Most sports bettors believe that selecting the winning team (versus the
pointspread) is the most important aspect to successful sports wagering. While
this is the most difficult factor, it is only third in the order of importance.
The top two components to long term profits are money management and shopping
for line value. These are the two factors which professional bettors understand
and amateurs overlook.
Shopping for Line Value
Shopping for line value simply means obtaining the best possible pointspread (or
odds) on every wager you make. You must have two or more betting outlets in
order to accomplish this feat. Today, there are numerous offshore betting
facilities which provide the astute player the chance to obtain multiple lines
that often differ by as much as 1 to 2 points on the same game. An amateur feels
that shopping for these 1 point differences is too much of a hassle. A
professional realizes that these extra points can often make the difference
between a winning/losing week, month, or season. This can be demonstrated with a
very simple example. If you randomly pick 100 games you should theoretically win
50 and lose 50 games. Due to the 10% vigorish on each losing wager, you would be
down -5.0 net games. However, assume that 5 of the losses were by just a 1/2
point. Just taking the time to shop for a better line of 1 point, you could turn
a 50-50 record into a 55-45 record for a profit of +5.5 units. This is a
turnaround of +10.5 units just by taking the time to obtain an extra line or
two! For a $100 player, this is a turn-around of over +$1,000 for the season,
and with no handicapping factored in at all! It is amazing that people will shop
to find better deals on TV’s, VCR’s, and other items, yet will not bother to
find a better price when making a $100, $500, or even $1,000 wager. Shopping for
line value is a major factor that separates long term winners from losers.
Money management is the single most important factor in successful sports
betting. It is easy for the winners, yet difficult for losers. Money management
is not complicated and the entire process is completed before the season even
begins. The amount you wager on each game is determined by the size of your
bankroll, and nothing else. It is NOT determined by how lucky you feel, or if
you have extra cash on hand, or if you lost the previous day. This is how an
amateur plays. A seasoned professional wagers a predetermined, fixed amount on
A player’s bankroll is an amount of money which is set aside for wagering, and
nothing else. It is NOT rent money. It is NOT food money. It is NOT money used
to pay the bills. In fact, if you were to lose your entire bankroll, it should
not affect your style of living… it is RISK CAPITAL. Investing in sports is the
same as investing in the stock market. You must take a long-term approach and be
able to withstand the inevitable hot and cold streaks.
Now that you have set aside an amount for risk capital and established a
bankroll, you need to figure your average wager size. It should be anywhere
between 2% to 4% of your total starting bankroll. This means your bankroll will
consist of roughly 25 to 50 units. Each normal wager is one unit. A $100 player
needs a bankroll of $2,500 to $5,000. A $300 player needs around a $10,000
bankroll, while a $500 player’s bankroll is approximately $15,000 to $20,000.
The bottom line is that your bankroll, and nothing else, determines your average
There are two options when it comes to playing each game. Some people prefer to
play the same amount (exactly 1 unit) on every game. The other option is to play
slightly more on the strongest games, such as 1.5 to 2 units. However, under no
circumstances should more than 2 betting units ever be risked on a single game.
There are too many unpredictable factors that decide games and there is no such
thing as a “sure thing”. The majority of your selections should be 1 unit
selections. These are your long-term bread and butter plays.
Successful money management requires discipline. It is important to establish
your bankroll and plan your average bet size before the season begins. This will
help prevent random emotional betting, such as doubling up when you’re behind or
loading up on a late night television game. Many TV games do not provide solid
investment opportunities, however most bettors do enjoy wagering on games they
can watch on television. Establishing a “fun bet” can help protect your
bankroll, while still allowing you to wager on the big game. A “fun bet” is
around 10% of your normal play, and should be used for games you plan on
watching, yet are not strong enough to be regular plays. A $300 to $500 player
would establish a “fun bet” of $30 to $50. This allows you to enjoy wagering on
the big TV games, while protecting your long term bankroll and profits.
The Bottom Line
There are three mandatory components which will make your sports betting a
profitable and enjoyable form of investment. A legitimate sports service can
only provide one-third of the equation, which is solid handicapping and winning
selections. The other two-thirds, shopping for line value and money management,
is the player’s responsibility. The combination of all three factors will create
a lucrative, long-term profit.