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One of the biggest dilemna's facing sports bettors is how much to wager on a game or match. For a majority of bettors flat betting a small percentage of their bankroll is the correct answer. Those who want to take sports betting to the next level may decide to use the Kelly Criterion formula to figure their wager size.

In most cases you should bet the same amount, one unit on every game however you may increase your wager size if your strong plays have shown to have a greater edge over multiple seasons. The problem is most gamblers do not have a statistically significant number of wagers to know if their strong plays will continue to show an increased edge.

Wagers that you have a strong feeling about may have no more chance of being correct then your normal bets. It is possible to have a winning record and still lose money if you vary the amount you wager. Therefore, we do not advocate increasing your wager size unless you use maths to calculate the edge on games you bet.

All sports bettors should set aside a bankroll for gambling. The size will be different for every person, but it should be less than the amount that would negatively affect your life style if lost. We recommend flat betting or risking the same amount on every wager even if you are betting for entertainment purposes.

If you do not know your edge on games you bet we recommend flat betting or risking no more than 2% of your bankroll per wager. For example, if your bankroll is $10,000 your unit size will be $200. This is based on experience and the advice of veteran sports bettors.

Gamblers who want to maximize bankroll growth while reducing risk of ruin can calculate their optimal bet size using the Kelly Criterion formula. According to Investopedia, "the Kelly Criterion is a mathematical formula that helps investors and gamblers calculate what percentage of their money they should allocate to each investment or bet."

Assume the sportsbook has offered moneyline odds of -200 on a team to win their next game. This equates to an implied probability of 66.7%. Meanwhile you believe that same team has a 70% chance of winning. Plugging this information into the Kelly formula yields a wager size equal to 10% of the handicappers bankroll.

A - Moneyline (Decimal Odds) = -200 (1.5)
B - Handicapper's Probability = 70%

Kelly Formula

= (((A-1)*B) - (1-B)) ÷ (A-1)
= (((1.5-1)*0.7) - (1-0.7)) ÷ (1.5-1) = 0.1 or 10%

If you have not used the Kelly formula before now we recommend betting half Kelly or 5% of your bankroll in this example.

Many sports bettors will tell you that betting the full Kelly amount will cause you to go bust in the long run. The Kelly formula is only as good as the data used. Unfortunately, it is impossible to account for every variable and and the handicapper's analyses are sometimes inaccurate. Therefore, except for the most experienced sports bettors it is inadvisable to bet more than half the amount calculated by the Kelly formula.

We have observed that our half Kelly wagers averaged three percent of our bankroll. If most of your bets are more than 3% using half Kelly we recommend re-evaluating your handicapping methods.

Realistically if you manage to win more than you lose you are doing a good job. You must hit 52.4% just to breakeven versus a traditional -110 point spread. Winning 55% of your bets on side and total wagers will give you a 5.5% return.


= (55 wins) - (45 losses) - (4.5 juice on losses) = 5.5 units.
= 5.5 units ÷ 100 games = .055 or 5.5%

Anybody claiming to do better is probably being insincere or hasn't been betting that long. The good news is that every time we wager on a game we know the result by the end of the day and we can churn a large amount of money in a short period of time.

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