HomeBlogUncategorizedThe Kelly Criterion: An Advanced Bankroll Management Strategy for Sports Betting

The Kelly Criterion: An Advanced Bankroll Management Strategy for Sports Betting

Bankroll management is a critical aspect of sports betting that can significantly influence your long-term success. One popular bankroll management strategy, particularly among more experienced bettors, is the Kelly Criterion. This advanced approach helps determine the optimal bet size based on the perceived value of a wager. In this blog post, we’ll explore the Kelly Criterion, its benefits, and how to implement it effectively in your sports betting endeavors.

What is the Kelly Criterion?

The Kelly Criterion, developed by John L. Kelly Jr. in 1956, is a mathematical formula that calculates the optimal bet size as a percentage of your bankroll based on your edge over the bookmaker. The primary goal of the Kelly Criterion is to maximize your bankroll growth while minimizing the risk of ruin. Unlike fixed unit betting, the Kelly Criterion takes into account the varying degrees of confidence you have in different bets.

The formula for the Kelly Criterion is:

Kelly Fraction = (BP – (1 – P)) / B


  • B = the decimal odds of the bet (e.g., 2.00, 1.75, etc.)
  • P = the probability of winning the bet, expressed as a decimal (e.g., 0.50 for a 50% chance)
  • BP = the potential winnings if the bet is successful (odds multiplied by the bet amount)

Benefits of the Kelly Criterion

  1. Optimal Bet Sizing: The Kelly Criterion calculates the optimal bet size to maximize your bankroll growth, taking into account both the potential winnings and the probability of success.
  2. Value-based Betting: The Kelly Criterion emphasizes finding value in bets, encouraging bettors to focus on their handicapping skills and select bets with a positive expected value.
  3. Risk Management: By adjusting the bet size based on the perceived edge, the Kelly Criterion helps to manage risk more effectively than strategies that use a fixed bet size.

Implementing the Kelly Criterion

To apply the Kelly Criterion in your sports betting, follow these steps:

  1. Calculate Your Edge: Determine the probability of success for a given bet based on your handicapping skills. Compare this probability to the implied probability of the bookmaker’s odds. Your edge is the difference between your calculated probability and the bookmaker’s implied probability.
  2. Apply the Kelly Formula: Plug your edge, the decimal odds, and the probability of success into the Kelly Criterion formula to calculate the optimal bet size as a percentage of your bankroll.
  3. Determine Your Bet Size: Multiply the Kelly Fraction by your current bankroll to obtain the optimal bet size for the specific wager.
  4. Manage Your Risk: The full Kelly Criterion can be quite aggressive, leading to substantial fluctuations in your bankroll. Many bettors opt to use a fraction of the Kelly Criterion, such as half-Kelly or quarter-Kelly, to reduce their risk while still taking advantage of the optimal bet sizing.
  5. Monitor and Adjust: Regularly evaluate your betting performance and the accuracy of your edge calculations. Adjust your handicapping methods and the Kelly Criterion fraction as needed to optimize your bankroll management strategy.


The Kelly Criterion is an advanced bankroll management strategy that can help experienced sports bettors maximize their profits and manage risk more effectively. However, it’s essential to remember that the effectiveness of the Kelly Criterion relies on your ability to accurately estimate your edge and the probability of success for each bet.

As with any bankroll management strategy, the Kelly Criterion is not a guarantee of profits or a safeguard against the inherent risks associated with sports betting. It’s crucial to continually hone your handicapping skills, stay informed about the sports you’re betting on, and adapt your strategies as you gain experience and insight.

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