What Is a Unit in Sports Betting?

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Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, center, is sacked by San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa (97) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, in Jacksonville, Fla.
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Nov 12, 2023, 4:34 PM

In sports betting, a unit is a basic amount of money that a handicapper will regularly risk on a standard bet. 

A unit could be $1, $10, $100, $1,000, or virtually any other amount of money, depending on the preferred risk profile of a given bettor.

Some bettors – often inexperienced ones – may elect to risk arbitrary amounts of money that fluctuate randomly from one bet to another. 

However, more experienced handicappers often have a bankroll management system that helps them determine what an appropriate amount of money is for a specific wager.

What’s an Example of a Unit in Betting?

A standard approach to unit-based betting is that one unit may equal 1% of a bettor’s overall bankroll. 

Imagine a bettor whose bankroll – their overall account balance at the BetMGM online sportsbook – is about $1,000. For this bettor, a standard unit might be $10, or 1% of that overall $1,000.

If this bettor feels very strongly about a particular bet, they may want to wager two or three units instead of the standard one. That would be $20 or $30, respectively. 

On the other hand, bettors may want to risk only fractional units when dealing with certain markets, like prop bets.

Conservative bettors may decide to shrink their unit size to more like 0.5% of their overall bankroll, while aggressive handicappers may increase their unit size to something like 2.5% of their bankroll. 

As a general rule, though, units are nearly always a small percentage of the overall bankroll. This protects bettors from losing their entire bankroll after a bad string of losses – something that happens to almost every bettor, eventually, if they bet on enough games.

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About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.