Bankroll Management

What is a Bankroll?

In gambling terms, a ‘Bankroll’ is the full amount of money that has been set aside for wagering. For bankroll management to work, the gambler has to consider the bankroll amount to be an absolute number that can not be exceeded in case of extreme losses. Breaking the rules of bankroll management is a sure-fire way to go broke and cause financial problems that can seriously affect a gambler’s life. Once the initial size of the bankroll is set, it will be basis for the size of each individual bet.

What is a Unit?

A betting unit is a percentage of a bankroll, and the most common unit size is 1% of a total bankroll. $1,000 bankroll = $10 unit.

However, some systems use .01% of a bankroll – uses this size. However you can almost always assume a tipster is referring to 1% when they reference 1 unit; if they are referring to a 100 unit bet, then it’s most likely based on a .01% size (or they are a complete degenerate lunatic betting their entire bankroll).

How Many Units Should I Bet?

So once you determine the size of your units, how many units will you be risking per bet? You will see lots of varying bet sizes in MMA betting, but in most sports and across most professional gamblers, you will generally only see bets of 1-2 units per wager. You may be thinking, ‘wow, so I’m only spending 2% of my bankroll per bet, I’m not going to make money fast that way!’ And yes, that is absolutely true. To be profitable long term in gambling, you can’t be chasing fast profit as that will inevitably result in fast losses as well. This was something I had to really come to grips with as a new bettor. At first I imagined I would be betting like 1/5 of my money per bet! That’s 20% of a bankroll and would be considered madness by any pro gambler.

When you look at your initial bankroll in the beginning you will see that you won’t be making massive amounts of money fast.┬áStarting with a $1,000 bankroll means your unit size will only be $10. If you go up to 4 units per bet, you’re looking at a $40 bet. On a -150 favorite, your profit (assuming it wins) will be roughly $30. Considering the time and effort to research, and possible losses, making that much per bet is nothing like winning a lottery. But by staying the course, over time, your bankroll will grow and you will be making progressively larger and larger bets.

However if you break your discipline, you can easily go bust within a short time. Let’s say you had $1000 and wanted to bet $100 per bet (10% of your bankroll). It would only take one bad night of 5 losses to reduce your entire amount by 50%. And while you may be very confident in your picks, you better believe it’s not that hard to lose 5 bets in a row. And once your bankroll is reduced that much, if you adjust your unit size again as a percentage, you’ll be making even less profit when you do start winning again. Your $1000 bankroll will be $500 and your unit size will only be $50, making your profits that much smaller and you’ll feel like you’re merely chasing losses.

Short Version:

A Bankroll is a dedicated set amount of money to be used for gambling outside of other assets and accounts.

A unit is a fraction of the bankroll, typically 1%.

Most pro gamblers don’t go over 2 units per bet. In MMA betting, higher bets are likely due to less frequency of events.

Here at The Fight Gambler, I use 1-5 units on official bets, and smaller units on riskier prop bets or parlays.