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What Is a Unit in Betting? (A Beginner’s Guide to Bet Unit)

February 27, 2024

Written by    |
Bill Harrelson

The world of sports betting is an emotional rollercoaster for many, especially when you consider that only 3% of bettors are profitable! To avoid throwing money around willy-nilly, there are a few key concepts you need to understand. Chief among them is the idea of betting units — remaining profitable in sports betting can be tough unless you have trusted picks to rely on or a winning strategy like a betting unit. But what is a unit in betting, and how can you use it to your advantage? In this guide, we provide detailed info on everything bet unit.

What Is a “Unit” in Betting?

A “unit” in sports betting refers to the amount of money you’re betting on a wager. It’s usually a specific percentage (determined by you) of the total sum of money you’re investing in sports betting. Using units is one of the keys to profiting from sports betting in the long term, as it helps you bet consistently and rationally instead of emotionally.

If you’re new to sports betting, start with betting just 1 or 2 units per game (1–2% of the total sum). As you get more experience, you can slowly increase your unit sizes. But never bet more than 5% of your bankroll on any single game. That way, a few losses won’t impact your bankroll significantly, and you’ll still have money left to keep betting and a chance to win it back.

How Sports Betting Units Help Manage Your Bankroll

Betting units help ensure you don’t lose too much too quickly. The strategy ensures you use only a small amount of your total investment on each bet. This means you’ll still have money left to continue betting even after a few losses.

Let’s consider a fictional “John” — an avid sports bettor who wanted to improve his bankroll management strategy. He decided to implement the concept of betting units to safeguard his funds and increase his chances of long-term success.

John began by allocating a 2% betting unit of his bankroll, which is $20 of $1,000. With this approach, he would risk only a small portion of his money on each bet, allowing him to sustain losses without depleting his funds too quickly.

John can now divide his bankroll by his betting unit of $50, giving him 50 units to work with. This enabled him to place multiple bets while still maintaining a disciplined approach. Remember, in sports betting, you win some and lose some, and this can easily encourage you to make irrational decisions if you don’t exercise discipline.

Even if John experienced a few losing bets, his bankroll would not be severely impacted. He could continue betting with the remaining units, giving him the opportunity to turn the tide and ultimately become a winning bettor.

By implementing the betting unit strategy, John was able to manage his bankroll effectively and stay in the game for the long run. Over time, he developed a solid understanding of his betting patterns and made more informed decisions, leading to increased profitability.

Remember, just like John, it’s crucial to determine your own betting unit size based on your bankroll and risk tolerance. By employing this strategy, you can protect your funds, improve your overall betting experience, and increase your chances of long-term success.

3 Common Betting Unit Sizes Used in Sports Betting

In addition to understanding what a unit in gambling is, you should also know the common unit sizes used by bettors. This will guide you to pick the best option for your betting strategy.

The most popular unit sizes for recreational bettors are:

  • 1% (or Less) Per Unit: This is a good place to start if you have a small bankroll.
  • 2% (Maximum) Per Unit: For those with a bigger bankroll, units in this range allow you to potentially win more while still managing risk.
  • 3% (or More) Per Unit: Experienced bettors with large bankrolls may use units this size or greater.

No matter what size you choose for your units, the key is to stick with that same amount for all your wagers so you can accurately track your wins and losses. As your bankroll grows over time, you can increase your unit size. But avoid the temptation to drastically increase units after a hot streak, or you might end up making one of the common sports betting mistakes, i.e., giving back your profits.

The unit system is a simple but powerful way to stay disciplined, manage your money, and become a profitable sports bettor. By choosing a unit size you can afford, making smart wagers, and tracking your progress, you’ll be betting like a pro in no time.

Calculating Potential Winnings and Losses Per Unit

Understanding how to calculate your winnings and losses per bet unit will help you manage your bankroll and set a realistic budget for your betting activities.

Calculating Winnings

To calculate your potential winnings, you simply multiply your unit size by the odds.

For example, if you bet a $100 unit at odds of +200, your potential winnings would be $200 (i.e., 1 unit of $100 x +200 odds = $200). If you bet 3 units of the same amount at +200, your potential winnings would be six units (3 units of $300 x +200 odds = $600).

The higher the odds, the more you can win. So, do thorough research on each game to understand how much you can bet. You will also find this betting odds calculator helpful to determine the best odds.

Tips: Underdogs usually have higher odds, so although they’re riskier, the payoff can be greater. Favorites have lower odds, so while they’re safer bets, the winnings are often smaller. You have to weigh the risks versus rewards with each bet.

Calculating Losses

To calculate your losses, you deduct the number of units you win from the total units waged, then add up the lost units. For example, if you bet 2 units and win none, your losses would be 2 units. If you bet 7 units and win 4, your losses would be 3 units. The more lost units you have, the greater your losses.

This is why opting for mathematically proven tips from experts and managing your bankroll and unit size is so important. You never want to bet more units than you can afford to lose. A good rule of thumb is to never bet more than 5% of your bankroll on any single bet. If your bankroll is $1,000, you should bet $50 max (5% of $1,000 = $50) on any single bet.

Calculating unit win and loss is a bit different from calculating win and loss in sports betting. In the latter, you sum up your total win in dollar value and deduct your total loss (in dollar value, too). However, in unit betting, you simply want to know how many units return profits and how many units return losses. So, even if you have fewer winning units, you can still be profitable because a single winning can cover multiple losses.

Determining Your Ideal Unit Size Based on Bankroll

Once you’ve determined your bankroll, the next step is to divide them into units that work best for you. Knowing how much a unit is in sports betting is an important step because it allows you to manage your money effectively, regardless of the sum.

As a beginner, it’s best to start with a conservative unit size, around 1–2% of your total bankroll. For example, if your bankroll is $1,000, each unit would be $10 to $20. This allows you to withstand some losses without seriously impacting your bankroll. You can then adjust your unit size over time based on your success (measured by your winning percentage) and comfort level.

Here are some other factors to consider when determining your unit size:

  • Risk Tolerance: How much are you comfortable losing on a bet? A smaller unit size means less risk.
  • Betting Frequency: The more bets you place, the smaller your unit size should be. This prevents you from overextending your bankroll.
  • Confidence in Picks: If you have a proven system or high confidence in certain picks, you can bet slightly larger units on those wagers. For example, our subscribers have consistently re-asserted their confidence in our picks, so they’re more suited to a larger unit.
  • Sport/League: Some sports or leagues may warrant a different unit size based on their unpredictability. For example, units can be smaller for the MLB or NHL and slightly larger for the NFL. But adjust based on your knowledge and success in each sport.
  • Win Rate: If you have a high win rate, you may be able to use a slightly larger unit size since you have an edge. But don’t get carried away, as variance and losses are inevitable.

The most important thing is to start small, make incremental changes, and stick to a consistent staking plan. Your unit size should never be so large that one loss significantly impacts your bankroll or emotions. With experience, you’ll determine the ideal unit size for your betting style and become more adept at managing your money during upswings and downswings. Still, no matter your success, never forget that sports betting involves risks, so bet responsibly.

3 Benefits of Using Units in Sports Betting

Using units when betting on sports has many benefits for both recreational and professional bettors, including:

1. Money Management

The main benefit of using units is that it helps with effective money management. Rather than betting a fixed dollar amount on each wager, you bet a percentage of your bankroll, which is called a unit. For example, if you have a $1,000 bankroll and your unit size is 1% ($10), you would bet 3 units ($30) on a high-confidence wager. This helps ensure you don’t overbet on any single wager.

Proper money management is key to making money from betting in the long term. Using units helps you stay disciplined by not betting more than you can afford to lose on any given wager. It also allows your bets to increase in size over time as your bankroll grows. The ultimate goal is to find the right unit size for your bankroll and the level of risk you’re comfortable with.

2. Objective Decision Making

Betting in units helps make your wagering decisions more objective. You base the number of units on your confidence in the bet rather than random dollar amounts. A wager you have high conviction could be 3–4 units, whereas a riskier bet on an underdog may only be 1 unit. This framework helps you evaluate matchups more logically.

Over time, tracking your units won and lost provides valuable data to analyze your betting performance. You’ll see which types of bets, sports, and matchups you excel at and those you struggle with. You can then make adjustments to improve your win rate and return on investment. This objective and data-driven approach, rather than betting on emotions, will benefit you as a sports bettor in the long run.

3. Growth Over Time

As your bankroll and experience grow over time, your unit size can increase proportionately. If your $1,000 bankroll grows to $2,000, you can increase your base unit size from 1% ($10) to 2% ($20). This allows you to take on calculated risks for the chance of bigger rewards. However, increasing too quickly can be dangerous, so incremental growth is key.

With discipline and patience, a small bankroll can grow over time through the use of units. While losing and winning streaks will come and go, maintaining a consistent staking plan and bet sizing will optimize your long-term profits. Employing a unit-based betting strategy—while copying the bets of professional bettors—provides a simple framework to do just that.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a unit mean in betting?

A unit refers to a standardized amount of money that a bettor uses as their wagering amount. It serves as a way to manage and control the size of bets relative to an individual’s bankroll. The value of a unit is typically a percentage or a fixed amount of your total bankroll.

By using units, you can establish consistency in wagering and mitigate the risk of losing too much too quickly. This approach allows for better bankroll management, as you can adjust your unit size based on risk tolerance and overall betting strategy.

What is 1 unit in betting?

In betting, 1 unit represents the standard amount of money that a bettor uses as their wager. The value of 1 unit is relative to an individual’s bankroll and can vary depending on their risk tolerance and betting strategy. For some bettors, 1 unit may correspond to a fixed amount, such as $10 or $100, while for others, it may be a percentage of their total bankroll, like 1% or 2%.

The purpose of using 1 unit is to establish consistency in wagering and effectively manage one’s bankroll. This helps ensure that bets are proportionate to the available funds while minimizing the risk of significant losses.

How do you calculate a unit bet?

Calculating a unit bet involves determining the appropriate amount of money to wager based on your bankroll and risk tolerance. To calculate a unit bet, you need to consider two factors: the percentage of your bankroll you’re willing to risk and the size of your bankroll.

The first step is to decide on a percentage that aligns with your risk tolerance. For example, if you’re comfortable with a 2% risk per bet, and your bankroll is $1,000, your unit bet would be $20 (2% of $1,000).

Calculating the unit bet ensures your wagering remains consistent and proportional to your bankroll, allowing for effective bankroll management and risk control.

Should you bet a unit or bet to win a unit?

The decision between betting a unit or betting to win a unit depends on your personal betting strategy and goals. Overall, betting a unit is less risky than betting to win a unit.

Betting a unit means risking a fixed amount of money on each wager, regardless of the odds or potential payout. This approach focuses on consistent bankroll management and helps control risk.

On the other hand, betting to win a unit involves adjusting your wager size based on the potential payout. The goal is to win a predetermined amount, such as one unit, regardless of the odds. This strategy can be more aggressive and aims for higher potential returns.

Ultimately, the choice between betting a unit or betting to win a unit depends on your risk tolerance, betting style, and the specific circumstances of each bet. However, betting a unit is less risky.


Having understood what a unit is in betting, the most important takeaway is to establish a unit size you’re comfortable with and stick to it. Betting more than you can afford to lose is the fastest way to go broke. Start small while you learn the ropes; as your bankroll grows over time from winning bets, you can increase your unit size. Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe to our Discord channel to receive calculated bet picks from professional sports bettors.

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