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One (not so) secret to long-term success in sports betting

Why so many are depositors when some are bank-roll builders?

Being involved in sports betting for more than 20 years has taught me a lot of things. Sure, I've made quite a few mistakes along the way. It's like they say about some of the most successful people out there... 'show me them and I'll show you someone who went bankrupt multiple times before getting it right.' Today's blog will give you a simple bankroll system that's served me very well since I built it. If you have the discipline to follow it, it may be the key to your long-term success too.

Let me start by being candid, for many of you, this is going to require you to greatly reduce your betting unit size to start. You might not like that, but if you want to stop being a depositor or not go broke this is the reality. That's why so many will read this and not change a thing. But the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Let's jump in!

To understand why so many fail, we need to understand two important concepts:

Concept 1: Realistic Winning Percentage

On a standard -110 betting line (1.91 for our European friends), you need to win 52.4% of your bets to break even. This might not sound hard, but the actual percentage of handicappers who can even get to this level is lower than you might think. Let's take a hypothetical 100 game sample size. In an efficient market, approximately 80 of those games are priced just about right. If you bet on each of these 80 games, you are likely to go 40 - 40 (a true coin flip). That leaves the other 20 games where you may have an edge. To even hit a small profit point, you need to go 13 - 7 on these 20 games, which is a 65% winning percentage! Given luck factors and randomness, this is not an easy feat.

The best handicappers in the world don't hit 65% over time on -110 bets, not even close. The advantage a great handicapper will have is being able to ensure a higher percentage of games they are betting have a true edge. If we can find a way to have a true edge in 50 of the above 100 bets, now we just need to go 28-22 to make a small profit (56% winners), which is much more reasonable. Now obviously every handicapper thinks they have an edge on 100 out of 100 bets they make... but that's just not reality!

In our experience over a significant sample size (on -110 average bets), 53% will keep the lights on, 54% is a good target, 55% is an excellent handicapper, 56%+ is world class. The key is to understand that going in and not set yourself up with unrealistic expectations. For perspective, we are hitting 53.6% (561 bet sample size) at average odds of -108 (51.9% break even). That 1.7% edge has produced a very respectable 4.5% ROI for our members. These are not unrealistic numbers that cannot be maintained. In fact, we think some progression could even be expected.

** Side note: If your handicapper (or your own handicapping) puts you on bets that average to -115 (1.87), your break-even is now 53.5%, -130 (1.77) 56.5%. Beware of the handicapper giving out these type of plays on average as winning percentage can look great. ROI (Return on Investment) is the best way to truly neutralize the average bet prices and unit staking per bet. We will do a full analysis on this in a future blog.

Concept 2: Draw-down

Now that we understand what a realistic long-term winning percentage is, it takes us into the second critical concept, the draw-down. The simple fact is that even profitable handicappers have bad stretches... many of them!

Let's use our own plays for this example. Let's call ours a 54% win percentage (just to make the breakdown easier), it would be great if that meant for every 50 plays we went 27 - 23 and made a few units of profit. But that's not how it works. This isn't a straight linear progression. Instead we will have some 50 game samples where we go 32 - 18 (or better) and others where we go 22 - 28 (or worse). It still averages out to 54% but it's not a straight line to get to that number. The key is when those poor stretches happen, have you got the bankroll to be around for the next profitable stretch?

Here's an actual example: From December 15 - December 28 we made 51 plays. Those plays ended up 19 wins, 30 losses and 2 pushes for a 38.8% win percentage. Horrible stretch where we lost almost 13 units, but it happened. That's the draw-down. It's real and you need to be prepared for it. Despite that members are up nearly 30 units of profit! That's because progression to the average (or mean) will always come for good handicappers, but if you go broke on the draw-down, you won't be around to see it.

Far too often we see people making wagers that are far too big a percentage of their bankroll. Could you survive a 13 unit or even a 20 unit draw-down? If the answer is no, you need to rethink your unit size. Here's a chart I have created that has served me quite well.

*This chart assumes you are in bankroll building mode, trying to get to larger unit sizes over time. Also assumes fairly high betting volume, but you can adjust for your personal needs.

This might seem overly conservative, but if you're a high volume bettor across multiple sports, we think it's very appropriate. You can modify to fit your needs but do not start with less than 50 units in your bankroll. That's an absolute!

The other key thing we've learned is to set your reset dates in advance. This way you are not adjusting your bet sizes during a draw-down or a hot stretch. We can't stress this enough. In this example, we evaluate our betting unit size at the start of each quarter.

By following good bankroll strategy, you'll be in the minority among sports bettors... but you'll be around for the long-haul when others go broke or continue to make deposits!

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