One of the biggest differences between Joes and Pros is Bankroll management.

It’s one of the most significant single things that separates those sports bettors who have a winning year and those who go in the red, often before the half-way point.

So what are some tips on long term winning? How do you manage your bankroll?

The answer is different for everyone because bankrolls vary in size and one persons overall strategy might vary drastically from another’s. That said, there are a few basic rules of thumb we can follow as best practices for bankroll management.

Stick to a Specific Unit Size

Come up with a betting unit and stick to it. Usually, this means 1% of your bankroll. That said, some people will go as high as 5%, but if you are still learning the ropes, it’s probably a good idea to place the 1% bets at the best sportsbooks, at least until you have mastered the art of discipline.

If you have $5,000.00 to start in a season, then $50 units are a great place to start. If you are a novice with only a thousand dollars to work with, $10 bets are what you should be starting with. Smaller unit sizes are helpful for long-term success for two reasons: they minimize risk and they help you keep track of your wins and losses and ultimately, your bankroll.

It’s much easier to count up units than dollar amounts and get an instant overview. For example, ‘after this win, I’m 4.5 units up.’ Or, ‘this loss puts me 2.8 units down on the season.’

Track Everything

If spreadsheets are your friend, find something similar and use it. A bettor’s best friend is data. You need to put the same attention to detail into tracking your own efforts as you do understanding matchup statistics and seasonal trends that you use to handicap the games you bet on.

When you track each bet with comprehensive criteria, you can easily see your strengths and weaknesses so you can make adjustments, that either maximize your winnings or minimize your losses. A great example of this is tracking the reasons you are making bets. You might start noticing patterns in your reasoning summary appear in your wins and losses. Perhaps, you notice that a good chunk of your losses happen when a secondary handicapping criterion is that you were fading the public –this is just a hypothetical example. Now you are aware that you are losing more often than not on your public fades, so you should remove that from your handicapping process.

Another good idea when tracking is to track each bet type individually. Track your overall unit wins/losses and also track your unit wins/losses per bet type. Eg. spreads, totals, SU. You may be excited because you’re up 10 units overall on the season but you are not tracking individual bets so you don’t know exactly where and why. It could be that you’re killing it ATS but your actually down 4 units in totals. If you track this, you would know to either adjust your approach to totals or just take a break from them and focus your efforts elsewhere.

Don’t Over Wager

Much like setting a unit amount and sticking to it, you should set a number of bets and stick to it. If you plan on placing 10 bets per week, focus on making 10 highly-researched wagers where you found a definitive advantage against the lines.

When you stick to an amount that is reasonable to both your bankroll and your available time, you are likely to find success. The main problem – and I say this from experience– is discipline. Once you start seeing regular success, you start to feel invincible and make more bets than you were before. Essentially, you had something that was working and you change that patter. Remember, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

What happens is we get excited and cocky . and greedy and start placing more bets and even upping our unit amounts. Suddenly, we are making bets that aren’t the best bets; they’re not as qualified as the ones we were making when we were disciplined and focused and we take a rash of losses. Bye-bye profits, and perhaps even bye-bye bankroll.

If you stick to specific unit size, don’t bet more than a predetermined amount of wagers per week/month, and information on all of your bets, you will have much better bankroll management and be on your way to becoming a Pro bettor instead of a Joe bettor.