Sports Betting Bankroll Management Guide

When gambling the end goal is always the same: to make a profit. Many different factors affect your gambling experience but perhaps the most important is keeping track of your money and your profits.

Your bankroll management habits will determine how successful you are when gambling, and making sure that you understand how to track your bankroll as well as using healthy habits is crucial.

Over the long run, understanding how your bankroll functions and being able to manipulate it properly can mean the difference between making money and losing money. Since profit is the name of the game, bankroll management should be an area that every gambler studies extensively and has a strong understanding of.

Why is bankroll management important?

Bankroll management is needed so that you can keep track of your money. Without bankroll management, gamblers are more likely to go on tilt and chase their losses, both attitudes that result in losing money.

By keeping track of your money and sizing your bets properly, you maximize your potential chance at profit. Without learning it, you’re extremely likely to lose your entire bankroll quickly and end your gambling days early.

To make sure that you have the most exciting time gambling, make sure to read this guide so that you become knowledgeable on the topic of bankroll management.

How much should you bet on each game?

When making a wager, a common question every gambler asks themselves is: How much should they be placed on each game? This is the golden question and for far too many people just place their bets randomly and without any reason or method.

If you are one of these people who just bet randomly, or perhaps by “feel”, worry not as by the end of this guide you will be able to put together a plan that works for you.

When deciding how much to bet on each game, it’s important to come up with a system that allows you to understand why you are betting your bet size every game. To do this, we should make a system that allows us to create bet sizes based on factors such as confidence and risk.

There are a few different common systems that we will dive into below but the key point is that everyone is different and the most important thing is that you find a system that works for you and that you can stick to.

To create these bankroll management systems, we need to introduce the concepts of units. Units are a concept that you will see everywhere in the gambling industry and must be understood to be a strong gambler.

Bet units

Bet units are a way of standardizing gambling for everyone so gamblers can discuss bet confidence in an easy way. For example, let’s say that one person has a bankroll of $5,000 while another person has a bankroll of $50. If the person with the larger bankroll said that they were betting $25 on a game, that would seem like a huge bet to the person with the smaller bankroll and it would imply that the gambler was confident.

On the other hand, if the person with the smaller bankroll said that they were betting $25, this wouldn’t seem like very much to the person with the larger bankroll and they might assume that the original gambler is not very confident in their bet, even though in reality it’s half of their total bankroll.

To avoid all of this confusion, gamblers use units to discuss their bet sizes. A unit is your standard bet, thus if you usually bet $20 on every game that would be your unit. The dollar amounts behind units are different for everyone.

Your unit size should be based upon your bankroll size and that’s something that we’ll get into below.

Overall bankroll size

Your bankroll size is the largest determinant in your unit size and is a key factor in your gambling experience. You should have a set amount of money put to the side for your bankroll. In other words, there should be no guessing as to what your bankroll size is and it should be money that you are comfortable losing.

Once you have figured out your total bankroll size, it’s time to set unit size.

Setting a unit size

Setting a unit size is important as it ensures that you don’t run through your bankroll too quickly and have plenty of time to continue to gamble and make a profit. It’s generally recommended that your unit size be between 1-3% of your total bankroll.

While this may seem low, it’s the best thing for your bankroll and means that any losses will be much less harmful to your total bankroll.

Understanding unit sizing

After choosing your unit size, it’s important to develop a strategy for unit sizing in your bets. If you’re more confident in a certain bet you’re not going to want to bet the same as you would on a long-shot bet.

It’s a good idea to develop a system that makes it easy to understand how much you should bet on each game depending on confidence. For example, many could use a 1-2-3 system where depending on their confidence they bet 1,2, or 3 units.

Here are some of the most common bankroll strategies that people find useful. Perhaps you’ll find one that works for you.

Best strategies for bankroll management

Here are four common bankroll management strategies that are used by gamblers all around the world.

1. Fixed unit

This system is good for those who may struggle with controlling their impulses and want an easy to follow methodology that makes bet sizing easy.

The fixed unit system means that on every game you place exactly one unit, no matter your confidence or the odds of the contest at hand. This means that the potential maximum returns may be slightly lower than other systems, but it also limits your downside and can keep you gambling for longer, be it sports betting or at the gaming tables.

2. Percentage

A percentage system is also a good option for many and it works a little differently than what has been mentioned before. It treats every unit as a percentage of your total bankroll instead of a fixed dollar amount and thus on winning streaks your bet size will be increasing slightly and on losing streaks it will be decreasing.

This is good as it means if you get hot your profits can add up in a hurry, but it also limits the potential downside that many losses in a row could bring. For example, let’s say your percentage of choice was 1% and your bankroll was $1,000. Your first bet is $10 and if you are returned $10, your new bankroll is $1,010 and your new bet size is $10.10.

3. Potential return

A potential return model takes into large account the odds of any contest and then gets you to size your bets off this information. As an example, let’s say you develop a system where you’re going to have three different confidence levels based on the odds.

Your first level might be for anything that has odds with a minus sign (-) in front of them, or all favorites. For those contests, you decide that you will bet one unit. Your next level, level two, might be for contests with odds between +100 and +350. For that level, you will bet 0.5 units. Your third level could be anything above +350 and you will be 0.25 units. This would be an example of the potential return system.

4. Confidence

Last but not least, the confidence bankroll system is a good one if you’re willing to do a little more work. The Kelly Criterion model is the classic confidence system and it works like this.

Find your potential win in decimal and multiply it 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 sounds confusing but after going through the formula a few times it will become much easier. Kelly Criterion betting may be the most effective, though it’s done best with a model to predict the confidence levels.

Keeping track of your wins and losses

Keeping track of your bets is another key part of bankroll management and an important habit for any gambler. Keeping a history of your bets will allow you to see where you are winning and where you are struggling, helping you refine your strategy.

Keeping track of bets may be the most profitable habit for gambling as it gives you a record of where your money is going. You should review these numbers often so you can determine what bet types you do best and then you can adjust future confidence levels.

For example, if you are very strong at a certain prop bet or perhaps very good at predicting futures, it’s a good idea to take a note of that and perhaps up your units on those bets.

Also, you should pay attention to which sports you do best in. Take note of these sports and keep track of your bets so you can bet more on them. By the same way of thinking, you should avoid sports that you struggle with. This should form a key part of your overall sports betting bankroll management strategy.

Adjusting unit sizes after withdrawals

Withdrawing money from your bankroll is a great feeling but it’s important to know what to do with your bet sizes after that happens. Whenever you withdraw from your bankroll, no matter if it’s an online account or not, you should adjust your bet sizes accordingly.

This means re-calculating unit sizes and taking note of the withdrawal in the records that you keep. You shouldn’t withdraw from your bankroll and keep the same unit sizes as the percentage will now be much larger.

Thus, take the time to do the work and ensure that your bankroll and unit sizes are recalibrated and ready to go moving forward.

Remember to stick to your bankroll management rules

The importance of sticking to your bankroll management rules cannot be overstated. Chasing losses is a common strategy for new gamblers who have no discipline or system and it is the worst idea. It almost always results in a bankroll ending up at zero.

While it may take some self-control sometimes to stick to your bankroll management system, remember that it is a tool to help you and that without it, gambling would be much harder. By sticking to the system, you maximize your potential profits and at the end of the day, that is what matters.


Overall, this guide covered everything there is to know about bankroll management and now you have the tools to set yourself up for success. Hopefully, this clarified what a unit is and how to calculate one. We also outlined a couple of different strategies that you will want to consider when it comes to gambling your hard-earned money.

Remember that the most important thing with a gambling strategy is that you follow it so make sure you select something that works for you. Whether that’s a more aggressive strategy or a more conservative one, pick something that you’ll stick with.

Once you’ve got it down, don’t be afraid to tinker with your strategy to try to improve it. Maybe you find yourself getting careless in certain bet types and want to restrict your bet sizes on those bets? Just create a new rule in your betting system and then you’ll be good to go.

Bankroll management is at the heart of every profitable gambler and making sure that you are sizing your bets properly, as well as keeping track of them is key. With this new information, you are sure to see your profitability rise and experience more success in your gambling endeavors.