What a week it's been for sports bettors.
On Monday expectations were sky high for conference tournaments and the beginning of March Madness. But then the Coronavirus blindsided the sports betting world. It began with the NBA announcing it was suspending the season late Wednesday night. Then all of the other leagues, including the NHL, MLB and MLS, followed suit on Thursday. We have now come to unfortunate realization that we may not have many sports to bet on for the foreseeable future.
However, as sports bettors we never rest on our laurels. We are always looking to sharpen our edge and prepare for the next game, the next season, the next sport. With sports betting on a hiatus, now is a great time for bettors to take a step back and take a good hard look at their bankrolls.
For new bettors who may not be familiar, your bankroll is the amount of money you have set aside specifically for betting. Consider it disposable income. This number is different for all bettors when they start. For some it might be $100. For others it might be $1000. Or even $100,000. No matter the amount, always remember that your bankroll should be weighted based on what you are willing to lose.
Bankrolls fluctuate based on the sports betting calendar and, more specifically, how well you are doing at any given time. But whether you're hot or cold, bankroll management is critical to ensuring that you stay in the game long term.
As I discuss in my book, The Everything Guide to Sports Betting, one of the best and easiest bankroll management systems is flat betting. This means betting the same amount on every play, regardless of your confidence level, and only risking one unit, ideally 1% to 5% of your bankroll per play. A good medium is 3%. This means if you are starting off with $100 you are betting $3 per game. To calculate what this means for you, just take your beginning bankroll and multiply it by .03.
This may not seem sexy but a flat betting approach will keep you from going bankrupt when you're struggling but also set you up with a positive return on investment when you're doing well. Flat betting also means avoiding parlays, which are considered the penny slot of betting and provide a massive edge to the house. The idea isn't to become a millionaire overnight but instead to grind long term and slowly turn a profit.
Another important piece of bankroll management is assessing your bankroll from time to time, ideally once or twice per year, and adjusting it based on your performance. Many bettors do this in the summer when betting dies down after basketball and bettors start preparing for football season. However, with sports betting on a hiatus due to the Coronavirus, now is the perfect time for bettors to reflect on their performance to date and adjust their bankrolls accordingly.
For example, let's say you started with a bankroll of $1,000 at the beginning of the football season in September. You've done well over the past 6 months and turned that $1,000 into $1,500. When you started with $1,000 in September your unit size was 3% per play, which equates to $30 per game. Now that you've increased your bankroll to $1,500, you can adjust your new unit size to $45 per game moving forward.
On the other hand, let's say you started with $1,000 in the Fall and you are now down to $500. Instead of continuing to bet $30 per game, a good idea would be to adjust your unit size to $15 per game.
You don't want to constantly adjust your bankroll once per week or even once per month. After all, we all go through ups and downs. Instead, grind it out and think long term and then make the desired adjustment every six months or so. As we hunker down and wait for sports to return, this is one aspect of betting you can get out of the way now to ensure you are properly funded and ready to go once we defeat the Coronavirus and get back to our normal sports betting schedule.