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What is Bankroll Management in Betting and How it Works

Dave Kuzio
Fact checked by: Jim Knight
Publish Date: 08.12.2023

Bankroll management isn’t the most glamorous subject in sports betting, but it’s an essential tool for smart wagering. The best handicappers aren’t distinguished solely by their ability to predict outcomes; they also excel in properly managing their bankrolls.

The core of bankroll management is to put together a sum intended for gambling. That’s the amount of money you’re prepared to lose over a period of time. Most of the strategies found in betting guides suggest that each bet amount should be a specific percentage of your bankroll. Read on for a detailed breakdown.

How Much Should You Wager on Each Game?

The general rule of thumb for experienced sports bettors is to risk no more than 1-2% of their bankroll in a single bet. This percentage may seem insufficient at the beginning, but it will help you gradually learn and understand the dynamics of betting.

So, if your bankroll is €1,000, you should start with €10 – €20 on a single bet. You can increase the percentage to 5%, keeping in mind that everything beyond that is too risky. To keep your bankroll fresh, we suggest finding a middle ground and freezing your bet on 2.5% of your bankroll.

We cannot stress enough how important it is to avoid putting an entire deposit into a single bet in the hope of building up a bankroll.

Sports Betting Units Explained

A sports betting unit is the amount of money that a sports bettor chooses to wager on any given bet, displayed as 1u. One unit might be €20 for one bettor and €200 for another, all depending on their bankroll. Therefore, it’s smarter to discuss in units than in monetary value.

By keeping track of the units you have or have earned, your budget will be safe for as long as you wager, regardless of the bankroll you had at the beginning.Units are useful to set aside the monetary value of the bet in sports betting.

As a way to show stronger confidence in a certain wager, bettors may decide to make a multi-unit bet, meaning to place an x-unit wager in a bet. This strategy may not pay off, but you can use it occasionally if you’re confident that your bet can be successful.

Bankroll Management Strategies

To answer, “What is bankroll management?”, we’ll look at some common strategies. It goes without saying that according to most betting guides, it’s not compulsory to use the same strategy of 1u for 1 bet forever. Several bankroll management strategies can safeguard your funds in the long run, allowing you to open up your bankroll and improve your overall betting experience.

Here are the four most common strategies you may use at the best betting sites online.

The Flat Betting Model

This strategy takes discipline and consistency in placing wagers. You should shelve your confidence and emotions when using this strategy.

In flat betting, you place the same unit on every bet. If you decide your unit to be 1% of your bankroll, you place the same wager every time you bet. Since you’re betting a small percentage of your bankroll, expect a slow but steady increase in your wallet if you keep hitting.

This strategy can make your position stable while keeping you in a game long-term.

The Percentage Model

This model is similar to the flat betting model but here you set your wager as a percentage of your actual bankroll.

Let’s say you decide to wager 2.5% of your bankroll on every bet. If your bankroll is €1,000, your first bet will be €25, which is exactly 2.5%.

If you have a winning bet, your bankroll will increase to €1,025, and the 2.5% of it is €25.62. This strategy requests you set your wager according to your bankroll every time you place a bet. Below, you’ll see a table that shows how your bets should increase after four consecutive wins with 2.5% and 3% bets.

Bankroll2.5% Bet3% Bet

The good thing about this bankroll management in betting is you can take advantage of your winning bets but it could be harder to make up a loss since the decreased bankroll will also naturally decrease your wager.

The Confidence Model

The confidence model represents a more aggressive approach to your betting bankroll management where you wager more units if you think that the bet has a higher chance of being successful.

It’s best to create a unit betting system from one to three units, and place each number of units depending on your confidence in the bet. For example, if there are two games on the night, and you’re certain one of them is going to hit, that one deserves a more confident approach of two or three units. On the other hand, if your second bet is a bit shaky but you still wish to play it, keep it at one unit.

The important thing is to track all your bets in a spreadsheet to determine the outcomes of the confidence betting strategy.

Keep in mind, larger bets present an opportunity for cash outs. Betting a higher percentage of your bankroll is always a risk, but if you’re able to follow the bet while the game is happening, you can react and cash out in time. Check out this guide to cash out in betting before you start betting confidently.

The Kelly Criterion Model

The Kelly Criterion strategy is for those who need maths to prove their bets. Those who aren’t betting using their heart, but their brain. This strategy uses a probability-based formula to set your bet: f = (bp-q)/b


  • f is the fraction of your bankroll intended for wagering
  • p is the probability of a win
  • q is the probability of a loss
  • b is the decimal odds of your bet (e.g. -110 odds converted into decimal odds is 1.91)

Let’s explain this by an example: If you estimate that the bet has a 60% probability of winning, it consequently means that it has a 40% probability of losing (p=0.6, q=0.4). In the case explained above, b=1.91.

So, to get the amount you should bet based on the strategy, multiply your bet odds with the probability of winning, subtract the probability of loss, then divide everything with the odds. This will give you a number lower than 1. Multiplying that number by 100 will give you the percentage of your bankroll that you should put on this bet.

For the example above, you should wager 39% of your bankroll on this bet. These numbers can often be quite aggressive and depend entirely on your judgement of the probability of winning the bet.

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Tracking and ROI

Tracking your results is paramount regardless of which bankroll management strategy you use. To obtain the most accurate results, ensure that you calculate your return on investment (ROI). It’s important to state that betting is in no way a viable investment strategy with guaranteed returns.

Calculating your ROI is simple. Just divide your return from betting with the wagered amount, then multiply that number by 100.

So, if your return from betting is €200 while your wagered amount is €900, the return on investment will look like this:

200 divided by 900 is 0.22, which gives you 22.22% ROI once you finish the equation.

Be careful and stay consistent with your decisions because one emotional bet can wipe out all your winnings.

Getting Help for Poor Bankroll Management: Emotional Betting

You may think that managing your bankroll is quite a dull task, but your bankroll is your lifeline; without it, you’re out of the game.

While betting, emotions can sometimes lead to neglecting betting bankroll management. Losing everything at once may lead to very negative consequences, so it’s important to consider some psychological factors.

Dealing with Losing Streaks

Even the most experienced and disciplined bettors have faced a losing streak or have become too confident after a winning bet.

Down 50u by 11. P.M? The only thing that comes to mind is that you have enough time to win back your losses. This thought is a downward spiral and a good way to blow your entire bankroll.

Stay calm and positive. Tomorrow is another day to try again, and stay in the game throughout the season.

Gambling Addiction

As a result of various factors, some sports bettors develop gambling addictions, which can lead to negative real-world consequences such as debt and mental health issues.

A gambling addiction can have a direct impact on your lifestyle, family, relationship and work. If you think you are starting to make unreasonable decisions while betting and can’t control yourself while facing a losing streak, you can always ask for help online.

Responsible gambling tools on various websites include self-exclusion lists, deposit limits, and reality checks. These options help individuals control their gambling behaviour, offering a way to limit or completely block access to gambling services. Such tools are crucial for promoting safer gambling practices and preventing problem gambling.

Pros & Cons of Bankroll Management

  • Keeps you disciplined
  • Units avoid overspending
  • Easy to track wins/losses
  • Minimise emotional betting
  • Requires commitment

Bankroll Management Guide – Safe and Responsible Betting Choices

At the end of the day, sports betting should be fun, allowing you to spend time with your friends and watch a match together with some action on it.

To enjoy this activity longer, set your bankroll, pick a unit size, choose your strategy, take advantage of online bookmaker bonuses and, hopefully, win some money over time. The most important thing is to bet within your means and not create a bankroll you cannot afford to lose. Have fun and bet responsibly!

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Bankroll Management FAQ

➗ What is considered a good ROI in sports betting?

As most of the bankroll management guide suggests, a good ROI is a 5% increase on 3,000 bets.

🧑‍💼 How do I manage my bankroll in sports betting?

If you’re not a professional handicapper, set a bankroll you can afford to lose in the worst-case scenario. You should never make bets with the money intended for living.

💲 What is a healthy amount for betting?

The healthy amount for making bets is 1% of your bankroll. If you feel more confident about a certain bet, you may increase it by 3% – 5%.

📊 Which is the best strategy for proper bankroll management?

The flat model is the most straightforward strategy for properly managing your bankroll, but there is no strategy that is objectively best.

1️⃣ How much should 1 unit be in betting?

One unit refers to 1% of your bankroll. You can increase that to 2% but you should stay under 5% if you want to stay on the safe side.


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