How to Manage Your Betting Bankroll

There’s no worse feeling when gambling than watching your entire balance go to zero. Making sure that your sports gambling experience lasts as long as possible should be the goal for every bettor, from novices to experienced gamblers.

Bankroll management encapsulates everything to do with managing your money. This includes a range of topics from picking the size for your bet to best practices for withdrawing your winnings.

When it comes to your money, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be practicing good bankroll management. Not doing so is simply throwing money away. Developing a good betting strategy is one of the key steps, and we’ve outlined a few popular ones in this guide.

You can be a skilled and savvy gambler, but if you don’t have any bankroll management, you will lose money. Managing your money may be the most important factor when it comes to being a profitable sports gambler.

How important is bankroll management in sports betting?

Managing your money well is crucial if you want to see your bankroll increase, and thus it should be something that everyone pays plenty of attention to. While picking a strategy that works for you is important, it’s only the first step in good bankroll management.

Much more crucial than picking a strategy is being able to follow it no matter how your bets go. It’s easy to abandon your strategy if you run into a rough patch, but that is a good way to put yourself on the fast track to losses.

This is why it’s key to always be thinking about bankroll management, as even just one slip can be devastating for your money. If you want to be profitable, you will take the time to learn and practice how to manage your gambling funds.

How much should you bet per game?

The first thing to understand with bankroll management is the concept of betting units. These help facilitate discussion among gamblers with different-sized bankrolls. For instance, if two gamblers each say that they are making a bet of $50, that could represent a large portion of one’s overall bankroll and almost nothing for the other.

Thus, it’s impossible to determine the confidence gamblers have in their bets when they present them in terms of dollars. Betting units create a universal system for people to discuss their bets with one another.

Think of a betting unit as a gambler’s typical bet size. If you usually put $10 on your average game, that would represent one unit. However, there are a few rules that we should take into consideration when we build our unit size.

Overall bankroll size

The first factor that plays the largest role in your unit size is the size of your overall bankroll. This represents the entirety of the money that you have set aside for gambling. It’s important to set a designated bankroll so you know what money is available for gambling purposes.

Your overall bankroll size should consist of money that you are comfortable losing. There’s a real possibility that you can run your bankroll down to zero, especially if you are a novice gambler, and you should be prepared.

Setting a unit size

After you have determined the size of your overall bankroll, it’s time to set a unit size. This should be a percentage of your overall bankroll. A unit generally should be between 1% and 3% of your bankroll.

If you want to be riskier or have a smaller bankroll, it’s a good idea to be closer to 3% for your unit size. On the other hand, if you want to be a more conservative gambler or have a larger bankroll, it’s better to have your units set at 1% of your total bankroll.

Understanding unit sizing

Just because you have set your unit size as a certain number does not mean that you need to stick to that for every bet. Setting your unit size is only the first step in your betting strategy. Your bet size can change depending on your confidence, which is what we’ll look at next.

Bankroll management systems in sports betting

To determine the best amount to bet for every selection, you should have a preset strategy that helps guide your decision-making process. Everyone works differently, and thus there are different strategies to fit different personalities.

Here are four of the most common sports betting bankroll management systems among gamblers. They cover a range of complexities, but picking one and following it will make you a stronger gambler.

Fixed unit

Fixed unit is the most basic of all the systems that are listed here. It’s good for beginners or people who struggle with self-control. Once you have figured out your unit size, in this system you bet that amount on every game.

It doesn’t matter your confidence level or the odds of the selection that you have chosen. This makes things simple for you as a gambler, as you don’t have to do much thinking or worry about making too many decisions. Instead, you can focus on which team to bet on and just bet the same size on every selection.

Potential return

Next up, the potential return system is a little more complex. It focuses more on the odds of the selection that you are making and gets you to size your bet based on this information.

For example, you can create bands of odds that each have a certain bet size associated with them. This might look like betting one unit on anything with odds of +150 or lower. Your next band could be betting half of a unit on anything with odds between +150 and +1000. Last but not least, anything over +1000 you might bet a quarter unit on.

This is a good example of how the potential return system might work. If you make wagers with a variety of odds, this could be the system for you.


Next up, the percentage system is a good option for many different levels of gamblers. It requires gamblers to constantly reassess their unit size after every bet.

For example, suppose your percentage system was to bet 1% on every game. You start with $1,000 and bet $10 on the first game. If you win and your bankroll goes to $1010, your next bet would be $10.10. If you lost, your next bet would be $9.90. This is a consistent system that helps your bankroll not slide too quickly in either direction.


The confidence system is the most complex of all the approaches we’ve listed here, but that can result in it being one of the most effective. One of the most common confidence systems is the Kelly criterion system.

This works by determining your confidence and then doing some math to find a suggested bet size. Find your potential winnings in decimal form and multiply that by your confidence percentage in the wager and then subtract the potential loss percentage. Divide that number by the decimal of your potential win and you will be returned a number that is the percentage of your bankroll you should be gambling.

It’s a bit confusing but with more practice, you will become adept at figuring out the recommended bet size.

Importance of tracking every bet you make

Tracking bets is another good habit that every gambler should do when betting on sports. It’s a good idea to keep a record of every single bet and list a few details of the bet such as the type, sport, outcome, and the profit or loss.

By keeping track of your bets, you can go back and analyze your decision-making to see in what areas you do well and in what areas you could improve. If you see that you are excellent in a certain area, it’s important to identify that so you can take advantage.

Tracking your bets will also give you a stronger idea of where your money is going and what is happening to it. This will allow you to make more educated bets and smarter decisions, two things that can help lead to more profit in the long run.

Adjust your unit size after withdrawals

When it’s time for you to withdraw from your bankroll, it’s important to make sure that you reflect those changes in your unit size. A common mistake that many novice gamblers make is keeping the same unit size after withdrawing and changing the size of their bankroll. This adds an increased level of risk, which is suboptimal for everyone.

Instead, your unit size should constantly reflect the reality of your bankroll at that moment. Thus, when you withdraw from your account, you should make sure to change your unit size, otherwise, you will be at a larger risk of losing your bankroll.

Remember to keep the percentage of your total bankroll in mind when making a unit size. This will help you stay consistent over time.

Discipline and bankroll management

Of course, none of this matters if you do not have the discipline to follow your bankroll management rules. It can be tough to stick to the system while you are on a losing streak and watching your bankroll dwindle, but those are the times when it’s most crucial.

The No. 1 mistake that beginner gamblers make is that they try to chase their losses. This involves constantly upping bet sizes in an attempt to make back the money that they have previously lost. It’s a terrible strategy that almost always ends with your bankroll destroyed.

Bankroll management rules keep that from happening and instead set you up to succeed. Despite this, it’s difficult to stick to them, as human nature will have you trying to feed your impulses and go for the big winner.

Do your best to find a system that works for you, as any system that you can stick to is better than none at all. All four that we listed above are strong choices, and one of them could be a fit for you.

Bankroll management overview

Overall, bankroll management is one of the most crucial parts of gambling, and finding a strategy that works for you is key. This should be one of the first steps you take before trying your hand at sports betting.

More important than having a bankroll management strategy is sticking to it. You can talk all day about your strategy, but if you don’t put your dollars where your mouth is, it will all be for nothing. Even just ignoring the plan for a few bets can completely change things, so try your best to be consistent with a strong bankroll management strategy.