Sports Gambling Fundamentals

Bankroll Management – If there is one piece of advice that I hope you take from this blog, it is this – determine what your sports gambling budget is for a given season, year, or other time period that makes sense.  This should be an amount of money that you can afford to lose without any major negative implications to your life. If losing your bankroll means you don’t make rent, then your bankroll is too high.  If losing your bankroll means that you have to put your wedding off for a year, well, that one really has to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Once you’ve figured out how much you’ve budgeted for sports betting, you can back into the “units” you should use for your bets.  A “unit” in betting parlance just means a bettors common wager and allows for comparisons across different bankrolls. For instance, a betting methodology may point to a very high expected value for a certain bet, indicating that bettors should wager three units on it.  For Bettor A, three units may be $30 while for Bettor B it may be $3,000. It doesn’t really matter, because “units” are all relative to their bankroll and other bets. Most sources will recommend using 1-2% of your bankroll as a unitt. If you find that you are running towards the end of your bankroll midway through the season, you can always decrease this measure to extend the life of your bankroll.  

Using Multiple Books – If there’s a second piece of advice that I hope you take from this blog, it is to get accounts with multiple sportsbooks.  Even if you were the most casual of players and not an aspiring sharp, using more than one book makes sense, as they often offer different lines.  So, if you like Dallas, you can shop around and find them at +125 instead of +115. What kind of money-hating weirdo wouldn’t want that extra 10% on his $100 wager?

But if you’ve read this far, there’s a good chance that you ARE an aspiring sharp, in which case, having accounts at multiple books is non-negotiable.  For starters, unless you find a book that is so inept that it creates middles in its own lines (and if you do, please private message me), you have to have at least two sportsbooks to engage in arbitrage.  Further, the more books you have access to, the more lines you have access to, and, therefore, the more opportunities you have to deploy every other sharp strategy you can dream up. It’s simple math, really.  Given that books only take the bets you make and don’t require you to make bets, there’s really only upside to being able to bet at more of them.

No BWIs – Perhaps this should go without saying, but betting while intoxicated is hell on your bankroll.  Nothing will undo the gains you’ve earned through months of being disciplined and sharp as a Ginsu World Class like one drunken rampage of live betting, exposing you to a bunch of bets with insanely high vig in rapid succession.  Your headache will go away. Your paying -120 to bet balls and strikes on every pitch of the last 3 innings of last night’s Mets game will not. That money is gone and wants nothing to do with you.

I should be clear that you don’t have to be drunk to bet without a clear head.  The phrase “on tilt” was originally used to describe poker players who, feeling the pressure, began making illogical and rash decisions.  My buddy in Vegas has repurposed the phrase to describe the state one enters when the gambling gods seem to favor the opposite side of a bet – a state of helplessness and desperation.  I know whenever I get a text from him that says simply “On tilt,” he’s probably getting ready to lose a wad of cash.

At the same time, none of this should be construed as a warning against drinking while watching games one has wagered on or getting emotional about bets one has already placed.  In fact, some of my best memories have been watch parties where much beer was consumed and many stomachs were knotted. Those butterflies in the stomach are, in truth, what most gamblers are paying the vig for.   

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