Top Stake Betting and Sports Bankroll Management Strategies

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The Importance of Sports Betting Bankroll Management for Tracking Performance

In the world of sports betting, there may not be a more important concept to master than the art of Stake betting and Bankroll management. This may seem like a simple concept, and for the most part it is basic mathematics, but the difficulty lies in keeping up with a consistent betting plan throughout the year. If a player wants to remain profitable over the long term, a proper system needs to be implemented to ensure their bankroll does not rapidly deplete.

When it comes to stake betting and sports betting bankroll management another important factor is establishing a betting bank. For most players, it is unrealistic to dedicate an entire income to betting as life always requires money for paying bills or for groceries. A sports betting bank is setting aside an amount of money that a player uses strictly for betting. This could be a small or large amount, but it does need to be consistent and affordable for the player.

The benefits of this are obvious, the player always has a controlled amount that they can dedicate to wagering, without dipping too much into their day to day spending costs. It also makes it easier to track how successful, or unsuccessful, bets are over time, no matter what stake betting system they choose to use. The betting bank will illustrate clearly what a player started with and what their bankroll currently sits at.

What is a Unit?

For beginners, the most commonly used way of sports betting bankroll management is to implement a unit betting system. A unit is generally defined as the standard amount of a player’s bankroll that will be wagered on each bet. To state this simply, a standard bet on a spread of a game or an over/under total would be 1 unit.

If the player has more confidence in a particular game, say for example they believe in the New England Patriots in the playoffs at their home field, they can increase their number of units played, within their own comfort level. Commonly, a unit is 1-2% of a total bankroll.

For the player who believes more in the New England Patriots, let’s say they want a betting stake a 3 unit bet, rather than just 1 unit. For a bankroll of $1000 using the conservative unit betting system of 1% per unit, this would mean that the standard unit bet for this player would be $10. However, because of their confidence in the Patriots at home in the playoffs, the player would feel comfortable wagering $30 rather than the usual $10.

Measuring units for a player goes beyond just winning and losing money. It acts as a measuring stick against other players and allows a player to keep track of which bets they are successful on versus others which they are not. As with every efficient betting and bankroll system, it is important to keep a record of successes and failures as a player, so that we can learn how to improve for the future.

Forms of Stake Betting Management

Now that we have established the meaning of stake betting when betting and also what a unit bet is, we can use that for the purposes of sports betting bankroll management. Let’s dive into the different methods that players can use to set their stakes for betting.

Fixed Unit Strategy

For a baseline bankroll of $1000, 1 unit would then be $10 or 1% of their total bankroll, meaning the player would be placing standard bets of $10 on each ticket played. The player needs to make sure they are monitoring their bets and tracking their bankroll or what was 1 unit on one day, can quickly become 1.5 units or 2 units the next. For this reason, it is crucial for a player to set milestones where they can reassess and recalculate what their fixed unit will be moving forward. If the player feels better about the picks they are making, they can increase their unit slightly and likewise, if they are in a cold streak, they can lower their unit to manage their bankroll.

The fixed unit method is great for beginners and casual players who aren’t placing bets to get rich quickly. While it ensures that the bankroll will last longer, it does minimize potential profits that could be won by placing large bets. The upside of this strategy is clear: it helps the player be disciplined and in control of their bankroll. The downside is that it never takes into account what the actual odds are that the player is betting. A player could be using this method and wagering $10 on odds that are +100 or -1000, so there is very little intrinsic value in rigidly sticking to a fixed unit strategy.

Fixed Percentage Betting Stake Strategy

The fixed percentage strategy is similar to the fixed unit strategy with a little more calculations involved. This is another popular method that allows the player to protect their bankroll, while also leaving the potential for the player to win a larger amount with each bet. As the name indicates, it involves betting a fixed percentage of your bankroll on each bet. Using the same example as above, with a bankroll of $1000, and we decide on a fixed percentage of 2% per bet. The player would start off with bets of $20 per bet.

0.02 x $1000 = $20

The difference between the fixed percentage and the fixed unit strategy, is that the player is constantly recalculating the stake of each bet because of the ever changing amount of their bankroll.

0.02 x $800 = $16

Theoretically this means if the player wins, then they also win higher amounts and at a faster rate than the fixed unit strategy. But if the player loses and goes under his initial bankroll balance, they would be placing smaller unit bets and therefore winning less with each successful bet, making it more difficult to get out of a losing streak. One solution to this is for a player to only reassess and recalculate the amount they are willing to stake for a bet if their bankroll grows from where they first started.

Martingale Stake Betting Strategy

The martingale stake is a little more advanced than what casual players are probably used to and it’s long term success is unproven. The basic premise of a martingale is double or nothing. In other words, after a failed bet, a player would double the stake of the next bet to cover the losses of the first bet. Of course, if successful, the martingale can quickly make up for any lost bets with an immediate infusion of funds to your bankroll after betting a higher stake.

In order for the martingale strategy to be in effect, the player needs to place a bet at the odds of 2.00 or 1/1. This is where the doubling effect begins. If the player wins, then great. If the player loses, then the martingale takes over. The player doubles the original wager to cover the losses of the original lost bet.

Original bet:

Tennessee Titans @ New England Patriots (- 4.5) at 2.00 or +100 odds.

If the player wagers $10 on Tennessee at +4.5 and New England wins the game by more than 5 points, the player loses. At this point the player would begin with the martingale.


The player doubles their original bet on the next game at the same 2.00 or +100 odds.

Buffalo Bills @ Houston Texans (-3.5) at 2.00 or +100 odds.

$20.00 at +100 to win $40.00

If the player wins this bet, than they are successful in recouping their losses from the original bet on Tennessee. If they lose, than the martingale continues.

Seattle Seahawks @ Philadelphia Eagles (+2) at 2.00 or +100 odds.

The player places their next bet in the martingale.

$40.00 at +100 to win $80.00

This strategy continues for the player until they can hopefully recoup all of their losses.
On the flip side, the losses can add up at an alarming rate as with each failed bet, the next bet wager is increasing each time. If executed correctly, it can be an effective way of quickly recouping any lost wagers, but for a long term sports betting bankroll management strategy, there is often more risk than reward for a player.

Fibonacci Betting Stake Strategy

The Fibonacci method is similar to the martingale system in that you are increasing your bet amounts each time you lose. The Fibonacci method follows the numbers in the Fibonacci sequence: “1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89 etc.”. The idea is a player starts with 1 unit and move up in the sequence when a bet is lost and move down two numbers in the sequence after a bet is won.

Using the Fibonacci sequence, a player would start with a 1 unit bet. If this wins, great. If it loses, then the player would place another 1 unit bet. If that second bet also loses, than the Fibonacci strategy begins. The player would add the first two bets together, so 1 unit + 1 unit which brings them to their 3rd bet of 2 units. If this 3rd bet still doesn’t hit for the player than they would add the previous sum to the 3rd bet which is 1 unit + 2 units which is 3 units. This continues on down the Fibonacci sequence until the player recoups the losses from the original bets.

Original bet:

Tennessee Titans @ New England Patriots (-4.5)

1 Unit is bet on the Tennessee Titans and the bet loses.

Buffalo Bills @ Houston Texans (-3.5)

1 Unit is bet on the Buffalo Bills and the bet loses.

Seattle Seahawks @ Philadelphia Eagles (+2)

2 Units are bet on the Seattle Seahawks and the bet loses.

Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints (-7.5)

3 Units are bet on the Minnesota Vikings and the bet loses.

Phoenix Suns @ Los Angeles Lakers (-11)

5 Units are bet on the Los Angeles Lakers and the bet wins, recouping the losses from the previous bets.

As one can imagine, this can rapidly deplete a bankroll if a player goes on a losing streak, the same way that the martingale method can. A player needs to be well aware and comfortable with the amount of risk involved in this method as well. Every player goes through a losing streak, but chasing losses with bigger bets does not play out as a long term profitable solution.

The Kelly Criterion and Proportional Stake Betting

The Kelly Criterion takes into account both the given bookmakers odds and the player’s perceived probability of winning as opposed to the previous strategies mentioned. To illustrate this the Kelly Criterion follows this formula:

Kelly Criterion formula 1 or Kelly Criterion formula 2

In this formula:

“b” is the decimal odds of the bet minus one.
“p” the player’s probability of winning (in decimal).
“q” is the player’s probability of losing (in decimal).
“d” is the odds in decimal style.
“f” is the fraction of your bankroll to stake.


This seems a little confusing at first, but let’s look at an example.

Let’s take the odds for a football match that is happening during the World Cup:

Given odds:

Germany: 2.60
France: 2.65
Draw: 3.25


player’s Perceived Outcomes           p                               q
            Germany         55%                       45%    
            France         35%         65%
            Draw         10%         90%


So we plug those into the formula:

Germany: f = [0.55(2.6-1)-0.45]/ (2.6-1) = 0.27

France: f = [0.35(2.65-1)-0.65]/ (2.65-1) = – 0.04

Draw: f = [0.10(3.25-1)-0.90]/ (3.25-1) = – 0.3

The “f” for a draw or for France winning are negative, so using the Kelly Criterion they would not be worth betting on.

The “f” for Germany is 0.27 so a very strong lean to Germany for the player. This would mean the player would place a very confident 27% bet on Germany to win the match. From a $1000 bankroll, that mean a $270 bet on Germany.

Stake and Sports Betting Bankroll Management Alternatives to the Kelly Criterion:

The main issue with basic staking strategies is that they do not factor in whether or not a certain bet is a better value than another. Additionally, most are from strictly the player’s perspective and do not take into account the broad range of given bookmaker’s odds. Using those simple strategies will formulate the same stake be placed on a bet no matter what the odds are. This just isn’t realistic to rigidly follow on every bet.

Stake calculations are great but it’s recommended that players use their own additional strategies such as a maximum stake percentage or personal value rating to supplement any calculations before placing a bet.

Modified Percentage Stakes

To start off, similar to the fixed percentage strategy, the player could start by deciding a set maximum percentage of his bankroll to stake on any bet. If a player has a bankroll of $1000 and set a stake percentage of 3%, their bets will start off at $30. If their bankroll increases to $1200 their bets will increase to $36 and conversely if their bankroll dips to $800 the bets will decrease to $24.
Bookmaker’s Odds
After deciding on the maximum stake percentage for a particular game players proceed to dividing that stake by the bookmaker’s odds.

For example, looking back to the Modified Percentage Stakes, if a player has a $5 max stake on a game, and the odds are 1.30 (American: -333) , 2.00 (A: +100), 3.00 (A: +200), and 5.00 (A: +400). They would divide their stake by the odds and calculate the correct amount to wager on each bet. This means for a 1.30 (-333) odds ticket, they would bet $5/1.30 = $3.85 and for a 5.00 odds they would bet $5/5.00 = $1.00 for the increased odds.

Value Ratings

Further adding into this process players can create their own value ratings system to apply to their betting. This is all player specific and takes into account what their own perceived value of each bet is (in other words, their “rating” for each bet).

Each player should have in their own minds about what a value is and isn’t. They know which types of bets they do well in, for example spreads or point totals, and which bets they do not do well in. Ideally, it would be a simple system, the one we will elaborate on here gives a maximum rating of 10 for a fantastic value and a minimum rating of 1 for just enough value to consider betting. If the player believes that this particular bet has an 8/10 rating, than they would multiply his max stake $5 x 8/10 = a $4.00 bet based on their confidence level.

Combining Bookmaker’s Odds and Value Ratings

This is exactly what it sounds like, the player would take into account both the bookmaker’s odds as well as their own value system for each bet. To illustrate this strategy, let’s take a look at the above two examples.

For a $5.00 max stake on Tennessee Titans @ New England Patriots (-4.5) at 2.00 (American: +100) odds.

Let’s say the player has an 8/10 rating on the New England Patriots to cover that spread.

The calculation would then be: $5.00 x (8/10) x (1/ 2.00) = $2.00

This is a player’s confidence of 8 out of 10 and a bookmaker’s odds of 2.00 (American: +100), for a final stake of $2.00


Sports betting bankroll management is the key to the success of players over the long term. Implementing a solid system and sticking to that despite the highs and lows that come with sports betting is crucial to ensuring that players are not rapidly depleting their funds. There are several options for consideration when learning about methods of betting with control.

For casual players and especially those that are new to betting on sports, the fixed unit method is the simplest to understand and, with control, the simplest to maintain. More advanced methods such as the martingale and Fibonacci, provide an option for players who have suffered some losses to recoup those with a bigger subsequent bet, and therefore higher payouts to cover their losses.

In the long run, proportional stake betting betting using fixed units provides players with an ideal balance of safety and control. When players become more confident in their picks, using the bookmaker’s odds and attributing confidence values to determine if a higher or lower bet can be successful, is another tool that players can use.

Always remember, be consistent and stay with your system no matter which strategy you end up using. It is common for players to get on a hot streak and increasing their stakes on bets, but there is no faster way to lose a bankroll than to bet uncontrollably.