It is hard enough to beat the sportsbooks with their 10 percent vig or more on some wagers, but bettors make it even tougher on themselves when they don’t manage their bankroll correctly. Bankroll management is right up there with getting the best line or price on a game and can make or break a handicapper’s profitability not only for one season, but for their NFL betting career.
Managing your bankroll is a crucial part to your success as a sports bettor. Utilizing your betting roll most effectively for the NFL Football presents a distinct set of challenges and concerns for bettors.
The Importance of a Bankroll Management
I’ve meet a lot of talented NFL handicappers over the year, many of them who were among the best at finding the most profitable markets on the board and predicting the outcome of games at a surprisingly high rate. Shockingly, many of these NFL bettors weren’t profitable at handicapping the NFL. In fact, some weren’t even close to making money.
The reason boils down to bankroll management, one area in which many bettors are downright ignorant. I remember a guy who frequented my local poker game who always seemed to have spot-on opinions on the week’s games. Week after week, I’d talk NFL lines with him and ended up having a highly profitable first half to the season, partly due to his advice. I assumed he had done the same.
I nonchalantly asked him how he was doing on the year one evening, and he responded to me that he was “getting killed.” I was shocked. I explained to him that he had been right on nearly every game we talked about.
“Yeah, I know”, he said. I wonder what the problem was but before I could ask he continued to tell me how he would always lose his final bet of the week. He then laid out his strategy of betting the amount he won over the weekend all on the Monday Night Game. I sighed and explained to him that was not a smart way to manage his bankroll, and it was a recipe for disaster.
Shockingly, he was not convinced and felt his strategy was fine and that he was just having a miserable run of luck. Of course, that could not be further from the truth. He didn’t understand bankroll management, and it was costing him immensely. I have no doubt he was a talented NFL handicapper, but he never would never become profitable simply because he did not have a bankroll management plan.
Banking Management and Risk
There are a number of schools of thought when it comes to bankroll management for sports betting. The general consensus among handicappers is to generally bet 1-2% of your bankroll per game to reduce your risk of ruin. The absolute worst thing to happen as a sports bettor is to spread yourself too thin and end up being out of action because you didn’t manage your bet size correctly.
For this reason, it is essential to adopt some form of bankroll strategy and stick to it. Over extending yourself can cause you to go broke or reduce your bet size which can knock you out of action for the rest of the season (or for good!) or drastically hurt your profitability.
What Does Your Bankroll Meant to You?
Before we go into more specific methods to manage your bankroll and bet size, it’s crucial to ask the question what your bankroll mean to you? Are you a serious bettor who doesn’t want to risk losing his roll? Or are you a more recreational bettor who doesn’t mind winning or losing? Would you be willing to add more money to your bankroll if you went on an extended losing streak?
If you don’t mind reloading funds into your sportsbook account and have some reserve funds available to bet, then it would make more sense that you could be more aggressive with your wagers. Those that have a set amount side aside for their bankroll and cannot add to it would be wise to be less aggressive.
Bettors should establish a betting unit based on their bankroll and bet size. This betting unit won’t change and will give betters a good idea of roughly how many bets they have in their disposal and make it easier to manage their betting funds.
For instance, say I have a $10,000 bankroll for the NFL season. I might want to make my betting unit $100, or 1% of my overall bankroll. We don’t need to adjust our betting unit after winning or losing a few wagers, but instead we can keep the amount constant throughout the season.
If we have an influx of cash added to our roll or a large run of profits we can then begin to think about changing our unit size. It is up to you if you want to count your profits as part of your bankroll and keep expanding your unit size. However, I would not recommend this, at least not early on.
Also, remember to account for bonuses and promotions. These add extra money to your bankroll and even though they require a rollover to withdraw, they are just more extra money to bet with and should be accounted as such.
How Much Should I Bet Per Wager?
That is a tough one, and there are many differing options on the subject. Many advocate flat betting each wager, and that may be the best idea for novice bettors who have a harder time quantifying their edge against the sportsbooks.
Optimally, it is probably best to bet on semi-Kelly criterion based system, which has shown to be excellent in many gambling games and sports betting. Kelly betting allows bettors to adjust their bet size based on how strong they feel their bet is against the oddsmakers’ line. Overall, this strategy has been proven to be optimal, provided that bettors can accurately judge the strength of each bet.
When I first began betting the NFL, I would strictly bet the same amount per wager and almost never altered my flat betting strategy. I had no reason to change anything. I was a profitable bettor for a number of years, and I felt I was doing things the right way. I wasn’t wrong in my approach, but after awhile I started varying my bet size based on how strong I felt about each bet.
I ended up becoming more profitable because my instincts were fined tuned after many years of betting to spot value and bet accordingly. It really depends on how you feel about your NFL handicapping skill, but just be fair warned that some of your “strongest” plays may end up being losers.
I’d never advocate wagering more than 5% of your total bankroll on a single day and to not differentiate your bet sizes too rapidly. For instance, a 1 unit play might be your “standard” bet while a 3 unit play would be a bet that you absolutely love. The vast majority of bets should be on the low edge of your betting range. If you think oddsmakers are making lots of mistakes each week, I’ve got news for you – you’re not smarter than them.
Keeping accurate records of your bet sizes and wagers will help you not only keep track of your profits, losses and overall win/loss record, but help you analyze your betting action and allow for some introspection.
Record keeping is a must in sports betting and when it comes down it; your overall win/loss is truly what it is all about. Don’t give yourself a chance to delude yourself by not keep accurate records. Obviously, keeping track of your bets should be done for all your sports betting action, not just the NFL.
The fact that the NFL is the most wagered US sport by a large margin is a massive testament to the sport’s popularity among sports bettors. Why do I say this? Compared to the other three major professional sports leagues, the NBA, MLB and NHL, the NFL has by far the least number of wagering opportunities.
Yes, there is 20 plus weeks of action, and over a dozen games per week in an NFL season and playoffs, but that pales in comparison to the schedules of other leagues. Each NFL team plays 16 regular season games, and if they are lucky make the playoffs. The NHL and NBA have 82-game regular seasons, along with best-of-seven matchups throughout the playoffs and into the NBA finals. Finally, Major League Baseball has a whopping 162-game regular season and best-of-seven series format for much of their postseason, as well.
As crazy as it may sound, many professional sports bettors don’t even bother to learn NFL handicapping because of the limited number of betting opportunities compared to other sports. I love betting the NFL, and I am excellent at it, but I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t realize how bettors have a much smaller number of chances to beat the sportsbooks compared to other sports.
This is one of the reasons a profitable NFL bettor may have a losing season here and there while it is less likely for a multi-sport handicapper to have a losing year due to the sheer number of bets they place, which in turn reduces variance.
I’m certainly not advocating betting more than you can afford, but it is vital to “strike while the iron is hot” as they say when it comes to NFL betting. Since your betting opportunities are limited, you will need to make them count. I still don’t advocate betting more than a half dozen wagers per week, but if you are a proven profitable handicapper in regards the NFL, it might be worth considering increasing your bet size compared to other sports.
Another important aspect to note is that higher odds bets such as parlays, teasers and underdog money lines will have a higher degree of variance compared to straight wagers. In the right spots, these can be quite profitable, but it is necessary to remember the larger the payoff of the bet, the more likely you are to lose the wager and the more bankroll fluctuations you will experience.
Keep Your Emotions in Check
If you have been betting for awhile, you know that you will face losing streaks. If you’re new to betting you will soon find this out. This happens to the best NFL handicappers in the world, and it is not reason to panic and start questioning your abilities.
In regards to bankroll management, the best advice I can give is to stay the course. Don’t do something crazy and start betting bigger to chasing your losses, that is a recipe for disaster. Stick with your bankroll requirements and plan that you started at the beginning of the season. It’s easy to manage your bankroll during your hot streaks but doing it during rough losing streaks takes a lot more self control.
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Betting the NFL is a long term investment for me and I do my best to remember that solid handicapping and line shopping over a long period of time will yield consistent profits. It’s hard to not get caught up in your week-to-weeks results, but remember that you’re focused on long term profitability. Stay the course, do your research and you should be fine.