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02.What advice would you give about money management? Related to this, should you bet different amounts on different games? Should you bet more when you're ahead? When you're behind?

 
Turkoman1963:
You cannot be a good handicapper unless you employ sound money management. Of all the factors we've discussed, the key component is money management.

My best advice regarding money management is to allot a fixed amount for wagering that is strictly for internet gambling and then slowly but surely find your rhythm. What works best for you? Are parlays the most profitable? NFL sides? Teasers? Internet betting five games a week? Internet betting five games a day? Hard to say what would work for you--everyone is different, but there will be one area of sports betting where you will excel, and you should try to capitalize on it.

I don't advocate spread betting the same amount no matter what. There are games you simply will prefer betting on and you should pounce on those contests. Likewise, if you are bored and have nothing to do on a Tuesday night and the Mavericks are playing the Lakers and you want to wager and you kind of like Dallas, I say play the game, but I don not recommend nfl betting nearly as much as you do on the Giants-Eagles game you love on Sunday.

There are some excellent handicappers out there who win at a rate of greater than 50 percent, and yet are losers because of bad money management. Nothing is worse than betting ten units on a game that you barely have an opinion on (because it's on TV) and losing, and then having the actual betting line on that game you waited for all week (that was not on TV) win easily, and you realize you only wagered one unit on it.

As for sports gambling winning streaks, they are golden and rare and I believe in squeezing the lemon until it's dry. I respect that others will disagree here but this has proven time and again correct. Press when you are ahead, and when the streak is over, decrease. When you are losing, go down to 1/2 or 1/4 unit and wait until you come out of your slump.

Patton and I disagree when it comes to pressing a sports gambling winning streak, but perhaps that is only because I base it on my personal statistics. When I'm hot, when I'm choosing the right games and finding odds that give me an edge, I tend to press and build up a bankroll. When I'm cold and you hand me an extra TD in the NFL just because I'm a good customer, I'll still lose the wager, and thus I've learned to reduce my wagers significantly when I can't buy a winner.

This is very important. The psychology of sports gamblingis a huge factor in determining your long-term financial health.

Patton:
As far as betting streaks, I have had the opposite experience, but my experience is limited largely to straight wagers. So, I find that it is best for me at this stage to stick to a fixed amount per game. This is probably good for someone who is still developing his sport handicapping abilities as I am, since if you have only a vague idea what your winning percentage is over the long haul (and here I agree that record keeping is very important), you shouldn't vary a betting size.

In fact, I think that even many veteran handicappers have a difficult time " sport handicapping" their own selections. The New York Post has a very lively section for its sportswriters in which their nfl betting selections are posted, along with their "Best Bets." Of course, some have a great Best Sports Betting Online record, but many others have a Best Sports Betting record that's worse than their full record of all picks--the opposite of what you'd expect. Ditto for the records of multi-star plays I've seen for some touts; the winning percentage for "Five Star" plays can be less than that for one or two star plays.

My advice for newbies is (1) to establish a bankroll that is only for sports gambling and (2) to stick to a fixed percentage of the bankroll per sports bet--1-2%. In fact, someone just starting out is probably better off betting only $10 or so a game anyway until he becomes more confidant and polished in his sports handicapping skills. Of course, keep detailed records of each internet gambling bet. Then, as you find your strengths and weaknesses, act accordingly. But generally, sticking to a fixed percentage of bankroll will get you through the inevitable losing streaks. I would never increase or decrease the betting size unless it was in response to a change in the size of my bankroll.

Buckeye:
This is one topic where I seem to know more about what not to do (what I call negative money management) than what to do! I agree with those who warn against all the "square traps". Those would include chasing, or betting more not because of the strength of the play but because you are behind for the day or week. Another major square trap is web gambling all the TV games. Other "newbie betting online mistakes" include playing all favorites, or just betting the board (all games) to have action. All of these involve departing from the strength of the pick and falling prey to outside considerations that are destructive to one's bankroll.

I have different strategies, and bankrolls, by sport and betting type. I suck at handicapping baseball, for example, so when baseball betting, I keep it to an extremely low bankroll, and the lowest stakes imaginable. The less experienced and skillful you are at a sport, the more you should stick to plain vanilla straight betting for very low stakes. Until you prove proficiency, these sports should be treated as purely entertainment, in my opinion. I don't advocate throwing away a lot of money on any game "just to have action."

For some sports, I use a flat online sports gambling system as I have yet to prove to myself, or establish a track record, that I have any chance of an edge long term. I am resigned to the fact that I am betting them for fun and likely to be lucky to break even. For other sports, I have more confidence in a "multi-tier unit" system as I have demonstrated to myself that I can choose which picks are stronger than others even while they all are advantage plays. I also have a "parlay bankroll" for use with the sports where I have consistently been above break even. My style of money management and bankroll for each sport depends on my past record and demonstrated proficiency in the sport. The better I am at a sport, the more confidence I have in a multi-tiered system and the bigger bankroll I allocate for it.

In general, I used to think handicapping was the be-all, end-all, of sports betting. I am still a major "square," but I now recognize that money management and betting online strategies (line shopping, vig shopping, knowing when to buy points and not to, etc.) are often at least as important as handicapping. Like with casino gambling, it is not just the vig, but poor money management that accounts for much of the losses by the average player.

To me, discipline is the absolute cornerstone of any money management system. Pick a sports betting system and stick with it for the whole season. If you don't know what to do, as a raw newbie, then I really like the advice of Patton and Major Wager poster KingOfTheSquares and others: Sports betting the book's minimum straight (often $10) on your games and chart them until you prove to yourself you are consistent enough to venture into higher, and more complex money management systems.

If you are sports betting and wagering -110 and picking less than 52.38% winners, no system will counteract that, so be sure you can beat that magic break even mark before betting more. For most, that means risking only disposable income and keeping it entertaining and a hobby. Thinking you know too much is much more dangerous than being considered a minnow. Books may not want us to know, but many speculate that more than 95% of all internet gambling bettors lose. I've also seen quotes about most offshore gambling bettors having less than $500 in their account. So don't feel alone or self-conscious if you are online gambling for fun or just gambling low stakes for now. Don't get wrapped up or impressed by pros, or fauxs, bragging about betting thousands. Many are full of it, or are losing thousands as a result.

The Philosopher:
I have mixed feelings about most of the advice that I hear people give about money management, because I think there are drawbacks to pretty much all the truisms. "No betting more than you can afford to lose." Well, yeah, I suppose as a rule of thumb I agree with that, but if you never gamble in such a way that losing would hurt, you'll never be in a position to win meaningfully either. "No betting more than you can afford to lose" strikes me as not unlike "Don't fall so much in love that you can end up getting hurt," or "Don't quit your present stable job to embark on a more speculative career" and the like.

Sometimes life is about gambling. And interestingly enough, sometimes gambling is about gambling too. Spend all your time making sure you can avoid the lows, and you might find you're missing out on the highs as well.

Would you tell someone "Never start a business if the business's failing would adversely impact your life"? Or "Never start a business with borrowed money"? If you're going to approach sports gambling seriously, you have to treat it like your business. Gambling successfully requires capital, and it requires the nerve to risk that capital.

On the other hand, since we are directing this work primarily at newbies and more recreational online sports gambling bettors, I wouldn't want us to stray too far in the opposite direction from the "No betting more than you can afford to lose" advice.

With this in mind, I would say that three key points to remember in managing your money and determining how much to gamble are:

1. You'll lose in the long run if you are betting with a negative expectation.

2. If you're betting online with a positive expectation, you can still lose if you are betting so much at a time that a bad early run wipes you out and prevents you from getting to the long run.

3. If you're betting online with a positive expectation, you can partly miss out on your opportunity by betting less than you could have, and hence winning less than you could have.

You need the right balance between too much risk and too little risk (and hence too little reward). If you are a beginner sports bettor, concentrate more on avoiding the former (#1 and #2). Later in your career you can worry about avoiding the latter (#3).

Most people, especially when they first start out at online sport gambling, are a lot more apt to betting irresponsibly high than to not betting enough. So until you have some kind of solid evidence to go on that you have a long-term positive expectation at internet betting, you should err on the side of caution.

In fact, you could even make a case for not betting at all until you know what you're doing. Maybe spend a season or more charting what you would have bet according to whatever system you propose to use, and see how you would have come out.

The drawback to this kind of dry run is that it may be difficult to fully duplicate "battlefield conditions." When you're sports gambling real money, you can misspeak on the phone placing your sports betting pick, you can be out of money in your account at the sport book betting that has the best betting line, you can lose discipline and make a gambling bet that it isn't clear your system calls for, etc. Depending on precisely what kind of system you're testing, it may or may not be possible to learn anything by betting it in a make believe fashion instead.

The next step up is internet sports betting real money, but sport betting a very small amount, like $10 per game as has been suggested. Only bump it up when you've got plenty of evidence that what you're doing works.

Focusing now on Point #1, you should completely ignore any online gambling strategy you hear about that allegedly overcomes a mathematical disadvantage. People swear by such systems, because just by chance, some people using them can be successful, especially in the short run. Just like out of a hundred touts (or baboons) picking at random, at least one will likely hit 60% or better in a given season, a random small percentage of the people who try any sport betting system will end up quite a bit ahead of the norm.

What I have in mind are the ubiquitous online sports betting system that tells you to double up after a loss, or increase by one unit after each win, or do this or that after you've won three or more in a row, etc. Every last one of them is total hogwash. If you're casino gambling, where the house has the betting edge, none of these fancy ways of casino betting is going to give you a positive expectation over the long run. (This is why all "gambling systems" for craps or roulette or any other form of gambling with a built-in edge for the house are worthless. People convince themselves otherwise when they win using one, but such an outcome is pure luck.)

No fancy gambling system like that can make you a winner if you are betting with a negative expectation. Actually a non-fancy gambling system like "Betting the same amount every time" is no better and no worse. What you need to do is to get that betting edge in your favor. Nothing else can save you. It's all a mirage.

The typical fallacy of such online gambling strategy is that they are based on the outcomes of already completed wagers. (For instance, you've won several in a row, so betting big to take advantage of your being "hot;" or, to the contrary, you've won several in a row, so betting small because you're "due" for a loss, etc.) But except in special cases, your online sports betting is going to be on independent wagers, and there is no non-superstitious justification for treating them as connected parts of a "run."

Granted, there is an indirect sense in which the outcomes of previous wagers can have a bearing on how much you should bet on your next wager, namely, the following:

Your optimum betting online wager size is largely a function of three main factors: The size of your present bankroll, your likelihood of winning the wager, and the online betting odds at which you are making the wager. Obviously one of the things that affect the size of your bankroll is whether you have been winning or losing thus far. So in that indirect way, it is indeed the case that, all else being equal, you should typically be betting more after a win and less after a loss.

But keep in mind, this applies only when you have a positive expectation. If you have a negative expectation, your optimum betting size is zero.

Turkoman1963:
I guess I differ a bit from the advice that it is OK if sports betting sports hurts a little. I think that you sports betting should not hurt! The psychological effect of losing too much when you are starting off can be devastating. Better to set aside exactly what you can afford to lose and budget that amount into one or several selections that you feel confident about.

Newbies especially need to get a grasp for what they are successful at. Basketball gambling the same amount on a Tuesday night UCSB-Pepperdine basketball game where you don't know any of the players names, as opposed to football gambling on a team where you know every handicapping factor (injuries, weather conditions, team trends) and feel extremely confident.

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