What Is A Unit In Betting?

how to bet on sports

Once you get into betting, you quickly learn that knowing which bets to place is just as important as knowing how much to wager.

How much you wager or stake is central to bankroll management and can determine how far you can stretch what you have or how quickly you will run dry. One common term you will encounter when discussing bankrolls is sports betting units.

Sports Betting Units Explained

In sports betting, a unit is used to measure a given bet’s size.

Why is this important for sports bettors?

Everyone with a betting account has a different bankroll. Therefore, using exact figures does not do much for bettors as there can be huge differences. For example, one bettor can have $1000 as their bankroll, while another can have $80. However, a percentage of bankroll keeps everyone in sync and makes it easier to tabulate winnings and losses.

Therefore, if a single unit is equal to 1% of the bankroll, this translates to $10 for someone with a bankroll of $1,000.  The specific amount won’t be the same for everyone, but everyone can be engaged with whatever amount is in their account.

How Are Sports Betting Units Established?

Unit sizes are not standardized. Instead, Whatever you feel comfortable taking on a bet becomes your unit size.

However, some professional bettors advocate for 3% of your bankroll per play. So if you have $1,000 to last the year, you should be wagering $30 a game. This makes $30 one unit.

Casual bettors will rarely have a set bankroll or a defined amount. Instead, they credit an amount to their accounts and bet, hoping not to blow the amount.

However, if you want to start things out right, determine a bankroll amount and a unit size from the beginning and stick to it.

How Many Betting Units Should Be Wagered?

You can have a bankroll of $1,000, with a unit size of $10 (1%). As such, two betting units then become $20, three betting units are $30, and so on.

While you can lay as many units as you wish, most serious bettors rarely place more than five units of their bankroll on a single game.

For beginners and conservative bettors, the recommended units per game should be 1-2.

Generally speaking, it’s advisable to bet the same amount (single unit) in each wager. This lets you distribute your risk across multiple bets while mitigating your chances of blowing your bankroll.

How Do You Calculate Units?

Once you learn how to read American odds, it becomes easier to calculate units.

Here is an example of a game:

Ohio State                                                    – 6.5   (-110)

Penn State                                                    + 6.5 (-110)

Supposing you are backing Ohio State on 1 unit, at – 6.5 at -110. This -110 is the tax your sportsbook will retain, so you win 10% less should your team cover the spread.

This 10% cut brings your potential win down to .91 units should Ohio cover the spread. With a standard unit size set at $20, you stand to win $18.18.

Calculating Wins and Losses

Aside from calculating units, bettors are also interested in learning how to calculate their wins and losses.

Knowing what you have lost is pretty straightforward. If you follow the one or two units per bet rule, your loss is the number of wagered units per incorrect wager.

If your unit is pegged at $10 in a given bet, and you use one unit, your loss is $10. If you wagered two units and a unit is $10, your loss is ($10 × 2), making it $20 and so on.

On the flip side, calculating betting units won is not as easy but is doable.

To calculate earnings per unit(s) won, multiply the dollar amount you usually spend by the units won.

For example, if your unit is $10, and you want to know how much you won to return .85 betting units, multiply 10× .85

This gives you $8.50. This is the potential win.

Why Do Sports Bettors Use Units?

The amount of money bettors spend varies largely. High rollers are able to wager large amounts of money regularly and replenish their bankrolls just as quickly.

Conversely, bettors that engage in sports gambling for entertainment purposes stick to conservative amounts, which can be infrequent.

As such, amounts won are not always a good indicator of one’s betting prowess. However, betting units help bettors compare their wins and losses outside of waged amounts.

In Closing

Betting units are critical and are something every sports bettor should know about. Its various uses can help pro betters, and new bettors get more organized and track their betting data better.

Without a proper bankroll strategy and tracking how well you are sticking to it, you risk allowing too many inconsistencies. These will often lead bettors to burn through their bankrolls. Even small amounts from your bankroll add up and deplete it.


Dan Weiner

Hailing from Atlanta and attending college at the University of Texas, Dan is passionate about sports, particularly college football and soccer. He's a diehard Atlanta pro sports and Texas Longhorns fan. He likes every sport and will watch anything and everything the weirder the better. He joined Betsperts after an 11 year career in television production at ESPN.

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