Updated Updated: September 3, 2019

Bankroll Management

Most punters will gamble online without paying much thought to the nature of the industry they are interacting with. If they win a bet, they are far more likely to reinvest the winnings plus an additional stake into a new wager than they are to consolidate and make a reasoned decision about what to do next. This is because bookmakers – like all businesses – are built around trying to make money. This is done by getting customers to continually make wagers until they eventually lose, netting the company a profit in the process. This is done by incentivising additional gambling and tempting punters to risk their money. Incentives can be overt promotional schemes that players will see as a notification on their account, or they can be as subliminal as the layout of the site itself. Because of this constant impetus to continue recklessly gambling, most punters will lose more money than they win in the long run, eventually emptying their bankroll. So it is that in sports betting money management can be a constant struggle. However, customers that properly manage their money can expect to see far greater profits and minimise their losses. This is known as ‘bankroll management’.

Bankroll management is a large component of gambling responsibly, as it mitigates the impact that losses can have on a customer’s overall financial well-being. Problem gamblers will oftentimes forgo basic necessities in order to spend the money on gambling instead and even casual punters can in the heat of the moment sometimes spend crucial funds on wagers that make little sense. Not practising good bankroll management can quickly lead to mounting losses both monetarily and psychologically.

So How Does It Work?

Although it may at first seem simplistic, there is far more to sports betting bankroll management that merely keeping an eye on the amount of cash that is building up (hopefully) in your betting account. Firstly, before even depositing money into a new account, there are certain factors that need to be taken into consideration. Foremost amongst them is how big the amount of money being deposited is relative to the gambler’s monthly earnings. Whilst committing a large portion of their salary is a bad idea from a financial planning perspective, it more relevantly means that the punter will not be able to make objective decisions when placing bets, due to the amount of pressure there will be to succeed.

Secondly, even if they are gambling with a sensible amount of money, the punter will still quickly lose any winnings if they go about it in a haphazard manner. Because of this, they need to impose some well-thought-out conditions on the way in which they are going to gamble and approach the activity with a plan. In order for an individual to come up with a plan that suits them, the concept of bankroll management must first be broken down into its constituent parts.

Rules

One of the most crucial parts of gambling money management strategies is setting out a group of rules that are carved in stone. If an action violates one of these rules, the gambler should avoid it at all costs. It is easy for people to simply come up with some vague objectives when looking to be more disciplined in any regard. These could be things like ‘eat less sugar’ or ‘read more books’. But vague rules are ones that are easy to break. Instead, it is best practice to have specific and detailed lines in the sand which cannot be crossed. Because of this, it will be harder for a person to justify giving in and violating their own promises. So the above examples should be changed to something akin to ‘eat a maximum of 10 grams of sugar per day’ and ‘read for one hour each evening’. Over time, these things will become habits and therefore more likely to continue, ensuring that they pay dividends in the long run.

bankroll rules

For gambling, punters should look to adopt a similar system and break down their rules into specific categories. These can pertain to their budget, odds they will bet on, the type of bets and when they will allow themselves to gamble. When creating a starting bankroll for sports, the budget for gambling should never exceed a certain level of their monthly income, ensuring that spending doesn’t spiral out of control. Once a solid figure has been decided on, it should never be exceeded. The odds should work in a similar way. Some gamblers chase hopeless odds and pick bad bets in an attempt to strike it big and take home a huge chunk of winnings. To combat the temptation, a customer should clearly define what their maximum odds limit is (for instance 6/1) and then never bet above it.

The type of bets allowed is more subjective, as each player knows their own bad habits better than anybody else. If in the past, a punter has had problems with putting together poorly chosen accumulators, then they should stay well away from them in the future. Similarly, panic betting immediately prior to the beginning of an event should be avoided as well.

Finally, there is the question of when the player will actually allow themselves to gamble. Many problem gamblers are constantly checking the odds from their favourite bookmakers and quickly start placing bets in a knee-jerk reaction without thinking through the potential consequences. By limiting themselves to just a few minutes a day, players can avoid making gambling part of their regular routine and can prevent themselves from making snap decisions. Instead, rationing the time between checking available odds can allow them to think through the bets they are going to place and invest their money in a wiser fashion, protecting their bankroll and potentially bringing in bigger winnings. In fact, limiting betting to just a couple of days a week and timing it around regular sporting events can allow for time to be invested elsewhere, such as researching the potential outcome of a match or just enjoying the sport for what it is. This also applies to online games such as poker, as leaving a few days between sessions can give plenty of time to rest and recharge before coming back refreshed later in the week.

Maximum size of bankroll

Something that many gamblers don’t take into consideration is the size that they will allow their bankroll to grow to if they consistently earn decent winnings or manage to keep losses to a minimum. If following proper bankroll management, then a punter will be adding a set amount to their account each month, causing it to slowly grow if they are breaking even when betting.

Whilst having a large amount of capital lying in an account can feel good, especially when the opportunity to confidently place some larger bets comes along, it can also be a risk. As the temptation to place larger and larger bets grows, so too does the danger of losing a considerable amount of money in one fell swoop. This can easily lead to spending more money in an attempt to quickly win back those losses, creating even more risk. Furthermore, some betting companies can arbitrarily close customer accounts if they find them to be in violation of their rules, which can be quite difficult to predict. If an account is closed, the winnings contained within will be lost, so regularly withdrawing funds is a good way to prevent this from becoming too much of a risk to bear.

Gamblers should set a hard ceiling for the amount of funds they will allow to accrue in a given account. When the amount exceeds the limit, they should withdraw the difference immediately and stop adding money to the account. Whilst some people may see this as a form of defeat, it is actually a positive, as only a gambler who is doing well can reach their limit in the first place. Furthermore, using the funds in the account (without outside additions) to regularly exceed the limit and then withdraw the profits is a good way to make sure that they are holding onto their winnings and not simply throwing them away on frivolous bets.

Self-control

Whilst setting out rules for money management sports betting techniques and imposing concrete limits on oneself is simple enough, it can be harder to know when it is time to stop gambling and walk away. Very often, the temptation I strong to try and win back money after a losing streak, resulting in even more losses occurring and ruining the fun of the activity. Many gamblers will continue to gamble even after it has become clear that their luck has well and truly run dry, eventually emptying their account before they can come to their senses.

To avoid this, each punter needs to come up with their own definition of a losing streak. One way a losing streak can be defined is via a certain amount of money lost in a single day. A person can set a loss limit and after crossing that line, will know that it is time to stop playing. Alternatively, a gambler can specify a certain amount of losing bets that they can have in a day, thereafter they will cut their losses and cease gambling. The main purpose of this is to enable the punter to avoid throwing good money after bad in a futile attempt to win back lost capital. By stopping gambling for the day, they can give themselves time to recuperate and learn from their mistakes, making better decisions next time.

Don’t get carried away by a winning streak

Similarly to the above rules pertaining to losing streaks, it is important for punters to bear in mind the danger posed by winning streaks. It may sound counter-intuitive to think of winning as a danger, but it does often precipitate some bad mistakes, especially when dealing with odds-based betting. This is because as an individual wins more and more bets within a short period of time, they begin to get more reckless and are likely to risk their winnings on larger bets.

Although thrill-seeking gamblers are prone to this kind of behaviour, level-headed players looking to practice good bankroll management should keep in mind that just because the last bet succeeded, there is no guarantee that the next one will. Every bed and set of odds is separate and sequential wins are more down to coincidence rather than innate luck on the part of the gambler. Eventually, a loss will come. By allowing themselves to get caught up in the moment, a gambler can make a winning streak just as painful as a losing streak.

There are a few ways to combat this and reduce the risk of losing money. One is to observe the bet limit that has already been imposed to prevent large losses. The other is to have a cap on winnings in a given day, acting as a line where the person will take their earnings and quit whilst they are ahead. As mentioned earlier, betting companies do everything they can to make their customers re-invest their winnings in new bets, as the longer the gambling goes on, the more chance the company has of winning it back. Remembering this fact can help players approach their bets with a sensible mindset.

Example

Whilst plenty of professional gamblers and cardsharps practice good bankroll management as part of their career, one of the most prominent examples of someone who didn’t engage in good bankroll management is Terrence Watanabe. During recurrent visits to Caesar’s Palace Casino in Las Vegas, Watanabe managed to lose in excess of $125000000. This was a significant amount of his total wealth and eventually resulted in a legal battle between himself and the casino

FAQ

No. However, some companies are notorious for shutting down the accounts of profitable players, so it is good to do some research before opening an account.

Getting to grips with a new habit takes some time. Because of this, it would be best for more impulsive gamblers to try practising bankroll management with smaller amounts before investing a significant sum.

Like all forms of betting bankroll management sports betting can be hazardous. Allocate a fixed sum of money for especially risky bets. That way you can still have some hair-raising moments and protect your wallet at the same time.

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