How To Avoid A Big Sports Betting Loss

Big sports betting losses can be devastating to both professional gamblers and amateurs.

What's the good news?

You can follow a few simple steps to avoid big losses:

Bankroll Management

Understanding your bankroll and how it directly affects how much you can bet on sporting events is the number one way to avoid big sports betting losses.

If you never make a big sports bet you can't ever face a big sports betting loss.

You can still face a string of losses that can start adding up quickly.

But even that can be avoided if you don't over bet your bankroll.

You can determine the exact percentage of your bankroll you should bet on any game--if you can realistically guess your edge. But it's usually impossible to accurately predict your edge. The computations can be advanced, too.

So instead of trying to explain exactly how to do that, I'm going to offer a few general guidelines for your sports betting bankroll:

When you first start betting on games, don't place more than 1% of your bankroll on any game.

Does this sound conservative?

It should, because it is.

But when you're just starting, you don't know if you can even win on a consistent basis. So a conservative approach gives you a cushion while you're learning.

Most occasional bettors view their bankroll differently than a professional sports bettor. If you're a professional, you need to have a separate bankroll.

And you need to protect that bankroll at all costs.

An occasional bettor may not have a set bankroll. They probably just take money from their job or other means of income whenever they want to place a bet.

The amateur needs to consider the size of their bets based on the assumption they'll lose every time a bet is made.

If the bettor can live with losing every bet, they're probably betting in a safe range. If losing--or the thought of losing--any bet is cause for concern, she shouldn't bet that much.

Once you become more comfortable and start winning consistently, move up to betting 2% of your bankroll per game.

A 2% limit per game bet is a good long term goal for maximum protection of your bankroll. Realize in a busy football weekend with a full slate of NFL and NCAA games you could easily bet on 10 games, putting a full 20% of your bankroll in play.

If you move up to a 5% per game range, you might end up putting half your bankroll in play. Try to avoid this if at all possible. If a single bad weekend can wipe out half your bankroll, you're either underfunded or over betting.

Stick with a long term goal of building your bankroll big enough so you can place any bets you need with only exposing 2% or less of your bankroll on any single bet.

Only placing 1 or 2% of your total bankroll on any game also can offer a large psychological advantage. Losses don't seem as bad. The occasional losing streak doesn't create problems.

Not every sports bettor needs the psychological help offered by low bets in comparison to their total bankroll.

But I look for every edge I can possibly find.


Professional investors look for ways to diversify their portfolios.

Professional sports bettors look for ways to diversify their sports betting investments.

By limiting your bets to 1 or 2% of your total bankroll, you've taken the first step in diversifying your sports betting.

Another diversification strategy is to offset high risk high reward wagers with low risk low reward options.

Here's an example:

If you bet the money lines on a few big underdogs hoping for a big score you might find a couple big favorites to bet the money line on as well.

You can also look for opportunities that moving lines sometimes present to bet both sides of the same game. If you bet on a game and the line moves more than a point in the right direction, you can bet the other side and have a chance to win both sides of the game--if the final score lands between the old and new line.

Only Bet with an Edge

Winning sports bettors thrive on finding and exploiting edges against the sports books.

They understand what it takes to win in the long run and concentrate on finding situations where they have an edge, even if it's small.

Because they're usually willing to bet with even a small edge they can face extended losing streaks.

Even winning sports bettors face losing streaks.

Even when you reach the point where you can win more often than you lose, you still have to be careful to avoid big losses.

Though winning sports bettors concentrate on winning money instead of games, consider a person who only bets on spread games.

By concentrating on winning money instead of games, you can bet on spread games, money lines, and other combinations that can let you be a long term winner without winning more often than you lose.

Here's an example:

If you win a money line bet on a big underdog, you can often win 10 times your wager or more. Even if you place two or three straight spread bets and lose at the same time the money line bet wins you can win more money than you lose and still only win 33% or 25% of the games you bet on.

When laying 110 to win 100, a sports bettor has to win at least 53% of the time to turn a profit. Any time a winning sports bettor finds a situation where they have at least a 53%, chance to win, they will place a bet.

Over thousands of games, if they always places bets with at least a 53% chance of winning, they'll win more than they lose.

Here's the problem:

They'll lose up to 47% of the time--even if they're a long term winner.

We've already seen why this means they can't bet with too much of their bankroll.

But what can finding an extra few percent do to help both long term profit and the ability to avoid big losses and losing streaks?

Everything depends on how much money a person wagers.

But it often requires quite a few million dollars in bets every year to make a decent living as a sports bettor.

If you bet $3 million a year, every single percent you can improve your winning percentage over 53% is worth $63,000 in profit.

The profit for a half percent gain is$31,500.

The increased profit for a 2% increase is $126,000.

These calculations assume a fairly diversified spread of bets. But the overall numbers are accurate. If you bet on fewer games, it creates additional issues. I based these numbers on 1,000 bets at $3,000 each. Feel free to run your own numbers based on your expected number of bets and amount wagered. Your increased profit will be close to what I calculated above on the same total amount wagered.

The more you make in profit, the less losing streaks and downswings affect you. You can see not only how important improving your winning percentage is to this.

But you can also clearly see how much it can mean to your bottom line.

If you want to be a winning sports bettor, you have to use the bankroll advice in the earlier section so you can afford to place bets on every situation where you have an edge. The worst thing--besides losing--that can happen to a sports bettor is finding a line that offers an edge and not being able to place a bet on it.

Don't Chase

Sports bettors can fall into the same trap that poker players and other gamblers often fall into. If things aren't going their way, players can start betting more.

Why is this dangerous?

Because you start betting without making sure you're only betting with an edge. You start ignoring your bankroll limitations.

This often starts when you think something along the following lines.

"I've had such bad luck I'm due for a win."

Players follow this with a bet two or three times as large as their last one, hoping to make up for all of their losses in one game. Then they lose the next game and end up blowing through their entire bankroll chasing a lucky break.

Even worse, occasionally they make a lucky pick and win a big purse. This only makes them think their new "system" works, so they'll do it again the next time they face a few straight losses.

Before they know it they're broke.

No matter what's happened in the past, stay calm and focused and continue making good decisions. It's the only way to profit in the long run and avoid big losses.

Don't Bet

The only 100% sure way to avoid a big sports betting loss is to not place a bet. You can find plenty of situations where things are in your favor and games where you should win most of the time.

But no game or wager offers a 100% sure thing.

If you ever find yourself saying "it's a sure thing" or have someone say it to you, immediately take a step back and think about what you're saying or hearing.

It doesn't matter how "sure" you or anyone else is, nothing is a sure thing in gambling except not betting at all.

If you have to bet, I've already covered the ways to avoid large losses.


Avoiding big sports betting losses are important to both the amateur and the professional gambler. Make sure you understand your bankroll limitations, diversify your betting portfolio, and only place bets when you have an edge.

You should be able to avoid both big losses and long losing streaks.