This question is interesting because it depends on the context. Traditional usage would imply that a bankroll is the money invested into an operation of any kind. For example, someone could bankroll a business expansion as a silent partner. Or a whale (wealthy person) may bankroll a poker player for a significant portion of the winnings.
However, in this case, we are talking about sports betting. And bankroll management means the best practices that you put in place as not to lose your own investment that you have placed in several betting site accounts to minimize risk.
The Bankroll Itself
The bankroll is whatever amount of money you have on hand to fund your sports betting operation. There is no standard amount for a bankroll. Though typically, it’s going to be more than $100. I actually started with a $50 bankroll when I was first starting out and nickel and dimed my way up to a $100 bucks before feeling confident enough to invest more money.
The smaller the bankroll you start with, the less risk you undertake. That said, it also takes much longer to get to a point where the reward for the risks you take make you anywhere near a livable wage.
Bankroll Management Pro-Tip No. 1: 1-3 Percent Units
The first thing you need to know to effectively manage your bankroll is how much you should be wagering on any given game or match. The rule of thumb put in place by season pros is only betting between one and three percent of your total bankroll. You may have seen people betting $100 dollars on each game —heck, even American odds are designed to show that particular wager unit. For example -110 means you have to bet $110 to win $100 ( or a 100 dollar bet nets you in $90.91). Positive odds like +200 mean that for every $100 dollars you risk, you would return the number indicated plus your original wager. In this example, that would be $200 in winnings plus your initial $100 wager—but you should only be betting hundred-spots if you have at least a $3,300 bankroll. And that is at the top end, really to increase longevity betting one or two percent is the way to go, which means a $5k or $10k roll, to begin with for betting that number.
So, if you have $1K to start with, only bet between $10 and $30. This ensures you can survive multiple losses.
Bankroll Management Pro-Tip No. 2: Don’t Chase!
Long-term winning is all about maintaining discipline. Stick to your bankroll-specific betting unit size. If you have 2K and using a $25 wagering unit size, then stick to that even after a bad run. If you lose a bunch, don’t chase. It’s one of the quickest ways to kill your bankroll. When you are losing, there is a good chance that you are doing something wrong, or things have changed and you haven’t adjusted. Upping your bet size to try to catch back up is not going to change that and you’re likely to just end up losing more money.
Bankroll Management Pro-Tip No. 3: Never Bet Without An Edge!
A common misconception is that you are betting against the other team/player or even that you are betting against the rest of the public. This is exactly what the sportsbooks want you to think. It’s like a slight of hand that keeps you looking in the wrong direction. The only thing you are betting against is the betting line that you purchased from the sportsbook. In otherwords, the book sets lines that can move based on the amount of action they receive in a given direction. Your enemy is the betting line when and where you bought in. So, only place wagers against lines where you feel you have an advantage. Use everything at your disposal, from breaking news to power rating indexes to computer simulations to gather information on a line that you might think is soft. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of waiting. For example, you know that the public will probably pound the Kansas City Chiefs against a weaker team. So wait it out and see if the sports books adjust the line into a favorable position. Bottom line is if you have no clear and definitive edge against the betting line, don’t make a play against it. If you only reason is, “I think X team is going to cover that number …”, don’t make that bet.
As a sports bettor, you are entering into a war of attrition with the sportsbooks. Your goal should be long-term, sustained winning and that only happens if you properly manage your bankroll through disciplined practices.