To the neophyte, the world of sports betting can initially feel overwhelming. First off, there’s the thought of risking your own hard-earned money on some element of the outcome of a sporting event.
Then again, if you can’t stomach the risk/reward relationship involved in wagering, then sports betting probably isn’t the pursuit for you.
If that’s not the case, if you get a rush of excitement from putting a few dollars down on the final score of an NFL game or end result of a UFC match, there are other elements to the industry that from the outside seem to be both intriguing and confusing.
For instance, there’s the lingo of sports betting. Betting lines lengthen and shorten. A smart-money player is a sharp, while an ill-informed player who bets too much without doing their homework is a fish.
Backdoor covers, beards, dime lines, the chalk, grand salamis, exotics, touts, steam moves, the vig – even though the words are spoken in English, to the uninitiated bettor, they might as well be written in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Here’s another term you’ll often hear spoken amongst bettors – units. A player might ask another bettor about how many units they put down on their recent wager.
At this point of the discussion, you’re probably wondering what is a unit in sports betting? Glad you asked. Listen up and you’ll find out.
A Unit Of Success
The unit these two hypothetical players spoke of isn’t a flat in an apartment building, nor is it something to do with how many rooms will be up for rent when construction of that new high-rise hotel is completed.
In sports betting, a unit has nothing to do with real estate and everything to with math.
A betting unit is a percentage of a player’s bankroll. The bankroll is the amount of money the player has in their betting account. The amount in a unit varies, depending upon that size of a particular player’s betting bankroll.
Naturally, the size of a unit for a recreational bettor is going to be vastly less than that of a professional bettor.
A popular question posed by newcomers to sports betting is about how much they should risk on a single bet.
Standard sports betting strategy suggests that a bettor should usually wager one percent of their bankroll per bet and should never go above risking five percent on a single wager.
Based on that analogy, sports bettors generally consider a unit to be the equivalent of one percent of their entire bankroll.
If you’re a recreational player with $500 in your sports betting account, in this case a unit is going to be worth $5. However, to a professional better with say, $18,000 in their betting account, that same one unit would be worth around $18.
Deploying this formula further, a player who has a $1,000 bankroll would be betting $10 per unit. Someone with a $50,000 bankroll would be betting $500 per unit.
Speaking Of Units
When it comes to units, there is further lingo that must be broken down and understood. Suppose a player should tell you that they are +25 units for the NFL season. That means they’ve gained 25 units in profit since the start of the season.
Again, the term units is a subjective referral. If those 25 units are only worth $1 each, then that player is up all of $25 on the season. On the other hand, if this bettor is a major player with thousands in the bank, the price of one unit to them could climb into the hundreds, perhaps even thousands of dollars.
Adding up units is the best way to determine if a bettor is enjoying a successful run. A won-lost record isn’t as meaningful in terms of financial success from sports betting. It’s possible to win more bets than you lose and still be down in units if a bettor is only playing wagers on prohibitive favorites in the moneyline.
On the flip side, a bettor who shows a slight losing record can be a winner if they hit on some underdogs and gain the profit of several units from one winning wager.