Variance is an essential part of sports betting. It can be beneficial for small-time hobby players looking to score a big win or two, but from a general point of view, variance mostly benefits the bookmaker.
In this article, we are sharing some useful methods to reduce variance in sports betting.
Follow money management
The most important principle is money management. You simply won’t be successful if you don’t follow it.
Money management means that you are taking care of your bankroll. Your bet sizing should never be more than a few percent of your total bankroll. This might be a shock if you are a long-time hobby punter, but it is the best advice we can possibly give you.
Imagine that you have a bankroll of 1,000 dollars, and you bet 200 dollars per game. It will only take 5 bets until you’ve lost your entire roll!
To guard yourself against the variance, you need to have a conservative strategy when it comes to managing your bankroll. Usually, betting between 1-2% of your bankroll on each bet is the way to go. This is not too high and not too low. So if your bankroll is 1,000 dollars, you should only wager between 10 and 20 dollars on each bet. It might seem boring to do it this way, but it is the only way to build up a stable roll. And listen to this – if you have a high turnover and you manage to pick winners over the long run, your bankroll will grow.
Adjust your bet size regularly
So in order to reduce variance and become a successful bettor over the long term, you need to bet between 1-2% percent of your bankroll on each bet.
But of course, the amount should not stay the same. With a starting roll of 1,000 dollars, you will not keep betting 10-20 dollars per bet. You have to adjust it regularly. This is why it’s important to follow a percentage. If your bankroll grows, you will be able to stake higher amounts and get more profits. If things go against you, you will need to bet a bit less and
For example: If your bankroll grows to 2,000 dollars, you should now bet between 20 and 40 dollars per bet. If you have a bad streak and your bankroll is reduced to 700 dollars, you should also adjust your bet sizing so you only bet between 7 and 14 dollars on each outcome.
You need to adjust this as you move forward. How often should you re-adjust? We’d say every second week or every month. It’s too impractical to adjust the bet sizing after every single bet because you might have several bets at once and because it will be a new calculation every time. We recommend you to make a bi-weekly or monthly status of your roll, estimate the new staking size for the next period, and then re-adjust again when you do your next status.
Bet spreads and handicaps
Odds are related to probability. We all know this. Another way to reduce variance in sports betting is to stick with spreads and handicaps.
Most spreads with the average bookie are priced around 1.90-1.90 (or -110 odds on each side if we use American odds). This means you have a 50% chance of winning. The same applies to totals – and to handicaps in soccer.
It’s preferable to bet spreads and handicaps rather than moneylines and outrights. You have a stable probability range when you bet spreads – you don’t have that with most moneyline bets, outright bets, or 1X2 bets in soccer. If you generally like underdogs, and you bet moneyline, you can expect huge variance.
Of course, a lot of variance will still occur with spreads, but it will be more controllable and after a while, you will know what to expect.
Always focus on value
Value is incredibly important. On every single bet you make, you should have made a value analysis. For example, if you bet the New Orleans Saints -5.5 against the Carolina Panthers at odds 1.909 (-110 in American odds), it’s only a value bet if you estimate the chance of winning to be at least 52,5%. Any less than that and there isn’t any value – that means you will lose in the long term.
In fact, we believe value betting to be one of the two keys in sports betting (the other is money management)!
The thing is that we don’t know exactly what the probabilities are pre-game. So we have to make an analysis and give our best estimation. This is actually what the bookmakers do when they make their odds. The best bettors in the world know exactly how the odds should be priced, and that gives them the edge, but most bettors (long-term losers) have no idea and bet purely based on their gut feeling. So you want to learn how to spot value. This is what makes the difference between a good and a bad bettor.
The bigger your edge is, the more you will win, and that also reduces the variance. Or at the very least, it will make the impact of the variance less important. Even a 1% bigger edge on average will give you much better results and much less variance.
Use the best bookmakers
In order to get maximum value from your bets, you also need to bet the highest odds on the market. This will also help you to lower the influence of the variance.
You get access to all of them on the same platform if you sign up with the bet broker SportMarket.
If you live in the United States or in another country where you don’t have access to the bookmakers and exchanges mentioned above, you can bet with cryptocurrency on one of the many Bitcoin bookmakers. This has the added benefit that you can bet anonymously.
Place many bets – and keep track of them!
Ultimately, to reduce variance to the point where you can identify if you know what you’re doing or not, you need to place a lot of bets. It usually takes at least 500 bets before a player can be identified as having a statistical edge.
You might also face huge variance over 30 bets. A bit less when you reach 300 bets. And at 3,000 bets, the variance should finally appear much more limited. So be sure to place a lot of bets. And keep track of them, because that is the important part. You’ll want to have a spreadsheet with all of your results, graphs, and functions that show how much you should bet. We advise you to use our betting spreadsheet which is completely free.
Remember that betting always has its ups and downs. Variance is a natural part of the game. By implementing the ideas in this article, you can reduce it a bit, and that will help you emerge as a long-term winner in sports betting.
If you have any further tips that other readers can benefit from, feel free to leave a public message in the section below.