jim has also written five books on music that were published by Rowman & Littlefield.