If you are at all serious about sports betting then you know that money management is the key to long-term success. Or if you don't know that first hand then at least you have heard it from a hundred different places. I'm obviously not going to disagree with that bit of wisdom - it doesn't matter how many winners you can pick if you go broke doing it. The important point I do want to make, though, is that there isn't just one proper way to manage your money. I don't pretend to be an expert on the subject, but I have spent lots of time thinking and reading about it over the years. For what it's worth, here are five points that I believe to be crucial to any successful approach to sports betting money management:
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1. Know yourself - No money management system is going to work for you if it doesn't suit you. Think of times in your life when you have tried to be someone you're not--like to impress a girl, or to get or keep a job. Didn't end well, did it? If your money management approach doesn't take into consideration your risk tolerance, comfort with detail and complexity, goals and the like then you have little hope of sticking to it long term. If the approach forces you to bet more than you would want to comfortably, or doesn't give you enough action to keep you interested then it's worthless. You need to consider all those issues before you adopt an approach or develop one of your own.
2. Keep it simple - This is especially important if you like to bet on multiple games. The more complex your system is, the more chance there is of making a mistake. That mistake could force you to bet more than you should, and could cause a real impact on your bankroll. That's not the only advantage of simplicity, though. If you are faced with a few games you want to play and kickoff is fast approaching then you are going to be in a hurry. If your money management approach requires multiple calculations or similar considerations then it might seem like too much trouble, and you might just skip it. Any unreformed smoker knows that you are cooked as soon as you cheat once. The fewer calculations or objective considerations that are required for a system, the more likely most people will be to adhere to it over time.
3. Keep records well - No money management system can work properly if you don't know how you are doing. Whether you are betting a fixed portion of your bankroll on every game or using some other means of determining your unit size, you need to know how big your bankroll is. A lot of (unsuccessful) sports bettors use rough guesses and bad estimates to figure out where they are at. Doing that, though, makes it far too easy to make a mistake. Most often people will assume that they are doing better than they actually are, and therefore bet more than they should. Good record keeping not only avoids this, but it can help you to spot consistent mistakes you are making, or bets you make regularly but which aren't profitable. Once you identify those you can take steps to correct them and become a more successful bettor.
4. Be painfully conservative - This isn't the most glamorous tip, but it's perhaps the most important. Whatever approach you take to money management, a good general rule of thumb is to be more conservative than you might naturally want to be. That means that you should have a bigger bankroll than you think you need, bet a smaller portion of that bankroll on each game than you think you should, and generally avoid silly risks wherever you can. Successful betting isn't about proving what a hero you are when you win - it's about surviving the losses. You probably aren't going to win quite as many games as you wish you would, so that means you probably shouldn't bet quite as much as you think you should. That might seem contradictory to my first point, but it really isn't--you can and must still find a system that fits your needs and personality, you just have to make sure that it fits the more conservative elements of your personality as opposed to the reckless parts. Recklessness has absolutely no place in sports betting.
5. Accept losses - Newsflash - you are going to lose. Even the most successful football bettor loses four out of every 10 bets they make. Lots of people will tell you that that isn't the case for their system over the long term. Those people are lying. Sports betting is really hard. If it weren't then we wouldn't need money management at all. Regardless of what money management approach you use, you need to be braced for those losses, and make sure that you can stick to your approach and not panic when things inevitably go badly for you. If you are tempted to throw your system out the window as soon as you hit a slump then you are doomed.