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How to Manage Your Bankroll

Mitchell South

by Mitchell South

Updated Nov 14, 2023 · 10:37 AM PST

Every “sharp” is well-versed in sports betting money management. Even if you’re just getting started, it’s essential to learn the basics of how to manage your hard-earned funds. In this guide, we’ll take you through the necessities, and then move onto a slightly more sophisticated method of money management.

I’m Starting Out, Do I Need to Maintain My Bankroll?

Yes. Every sports bettor should always be conscious of their bankroll, no matter how often or how much they intend to bet. To be successful, it’s necessary to blend your sports knowledge and research with a tiny bit of mathematical precision. Taking advantage of a sportsbook welcome offer is always a good idea as well since promos like the ESPN BET bonus can help pad your bankroll too.

Every sports bettor should always be conscious of their bankroll, no matter how often or how much they intend to bet.

Even if you’re just looking to inject a bit of excitement into the week’s games, you need to know how to manage your money realistically.

Three Simple Steps to Manage Your Bankroll

Just remember the following three steps, and you’ll have a basic grasp on how every “sharp” bettor regulates their bankroll.

1. Determine the Size of Your Bankroll

How much money should you deposit into your sportsbook? The answer depends on your personal financial situation and individual comfort level. Never bet any money that you can’t afford to lose.

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Different people will have different definitions of what they can “afford to lose.” Be realistic in assessing your financial situation, as well as how much you can afford to hand over to an online sports betting site.

Once you’ve established how much you’d be willing to (hypothetically, of course) lose, pick a figure that accurately reflects the amount of time you’re eager to invest. If you’re going to place bets 3-4 times a year on major sporting events (think the Super Bowl, March Madness, and the NBA Championships), then you should invest less money than if you’re planning on making one bet a day (or more).

Set a number you’re comfortable with and stick with it. If you’re continually making deposits and withdrawals, it becomes a lot easier to lose track of the bigger picture.

2. Choose a Unit Size

Once you’ve set aside a set bankroll amount, you need to determine what percentage of your bankroll you will wager on any one event. For beginner bettors, we recommend that you keep the size of your bets consistent: Select a unit size somewhere between 1-5%.


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Conservative sports bettors should bet 1-2% of their bankroll per single bet. In contrast, more confident and aggressive bettors may consider betting 3% of their bankroll. If you’re extra confident in your sports betting knowledge and skills, then it’s possible that you could increase your unit size to between 4-5% of your total bankroll.

It’s rare to see a professional bettor wager more than 1% of their bankroll on any one event.

We recommend staying somewhere between 1-3% of your bankroll. This allows you to stay measured and disciplined in your sports betting, and the pros seem to agree. It’s rare to see a professional bettor wager more than 1% of their bankroll on any one event.

3. The Final Step: Reevaluate Your Bankroll

Much like sports themselves, sports betting is highly dynamic. As such, it’s worth recalculating your unit size throughout your sports betting career. If you’re winning or losing in a big way, adjustments need to be made.

Dial back your unit size if you’re on a losing streak and your overall bankroll is quickly evaporating. Don’t start to bet more (an increase in your unit size) when you’re on a bad run, in an effort to recoup your losses. That’s a classic “square” strategy. When you’re in a rut, sit back, refocus, and reevaluate. If you decrease your unit size, it prevents you from losing too much, too fast.


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If you’re just betting for entertainment purposes, decreasing your bankroll is the right move. This way, you can stay in the game longer and place more bets over time. Of course, you must follow your sportsbook’s minimum betting requirements.

Professional sports bettors realistically hope to win 60% of their bets, meaning that they expect to lose at least 40% of the time. Losing is part and parcel of sports betting, no matter who you are.

When on a winning streak, keep your unit size at a healthy percentage that aligns with your risk tolerance. Don’t bet more than 5% on any one event. Don’t do anything crazy just because you’re having a good spell! Your luck can change quickly in sports betting.

Dialing your money management and betting strategies before wagering real money can also be helpful. Try a free-play sports betting contest to experiment and find the approach that works best for you.

Managing Money vs. Picking the Winners

Picking the winners is obviously the most crucial part of sports betting. Those who can consistently predict the winners not only rake in the most cash, but undoubtedly have the most fun.

Poker player Stu Ungar is a classic cautionary tale for all bettors. A brilliant gambler with an ability to read a poker table like few others in human history, Ungar incurred over $30 million in winnings, but eventually lost it all. Many poker experts have called Ungar the most talented poker player to ever live, but his failure to effectively manage his bankroll prevented him from being the most profitable poker player of all time.

Where Do Sports Betting Money Management Strategies Come From?

Many of the principles that will help you be successful are rooted in simple financial strategy.

Serious financial advisors and money managers employ some form of the strategies outlined here when making investments. Learning and developing systems to manage your capital in a manner conducive to long-term gains is at the heart of sports betting money management.

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How different, really, is laying a carefully-researched bet than purchasing a security on the stock market? When it comes to money management and allocation of capital, the answer is not very different. You’re trying to come out a winner by manipulating a system to your financial benefit.

For more helpful insights from the financial industry that can make you a sharper bettor, check out our series of articles exploring sports betting and the world of finance.

Data to Manage Sports Investments

Once you’ve determined a budget and associated unit size for your sports bets, you’ll want to see how far that money can take you.

SBD Sharp tracks sports bets as investments over time, showing you the return on investment if you consistently bet the same team throughout the course of a season (among other helpful insights).  Of course, a long-term betting strategy like taking the same team every game based on their past returns requires commitment to a set betting unit.

If you’re willing to stick to the plan outlined above, you can do much, much more with betting analysis tools like Sharp.

Make Informed Bets Every Time

If you’re new to the world of sports betting, we highly recommend exploring the rest of the tips n’ tricks outlined in our Betting 101 series. Anyone is capable of becoming a successful bettor, but it takes time and diligent studying to master the art of the trade.

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