Every weekend gamblers have dreams of turning their hobby into a more lucrative endeavor. In fact, most would probably settle for just knowing that they’re breaking even.
Step one in developing a profitable betting strategy isn’t studying any game, evaluating odds, and quite frankly doesn’t have anything to do with sports. It’s all about establishing a working bankroll.
A bankroll that hasn’t carefully been considered is almost always set up to fail. In this article, I’ll lay out the top four questions you need to ask when putting together your own.
1 – How Much Can I Comfortably Afford to Lose?
Nobody wants to think about losing bets. Even more so, nobody wants to think about losing money. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what you have to do when building your gambling bankroll.
The first rule of building your bankroll is to decide how much money you can lose without it really impacting your life in any significant way. The best way I’ve found to do this is to think of your bankroll like a purchase.
While some bettors might say that a bankroll is more of an investment than a purchase, I don’t find that to be the case. Here’s why: Investing is a carefully crafted financial strategy that should (even though many times it does not) result in growth over time. Betting simply isn’t that.
If you treat your bankroll as a purchase, meaning money that you’ve spent that you don’t expect to get back, you put yourself in the right mentality. If you do end up making money, that’s a bonus. If you end up losing money, well, you expected it.
To put it simply, the first thing you need to do when making your bankroll is set money aside that you don’t ever expect to see again – even though you really hope that isn’t the case.
2 – What Is My Percentage Range?
Question number one is the first step to putting together an effective bankroll. It’s undoubtedly the most important, as it focuses on your overall financial picture aside from betting. The next question you should ask focuses a little more on the bets themselves.
Once you’ve set your bankroll, it’s then time to set a range of percentages for your wagers on a particular game. The goal is to avoid those crushing losses that drain your finances. The longer you can keep things from hitting $0, the more opportunities you’ll have to actually win.
So, then the next thing to figure out is what an appropriate range is for your situation. While there isn’t a consensus among bettors about what the percentages should be, most gambling experts recommend between 2% on the low end, and between 5% and 10% on the high end.
In the above example, that would mean if you have a $1,000 bankroll, you would never make a bet below $20 or a bet above $100. The reason for setting a floor number, aka the low end of the range, is to remind you that if you’re making a bet under that number, it’s too insignificant to give it enough attention.
To state the obvious, you can adjust your betting range based on your personal risk tolerance, but I would suggest never placing more than 10% of your bankroll on a single play. As previously mentioned, your goal is to keep your pool of money as long as possible without having to reload, and high-dollar bets make this extremely difficult.
3 – How Am I Tracking My Winnings and Losses?
All of the information above means very little if you aren’t able to adequately track your money coming in and money going out.
If you’ve done the work in putting together a bankroll and a betting strategy, the next step is to find a system to monitor your cash flow…just like a business. The good news? Your system does not have to be complicated or involve fancy programs. Best of all, it requires very little, and very basic, math.
Implement categories that you can use to track the games you played, the amounts you bet, and whether or not you won or lost. Then simply add up the totals somewhere on the side.
It’s advisable to do this as frequently as you can. Trust me when I say that if you miss a week or two of tracking your plays, the entire system can come crashing down fairly quickly.
Not only will tracking your plays and cash flow help you manage your money effectively, but you’ll also experience some unexpected benefits. First, you’ll start to recognize which types of games, and which sports, you have the most success with. Use this information to make better bets going forward.
Finally, and this one might be just be me (although I doubt it), but you’ll increase your overall enjoyment of betting when you see the results on paper. You’ll inevitably put just a little more research into making your plays because you know you’ll have to go back and write down whether or not you’ve won or lost.
Keep things as simple as you possibly can while still keeping it functional. At a bare minimum, make sure you can readily view how much you’re up or down from the initial bankroll deposit you made at the start.
4 – What Betting Platform Am I Using?
You might think that the betting platform you use doesn’t play a role in your success or failure, but it does have an impact.
Choosing the best online casino for your strategy can be the difference between winning and losing money over the long term. The reason? Each site has a different range of features and offerings that can help or hurt you based on your betting amount, how fast you can collect money, and bonuses.
The thing that I’ve found to be the most important to my success is how quickly and easily I can withdraw money from my betting account. Many online sites require players to wait for a certain period of time before depositing money back into your bank account. They do this because they know if it takes more work or time to get your money, you’ll likely just keep betting it until you lose.
Although it’s easy to be seduced by bonuses and deposit matches (and don’t get me wrong, these are good and helpful too), if you’re more concerned with how you’ll perform long-term, it’s best to look for a site that allows you to get your money quickly and without huge fees.
Now, if getting your money back quickly isn’t a priority, perhaps you’re better off looking for sites that will give you additional betting credit upon your initial deposit. This is a great option for people with smaller bankrolls who could use a little boost in capital.
If you do choose a site that has a deposit bonus, don’t add that number to your bankroll. If it’s not money that you can withdraw and use elsewhere, it’s not really something you need to track.
Because there are so many online gambling sites competing for your business, each has their own unique benefits. This gives bettors a tremendous range of options to choose from. Take advantage of the opportunities they provide and decide which works best for you.
It’s not as sexy as hitting a jackpot or winning a huge underdog moneyline bet, but creating a stable bankroll is the key to long term betting success.
Know your limits, only bet with money you can afford to lose, track things conscientiously, and you’ll be on your way to your most successful betting year yet.