With football season just around the corner, now is the time to take stock of the state of your bankroll and your money management strategies. You've probably heard it a hundred times, but that's only because it's true - good money management is the single biggest factor in long term betting success. You can't win a bet if you can't afford to make it, and if you bet too much on games you're eventually going to go broke. There are a million different places to read about the basics of money management, so I will leave that to you. While you are thinking about how you will manage your money, though, there are some basic central questions you need to ask yourself. Here are six:
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What is your goal? - This is crucial. If your goal is to have some fun, win a few games, and have something to talk about when you are watching the games and drinking beers with the boys then your strategy will be very different than if you are looking to slowly build your bankroll with little risk in order to supplement your income. The former bettor will be willing to take many more risks than the latter, and will be far less upset if their bankroll disappears during the season. An effective money management strategy only works if you stick to it, and you'll only stick with it if it makes sense with your goals and dreams.
How many games are you looking to bet? - How much action you want will determine how much money you need to have on hand for your betting. Some people are happy just to bet the one or two games each weekend that they think they have the biggest edge in. Others will want to have a bet down on five or ten games on Saturday and almost as many on Sunday. Depending on the size of the bets, of course, the latter approach probably has more risk involved than the former. That needs to be reflected in the size of the bankroll and the way it is managed.
How much can you afford to lose? - If you are gambling with your rent money or your food money then you are a total moron. When you are crafting your money management strategy you have to put your positive thoughts aside for a second and pretend that you are going to lose your whole bankroll. That's a possibility, and you need to make sure that your life isn't going to end if it does happen. If you are overextended with your bankroll and are betting more than you should then you aren't going to be at your best mentally, and that will show in your results.
What kind of bets do you make? - If you like to bet heavy favorites and generally conservative plays then you aren't going to enjoy big payoffs, but you aren't likely to go a long time between wins. If you prefer heavy longshots, though, then you'll be well rewarded when you do win, but you have to be able to weather the inevitable long losing streaks that you will face. You need to know what kind of bets you intend to make most often so you can be sure to have a bankroll that is appropriate.
How often do you win? - If there is a trait shared by a large majority of sports bettors it is that they overestimate their skills. Most assume that they have a higher winning percentage than they actually do. You need to make sure that you are basing your bankroll decisions on actual reality and not what you wish reality is. That means that it is crucial to keep good records, and to know how you are doing. If you aren't keeping strong records then now is a good time to start - use the preseason to set up a simple spreadsheet that will tell you exactly how you are doing. Having realistic information about your performance will allow you to compensate for that performance in your money management, and it will give you the best possible chance of success.
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Where are you going to be betting? - This is especially important for people who are betting online. You can make a big difference to your results if you are shopping around for the best lines and the best prices. That means, though, that you need to have money with several different books, and you need to either have enough in each place to weather any downturns or a method in place to quickly get the money there when you need it. This adds an extra layer of complexity to your money management, and you need to be able to effectively manage the location of your funds if you want to win over the long term.