Bankroll management may be the most important part of gambling, but when it comes to betting on sports I’d say less than 5% actually pay attention to their bankroll and manage it properly. Bankroll management is simply managing the money that you plan on betting with. Properly managing a bankroll is the difference between being able to make a living betting on sports or just being a weekend recreational bettor.
A coach once explained to me that playing golf and being a golfer were not the same thing and that rings true with betting on sports. Playing golf is just being a weekend hacker out on the course, whereas being a golfer means that you’ve honed your craft to the point you own it. Look at recreational bettors as the weekend golf hacker and the professional gambler as the golfer.
Most bankroll management experts will tell you that you should only wager about 2% of your total bankroll on any given game if you want to manage your bankroll correctly. If you’re patient with your money you will see your bets grow in size as you win. Conversely, your bets will decrease in size when you lose.
Managing a bankroll properly takes time and patience. Let’s say you start with a $1,000 bankroll for the next college football season, you’ll only be wagering $20 per game to start. By only betting 2% of your bankroll per game you ensure that you’ll have funds to last through the ups (wins) and downs (losses) of the season. Most of us want to make sure that our bankroll lasts all season and into future seasons. A $20 wager will return about $18 on a typical football game (at -110).
Betting big and winning big is definitely more fun, but betting big and losing big stinks. If you have a great season betting you’re only going to win about 55% of the time and managing your bankroll properly will let the losses just roll off your back.
When managing your bankroll properly you’ll take each win and put it back into your bankroll. If you’re winning after a few weeks you’ll see that you have more money at your fingertips to wager on each game which in turn will give you better returns. This is the idea of bankroll management – maximize your wins while lessening your losses.
Proper bankroll management may make gambling feel more like investing then gambling but if you’re betting to make money you want to treat your money with the same respect you would when you invest. If you’re gambling just to have action and don’t care about the results you might as well donate the money to charity and play fantasy football for free.
I learned about proper bankroll management a few years ago but only got serious with it last year. With proper bankroll management I made the same bankroll last all college football season last year. That’s much better then the 2011 season where I shot my load and was done betting college football after 4 weeks of bad bets at prices that were way more then I should have been betting. Never again.
Marc Meltzer covers Las Vegas, gaming and men’s lifestyle for various media outlets. Follow him on twitter @eastcoastgamblr to see what’s new and what he’s betting and check out his blog at www.AC2LV.com to learn more about what’s happening in Atlantic City and Las Vegas.