Betting Basics

Sports Betting: Choosing a Unit Size That’s Right For You

What determines a unit size? Should you stick to one sum when betting? Check out our tips and stay safe.

March 4, 2024

When you’re gambling, it’s essential to know how much of your money you feel comfortable putting into a wager. And if you don’t have specific guardrails set up, your regular betting regiment could unravel into a situation where you are betting over your head. So how do you avoid getting in over your head? You establish a unit size and you stick to it.

What is a Unit?

A unit is how much your average bet is worth. There is no widely-accepted standard that you need to follow, and there isn’t a metric that measures whether your unit size is good or bad. But, by following a few rules of thumb and making some judgment calls, you can establish a unit with which you feel comfortable.

Everything has to occur within your means. In an article I recently published, we discussed how to set up your bankroll, which is the total amount of money you feel comfortable wagering. Your unit size should be directly correlated to your bankroll, but in a way where you’re still leaving yourself some room for error.

How Do I Select an Appropriate Unit Size?

A lot of people subscribe to the philosophy of having your unit equal 1% of your bankroll. So if you set aside $1,000 to gamble with for a season, then your average bet size would be $10. Some people want to mitigate more risk than that, while others may want to bet more aggressively. Whatever you choose, just be consistent.

The best way to test if your unit size is right for you is to put it to use. There are three different times where you can assess how much you are gambling and if you are in a situation where you feel comfortable. The first is right after you are done putting in your wagers for the day. Do you feel comfortable with the amount of money you put on the line before you’ve won or lost any of it? If the answer is no, then you need to decrease your unit size.

BANKROLL MANAGEMENT FOR SPORTS BETTING

The next two situations come when the hay is in the barn. How much did you win or lose? After a successful day of gambling, do you feel like you profited enough from your efforts? Sometimes you can put a lot of time and research into your picks and you want to be rewarded for that. There is nothing wrong with wanting to profit more, as long as you are working within your means.

And on the converse, when you have a bad day of gambling, are you comfortable with the amount you lost? Gambling is supposed to heighten the entertainment value of the sports you are watching. If it’s putting you in a dire situation, then you are not using the proper precautions when creating your card. 

Betting One Unit or More

Keep in mind that not every bet needs to be one unit. If you’ve done a lot of research and feel very confident in your position about a certain game, then maybe you should put two units on it. If you are taking a higher odds bet like a longshot upset or a parlay, then it would make sense to only put a quarter- or half-unit on that wager. As long as you’re remaining consistent with how you bet and stay within your means, then this strategy is a good way to mitigate risk.

There’s Always Room to Grow — or Shrink

Establishing a unit size isn’t permanent. It should change based on whatever your situation is. Losing too much? Start putting up less money until you refine your research process. Has your financial situation changed? Have your unit reflect that. Just make sure you are consistent with what elements make up your decision. And if you have trouble staying consistent, or if you’re betting over your head and need help, call 1-800-GAMBLER.

READ MORE ABOUT BETTING EDUCATION

Speaking of being smart and staying within your means — Tipico has also recently launched a one-of-a-kind initiative for building trust with our customers to set a new standard in the industry. Read about our Fair Play Pledge today.

Sam Bloomquist
Sam Bloomquist is Tipico's Social Media Manager.
MORE FROM Sam