Sportsbooks are built because they win money; it is as simple as that. Sports betting doesn’t need to be a losing proposition for everyone who does it though. If you are stuck in the monotony of the same losing pattern when gambling, it isn’t just a cloud of bad luck following you. Many other factors may be coming into play. Recreational and professional bettors make egregious errors, both large and small daily. Small errors can turn into more substantial errors, and more substantial errors can turn into a complete loss of funds. Your goal is to minimize these mistakes as much as you can. Recognizing these potential land-mines already puts you ahead of most, but if you are not able to fix the majority of these gambling faux pas, I can promise you that betting will never be anything but an endless pit of despair, both psychologically and financially. The #1 mistake made by gamblers is a lack of bankroll management, so let’s start there.
Bankroll management is difficult to understand for some. Before we start on this though, there is one important message I need to stress. Everyday life money and betting bankroll are two entirely separate things, and it needs to be kept as such. Don’t ever bet money you can’t afford to lose.
Sports betting when done correctly is a grind. It is not a get rich quick scheme. It is not those clips shown in movies of someone starting with $100 and leaving the casino with $10,000 a couple of hours later. When done correctly, it is a portfolio built through 1000’s and 1000’s of wagers. No one wager should EVER make or break you. A general rule of thumb is that no more than 2% of your bankroll should be risked on any one bet. While this is ordinarily a decent benchmark rule, I don’t necessarily think it is one that is concrete across the board. The more significant your bankroll is, the more you should be sticking to something along those lines of 1-2%, but small bankrolls do allow a bit more speculative maneuverability. Grinding with a $100 bankroll, betting $2 per game is just never going to get you anywhere. For these more rare occasions, taking shots is ok because the amount that will be gambled isn’t life-changing. Essentially, the larger the bankroll, the more careful you need to be and the smaller the bankroll, the more you can branch out a little. I’d advise anyone thinking about taking sports betting seriously to invest a bit of money and start with a larger amount. Start with a couple $1,000+ if possible. Remember, you aren’t risking all that money at once. A $3,000 bankroll should technically make a unit bet $30. Not all that much in reality.
What is a unit?
A unit is another very misunderstood term, that affects bankroll management in the process when not done correctly. A lot of touts who sell their picks will list a play that sounds something like this, “1000 Unit Play of the Year!” All this is trying to do is scam someone into buying his or her pick. There is no such thing as a 1000 unit play. It is click-bait, it is silly, and it is irresponsible.
One of the most commons errors I see bettors make is this:
1 Unit= $10 bet
2 Units=$20 bet
5 Units=$50 bet
No play should be 5x the amount of another play. Part of your edge in betting is being able to find advantages, and in those advantages, you should be risking more but there are ways of going about it. I find that my largest play should be slightly less than double of what my smallest play is. I personally use this strategy:
$1000 Bankroll $4000 Bankroll $10,000 Bankroll
1 Unit= $10 1 Unit= $40 1 Unit= $100
1.25 Units= $12.50 1.25 Units= $50 1.25 Units= $125
1.50 Units= $15 1.50 Units= $60 1.50 Units= $150
1.75 Units= $17.50 1.75 Units= $70 1.75 Units= $175
Notice how even though my bankroll in each example is different, the units remain the same. The bet amount varies, but the same percentage of the bankroll is bet in each instance. On rare “Play of the Year” type wagers, I will go 2x on a play. Meaning I will bet my 1 unit amount twice. $20 bet on a $1000 bankroll, $80 bet on a $4000 bankroll, and a $200 bet on a $10,000 bankroll.
Golf Betting Card Construction:
I use the concepts above for all sports. Golf is a little trickier because of the outright and head-to-head components each tournament. There are other sports like tennis etc., that would fall into this same example, but the only thing that changes though would be how to handle outright futures.
How I build my Card:
My head-to-head bets every golf tournament are going to be the meat and potatoes of my week. I find value where I think there is some and will bet accordingly.
Last weeks Head to Head Betting card looked like this for me:
Day -140 over Tiger
1.96 Units to win 1.40 Units
Woodland -130 over Reed
1.30 Units to win 1 Unit
Finau +105 over Harman
1.20 Units to win 1.26 Units
Hadley -110 over Lingmerth
1.76 Units to win 1.6 Units
I am doing full, standard plus unit wagers, like I would in any other sport.
The most prominent discrepancy of the card comes when I deal with outright picks to win the tournament. Picking outright winners is hard and can be very draining to the bankroll if not done correctly. You shouldn’t be placing a full unit on each golfer, and you shouldn’t be altering your win amounts drastically.
My Outright card last week looked like this:
Bonus Bomb- Kevin Tway 200/1
Saturday Night add of Justin Rose 8/1-
For the time being, I will ignore the Saturday night add of Justin Rose, but when I construct my card for the start of Thursday, I am trying to be around one total unit risked. If one unit for me were $100, it would look something like this:
Finau $25 to win $875
Cantlay $23 to win $805
Woodland $16 to win $800
Vegas $13.50 to win $810
Uihlein $8.75 to win $700
Hadley $7 to win $700
Tway $3.50 to win $700
Total Risk: $96.75
Risking: .9675 Units
For starters, notice how we don’t have glaring gaps between win totals. There are slight gaps to account for whom I liked more, but for the most part, I am trying to leave myself a clean hedge if I decide to hedge on Sunday.
Depending on how the card is shaping up Friday and Saturday night, I might decide to add more “runners” into the mix also. Meaning, I may add another player or two onto the betting card. This will allow me to get a player I think might make a run on Saturday or Sunday at a higher price and it will give me an opportunity where I don’t have to hedge during Sunday’s round. Saturday night of this instance I had Woodland and Finau both in the top-six. Looking down the card, Justin Rose was 8/1 to win. I decided to add him on. When I add someone on, I am usually doing so to try and win half of what my original win amounts were on other players. For this case, I would bet $50 to win $400. Roughly half of my Finau and Woodland win totals.
Unfortunately, none of Rose, Finau, or Woodland won in this example.
Leaving me down:
Negative -1.4675 Units on futures but still up +5.26 units on my head-to-heads.
Each sport will have a separate quirk that will set it apart from another but remember the general strategy remains the same still. Stay disciplined, stay focused and most importantly go into each bet with a thought out plan. Tilt betting is a sure-fire way to deplete the bankroll quickly. Every bet should be strategically thought out. Find your edges and attack with purpose.
Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @teeoffsports