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 Money Management & Line Value

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 televisions, computers, 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

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 each contest.

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 bet size.

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.

Fun Bets

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.


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