Betting Unit Size – How Much

Learn how to determine betting unit size.

Key Points

– Bettors should determine their betting unit size.

– A number of factors go into determining a bettor’s unit size.

Betting Unit Size – How Much 

One of the big questions sports bettors must answer is how much to wager on a specific event. Betting unit size is just one of many factors to consider before placing a bet. It’s a pretty important one too.

If one’s betting unit size is too large a percentage of the total bankroll, the bettor will likely go into the red fairly quickly. 

There is really no right or wrong answer as to how much to wager on a given game or event, but there are some factors that need to be taken into consideration before doing so.

Calculating Your Gambling Budget

Figuring out your sports betting budget is really no different than determining what you should budget for food and housing. There are certain things to consider like how big the family is, how long the food needs to last, and more. 

Calculating your gambling budget is similar. In the case of sports betting though, the individual bettor’s goals have a say in how the budget is calculated.

The betting budget for the casual sports bettor will be different from that of the bettor looking to make a profit each week. Each has different goals, therefore each can choose a corresponding betting unit size.


Betting Unit Size for the Fan

Fans of certain teams remain committed to their teams despite the ups and downs they experience. Being a fan entails blind devotion, blind confidence, and blind loyalty.

True fandom resembles organized religious participation more than anything else. Some fans are devout, while others have fallen away. Some fans wear the t-shirt. Other fans have the entire wardrobe and bet on their team no matter what.

The recreational bettor choosing to wager on his team just loves to bet on his team. He places bets from the viewpoint of a fanatic. His betting unit size doesn’t take certain things into consideration.

For example, protecting the bankroll isn’t necessarily the goal. This goes against what we’ve learned from professional sports bettors. This bettor will wager as much as they can afford at the time of placing the bet. Betting trends, the weather, and whatever other factors that many bettors consider before placing a bet…those are not a concern at all.

The “fan bettor” is betting on his team because he believes in them. It’s not about the numbers. It’s not about statistics or betting trends. It’s about backing your team and having fun.

Betting unit size then becomes a factor of how much cash you have at the time of the bet. The fan has no real, set-in-stone betting budget. He has a lot of fun, though!

The True Gambler

There are sports bettors out there that look at betting on sports as a form of income. They may treat it like investing in the stock market. However they treat it, the bottom line is that they are looking to earn a profit from their sports betting.

Sports bettors like this come in various shapes and sizes. Some are aggressive, while others are more cautious. No matter a bettor’s style or approach to betting, they are in it to make money.

Bettors in this category will have a set betting budget and will calculate their own betting unit size. Typically, a bettor will set his bankroll at an amount that he can afford to lose. For some that may be $100 a week. For others, the number could be $10,000. 

From there, betting unit size is normally a percentage of the bankroll. For conservative bettors, the betting unit size might be 1 percent. If you’ve got a $100 bankroll, then you are a $1 bettor. The bettor with the $10,000 bankroll would be wagering $100 per game.

Bettors willing to take more risks might wager more like 5 percent of their bankroll. In our examples, the bettors would be wagering $5 and $500 as risk averse gamblers. Some may go even higher, but sports bettors in this category have a plan before they bet. They don’t just throw money at their favorite team and hope for the best.

Smarter Bettor Betting Unit Size

As a general rule, the smarter bettors in the industry are going to stick to a money management plan. That plan includes their betting unit size. 

Smart bettors will usually have a range of unit sizes which again are a percentage of their bankroll. Most often, bettors use a range of 1 to 5 percent.

That way, bettors can bet one unit – i.e. 1 percent of the bankroll – on more conservative bets and five units (5 percent) on more aggressive bets.

Let’s say you like the Philadelphia 76ers to cover the 2.5-point spread against Atlanta. You aren’t quite so sure though since the Sixers played the night before and may rest one of their stars. You still think they will cover at home, so your betting unit size in this case is one unit.

Over an NFL weekend, you really like the Jets to upset the Bills. You make a more aggressive three- or four-unit bet on the Jets.

Betting Unit Size – How Much

The Risk-Taker

Some bettors like to take more risks. They don’t mind putting extra money at risk in exchange for some big wins. Think Mattress Mack.

If you’re not familiar, Mack, aka Houston furniture mogul Jim McIngvale, has made numerous million-dollar-plus bets on Super Bowls, the World Series, March Madness, and more. He bet on his hometown Houston Astros to win the 2022 World Series and won $75,000,000.

Not everyone has that kind of cash laying around, but some bettors are willing to take bigger risks. Bettors can set their betting unit size before a season begins based on the amount they will start with. Granted, after a few bets, they might be out of funds. However, that’s the risk associated with sports betting.

Making Your Decision

There is a fine line between taking too much risk but having fun and not taking enough risk and not having any fun. The riskier bettor may lose his bankroll, but he has fun doing it.

The more conservative bettor doesn’t have as much fun because the winnings aren’t as great. Somewhere in between is the right betting unit size for most bettors.

For many, unit size comes down to the research that is put into a bet. How much sports betting research is enough? For a game in  which you were able to go very in depth, you might want to increase your stake. With less research, you might be a little less confident in a bet and keep the stake at 1 percent.

In the end, it comes down to the individual bettor. Use the general rules of thumb, but choose a betting unit size that fits your betting style.