As the old Chinese proverb goes: “if you must play, decide upon three things at the start: The rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time.” Let’s assume you’ve already considered the first and the last item on the list. We’ll focus on the stakes, as deciding upon the amount of money you’re willing to spend on the game of your choice can make all the difference.

Limiting your betting fund in order to grow it over time requires experience, composure, and good sports betting bankroll management. That is, unless you’re planning on splurging in the sportsbook or online casino with your mates and a happy-go-lucky attitude. Let’s dive into the details of your potential budget-planning strategies and walk you through some tips and tricks of growing it.

What Is a Bankroll in Sports Betting?

While the bankroll you get for performing your job duties grows cyclically, your sports betting bankroll can only thrive when you use the money you have. If you want more, you’ll have to reload your bank account. But, what does “bankroll” mean? Simply put, it’s the amount of money you’ve set aside for sports-betting purposes, and it has to be carefully managed, or else you’ll end up losing it all and dipping into your day-to-day bankroll and life savings.

Successful punters know precisely the amount they’re willing to risk and invest, always start slow, and build their stakes over time. Once you reach consistent growth, you’ll probably create a separate bank account independent from your personal funds, used only to withdraw your profits. Arm yourself with patience and follow our thorough guide on how to do proper bankroll management for sports betting.

Getting Started: Sports Betting Units

You might be hoping for a quick win, but skipping bankroll management and just throwing money at the bookie is a surefire way to burn through everything you have. Experienced players know that earning money is a long-time process with a steady trajectory. Instead of heading to the casino and demolishing your sports betting bankroll, you might want to think about calculating the amount of money you can afford to spend, managing your money, and thus increasing your earning potential.

Sports-betting money management is a good tactic that ensures you stay in the game when things get rough and, combined with sports betting strategies, is a tool used by the best of the betting best. First, players should determine how much money they’re willing to invest in betting and how much they should wager on each game. Be realistic with your expectations and financial situation, and don’t bet the money you can’t afford to (hypothetically) lose.

What percentage of your funds should you start with? Assuming you’re kicking off with a smaller sum (less than $1,000), the ideal portion of 1% wouldn’t be enough to cover the potential losses and earn you some cash. On the other hand, betting more than 5% is too risky, and losing would leave a significant hole in your wallet. “How much is enough for a bankroll, then?” you might ask. Let’s agree that the middle ground is best and start with 2.5% of your total allocated betting funds.

Now, let’s divide the whole bankroll into units. Sports betting units represent your minimum wager. For example, if you set aside $500 for a game, you can divide it into units depending on the percentage you’d like to risk for wagering. Let’s assume you’re ready to bet more aggressively and single out 5% per wager – your units would then be $25 each. On the other hand, if you approach things cautiously and bet only 1% of your bankroll, a unit would equal $5. In other words, the answer to the question “What are units in betting?” depends on your bankroll management strategy.

Management Strategies: a Breakdown

Once they decide to bet on some of their favorite sports, sharp players will carefully consider all their available strategies, use a bankroll calculator or other utilities, and employ all their knowledge and experience to track their results and get the most out of their situation. We’ll present you with four of the most important strategies for sports betting bankroll management that you can take advantage of. Let’s dive into the details.

Flat Betting Model

The simplest and safest strategy for establishing a steady winning track is the flat betting model. It requires bettors to set a unit size and stick to it, using exactly one unit to bet on each and every game. The flat bet strategy can trick you into believing it’s super simple, but it does have its twists. It comes in two different methods, depending on your betting style.

If you’re a more conservative punter, you should go for the “to win” sports betting strategy, as it requires you to take the house edge into account in order to win a unit. Let’s say you’re going for a standard -110 odds wager: To try and win 1.0 units, you should bet 1.1.

The “risk” method would better suit those who wish to bet more aggressively. If you opt for it, you shouldn’t wager the additional units required to cover the edge. Simply risk 1.0 units on a standard -110 bet to hopefully get 0.91.

When it comes to plus odds, making a moneyline bet on an underdog follows the same trajectory. Your options are to go for a “to win” sports betting money management system and bet a flat 1.0 unit on a +250 underdog to get 2.5 gambling units, or opt for a “risk” method and try with 1.4 units to win 1.0 unit.

Whatever your choice is, keep in mind that the biggest advantage of the fixed flat betting model is bankroll perseverance and steady growth in the long run, provided that you’re choosing winners at a higher rate than the breakeven point. Don’t forget to review and increase or decrease your unit size once you get up or down a specific sum of units.

On the flip side, this kind of bankroll management for sports betting is quite rigid. Knowing how unpredictable and volatile sports betting is, you can’t expect to cash out large sums if you follow the steady path. We guess it’s not that much fun, either.

Percentage Model

Unlike a flat bet, a bet made by the percentage model doesn’t require punters to set their fixed unit size in advance. Sports betting units will be determined as the game unfolds, while the only fixed thing is the percentage you’re willing to wager. Namely, if we assume that your bankroll is $1,000 and the percentage is 2.5%, you’ll wager $25 on your first bet and (hopefully) pump up your bankroll to $1,025. Now, let’s do some easy bankroll management and sports betting math: For your next wager, 2.5% of your new bankroll would now increase to $25.63.

The upside of the Percentage model is that your unit size will increase much faster than with the flat bet model. Also, if you hit a winning streak, you’ll build your bankroll and unit size swiftly and be able to receive a more significant return on investment as long as your luck holds.

But, here’s the rough edge: A losing streak would mean you’re wagering less and less, and you’ll have difficulty digging yourself out of a hole. A sports betting bankroll management calculator is handy with this method. You’ll also have to be more careful and observant, as these extra variables make any bets riskier.

Confidence Model

Now, here’s a treat for those hoping for some excitement: With the Confidence model, you’ll increase your wagers on games you feel confident you’ll win, and decrease them if you feel unsure about the outcome. Raising your standard unit by two or three times and betting multiple units requires strict discipline and the ability to estimate your confidence level accurately, or you’ll end up eating through your bankroll.

Employing this sports betting bankroll management strategy is best done by tracking your confidence level and bets in a spreadsheet. Assign each wager a number from one to three, depending on how confident you feel about it. Then, bet three units on high-confidence games, two on medium, and a single unit on low-level ones. You can also bet half a unit, preferably on heavy underdogs or parlays.

Don’t forget to remain realistic and not increase your unit size too much, because you’ll be burning your bankroll in no time. Also, pay attention to the accuracy of your confidence levels; if you’re tracking is off, you’re likely to end up in a losing hole.

The Kelly Criterion Model

The last sports betting money management strategy we will elaborate on is the Kelly criterion model. This advanced method requires good strategic and math skills and extreme accuracy with your predictions and estimations. Created by a researcher, J. L. Kelly Jr., and often referred to as the “Fortune Formula,” the Kelly criterion model determines the optimal theoretical size for a bet and is commonly used in gambling – especially when playing poker – and investing.

Here’s the daunting formula that determines the percentage of the bankroll you should put in play: (Decimal odds of your wager * win probability – loss probability) / decimal odds of your wager = suggested wager percentage. Et voilà! To get your numbers straight, try to figure out the exact odds of winning for each bet.

If you visit Youtube, bankroll management sports betting strategies like this one will be thoroughly explained. However, if you need help with the formula, we’ll give you an example. Let’s use a standard -110 wager with your prediction that you have a 55% chance of winning. The Kelly criterion formula would look like this: (0.91*.55-.45)/0.91=0.055 and suggest you wager 5.5% of your gambling bankroll.

However, if you’re betting on underdogs, the Kelly criterion model might suggest some insanely high and aggressive numbers, so pay attention to this downside. If you estimate that a +200 underdog has a 50% chance to win, and plug the numbers into your bankroll management calculator for sports betting, you’ll get: (2.00*.50-.50)/2.00=0.25, which means that you should wager a steep 25% of your gambling bankroll. Be cautious with the Kelly criterion strategy and apply it only when you’re as certain of the game outcome as possible.

The Importance of Bankroll Management

Having a sports betting money management system won’t mean you’ll be filling your sacks with cash, Scrooge McDuck style, right away. It’s not a magic formula for winning, either. What you’ll get with employing this strategy is the help you need to protect your bankroll in the long term and improve your earning chances. With sports betting bankroll management, you’ll reevaluate your unit size, expectations, and confidence levels, assess the data with clear goals in mind, and put things into action.

Another benefit of using such a strategy is that it enables punters to deal with losing and winning streaks. When losing game after game, digging yourself out of the mounting expenses can be extremely difficult. Players often find themselves chasing their losses, which is the worst possible thing to do. On the other hand, when on a roll, punters often increase their bet amounts without rationing and a clear decision-making strategy.

Breaking down your bankroll, determining the unit size, carefully calculating your chances of winning, tracking your results, following sports betting bankroll tips, and only then placing your bets, makes all the difference. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that you’ll employ one of the strategies described above and steadily grow your bankroll over time. You’ll thank us later.


How much of your bankroll should you bet?

When considering the percentage you’ll single out for wagering on a game, we believe 1% wouldn’t be enough to cover the potential losses and help you earn money, and a steep 5% is too risky. We suggest that you stay close to the middle ground of 2.5%.

What’s a good bankroll for sports betting?

Doing good bankroll management for sports betting starts with determining the amount of money you’re ready to invest and potentially lose. Depending on your skills, estimation of the outcomes, and other variables, try to stay under 1% of your total income and savings.

What percent of your bankroll should your unit be?

When determining your unit size, try to start with less and gradually build your units if you enter a winning streak. Try to stick with 1% or 2% of your total bankroll.

How do I increase my bankroll sports bet?

If you’d like to increase your bankroll sports bet, we recommend employing a Percentage model. This betting bankroll management strategy can help you build up your units and total bankroll faster than other methods – provided you’re lucky.

What percentage of sports bettors win?

On average, recreational punters usually win 53% to 54% of the time, and very rarely does that percentage go over 55. Keep that in mind when planning your gambling units and plotting your strategy.

Why do most sports bettors lose?

We hope you’ve understood by now that you can’t lean solely on luck if you’re hoping to cash out big money. Most sports bettors lose due to poor sports betting bankroll management. Managing money you’re willing to spend and potentially lose is a skill worth honing.