Bankroll Management


Bankroll management is absolutely critical to becoming a winning sports bettor; in fact, it might be the most important skill that you can learn as a gambler. Being able to properly manage your money gives you the ability to keep your bankroll strong during stretches where you are struggling to pick winners and also lets you maximize your profits when you are on a roll. Much of what will be the right bankroll management system for you will depend on what your goals are for gambling.

If you are simply looking at having some fun and making a small profit on a few games, you should be able to handle betting $100 a week without much problem. Even by picking .500 of the games correctly over the course of a season and factoring in the sportsbook’s vig, you’ll only lose a few dollars each week. Players who are willing to take greater risks with their money might be willing to bet more on a single game knowing that the potential rewards are higher.


The most common form of money management by serious sports bettors is referred to as the Kelly Criterion, which has you betting a certain percentage of your bankroll on each game. The formula was created by mathematician John Kelly in 1956 and is a staple in gambling circles. The method was championed by Dr. Edward O. Thorp, who wrote the best-selling blackjack book “Beat the Dealer.” Many investors, such as billionaire Warren Buffet, have used variations of the Kelly Criterion in accumulating their fortunes.

As a general rule, average bettors should only be betting a maximum of three percent of their total bankroll on any one game. How close you get to that maximum will depend on the health of your bankroll and how strongly you feel about a potential outcome. Even if you think a bet is a “sure thing,” investing too much of your money is simply a risky proposition that could cripple your ability to make other solid bets in the future.