What Are “Units” In Sports Betting?

Units are a normalized way to to compare win amounts between bettors while removing the stake size. Units are commonly be a percentage of bankroll or a fixed value.

If you are making picks for money, then the amount you are risking should be a function of your total budget and how comfortable you are with the prospect of losing the money you risk.

If you are risking a couple bucks per pick, comparing your results with your buddy that is risking hundreds per pick is a pretty useless comparison. In dollar terms, it’s like comparing apples and oranges – there is no point.

However, the amount of money involved doesn’t speak to how successful you are with your picks compared to your buddy. If you both make picks in the same 10 matchups, you might end up picking 8-2 and up a little bit, while your buddy picks 6-4 and is up a lot! If we remove the money aspect, you are still picking better than he is!

To put everybody on the same page, a common denominator is used, referred to as units.

The money you use to make picks is referred to as your bankroll.

Let’s assume it’s 200.

Most handicappers generally advise to make your unit size equal to 1% of your total bankroll. 1% of a 200 bankroll is 2, so that’s our unit size, and we have a total of 100 units in our bankroll. Make sense so far?

For those 10 matchups you and your buddy picked winners for, let’s assume that the odds for each matchup were 2.00 to keep things simple.

You decide to risk 1 unit on each matchup, so you’re risking 20 in total (10 picks * 2 per unit). You went 8-2 on your picks, so you received the 16 back that you risked on the winning picks, and you also receive 16 back as profit. You risked 20, and were returned 32 which gives you a profit of 12. Because your unit sizes are 2 each, you are said to be up 6 units, even though you’re only up 12 in dollar terms.

Say your buddy has a bankroll of 10,000, and a unit size of 100. He also risks 1 unit per pick, so he’s risking 1,000 in total (10 picks * 100 per unit). He went 6-4 on his picks, so he was returned the 600 that he risked on the winning picks, plus the 600 in profit for picking 6 winners. He risked 1,000 in total and received back 1,200, so his profit is 200 in dollar terms. However, in unit terms, he is said to be up 2 units, as he uses a unit size of 100.

Bottom line? You are up 6 units, and your buddy is up only 2 units, so you outclassed him this time despite the fact that he actually has 188 more than you in dollar-value profit!