NFL Betting Bankroll Management

NFL Betting Strategy Course 109

Bankroll management is one of the most important aspects of any good sports betting process. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most overlooked. Many bettors are plagued by their inability to stick with a good system and practice discipline. When it comes down to it, you simply cannot bet money that you don’t have. While everyone operates with their own specific betting bankroll, some several general tips and strategies can be applied to a bankroll management plan. This article will look at several things to keep in mind and put into practice to help you effectively manage your NFL betting bankroll.

Preseason NFL Betting Bankroll Management Strategies

The NFL betting process for any successful handicapper starts long before the NFL season kicks off. Power rankings must be created, roster moves analyzed, and rookie projections made. It is important to spend time on your NFL betting bankroll before the season begins as well. This section highlights three things that should be on every NFL bettor’s preseason to-do list.

Make a Plan

smart goals

As the old saying goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” If you intend to bet the NFL regularly throughout an entire regular season, you must outline the details of your finances ahead of time. By definition, a bankroll in sports betting is the amount of money that an individual has to make wagers with. You should know in full what your allotted bankroll will be for NFL betting before the start of the season. Make a firm plan to not bet beyond this amount of money, even if you wind up losing it all. You should also outline a fixed amount of your bankroll to bet with for any given week. Weekly and by-game play amounts will be discussed further in later sections, but a general rule of thumb is to not have more than 20% of your original bankroll in play at any one time.

Create Your Unit System

In sports betting, a unit is defined as the size of someone’s bet. Before the start of an annual NFL betting campaign, good bankroll management practice should involve generating your unit system that you will stick to for the entire season. Determining a unit system should be done based on the size of your bankroll. This will be different for everyone, but most unit systems tend to follow a proportional scale. For some, a single unit wager might only be $10. For some, it might be $50, or $100, or $1000.

In general, it is advisable to base your unit system on numbers that are easily multiplied. That way, if you choose to make occasional two or three-unit wagers, you can easily calculate what that amount would be by multiplying a single unit by the size you wish to bet. For example, a two-unit wager with a unit syssmartgoalstem that has a base number of $10 would be $20. A three-unit wager with a system based at $100 would be $300. And so on.

Set Profit Goals

Another part of your preseason NFL bankroll preparation should involve setting goals. You should go in with a set amount of profit in mind. Based on the size of your bankroll and what you determine your unit system to be, you should go on to declare a specific unit of profit goal that you hope to make betting throughout the entire NFL season.

Be Realistic

Of course, having an unrealistic goal will do you no good. Targeting an excessive number of units in profit will ultimately lead to frustration when the realization that you won’t reach your goal occurs. Setting an attainable goal is the best way to keep you on track throughout the long season. It’s better to make out great and exceed your goal than to set one that is too lofty and fall depressingly short.

In-Season NFL Betting Bankroll Management Strategies

The weekly action and betting opportunities that the NFL will provide over 17 weeks (not including the postseason) is unrivaled by any other sport. If you have followed the preseason guidelines for NFL bankroll management, you will be in good shape by the time Week 1 rolls around. This section discusses several tips to help you stay on top of your NFL bankroll while placing wagers during the season.

Systematically Determine How Many Units to Risk

If you are going to spend time creating a unit system in the preseason, you’d be remiss to not stick by it when placing your NFL bets during the season. Since most bankrolls and systems are constructed so that a unit is equivalent to 1% of the total bankroll, 1-unit sized bets are ideal and should be the most common. As discussed above, the size of a single unit will vary from person to person based on their overall bankroll. But regardless of whether you are betting in units of $100 or $1, the math still breaks down the same.

How does one determine exactly how much to bet on a given game? There is any number of models that NFL bettors can choose to utilize to help decide how many units of a bankroll to risk on a given wager. A few popular options are touched on below.

Fixed Unit Model

This is the recommended approach for beginner bettors specifically, but it isn’t a bad system for even seasoned handicappers to adhere to. As the name implies, the Fixed Unit Model approach is one where every wager placed will be one unit in size. This approach makes it easier to track your bets and ensures that you will keep your wagers consistent, regardless of wins, losses, or any other outside factors.

Percentage Model

Like the Fixed Unit Model, the Percentage Model also operates with a level of consistency in that wagers remain one unit of your bankroll. The difference is that the size of a single unit fluctuates as the size of your bankroll grows or shrinks based on the results of previous wagers. For example, if you start the NFL season off with a bankroll of $1000 and win $20 during Week 1, your bankroll would be $1020 going into Week 2. Where a single-unit bet in Week 1 would have been $10, the same single unit wager in Week 2 with a bankroll that is $20 more would be $10.20. The same strategy would apply if you lost $20 in Week 1, in which case a single-unit bet in Week 2 would only be $9.80. To implement the Percentage Model, simply multiply whatever percentage of your original bankroll you assign to be one unit at the beginning of the season by the size of your bankroll heading into the current week.

Variable Models

Variable models enable you to determine the size of your wagers based on your level of confidence in winning the bet. This allows you to potentially reap a greater profit on games in which you have more sizable edges. While betting four or five units of your bankroll on a single wager is not advised, using various methods allows you to wager two or three units on games in which you have a higher confidence level.

One example of a variable model is the Potential Return Method. With this approach, rather than one unit being the amount you risk on a wager, it becomes the amount you attempt to win. This method means that you will risk more of your bankroll betting on favorites than plus-money underdogs. For example, a moneyline bet of -150 will require you to risk 1.5 units to win 1 unit. Meanwhile, a bet on a +150 underdog will require a .67-unit wager to win 1 unit of profit.

Kelly Criterion Model

The Kelly Criterion Model factors in the percentage of the time in which you believe a wager will win, the odds, and the amount of bankroll you have. The formula for this model is as follows:

kelly criterion

By far the most math-heavy model of any discussed here, the success of the Kelly Criterion Model depends heavily on your ability to accurately determine win percentages. It also requires successful conversion of odds into decimal form, which can be easily accomplished through online odds converters. The Kelly Criterion Model is worthy of an entire strategy article itself. This overview hardly scratches its surface.

Stay Disciplined


As a sports bettor, staying disciplined can refer to any number of things. Concerning bankroll management, the thing that first comes to mind when considering discipline is to stay within your means. Do not overextend yourself on any one bet or during any one week of the NFL season. Whether you are winning or losing, it is important to stand by your system and your plan.

When things are going great, and you are finding success on your bets, it can be tempting to bet more to win more. On the contrary, when you hit a rough patch of losses, it can be tempting to bet more games to try and make back what you’re out. In both scenarios, it is important not to go chasing anything. Even if you go 0-for on all your bets for the week, don’t chase the Sunday or Monday night games to try and reduce your losses. Stay the course, regroup, learn from your defeats where you can, and come back stronger the following week.

Only Bet When You Have an Edge

In a similar vein to practicing good discipline, you should not bet NFL games just for the sake of having action. This approach is recreational and won’t get you far when it comes to making a long-term profit Trust your power rankings, research, and strategy. Focus your energy on finding true advantages amongst the lines. Then and only then should you put money down on a game.

Make +EV Bets

Remember that the goal for any sports bettor is to bet with as much positive expected value (+EV) as possible. Doing so will result in a profitable betting venture over the long haul. For a detailed breakdown of expected value, its calculation, and how to find value when betting on the NFL, CLICK HERE.

Avoid Playing Parlays and Teasers Frequently

While parlays and teaser bets have their place in NFL betting from time to time, when it comes to effective bankroll management, its best to avoid making these types of wagers frequently. While they certainly offer a level of fun and excitement, the odds and value are not in your favor as the bettor. Pick your spots for parlays and teasers intelligently. For more information and strategy on these types of bets, CLICK HERE.

NFL Betting Bankroll Management Reminders

Every sport is unique when it comes to betting strategy and bankroll management. While a lot of the same general guidelines for bankroll maintenance can be applied to all forms of sports betting, the NFL has a few unique features to be mindful of. This section addresses two very important ones.

NFL Logo

NFL is a Week to Week League

The fact that the NFL is a week to week league cannot be understated when it comes to handicapping the sport. This makes it all the more important to stick to your guns and not make drastic process changes or decisions based on just one, two, or even three weeks. Instead, let the media and betting market do the overreacting. You will likely be able to find some tremendous value as a result. When it comes to bankroll management, your practices and systems should not change based on a small sample size of results.

NFL is Tough to Beat

It is also important to remember that the NFL is one of the toughest sports leagues to beat at the sportsbooks. Because of the volume of bets placed on NFL games annually, oddsmakers devote more time to the sport than any other in terms of constructing lines and moving them accordingly as money comes in. Losses will happen, and you must not get discouraged. Don’t overextend to try and make lost money back. It won’t be easy, but by sticking to your system, you can find a profit off of betting the NFL.

Final Thoughts

Bankroll management is one of the most important components of successful sports betting ventures. There are several strategies to deploy both before and during the NFL season to stay on top of your betting finances. Before the season begins, make a plan, set realistic goals, and determine the size of your bankroll and your unit system. Once the season kicks off, you should plan to stick to single-unit bets the vast majority of the time. You can also choose to adopt a model by which you determine what your bet sizes will be and when to go beyond wagering a single unit. While parlays and teaser bets have their place, betting them frequently is a recipe for bankroll depletion over the long haul. You should also remember the importance of staying disciplined. The NFL is one of the toughest sports to beat at the sportsbook, and the week to week nature of the league leads to many overreactions in the media and amongst the betting public. Don’t rip up the plan you laid out before the season over a couple of bad weeks. By practicing these strategies and keeping a cool head at all times, you will have no trouble successfully managing your bankroll for NFL betting.

Henry is pursuing a Communication Studies degree and a Psychology minor at SUNY University at Buffalo. He has been a passionate sports fan from a young age and got hisstart writing about Fantasy Football. In an effort to combine an aspect of specialization along with his enjoyment of any and all sports, Henry expanded to cover other Fantasy Sports while also foraying into the Sports Betting sector. He continues to relish every opportunity to learn, grow and network within the industry. He counts the New York Jets, Toronto Raptors, Vegas Golden Knights and San Diego Padres among his team loyalties. In addition to school and sports, Henry is passionate about health and fitness and is currently studying to earn certification as a personal trainer.

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