Betting Experts Answer: Tips on Sports Betting Risk Management? | Part 2

Welcome to the 7th article in our series: “Betting Experts Answer The Industries Biggest Questions.”

This week we open up the debate on what some of our experts have described as the most important topic in sports betting, as we asked nine betting experts the question:

Q7: What are the best ways to manage risk when sports betting?

Check out Part 1 of our answers here, where we get the opinions of former odds compiler - Matthew Trenhaile, betting analyst - Joseph Buchdahl, Pete Ling from Smart Betting Club, host of the Business of Betting Podcast & Nenko from The Church of Betting.


1  professional sports bettor spanky workspace

This is probably the most important topic there is. I’ve seen so many aspiring bettors go broke because they failed to manage risk. They Kelly bet assuming they’re edge estimation is accurate and wind up overestimating and go busto. For anyone starting out, my advice is to eliminate risk all together and build a bankroll. It’s how I started. Middling games and Scalping games.

Scalping games is pure arbitrage. It’s free money falling from the sky. You just have to be fast enough to grab it. If free money is above you, then I suggest you find a new hobby/business to get into. Middling is true and tried. The value of every half point is easy to calculate. If you lay -5 on Team A in the NBA and take back +6.5 on Team B, you will 100% make money long term. You don’t have to rely on a model (which can obviously be faulty) to tell you that either side is the right side. If you master scalping and master middling, you’ve mastered line movement analysis. (Subsequently, you’ve also grown your bankroll exponentially). If you can anticipate line moves, you’ve cracked the code.

Follow @Spanky on Twitter & check out the article The Ringer wrote about him here.


Make your decision on what the odds should be and how much you'll bet given the variance from your odds BEFORE you see what the odds actually are. In other words, bet by calculated amount, not "feel." But if you are going to bet by feel: remember that the only thing dumber than being proud of how big you bet is being embarrassed by how little you bet.

Follow @TruePokerJoe on Twitter & check out his book ‘Sharper: A Guide to Modern Sports Betting’.

true poker joe book a guide to modern sports betting


Managing risk is such a vital part of this game, and being a great bettor or trader would not be possible if one did not know how to optimally invest with their bankroll. Managing risk properly is what keeps us in the game when the inevitable losing streak takes over and variance is at its worst. As your bankroll scales and you have more on the line, it becomes that much more important to know where you’re at and make adjustments as needed. Below I’ve put a list of things that I practice on a daily basis to help me manage my risk and stay on top of my game.

Adapting a Staking Method: The greatest bettors out there know how to maximise their value on a bet without playing outside of their means. Adapting a staking method that allows you to play more when your edge is significantly high, and play less when your edge is relatively small, is ideal. This for most avid bettors would be some type of a modified version of the Kelly Criterion.

Using a Bet Tracker: There are going to be times where you will be placing multiple bets on a match across different sports books, and you’re going to want to stay organized by logging all of them in a place where you can easily see how much you’re collectively risking on a bet and how much you stand to gain or lose in that spot, and what your average odds are on the bet. Having a bet tracker also lets you see what your running profit/loss is for the week, month, or year and helps you see if you need to make adjustments if your risk tolerance starts hitting the threshold.

Be Aware of the Market: Too many people bet with their egos, and follow it up with the typical “I don’t care where the market is at” as a supporting reason to justify a mediocre bet. In any marketplace, your asset is only as valuable as what people are willing to pay for it. When you’re betting on something to happen, someone else is betting for it to not happen and this exchange keeps taking place until pricing gets closer to the efficient point. So when someone tells me price doesn’t matter, I can’t respect that. When you’re betting, you’re partaking in a marketplace and price is absolutely important because it is an important aspect to managing risk. If you don’t want to weight the closing line as a true measure to the expected probability of a specific match, that’s fine, but you should still be snagging the best prices possible first. If the prices you bet on are illiquid in the marketplace and new information comes into play, it becomes so much more expensive to pivot from that point.

Bet Both Sides (Sometimes): I’m not a big fan of arbitrage betting, especially if I am betting into a stale and efficient number just to lay-off risk — we sacrifice value like this. When I am betting, I am always betting for value at that given point in time, and sometimes that will lead me to a point where I am betting both sides on a match (at different bookmakers of course). If I place an early bet on a match at +120/2.20 it’s probably because I thought it should be priced closer to +105/2.05 or lower, and although it’s a great bet, new information can enter the market at anytime and cause a shift in the true probabilities of the match. This shift can cause the market to go against my initial bet and if I become too attached to my bet, I will miss out on the opportunity to bet the other side and create either (a) an arbitrage situation or (b) a synthetic value line tipped towards the trend. It’s not written anywhere that you have to stick to your initial bet. When situations are changing, your positions can change too — in fact, they should because it is such a great way of managing risk.

Become Numb to Losing: Easier said than done, but losing streaks will come (and go) and you will have to be mentally prepared to make sure you don’t try to chase your losses with bigger bets, or betting too small when you still have a solid edge. Try to leave your emotions out of it so that you can properly assess the situation and bet into a number optimally. Managing risk is not just about protecting yourself from loss, it's also about exposing yourself to opportunities where you can stand to gain profits. It’s okay to scale back if you have to in order to bet proportionately to your bankroll, but if you’ve lost a bit, don’t start creating inconsistencies in your habits. Stick to the program and don’t let your emotions take over your ability to make good decisions.

Apply these practices to your betting and they will naturally help you manage risk as an investor in this space. Keep at it, stay engaged, and enjoy what you do. Happy grinding, and good luck!

Follow @BetLikeHarout on Twitter here.


Bankroll management is one of the keys to succeeding in sports betting/trading. Staking too much can lead to busting your bankroll but staking too little hinders bankroll growth. The Kelly Criterion gives you a good framework to look at.

I do think however that it is very important to consider your own appetite for risk. Everybody has a different tolerance to risk. Some people are suited to betting at higher odds and can tolerate losing runs, whilst other bettors may want to lower variance and stick to the lower odds ranges.

Ultimately I think the best way to manage risk is to fully understand what you are doing and know what you want to achieve from betting. To be constantly educating yourself about all aspects of sports betting and learning from more experienced sports bettors.

Follow @SmSportstrader on Twitter & check out the Smart Sports Trader blog here.

Check out Part 1 of our answers here, where we get the opinions of former odds compiler - Matthew Trenhaile, betting analyst - Joseph Buchdahl, Pete Ling from Smart Betting Club, host of the Business of Betting Podcast & Nenko from The Church of Betting.

Love getting the opinions from experts in the betting industry? Then subscribe to the Trademate Sports Podcast, where we interview the most important people in the sports betting industry.

Here are the other questions we have got our industry experts to answer so far:

  • Q1: Top 3 tips for betting beginners? Part 1 & Part 2.
  • Q2: How do you define “finding value” in betting markets? Part 1 & Part 2.
  • Q3: How do you determine whether your betting results are based on luck or skill? Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.
  • Q4: Kelly criterion or flat staking: Which stake sizing strategy do you consider to be the best and why? Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.
  • Q5: What is the best method to use to make money from sports betting? Part 1 & Part 2.
  • Q6: How difficult is it to beat the sports betting markets? How efficient are the odds? Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.
  • Q8: Is there a best sport to bet on? If so, what is it? Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.
  • Q9: Assuming you have an edge, at what point can you start accurately evaluating your results and say that variance has played out? Part 1 & Part 2.
  • Q10: What is the one thing you would like to see the change in the gambling industry? Part 1 & Part 2.
  • Q11: Do you think emotions play a part in people's sports betting results? If so, how should they overcome this? Part 1 & Part 2.
  • Q12: What are the top 3 mistakes people make when betting? Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.

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