Football betting is a lot of fun, but many recreational fail to realize that it can also be profitable as well. In this article we will not be addressing the dangers of gambling, or giving you a lecture about keeping control. If those are areas of concern we hope someday you find help, but realize we’re not going to be able to do a lot to convince. What we’re going to address here is bankroll management.
The reason most gamblers lose is not because they are horrible at picking winners but rather because the bet too much per game, have tendencies to chase losses, or even worst try using a betting system. The truth is profitable sport betting is about being a pace horse and not a race horse. To understand proper bankroll management you first need to understand how bookmakers set their odds.
How Bookmakers Price Odds
Let’s take an Europa League betting example from a match up in May 12, 2010 between Athletico Madrid and Fulham. The odds posted by Bodog.com were as follows:
Atletico Madrid -0.5 (2.30)
Fulham +0.5 (1.67)
To explain these quickly every $1 wagered on Atletico Madrid returns $2.30 should they win and cover the -0.5 spread, otherwise that dollar is lost. If the game ends in a draw than Fulham in the winner because they were getting 0.5 goals, hence the plus sign. The odds on Fulham are 2.3 so this means each $1 risked pays $1.67 if Fulham wins or they cover the spread via a draw.
What most sports bettors fail to realize is these odds are set by the market. If 10 bettors show up and each bet the maximum allowed on Fulham then Bodog likely adjust their lines to Fulham 1.66 to 1.62 (it really depends how much is bet) and the odds on Atletico Madrid will improve by an equal amount. As you can see there are times where odds makers are setting lines based on what their clients are doing and not what the true odds actually are.
Unit Size and Bankroll Explained
Now that we’ve covered odds the next important topic is line shopping. We’ve covered this topic on our Euro Cup Betting home page which we strongly recommend reading. Knowing how to shop we now need sound betting strategy to help pick winners and quantify edges. This is advanced topic we’ll save for a future article, but to get into proper bankroll management what you should do is this. Set aside an amount of money you can afford to lose which sole purpose is to bet sports, this amount is your bankroll. Next divide this bankroll by 100 and that becomes your unit size.
A unit size is the base amount you bet per match. Now in a match you should have four betting options: a 1 unit play, a 2 unit play, a 3 unit play and a 4 unit play. In summary you’re risking 1-4% of your bankroll per bet. Deciding on how many units to bet a game should be based on the edge you have in the game. The bets you’re least sure about bet 1 unit. The bets you’re more confident about bet additional units. As a general guideline more than half your bets should be single unit plays.
The Real Reason the House Always Wins
Let’s say I offered you $55 to your $45 on the flip of a coin. Would you take that bet? You’d be a fool not to if you took that bet over and over again you’d be a massive winner, and that’s a guarantee. Now let’s say I changed the stipulation and required you to bet 20% of your bankroll on each flip. It’s only 20% so it seems rather safe doesn’t it; after all you have a huge edge. Wrong, think again! There is statically less than one-half a percent chance that a bettor could last 500 bets, betting 20% of their bankroll on a 10% edge.
Winning at sports betting is about money management. The reasons players lose is because even if they are betting with a massive edge, they end up betting far too much per game.
Avoid Doubling Systems and Chasing Losses
As far as doubling system go don’t try it. There is a one in sixty-three chance you you’ll lose three six bets in a row. For a typical bettor, one who bets on many different sports and leagues, 0-6 streets will occur once a month or every other month, and 0-8 streaks will occur once or twice per year. Doubling systems do not work and are a tool bookie rely on the make long term profit.
We hope by now you’re starting to see. Play it safe betting 1-4% quantified by confidence and not previous results and you can make a lot money betting sports. Bet too much, using a race horse rather than pace horse strategy and before long you’ll find yourself at the rail.