How to Manage Your Money

If this is your first time in a physical sports book or online gaming site, the betting numbers can be overwhelming.

What's the right bet to play? Should I avoid sports I don't normally follow? Are some bets riskier than others?

Some visitors to sports books or online sites — like Bovada — are scared off from playing because they can't figure out how sports betting works. Here, we will help you understand what all those odds mean and how to manage your sports betting bankroll.

Do I Need a Betting Budget?

Every bettor needs to budget, whether it's playing sports online or visiting a casino. When this form of entertainment stops being fun and exciting, it's time to do something else with your time.

If you don’t know how to handle your money, you’re just asking for stress and heartache. Never bet any cash that you can't afford to lose — even if you think your favorite team is a "sure thing."

Be realistic in assessing your sports betting bankroll. The amount you start with will affect how much you bet on each game.

It’s important that you set a dollar number that you’re comfortable with. This is a crucial component of successful sports betting money management. Gamblers should not be constantly depositing and withdrawing from their online sports betting account. That just makes it a lot easier to lose track of the bigger picture.

A common amount to bet on each game is no more than five per cent of your bankroll. If you started with $100, keep your bets around $5. If you started with $1,000, keep your bets to no more than $50 per game. Yes, everyone wants to make money, but a losing streak can clean you out if you're betting a large amount of your bankroll.

If you're a beginner in sports betting, it's best to keep your betting limits small until you gain some experience in the game.

Types of Betting Strategies

First of all, there isn't a "perfect" betting strategy. You can expect to go on winning streaks and losing streaks … it happens to everyone. Find the right style that fits for you.

  • Flat betting is where a gambler wagers the same amount on every game. If your goal is to lose as little as possible, this is probably the best way to bet on sports events.
  • Random betting is where a gambler changes the amount of the wager based on a gut feeling or instinct. You're likely to bet more on your favorite team than you are in just another game with two teams you know little about.
  • Progressive betting is where a gambler keeps increasing the amount of the wager until they hit a winner. This may eventually get you your money back or even earn you a profit, but it's a risky proposition if you go on a long losing streak.

Sports book profits soar when players get greedy. Quitting with a small win is far better than losing your shirt. Consider the consequences if you decide to go "all-in" with your bankroll on the next game.

Poor Bankroll Management

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You deposit $100 into your TopBet sports betting account. You bet it all on the hottest team in the league. They lose. Now what?

This is poor bankroll management, and it has forced this gambler into an unfortunate decision — reload his account or watch from the sidelines.

Stay disciplined. Maybe experiment without betting for awhile. Pick some games with nothing on the line and see how you do.

Picking winners, especially those that offer some value, is obviously the most crucial part of sports betting. The more research you do, the more you’ll notice that in the long run, you're making the best bet you can with all the information you can find.

Don't let a losing streak get you down or wipe out your bankroll. If you can stick to your plan, good management will save you for another day. Poor management will just lead to more and more bad decisions.

The ABCs of Sports Betting

One of the fastest ways to burn through your cash is to jump into a game without knowing the odds and payoffs. It's better to determine what each betting option returns so you will know if the wager offers any value.

The Golden State Warriors were +5000 to win their division in NBA futures before the 2018 season started. Is it really worth betting $500 on the Splash Brothers to make a $10 profit?

Betting odds and their respective payoffs will change as the event approaches. These numbers are dependent on how much money is being wagered on both sides of the bet. Remember, though, that when you make a bet at a specific point in time, your odds and payoffs are fixed and will not change.

Money line
Everyone likes to pick a winner, and that's all you have to do to score on the money line.

This is the most common bet, and it applies to every sport. There is no point spread linked to the money line, there is just a favorite and an underdog. So the team you bet on only has to win the game, not win by a certain number of points.

Let's say, for example, Team A (favorite) is -140 to win the game. Team B (underdog) is +120 to take it all. To win the money line, all you have to do is pick the winner, but the payout is linked to the betting line (-140 and +120).

If there is a minus sign in front of the betting line (-140), that is how much money a bettor has to wager to win $100. In our example, you would have to wager $140 to make a profit of $100 for a total return of $240.

If there is a plus sign in front of the betting line (+120), that is how much profit a bettor makes for a $100 bet. In our example, you would have to wager $100 to make a profit of $120 for a total return of $220.

Point spread
Commonly called the line or spread, it is the number chosen by Las Vegas and other oddsmakers that they feel will get an equal amount of money wagered on the underdog and favorite.

The negative value (-3.5) means the team is favored by 3.5 points. The positive value (+3.5) indicates an underdog of 3.5 points.

In this instance, the favored team must win by at least four points to cover the spread. The underdog team can win outright or lose by three points and still cover the spread.

Over/under totals
Totals and over/under bets are the exact same thing; these are just two different names for the same bet.

Over/under bets are the only wager in all of sports that allow you to cheer for or against both teams that are playing. This is a bet where you predict that the total of the final score will be over or under a certain betting line.

For example, the over/under betting line for Super Bowl LII was set at 48.5. The final score was 41-33 for a total of 74 points. It does not matter which team wins the game in this bet.

The totals bet is offered in all four major sports — football, baseball, basketball and hockey.

There are other types of sports bets:

Futures
This is where a bettor predicts the outcome of a future event (lower risk).

Parlays
This is where a bettor wagers on multiple games where each result must be correct (higher risk).

Teasers
This is where a bettor wagers on multiple games with unique point spreads where all picks must be correct (higher risk).

Prop bets
This is where odds are attached to a wide array of outcomes for teams and players (lower risk).

Remember, don't bet money you can't afford to lose, budget your sports betting bankroll and, must of all, enjoy the game.

See below the top sportsbooks where you can wager online and choose the best one for you:

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