4 Steps To The Perfect Horse Racing Bankroll

Wondering How Big Your Bankroll Should Be? Follow These Four Steps...

Your bankroll is going to be one of the most important parts of your horse racing betting.

If you have a bankroll that’s too small, you’re going to lose it during a bad streak and not have enough left to bet to see you through that bad streak and back out the other side.

If you have a bankroll that’s too large, your stakes are going to be too small and you’re not going to be maximising your profit.

Getting your bankroll just right can be a minefield.

But it doesn’t have to be!

We’ve broken down how you can work out the perfect bankroll for your betting strategy into just four simple steps.

I’m going to assume that you’ve already got a profitable betting strategy that you want to work out your bankroll for. If you don’t, then you should check out our Pro Members Club which contains a number of profitable strategies.

Tip #1: Understanding Why Your Bankroll Is Important?

To be profitable you need to have a plan for staking the right amount of money on each of your selections. Without a proper bankroll, you will either lose the entire amount or not be growing it as fast as you should be.

Finding a selection and placing whatever money you feel like placing on it, or whatever happens to be in your bookmaker account, has a name… gambling… and that’s not something we want to do.

We want to invest. Investing in horse racing means that we have a plan. That plan includes knowing how we’re going to find our selections, knowing the statistics for our selections, knowing our bankroll size, and knowing how much we’re going to bet on each selection.

If you haven’t got these four things in place then you’re gambling. Stop. Let’s go back to investing, because it’s only by investing that we’ve got a chance to walk away as a profitable bettor.

This is what you need to do:

  1. Ask yourself if you have a plan for finding selections
  2. Ask yourself if you know the statistics for your selections, how often they win, how big a drawdown you can expect and your estimated return
  3. Ask yourself if you know what your bankroll size needs to be and exactly how much you’re going to bet on every selection

If you answer No to any of these three questions, then you’re need to pause with your betting, we’re going to find the answers now.

Tip #2: Bankrolls. The Backbone Of Staking

You can’t even begin to think about what stake size you’re going to use until you’ve worked out what your bankroll is.

The bankroll is the amount of money that you’re going to set aside for betting with one particular strategy.

Always begin by working out the bankroll you’d need for flat staking. Flat staking is simply placing 1 unit on every single bet.

We will look at different staking plans in another blog post. If you know what your bankroll should be for flat staking, then you’ll be able to work out the bankroll required for any staking strategy you want to consider.

There’s a lot of complex ways you can work out your bankroll. These include using statistics and calculating things such as Risk Of Ruin,

I’m not going to use any of that.

I’m going to keep it quick and simple.

Unless you’re planning on starting a major betting syndicate, the difference between the complex statistical methods and the simple two minute method won’t affect you.

So we may as well keep it simple.

In order to determine the bankroll requirement, you need to work out your downswings. To do this you need to start with your strike rate, the percentage of winning bets you get, the average amount of bets per month and your average winning odds.

I’m going to assume a 20% strike rate and an average of 2 bets per day for 60 bets per month.

We’re going to want to look at the downswing from different timeframes, these are:

  • 1 month
  • 3 months
  • 6 months
  • 1 year
  • 3 years

Unless you’ve got a lot of data, you’re not going to have enough selections to work this out on real-life data.

But that’s okay, we can use a spreadsheet and random numbers to work it out for us!

I’m going to use Microsoft Excel, but you can use any spreadsheet as long as it will create a random number.

Horse Racing Bankroll Image 1

This is what the spreadsheet looks like. Nothing fancy.

If you’re not great with spreadsheets, don’t panic, I’m going to explain everything and I’ll give you a copy of this one to download so it’s all done for you.

Let’s start with the PROBABILITY column.

Horse Racing Bankroll Image 2

There are just two rows in this column. The first row contains the winning strike rate that we’re expecting to have, in this example I’ve set it to 20%.

The second row contains the percentage chance of losing. In this case it’s 80%. There’s a simple formula in the cell that calculates this automatically, so you don’t need to worry about it.

Horse Racing Bankroll Image 3

Next to this column is the CUMULATIVE column, this is simply the cumulative probability of the PROBABILITY column. The first row is always 0, and then we add it up as we go down. This is something Excel needs for us to calculate the random numbers.

Horse Racing Bankroll Image 4

Moving over to the first column is where we have our simulated results. The number 1 is for a win and the number 2 is for a loss. This isn’t an Excel tutorial, but you can see the formula we’ve used to generate this at the top. You can learn more about creating random numbers in Excel here.

Horse Racing Bankroll Image 5

At the top you can see I’ve put some basic stats about wins, losses and strike rates from our random numbers.  Now we just need to drag the formula down as many cells as we want to have results for.

You can do this by clicking on the little square on the bottom right of the cell you’ve selected (make sure you’ve selected one with the formula in it), and then hold your mouse button and drag down the required amount of rows.

To start we’ll drag it down 91 rows, this is to simulate a 3 month period of time. I’ve chosen 91 rows because the first row contains a header, and it doesn’t have a number in it.

For the next step you need to know what you’re average winning odds are. I’ll be using average winning odds of 6.00 or 5/1, as this means that this sample will be making a profit, but you should use the actual odds you’re expecting to win with on average.

Horse Racing Bankroll Image 6

I’ve added two new columns, a P/L and ROLLING PROFIT column.

The P/L column shows a loss of one unit, -1, if the horse lost (has a 2 in column A), and shows a profit of 5/1 (minus Betfair commission of 5%) if the horse wins.

The Rolling Profit column adds together the profit or loss from each horse so we can create a graph showing how the results would look.

When you use random numbers in Excel, every time you perform a function they change, this is fine. You’ll also notice that sometimes the strike rate is higher than our 20%, and sometimes it’s lower. This simulates real life perfectly, which is also fine, and one of the reasons we need to do this over different timeframes.

Now we need to create a line graph.

Horse Racing Bankroll Image 7

It looks pretty much like a real life line graph of profit and loss, which is what we we’re aiming for.

Now… we just eyeball it!

Yup. We’re keeping it that simple.

And honestly, it’s going to be good enough.

Over three months the biggest draw down is from around +15 down to +4, a nine unit drop.

Horse Racing Bankroll Image 8

Make a note that over three months you got a 9 unit drawdown.

To repeat this process for each of the timeframes above, you need to drag down the random number column the amount of rows to represent days.

Here’s the results I got:

  • 1 month drawdown -19 units
  • 3 months drawdown -9 units
  • 6 months drawdown -12 units
  • 1 year drawdown -22 units
  • 3 years drawdown -44 units

You can also refresh the worksheet a few times for each timeframe by pressing SHIFT+F9, this regenerates the random numbers, and you can take the biggest drawdown you find. Don’t worry if it shows a loss, it will, it’s just random numbers not your real results.

Once you’ve got the above numbers, you’ll have a good idea of the sort of downswings you can expect to get using your selection method.

This is very useful for your mindset. You can prepare yourself what to expect over different periods of time.

In terms of a bankroll, you should choose a bankroll between 3 and 5 times the biggest drawdown.

This would give a bankroll of between 132 units and 220 units in my example.

In summary, what you need to do is:

  1. Download the Excel spreadsheet from here
  2. Find your strike rate and average winning odds
  3. Edit the settings in the spreadsheet
  4. Work out your biggest drawdowns over the different timeframes
  5. Calculate your bankroll

Tip #3: Working Out Your Stakes

Once we know what our bankroll’s going to be, we can work out what stakes we need to use for flat betting.

It takes just two steps to do this!

  1. Determine how much money you have to bet with
  2. Divide the amount you have to bet with by your bankroll size

Let’s take a look at doing this.

If we have £1000 to put into our betting, and our bankroll is going to be 132 units, we do the sum…

£1000 divided by 132 = £7.58

Our stakes would be £7.58 per bet.

Should we be less risk adverse, and are using a bankroll of 220 units, then the sum would be…

£1000 divided by 220 = £4.55

Our stakes would be £4.55 per bet.

Let me guess… you weren’t expecting to be betting such a small amount from a £1000 bankroll? That’s what we’re going to look at next!


  1. Decide how much you have to bet with
  2. Divide this amount by your bankroll requirement to get your flat betting stake size

Tip #4: Don’t Get Greedy

Greed is the number one destroyer of profitable betting strategies. There’s a mistaken belief that because you’re betting on horse racing you should be able to make a fortune overnight with no planning.

And yes… I guess you can… if you gamble and get lucky.

But we don’t want to gamble.

We’re not interested in the overnight riches where you risk everything, get lucky once, only to lose it all and more over the next few days, weeks or months.

If you want to do that, you’re on the wrong website. Because here we want to make bettors profitable. That’s the whole point of the Race Advisor and our Pro Members Club, which you can try out here.

To be profitable we have to plan our investments, and part of that planning is preparing for the worst.

It’s quite possible to go for six months, or longer, and not be profitable even when you’re using a profitable strategy.

If we look at it logically, rather than through the warm tinted glasses of how we’d like it to be, if we’re winning 20% of our bets, then we’re losing 80% of them.

That means we’re going to be losing 8 out of every 10 bets we place.

Which means… the majority of the time you’re going to be losing!

Yes. As a profitable bettor, the majority of the time you’re going to be losing.

Get your head round that mind bending thought.

As we know that we’re going to be losing eight out of every ten bets, we’d better prepare for the times when our expected winners don’t arrive because the horse got bumped, blocked, tripped, fell or the jockey is just having a bad day.

If you get greedy, if you try and reduce your bankroll, then when you hit that extended losing downswing, which will happen sooner or later, then you’re going to lose your entire bankroll instead of having the allowance to recover.

Even with proper bankrolling you’re still making a lot more than any other form of investment.

Let’s say our return on investment is 5%, which is at the low end. We have £1000 and are placing £7.58 per bet, on sixty bets per month (2 bets per day), with a 132 unit bankroll.

Each month we place £7.58 x 60 = £454.80 of bets and make an average of a 5% return on them for a £22.74 profit.

Over the course of the year, assuming we’re not compounding our profit, we’ve made £272.88 profit. That’s a 27% return on our investment in a single year!

Yes, the numbers aren’t big, but then neither is the initial investment.

The average property investment is only going to make you 6% per year, and at the moment the banks are even worse.

So 27% is pretty phenomenal.

But, if you’d compounded your profits, added them back into your bankroll and increased your stakes after every bet, you’d have a bankroll of £17,885 at the end of your first year. That’s a growth of 1788% in a year!

Which is probably more what you were hoping for, and is definitely achievable if you plan properly.

These numbers are just examples, there’s likely to be more ups and downs, it could be worse, it could be better, but what it shows is that if you spend the time to develop a profitable betting strategy that works for you. If you work out your correct bankroll, then you could reap the benefits!

If you’d like help building your strategy, check out our Pro Members Club.

Now, here’s what you need to do next:

  1. Read through the above again
  2. Get your head around the mind bending thought you’re going to be losing more than you’re winning
  3. Remember to not get greedy or try to rush

In Summary

Working out your bankroll is usually the last thing that most bettors think about. After all, you want to get your bet placed before the race with the selection starts.

It’s something that’s very easy to push aside until later.

But pushing it aside is only going to cause you problems further down the line. Not only is it important to work out your bankroll so that you can cope with downswings.

Going through the four steps above forces you to re-consider your betting strategy, what your stats are and what losing streaks you should be expecting.

What Bankroll Size Do You Use?

Have you already worked out your own bankroll? What size bankroll do you use? Does it match the size you should use following the steps above?

Maybe you think that bankrolls are a waste of time.

Whatever you think, let me know by leaving a comment right now.


Michael Wilding

Michael started the Race Advisor in 2009 to help bettors become long-term profitable. After writing hundreds of articles I started to build software that contained my personal ratings. The Race Advisor has more factors for UK horse racing than any other site, and we pride ourselves on creating tools and strategies that are unique, and allow you to make a long-term profit without the need for tipsters. You can also check out my personal blog or my personal Instagram account.


  1. Michael, can you clarify something please. If you have 20 winners and 70 losers from 90 bets, shouldn’t the strike rate be (20÷90)×100 which would give a strike rate of 22% and not 27%? Also, if you are placing 2 bets per day, which is 60 bets per month as you stated, shouldn’t it be 180 bets over a three month period? I look forward to your clarification on this. Keep up the good work. I’ve learned a lot from you.

    1. Hi Wade, you’re absolutely right. I did the sum against 70 instead of 90 (must have been having a doh moment!). The strike rate would be 22% and yes again (my continuation of doh moment) I should have copied this down 180 rows for 60 bets per month, not 90 days for 1 day per month. Just shows that even when you know what you’re doing you can make mistakes! Thank you for catching them.

  2. Interesting article, you did say that you were going to have a copy of the spreadsheet to download. I couldn’t see a link for it. Did I miss it?

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