March Madness Bankroll Management Tips

How To Manage Your Bankroll During March Madness

Finally. Let the madness begin. 

As we get ready to launch into what should be an entertaining Big Dance, here are five tips to help you avoid traps that many March Madness bettors have stepped in.

March Madness Bankroll Management Tip #1: Limit Futures Bets

Sure, throwing money at six or seven teams to win the NCAA championship is fun, but there are better ways to allocate your money.

Futures bets can start to cannibalize each other. Even if one of your teams wins, that means the others are guaranteed to lose. Suddenly your +1100 winner is really only paying you +300 because you need to account for all the losing bets. Or, worse yet, in a year like this which is so wide open, all your bets lose.

If you enjoy betting futures, a more sound strategy is to bet one long-shot favorite and one “safer” favorite and save the rest of your bullets for individual games.

Remember, you can indirectly win money from a losing futures ticket if your team wins a couple of games and you hedge appropriately.  

The moneyline rollover strategy has become popular recently and is an alternative to futures markets. This technique is especially profitable for teams expected to be underdogs in each round.

For instance, you bet $100 on Furman +190 in the first round and it wins. You’d then take that $290 cash-out and put the entire thing on the Furman moneyline in the next round and repeat the process to the championship game (assuming Furman advances).

The final payout is higher than a futures bet payout and there’s an added advantage that you can back out after a win. For instance, unlike with futures bets, if Furman advances and loses a star player to injury, you can choose to abort the mission and walk away with profit.

March Madness Bankroll Management Tip #2: Don’t panic after a start slow

What happens to a team when it’s losing and starts forcing desperation three-pointers? Things can get ugly quickly and snowball out of control. As a bettor, this is the worst-case scenario.  

If you have a rough first round, keep your composure and stick to your game plan. This means not going on tilt and not increasing your average bet sizes to “catch up.” This is easier said than done, and dependent on impulse control.

If you feel the urge to “go all-in,” a helpful exercise can be to “zoom out.” When zoomed in on the NCAA Tournament, panicked thoughts like: “The tournament is half over, I’m running out of time” can creep in.

However, when you take a deep breath and zoom out, you can see there will be a tournament every year and there are opportunities to bet on the NBA, NHL and MLB after this tournament is over.

March Madness Bankroll Management Tip #3: Limit average bet sizes

Perhaps the biggest difference between professional bettors and Joe Public bettors is that most professionals bet around three percent of their bankroll on each bet, while the public is constantly taking much larger swings.

If you only have $100 to bet with, three percent or $3 can feel insignificant and frankly boring if you’re used to larger wagers. However, ask yourself if you’d rather be a bored winning bettor or a highly entertained losing bettor.

If your goal for March Madness is purely entertainment and you have money to burn, then by all means swing for the fences. For others, following the three percent rule can help you build healthy betting habits and stay afloat during losing stretches that even the best sports bettors endure.

March Madness Bankroll Management Tip #4: Shop around & use discernment

The odds are stacked against sports bettors and there’s a lot outside our control in the bettor-sportsbook relationship. For instance, we can’t control the fact that casinos charge 10 percent juice and we don’t control blind referees or bad beats. However, we do control where we place our bets.

Point spreads and totals vary greatly from one book to another and it’s common for moneyline prices to vary by 10 percent or more. If you’re not betting with multiple sportsbooks, especially in 2023 when books offer bonuses for new customers, you’re simply not doing it right.

For every wager you place, rate your level of conviction and ask why you’re betting it. Be honest with yourself. Betting a game with little conviction because you’re bored or because it’s the only thing on TV is not a winning strategy. Sometimes the best bet is passing and not placing a wager at all.

March Madness Bankroll Management Tip #5: Consider 1H lines

How many times have you watched an underdog leading at halftime in the Big Dance, only to eventually get blown out? A good three-point shooting team can get hot for a half, shock the world, and eventually regress toward the mean and toward oblivion.

Players from smaller schools might look good for most of the game and crack under pressure with a few minutes left. Free throws at the end of games can be an excruciating way to lose.

By betting the first half instead of the full-game line, you limit these aforementioned scenarios that can derail your wager. In March, I often prefer to bet more underdogs on the 1H line and more favorites on the full-game line. Betting half a unit on the first-half line and half a unit on the full-game line is another option.

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