Managing Your Gambling Units

Unit SizeThere are many keys to becoming a successful, or at the very least, not pathetic gambler. Variables such as having a wide variety of shops to place your action, line shopping, and of course maximizing the information available to you by joining our NFL Picks service will all be for not if you don’t properly manage your bankroll. Most professional gamblers refer to the stake you place on a game as a “unit”, so we’ll use that term going forward.

There are essentially two schools of thought on how to properly stake a wager: Flat Betting and the Kelly Criterion, with one of these methods being far more simple than the other. Much like there are recreational and sharp online sportsbooks, so too is there a recreational and sharp “staking method”.

Flat betting is ridiculously simple: Your bankroll is broken down into units. You then risk one, two, or three units on a play based on its perceived strength. If your starting bankroll is $1000, and your average unit size is $10, (she tells me it’s big), then you would have 100 units to work with. You would then risk these units as mentioned above, and not as other touts would have you do.

These fonzanoons are huge fans of the 5 to 10 unit LOCK OF THE WEEK / MONTH / YEAR / DECADE, which is always a clear sign to run away from them as fast as you can. Members who subscribe to the Sports Information Network already know that we usually roll with a “Gun to the Head” play of 1 unit because we would rather be dead than participate in such loss-chasing shenanigans when gambling on the NFL. The reason these unscrupulous scoundrels do this is because if they hit one big multi-unit play they can then claim that they had a winning week(end). Also, their “chase play” usually comes along just as you are making dinner and cleaning the house so your old lady won’t be as pissed when you tell her the daycare check is going to be delayed.

In summation, don’t chase losses by increasing your unit size. It’s all about the motion in the ocean folks. Peaks and valleys. We move on.

Kelly Criterion System

On the other hand, you could adjust your stake size for each individual wager by employing the Kelly Criterion which is a staking system where your risk adjusts based on the perceived edge you have for your wager.

First you calculate your perceived edge, known as “Expected Value” or “EV” for short. You’ll only want to make wagers where you are in a +EV situation, -EV is never to be bet. The actual formula is:

((Decimal Odds -1)*(Probability of Success)) – (Probability of Failure )/(Decimal Odds – 1)

Don’t worry, it’s actually fairly easy once you build the spreadsheet to do the math for you. We’ve provided a fully detailed explanation on how to create a Kelly Criterion sheet that is easy to follow and shouldn’t take you too long to build yourself.

The main advantage of the Kelly Criterion is that in theory your bankroll will never hit zero because you are always betting a percentage of what is remaining based on the size of said bankroll. The bigger your bankroll, the larger your wager size since it increases along with your bankroll. Conversely, it will also decrease when applicable.

So those are the two methods of managing your gambling units. Two different ways, with most professionals arguing that the Kelly Criterion is far superior. While it has large advantages over flat betting, it lacks the ease of use. If you’re a recreational bettor who does this to make the games a bit more exciting, just stick to flat betting and enjoy the action while making smarter wagers. If you have the time to invest and really want to elevate your game, use the Kelly Criterion, when done correctly you’ll be flat betting in due time, not because you want to but because you have no choice as you’ll just be pressing the Max Bet button.

What’s a Fonzanoon? Well, if you have to ask, you might be one…

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