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What Is a Unit in Betting: Sports Betting Units 101

19.04.2024, 13:40

Many enter sports betting by looking at the potential winnings in hard money, not betting units. Winning thousands of dollars off of a single wager sounds amazing, but that's the wrong mindset in terms of sports betting strategy. After all, sports betting is a hobby involving a lot of risk, and even the most successful sports bettors have around a 55% bet-win ratio.

Betting units are the concept that helps determine your bet accuracy and save your bankroll management when betting regularly. In this article, we'll talk all about the meaning of a betting unit: its definitions, why use it, how to pick the right unit size and more.

What is a Unit in Betting?

Since not all wagers are created equal, it can be hard to gauge betting effectiveness by simply looking at total winnings. After all, someone who won 10 wagers in a row for a $20 dollar gain each is statistically way more accurate and successful than someone who won 2 wagers for $500 each. The latter bettor is operating within a larger bankroll, but only time can tell if they're accurate or simply getting lucky. Meanwhile, the former punter is, without a doubt, a pro.

That's where betting units come into play. In this case, we'd say that bettor A is up 10 betting units, while bettor B is only 2 units up. The differences in accuracy in their betting strategy are clear as day this way.

Why Use Bet Units?

If you're serious about picking sports betting as a hobby, bet units are essential for bankroll management. Otherwise, the risk of blowing through the entire budget in just one betting session is far too great for it to be sustainable. Remember to place the bankroll within your means. Never bet more than you can afford to lose! Betting units are a logical continuation of your bankroll. To put it simply, a betting unit is your bankroll for a single wager.

Regardless of whether you're betting on sports for the fun of it or for profit, using bet units helps. Here are the key benefits of tracking bets by using betting units:

Money Management Track Your Accuracy Improve As A Bettor
This is the big one. Condensing your bets into manageable bet units prevents you from overspending and makes tracking wins (and losses) way easier. In the same vein as money management, looking at units won instead of funds won makes it easier to determine the true accuracy of your wagers. Removing the variable size of any given bet makes recording the win-loss ratio more intuitive. Tying into the previous point, a better gauge of betting history can help track long-term success and address bets that weren't successful in figuring out what you've done wrong. When actual money is on the line, it doesn't hurt to master sports betting strategies, even if it's just a hobby.

This is what bettors mean when they say they're, for example, "+30 units for the season." With the concept of a betting unit in sports betting, it's very easy to track your "win-loss" ratio in betting - and brag about it to your friends.

Picking A Betting Unit Size

Most beginner bettors are recommended to stick to a betting unit around the size of 1% of their total bankroll for the year. So, if your total budget for a betting year is $10,000, you should bet at most $100 per wager. There are three most popular betting unit sizes that are pretty much a universal measuring system:

  • 1% per unit: this is the best place to start if you're a beginner in sports betting. Keeping your individual unit size low is the best way to learn the ropes of sports betting without going down in the reds.
  • 2% per unit: depending on the initial bankroll size, 2% is a healthy middle ground between risk tolerance and learning pace. Most experienced bettors gravitate towards 2% as their bankroll size as they figure out sports betting.
  • 3% per unit or more: as the bankroll increases, so does the bettor's confidence. It's recommended to stay below this level unless you wager on sports for a living and are a professional in this field, or your entire bankroll can go poof really quickly.

However, there are more advanced techniques for units in sports betting strategy.

TIPS.GG Bet Units

A solid betting plan is key to constant profit and growth.

Fixed One Unit Model

This most beginner-friendly model saves you the headache of deciding risk factors in sports betting. As its name implies, it simply means never deviating from the set unit size. No matter what, we bet the same percentage of our bankroll, with no exceptions.

Variable Model

More experienced bettors eventually gravitate towards the variable model in unit betting. After all, not all sports matches are created equal, and a bettor's risk tolerance and confidence in their team might make them risk multiple units at once on a single wager for a bigger return.

Variable Model Example

For instance, let's take a moneyline bet on an NHL game between the Chicago Blackhawks (3.3) and the Colorado Avalanche (1.3). The Colorado Avalanche is the definite favorite, according to the bookies. Let's assume that you have some insider knowledge that would make the match way more even than reflected in the betting odds. With a fixed unit model, we would get our regular winnings. With a variable model, the lower risk factor of the match would let us put down multiple units at once, winning way more than we could otherwise.

It's obvious that the variable model requires a way deeper understanding of the sports betting strategy as well as of the sport itself. If you're still a beginner in sports betting, we recommend sticking to one unit per wager for smoother money management.

Percentage Model

Before that, we've been discussing static bankrolls. But betting doesn't quite work like that - the starting bankroll goes up and down depending on your successful or wrong bets. The percentage model takes advantage of that.

TIPS.GG Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks Roster.

Let's assume our starting bankroll management is $10,000 with a unit size of 1% (or $100). After winning a singular even-money odds bet (learn more about this in our betting odds guide), our bankroll grows to $10,100. In a static model, we'll simply keep betting with $100 one-unit bets. In a percentage model, our ensuing bet will be $101!

We can see that the percentage model is superior to a fixed unit model in taking advantage of consecutive successful bets. It also works the other way, too - it's virtually impossible to completely deplete your bankroll even with a particularly gnarly series of losses.

Fractional Units in Sports Betting

The typical idea of one unit - one bet falls apart as soon as we encounter the concept of parlay betting.

If you're unfamiliar, parlay bets are two or more bets combined into one. If even one of these bets fails, the entire parlay is busted. On the flip side, getting the parlay right rewards a massive increase in winnings. Check more on parlay betting in our guide!

While unit betting works just fine when we talk about a single bet, long-run parlay betting is sure to destroy your budget from a purely mathematical perspective. After all, even the most accurate bettors can only manage 55-60% bet accuracy.

In the case of parlays, we introduce fractional units! In short, we should be using around one-and-a-half units for any parlay. The more additional bets we add to the parlay, the less of a fraction of a unit we should add.

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