The ultimate guide for the sharp bettor

What are Betting Units in Sports Betting?

Betting Units Betting units are exactly what they sound like - units of measurement that quantify the size, scope, and scale of any given bet.
Kukhanya Magubane
Author:
Kukhanya Magubane
Updated:
13 October 2021
Table of Contents

    What Is a Unit In Betting?

    Betting units are exactly what they sound like - units of measurement that quantify the size, scope, and scale of any given bet. A unit can also be seen as a fraction or percentage of your overall bankroll (the total money you’ve set aside for sports betting). Each individual unit can be seen as 1% of your total bankroll, and it’s common sense betting to risk at 1-5% of your bankroll on each individual bet.

    For example, if you had a $40,000 bankroll to play with, then each unit or single percentage point of that bankroll would amount to $400. Those are each big betting units to put on the line, but if you play your cards right, then those units could yield an even bigger payoff.

    Unless you’re some sort of hardcore sharp wiseguy bettor who plays the game for a living and knows it inside-out, then you probably won’t want to risk more than five units at one time. If someone exceeds more than 5, then they should do so with the utmost confidence that:

    There’s a lot of value in what they’re wagering on
    This value is strong enough to (likely) pull through

    It’s possible for players to lay multiple units or bets down on one combined wager, a wager which may be known (depending on the context) as parlay, teaser, or round robin betting. Unless you’ve got a good parlay insurance promotion on hand, then it wouldn’t be so wise to begin with big high-risk parlays as a novice bettor, as losing one leg of the bet is all that’s needed to cost you out of your entire payout.

    That said, understanding units is less big a deal for novice bettors, as they’re usually approaching the game in the shorter term with smaller bankrolls than professional long-term sharps or handicappers. However, novice or sharp, it’s still important to understand the basics of betting units. Learn more about them through this in-depth overview.

    How Betting Units Work/How To Determine Betting Units

    Before you can know how to determine betting units, you need to know how to read American Odds. So if you were wagering 1 unit with an average -110 juice, you would have to fork over at least 10% of your stake to the house, cutting that 10% off the final profit you net.

    So if you were forking over that 10% of your final payout, you would then be netting a profit equivalent to .91 of the unit you put down on the table. That example just involves 1 unit in isolation, but if you’re planning on wagering on multiple, then you should follow the universal golden rule that you should always follow with any wager: never risk more than you would be comfortable losing!

    That means wagering the exact amount of units you’re comfortable wagering; no more, no less, without any consistent variation between wagers. Handicappers dropping more units than indicated is a clear red flag that they’re overinflating their record, attempting to compensate for recent losses, and not taking risks responsibly.

    Professional handicappers and sharps bettors often measure their victories in the form of units. For example, if they told you that they were “up +32 units on the year” then that means they had 32 successful betting units that year. Depending on how much they put on the line, then that could be anything ranging from:

    $32
    $320
    $3,200
    $32,000
    $320,000*
    $3,200,000*           
    (*we know those last two are probably above your pay grade, but you get the idea)

    Granted, it could be entirely possible that they’re just overinflating their record by placing smaller wagers in a shorter timeframe. It’s best to understand the bettors definition of a “unit” and the average size of their units before getting too blown away at their gameplay record. 

    Don’t deviate from your standard betting unit size too regularly. Risking multiple units at once on an uninsured parlay is a surefire way to pick up a losing betting record as a novice. If you’re looking to scale up the unit sizes of your bet, then you should only do so in a careful, deliberate manner that gradually scales up in accordance with your confidence scaling up in each bet.

    As far as calculating the total long-term payout of your betting units, you should have a handy odds calculator program on hand, like this one. It’s nice to take a lot of the mathematical legwork out of the equation.

    Where To Can You Bet Online?

    Whether you’re a novice bettor or the sharpest of sharps, there is a very wide range of markets where you can start laying down some heavy units. Currently, over a dozen states have legalized online sports betting markets open in the United States, as well as the District of Columbia.

    It’s a big market serving millions of eager players, and now that the Supreme Court has effectively legalized sports betting nationwide since 2018, it’s only set to keep growing and serving millions more. Some of the biggest and best online sportsbooks in the business right now include:

    Caesars Sportsbook

    FanDuel Sportsbook

    PointsBet Sportsbook

    BetMGM Sportsbook

    BetRivers

    WynnBet

    Unibet Sportsbook

    Fubo Sportsbook

    Golden Nugget Online

    Borgata Sportsbook

    DraftKings Sportsbook

    888 Sport

    Sugarhouse Casino

    Fox Bet Sportsbook

    BetAmerica Sportsbook

    Tipico Sportsbook

    The Score Sportsbook

    SI Sportsbook

    Betway

    Betfred Sports

    Bet365


    If you’re betting through an exchange using decimal odds, then that unit stake will already be factored into the decimal figure. Betting exchange options have long been hard to come by in the U.S. due to legal pressure and industry lobby pressure, but the tide is gradually turning, as at least two exchanges are set to open in New Jersey by the end of the year.

    For the latest on the best places to place betting units, the best deals and no-deposit bonuses to lower the risk of those units, and general exciting iGaming updates, we would be more than happy to keep in touch.

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