What is a Unit in Betting?

Learn how the betting unit system can enhance your sports wagering strategy. Discover why it's essential for managing your bankroll effectively and avoiding common pitfalls

Coins in a planter
Ollie Ring

Written by: Ollie Ring

(Sports Betting Writer)

Fact checked by: Naim Rosinski

(Content Manager)

Last updated: 2024-05-03

When you’ve been researching the next horse racing meet, there’s no doubt you will have seen tipsters use the term “unit”, or “point”. A tipping article will often feature bets from 0.5 units through to 3 units. Although it may seem that the author is simply shirking responsibility of attaching a definitive wager, the unit system is a renowned method of bankroll management and is used universally as part of effective sports betting strategies. 

The key to success in online sports betting is intricate research coupled with shrewd management of your bankroll. Carefully selecting your picks and coupling them with an appropriate wager based on confidence and pre-determined plan is vital to achieving your sports betting online UK goals. 

Betting should be fun, and you should only ever risk what you can afford to lose. If you’ve set aside a fund for online betting per month, then using it all on your first bet could lead to problems further down the line.

By using an effective bankroll management system, such as betting units, you can ensure that you keep abreast of your successes and failures. When you track your wagers, it allows you to fine tune betting strategies and keep your gambling safe. 

This article will explain the concept of sports betting units, why you should use the system, and some common mistakes to avoid.  

What is a Unit in Sports Betting?

In sports betting, a unit denotes a standard measurement relating to the size of a bet. It will typically represent a fixed percentage of a punter’s total bankroll, and therefore provides a solid foundation for ascertaining an appropriate bet size. 

Let’s take a simple approach, and label 1 unit as 1% of the total monthly bankroll. Using units for betting strategies allows you either to define your own betting strategy, or follow a tipster’s strategy without feeling pressure to bet what you can’t afford.

Here’s how it works:

Example tip: A horse racing tipster recommends 0.5 units each-way on Red Rum to win at Chepstow.

  • Punter A: The first punter has a bankroll of £1,000 and has decided 1 point is equal to 1% of total bankroll. When following the tip, Punter A would wager 1 unit, or £10 (£1000/100, or 1% of £1,000) on Red Rum to win. 
  • Punter B:The second customer has a bankroll of £5,000 and follows the same point to percentage unit strategy. Punter B would bet 1 unit, or £50 (£5,000/100 or 1% of £5,000) on Red Rum to win. 
  • Punter C: A third gambler has a bankroll of £10,000 and is a higher risk taker. The customer decides that, for them, one unit is equal to 2% of total bankroll. When backing Red Rum, Punter C would wager 1 unit, or £200 (£10,000/50, or 2% of £10,000). 

The above illustration shows how incorporating the betting unit methodology can standardise betting strategy regardless of bankroll and appetite for risk. 

Why Use Betting Units?

If you’re looking to become a better gambler, then having a pre-determined strategy is of paramount importance. If you simply walk past a bookie, fancy a £10 flutter on a twelve-fold accumulator then a unit system won’t be of much help. 

Instead, if you’re looking to be disciplined, stick to a strategy and track your progress then units will provide robust foundations to tweak and adapt a strategy over time. The advantages of using a pre-determined unit system over putting seemingly random fixed monetary amounts are numerous. We’ve outlined some of the biggest advantages. 

Bankroll Management

If it hasn’t already been made abundantly clear, using a unit system is a great approach for bankroll management. It allows complete visibility on the amount you have wagered and how much you have won or lost over time. 

Performance Tracking

When using a unit system, it will only work if complimented with a database tracking bet history. When analysing historical bets and revisiting your strategy, the unit system will help you reassess where your strategy has gone awry and fine-tune it moving forward. 

Performance Comparison

Every tipster worth their weight in salt will have a public profit & loss account to show their performance over recent weeks or months. 

As a result, when assessing a tipster’s commentary, it can be helpful to compare and contrast the unit score over the last month, or even year. Generally, you’ll see text such as “+23.01 units for August, +131.32 units for 2024”. This provides great clarity when compared to fixed money wagering. 

As an illustrative example, let’s take Joe Bloggs and Pete Smith. 

Joe Smith:

•    Claims to be up £3,000 for the month of August
•    Has a bankroll of £300,000
•    Does not disclose units, but using a one percentage system, this would be up by a solitary unit.

Pete Smith:
•    Claims to be up £300 for the month of August
•    Has a bankroll of £1,000
•    Is up by 30 units using the same system

Fixed monetary amounts can be misleading, as Joe, by virtue of using bigger numbers, makes himself look a stronger tipster. However, Pete’s win-rate is clearly significantly better and as such would be the tipster to follow.

Consistency

Sticking vehemently to a unit system encourages consistent UK online sports betting, and less erratic decision making. There’s every chance you have two wagers across a month that you are very confident in, and units eliminates the chance that external factors such as emotion influence the size of the wager.

When a bettor decides a bet is a 2 unit bet, regardless of how they’re feeling, the wager remains constant. 

To depict this, let’s assume a bettor is equally confident Shergar will win at Epsom and Wycombe Wanderers will beat Altrincham. The events take place on Weekend 1 and Weekend 2. 

•    No unit system: On the first weekend, the punter wakes up after a poor night’s sleep and puts £25 on Shergar. On the second weekend, the punter is in a delighted mood after watching his favourite team win and puts £100 on Wycombe. This is a huge disparity in bet size given equal confidence. There is no consistency. 
•    Unit system: The same situation happens, but given the bettor uses a unit system, both bets are assigned a two unit wager. As such, the wager is identical both weekends and greater consistency is achieved. 

How to Determine the Size of your Betting Unit

Once you’ve decided that a sports betting unit system is the correct system for you, then the next step is to determine a betting unit size. 

A betting unit is a specific monetary amount that you can then apply when tracking your wagers. An example of this would be 1 unit = £100. This value is for you to decide but should be based on what you can afford to lose and your overall bankroll management strategy. 

The most common approach would be 1% of bankroll per unit, whereas a punter with more experience, or more appetite for risk may decide 2% of bankroll is appropriate. 

Depending on your confidence level and knowledge of sports betting, you can decide a unit size for you. In addition, the unit size can be adjusted later. It’s important to remember that frequently adjusting the size of unit ultimately defeats the point of the system by eliminating consistency. 

How to Determine the Unit Size of your Wager

When scouring the sporting calendar and nailing down your next prospective bet, you will then be faced with the familiar conundrum: “How many units should I place on this?”

Simply put, there’s no right or wrong answer to this. For a unit system to work, the pre-determined betting unit size should rarely, if ever be changed. We’re going to explain the two different systems you’ll most likely encounter when considering unit betting systems. 

Image Credits: pngtree

Image Credits: pngtree

Fixed Unit Betting

The fixed unit betting approach is exactly what it says on the tin. This is comfortably the easiest way for beginners to online sports betting to start out in the world of unit betting. Fixed unit betting removes any volatility and will see a bettor place exactly one unit on every single wager, regardless of confidence and odds. It has the advantage of being the easiest to track and manage your bankroll effectively. The disadvantage is that it outright removes factors such as ‘bet confidence’ that would often be incorporated into a more complex betting strategy. 

Imagining your pre-determined unit is £10, then you would wager £10 on Manchester City to beat Sheffield United at odds of 1/3 but also wager £10 on West Ham to beat Aston Villa at 6/5. 

Variable Unit Betting

The variable unit sports betting approach is the system you’ll often see tipster pages using. As you become more adept at scouring the plethora of data available while plotting your next wager, you’ll have high-confidence bets and lower confidence wagers. 

By using a variable unit system, bettors will assign units (often from 0.25 units, up to 3 units) depending on their level of confidence. 

The most common place you’ll see unit bets as small as 0.25 are when backing horses at long odds each way. Wagering 0.25 units each way would be a total wager of 0.5 units, and will generally be placed on outcomes that are 8/1 and above to ensure a solid return should the horse place. 

If you believe you’ve picked a horse that is priced horribly wrong and it will significantly outrun the odds, then you may choose to wager 1 unit each way (total stake 2 units). This perfectly illustrates how confidence plays a pivotal role in the variable unit betting system.

The variable system, again through confidence, allows you to potentially increase winnings when having a good run as you can increase your unit wager accordingly. However, it’s vitally important to not chase your losses as this can quickly lead to poor bankroll management and a depleted balance. 

Image Credits: Wikipedia

Image Credits: Wikipedia

Tips for Effective Betting Unit Management

When you’re using a variable betting unit management, here’s some factors to consider for effective betting unit management.

Confidence, Streaks and Edge

The bulk of your betting decisions on impulse will come from confidence, and where you believe you have an edge on the bookmaker. 

•    Positive streak: If you’re on fire and can’t seem to lose a bet, you may want to consider increasing your unit wager to propel your bankroll higher. Some bettors will opt to then reset upon a loss and move back to their original unit wager. 
•    Negative streak: On the contrary, if you can’t pick a winner for the life of you, then it might be smart to lower your units temporarily until you rediscover some form. It’s certainly smarter to lower your units than start chasing and wagering more money out of frustration. 
•    Edge: If you’re using an advanced betting model whereby you’re calculating the probability of certain events occurring, then you’ll find certain bets where you consider yourself to have an edge on the bookmaker. For example, if your statistical analysis purports the implied probability of Newcastle to beat QPR as 66.7% (odds of 1/2) but the bookmakers have it priced at odds of 8/13 (implied probability of 61.9%) then you’ll believe you have an edge. This is what will often be referred to as ‘value’ and where you discover bigger value, you may want to adjust how many units you bet accordingly. 

Testing and Analysis

Before launching into any betting strategy, you should test it theoretically and make sure you’ve nailed down what you’re going to do. Analyse what went well, what went badly and hone it until you feel ready to start risking your bankroll. 

Periodic Reassessment

You should always strive to perfect any betting system you’re using. Whether it be weekly, fortnightly or monthly, take the time to look at your historical wagers and pinpoint anything that can be improved. By taking a step back and reassessing your system, you’ll become a better punter and further understand the best way to effectively manage your bankroll through a unit system. 

Consistency and Discipline

We can’t emphasise enough how important consistency and discipline are to effective unit betting management.

•    Betting unit size: Once you’ve decided the size of your unit (e.g. £10 per unit) then you shouldn’t deviate. 
•    Track your results: A unit system allows you to track and monitor your wagers, so to effectively manage your bankroll it’s integral to keep on top of your tracking. This can be through something simple like Google Sheets, or more complex if you’re that way inclined. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Unless you’re an oracle, there will always be bumps in the road when betting online. With such a jam-packed sporting schedule all year-round, there is always something to bet on. This can lead to big wins, but also to significant mismanagement of bankroll. Here’s a few key things to avoid when using a unit betting system. 

Emotional Betting

The adrenaline after a big win, or sheer fury caused by a last-minute equaliser losing a bet can often lead to impulsive, reckless betting behaviour. 

Although it can be difficult, removing emotion from your betting decisions and relying only on thorough research and analysis is key to long-term success. Wagering 5 units on an ill-researched wager after a win is a sure-fire way to fritter away money needlessly. 

Overconfidence and Lack of Research

It’s recommended to consistently reassess your strategy. If you’re on a hot streak, then increasing the number of units wagered can be a good play. It’s equally as important to stay grounded, and not get carried away. 

Overconfidence, and significant deviance from your predetermined unit betting strategy can lead to a solid system crumbling in a matter of minutes.

Chasing Losses

The most common trap that bettors fall into is chasing losses. To use a unit betting system effectively, sticking to a defined strategy will reap more success in the long-term and avoid quick erosion of a bankroll. 

It’s impossible to back a winner every time, so take a loss on the chin and remain consistent.  

Conclusion

Overall, a betting unit strategy is designed to encourage consistency in online sports betting. It should work in your favour: allowing you to effectively manage your bankroll and track your bets over time to see what’s working and what’s not. 

Being rigorous in your tracking, you’ll be able to recite every bad beat to your friends whilst revelling in your finest value bets. 

Using a unit system is a simple way for you to track your performance and is integral to have any hope of long-term success against the bookmakers. 

Remember, if you’re not having fun then It is best to take a break. There will always be plenty of markets to have a bet on with a jam-packed sporting calendar, so it is always best to approach betting with a clear mind. 

FAQs

What does  +25 units for the month mean? 

This means a bettor is up 25 times up on whatever their defined unit stake is. It’s a method to standardise bet size across multiple bettors and allow seamless comparison of success.

How do I track my units?

You can track your bets in a way that works for you. If you’re old-school, dig out a notepad and track wagers there. If you’re more tech-savvy, then use Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel and automate the profit and loss tracking. 

How big should my unit stake be? 

This completely depends on your bankroll as we’ve explained in detail above. The most used system is to define 1 unit as 1% of total bankroll. If your total bank is £1,000 then a unit would be £10. 

What is the best unit betting system for beginners? 

If you’re just starting out, the simplest system is definitely the fixed unit betting system. This system means you simply wager 1 unit on any bet you place, no matter the confidence or odds. It’s a lot simpler than a variable system, but is good to practice consistency and familiarise yourself with the unit system. 

Ollie Ring

Ollie Ring

Ollie Ring is an experienced sports-writer, having produced gambling and sports content for well over 5 years. An avid Watford fan, Ollie has been to over 55 of the football grounds in England and has also held a season ticket at the home of Surrey Cricket Club, The Kia Oval.

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