Low Volume, High Volume and Bankroll Management
I have read almost every gambling book there is, sifted through most gambling forums, searched endlessly on Twitter over the years, and there’s very little useful information on betting volume and bankroll management.
There are a multitude of ways to approach these topics, but what they boil down to is simple. Let’s call them the five lessons of sports investing:
- Most will go broke at some point while betting on sports. It’s not a subject that’s fun or easy to digest. It’s much easier to discuss winning rather than losing. Let’s be clear. You never have to go broke, but you’ll need to be mentally capable of reigning in your emotions while betting.
- Everyone is different. Some have an ability to gamble huge sums, have tons of borrowing power and can see their edge in ways most aren’t capable of. Others are much more conservative in their approach and find it hard to swallow a losing streak of any kind. Temperament is important.
- Some gamble for recreation and some devote their life to winning. I am in the latter part of this group but most books and articles on these topics are aimed at recreational players and that’s frustrating.
- Confidence levels should, and often will, determine your bet size, bet volumes and betting patterns.
- Smart minds don’t often translate to winning results. Work ethic always trumps all. If you’re lazy in this endeavor and unwilling to work for your edge, please hang on to any current work you have.
This is easily the most overlooked aspect for many gamblers both good, bad, rich and poor. If you don’t have a handle on bankroll management, you will go bust time and time again.
I’ve seen so many gamblers go broke in my years that I am actually shocked when I see someone last more than a few years nowadays. We have all seen the guy who went on a magical run of positive variance. He couldn’t lose and was just unstoppable. That is until the next month, where he chased that feeling, doubled down and is now forever convinced he can win like that in every three-week period. The truth is, that stretch of easy winning included a lot of winners that were undeserved and it built a false confidence.
My goal these days, after 15 years of trial and error, is to never to get too high or too low. It’s not easy. There will be times when I find a seriously lost soul at a poker table, or a linesmaker who opens three points too high on every ACC game to start conference play. You make that money while it’s there but it’s not going to be there for long. Then you’re going to have to work your ass off to find a new edge and it won’t be as easy as the profits you just made.
I start every season with a goal. My bankroll is 100% separate from the other money I have. Please pay attention to that. If I have 150k to my name, I have to make a living off of this sum. At the same time, I have to be prepared for life. Things happen in life. Cars stop running, dogs get sick, parents get ill, children need clothes, etc. In other words, life happens.
God forbid I have a losing season and all 300 hours of preseason work and 40+ hours of regular season work were all just a big waste of time I’ll need something to pull myself up again. It’s up to you how much you believe you could live on and what money you hold aside for life.
I invest 1.25% of my bankroll on most bets I make early on in a season. I don’t implement the Kelly Criterion as it’s too aggressive for me personally. My edge will also shrink and balloon at different portions of every football season. I don’t bet 1.25% for every game. If I can find a strong edge, I have triple-checked everything, my confidence is through the roof, then I’m willing to go up to 2%.
2% sounds low right? It’s really not when you put things into perspective. I have noticed that when you are betting $1,500 a game and suddenly you have a few bets of almost double that amount, that laziness or a lack of attention to your normal bets starts to kick in.
If you are betting wild amounts compared to your bankroll size, I would ask that you take a personal inventory. I have found through the years that when someone is willing to risk more than a comfortable equivalent of their edge, it’s not because their edge is so high they felt it was warranted. It’s unfortunately an emotional decision and not a great +EV situation.
Some are playing too small. I have met my share of men and women who have the goods but just didn’t like putting too many chips in the middle, even when it was the perfect scenario. That’s again a personal choice. I would ask that you come up with a goal for your winnings. Take a look at the number over and over. What does the number represent? Would it change your life? You have to make sure this is worth it.
My goal every year is to top last year’s profit. I have to justify the work I do. I have to live a better lifestyle than the tortured middle school science teacher and social worker who raised me. I promised them that a long time ago. Figure out what you want and what you have to risk to get there.
Low Volume Betting
I was a very low volume bettor when I began. I would put at least 30 minutes into all 50 games each week and talk myself out of great bets because I was looking for that LOCK. There is no such thing. There are bad lines and better than normal opportunities, but anyone telling you they have found the golden ticket is more likely doing so to convince themselves of it.
I’d spend 20 hours triple-checking my numbers, looking at every angle and trend, to bet only three games a week. This was actually cruel to my own psyche. The importance of my weeks’ worth of part-time work boiled down to six halves played by 20-year olds. If I lost I would then further torture myself by tallying up what my record would have been if I had bet all of the games I wanted to. I was betting too few games, for more than I should have been, and spinning my wheels endlessly in place by doing so.
That’s not to say that it can’t be done and many have had great success pinpointing no more than a handful of games a week. God bless them. If you only find two bets a week of college football with sides, moneylines, totals, team totals, 1st halves, 2nd halves and a forever-changing futures board, and you are putting in a ton of effort, I personally think you are not maximizing your profit potential. Again, it’s a personal choice and that’s the prerogative for some.
High Volume Betting
I will at some point have a wager on more than half of the games played on a Saturday board this season. It’s all 100% confidence-based though. If I have good equity on closing lines, I am running normal variance ranges and have a clear edge, I want to take advantage of those moments – remember they’re fleeting.
I don’t believe in lowering betting volume while there is an edge to be had. I do believe in looking at a card and maybe not feeling as confident as normal. In this case, I will lower my bet size and hold out hope for better opportunities in the future. Don’t force things, but you also need to balance that against maximizing your edge.
If you have any additional questions or want to discuss your bankroll methods, please feel free to contact me @walls_edward on Twitter. I find the subject under-discussed, under-utilized and absolutely fascinating.