I said last year that this would be the most important column for those that want to win and I say it again this year because I think it is. I apologize to those that have read this material before, but good money management is what separates the pros from novice bettors. Money management theories and systems abound but I have yet to see any proof that any of them really work. What I do know is there are a lot of bad money management strategies to avoid and that is what I will cover today. Our book managers actually asked me not to write this column last year!
Here is the key point I want you to understand – Poor money management generates more losses for players than bad handicapping. Even the worst bettors seldom lose more than 55% of their picks. The easiest way to explain is to show a few examples. Take a look at the following four scenarios and hopefully you won’t recognize any of these habits as yours.
Scenario A – Raising your bet amounts. Alan is a $100 player. He typically plays half a dozen or so games a week and is a dedicated handicapper. The first week he makes 5 wagers of $110 to win $100 and goes 4-1. For the week, he has made a profit of $290 (4 wins of $100 and 1 loss of $110), a great week by any standard. He now thinks his handicapping skills are so sharp that he can beat the house on any week and now raises his plays to $200. In the second week he makes 6 bets of $220 to win $200 and goes 2-4. For the week he has lost $480 (2 wins of $200 and 4 losses of $220). So overall, Alan has lost $190 despite going 6-5 overall (54.5%). If he had simply played $110 on all 11 games he would have made $50 in profit. Raising the size of your plays after a short-term winning period will benefit the House greatly if and when things even out.
Scenario B – Lowering your bet amounts. Bill is also a $100 player but has a slightly smaller bankroll than Alan. He makes 6 plays of $110 and goes 2-4 for a loss of $240 (2 wins of $100 and 4 losses of $110). His bankroll is now too small to be able to play $100 a game so in the second week he only makes 5 plays of $55 to win $50 each. This week he wins 4 of the 5 and makes $145 (4 wins of $50 and 1 loss of $55). He now has the same overall winning record as Alan (6-5) but is down $95 anyway. Lowering the size of your plays after a short-term losing period or not having enough funds to make your plays will also benefit the books when your turn to win comes.
Scenario C – Risking your balance. Charlie likes to take big risks for big rewards. He posts up $110 and risks it all on a single game Saturday night, which he wins. His balance is now $210 and he risks it all on a Sunday 1pm game, which he also wins to bring his balance to just over $400. Feeling lucky, he puts the whole amount on a 4pm game and wins again to get his balance to an incredible $765 (and change) in less than a day. Then, he decides to go for the big win and risks the whole amount again on the Sunday night game, which he loses. Charlie has now lost $110 despite going 3-1. Wagering $110 for each of the four games would have yielded a profit of $190. Remember books have a 50/50 chance of wiping you out when you put all your action on any one game and those odds will catch up with you eventually.
Scenario D – Chasing your losses. David has a bankroll of $1000. He wagers $110 on a game and loses. He is frustrated at losing the money and wants to win it back so he wagers $121 (to win $110) on a second game and loses as well. He is now down $231 and is really frustrated. Thinking he can’t lose 3 in a row, he wagers $254.10 (to win $231) and loses yet again. He has now lost $485.10 and even a win with his remaining balance of $514.90 won’t get him back to even but he puts it all in play on another game hoping to get it close (it would be a win of $468.09). He loses the fourth game and has busted out. Losing streaks will happen to every player every year no matter how good they are and players that chase losses will not last for long.
Many books/sites that discuss money management will tell you to only wager 2-5% of your bankroll on any one play. I cannot say what the magic number is and I certainly do not have any magic formulas for picking winners or telling you how much to bet. However, it is very clear to me after years and years of watching some players win consistently and others lose consistently that these are the four worst traps to avoid. Keep your bets to reasonable, affordable and consistent amounts and your bankroll will last a long time. Even more importantly, if you can pick more than 52.4% winners, you will come out ahead of the book in the long run and that is the only time frame that matters!
Good money management will not make you a winner, that still has to come from choosing the right teams, but it sure will help your bankroll last. I had a lot of very nice emails from players who took this advice last season. Some said they won money over the course of the season for the first time but most just said it was the first time they had a plan, and that their money lasted way longer last year than in years prior.
Now, let me recap the weekend. College football was a little less exciting than the past few weekends. The games were more balanced and the action more spread out through all games than we have seen yet this season. On Thursday, the bettors got off to a good start with a moderate win on Nebraska (-11.5) over S. Mississippi. Saturday started very well with Kentucky (+11.5) nearly upsetting heavily bet Florida and Michigan State (+7) upsetting Iowa. Players had a good run after that. Arkansas was down 31-10 to Alabama and came all the way back to win (and cover the 2.5 points) 34-31 in OT. That was the player’s biggest win and the House’s toughest loss. Bettors also won with LSU (-15.5 @ Miss St), Kansas (+9.5 vs. Missouri), and Minnesota (-1.5 @ Penn St.). The House had a little luck at the end of the night when Arizona (+14.5) covered against TCU. The House did get a few smaller decisions and managed to eke out an OK day.
Sunday during the day was actually pretty good except for the KC/Baltimore game. The public was all over the Chiefs -3 so the late Kickoff return and a 17-10 KC win was a great one for bettors! Only three other games had any real decisions. Bettors were on Washington -3 vs. New England but had to settle for a Push. Pittsburgh -3 was a popular play and looked like a winner early, but the Titans came back for a big win that was good for the House. Denver -12 was the only other team bet heavily during the day so the Lions cover was good for books. Other than that, most games were quite evenly balanced, until Sunday night.
For Sunday night, the betting was all Indianapolis until about 20 minutes to kick-off. Then the news broke that Edgerrin James was out and the Saints money started to pour in. Good thing for us, or that would have been a really bad game. As it was, bettors did well with the Colts and the Over, but not enough to overcome the vig of a busy NFL Sunday.
For Monday Night, Green Bay was heavily bet all week and we had to be very aggressive with the line to keep the action inside our limits. The Packers big win got players back all their losses from Sunday and a little more.
I’ll be back next week with a look at First Half betting.
The enjoyment of your wagering experience with us is my number one priority. Should you have any questions, concerns, or comments, I will personally ensure you are satisfied with your Bodog experience.
Good luck with your wagers!
I always welcome comments, questions and suggestions via email at rob@Bodog.com
Rob Gillespie is President of Bodog Sportsbook & Casino