How to Calculate Betting Unit Size

Learn how to calculate betting unit size.

Key Points

– Betting unit size is influenced by a number of factors.

– Controlling one’s stake is a must for successful bettors.

How to Calculate Betting Unit Size

Choosing the right betting unit size is one of the biggest problems that sports bettors have with money management. For some handicappers, there are clear-cut rules that they follow in terms of how much to stake on a bet. 

If you want to have any level of success in sports betting, you have to get a handle on how to monitor and control your bet size. Ultimately, it is up to the individual, but here are five factors to consider when determining the size of any wager.

Betting Unit Size Is Related to Bankroll Size

The most obvious factor related to the size of one’s bets is the size of the bankroll. Having a bankroll of $10,000 is much different than one of $100. With the larger bankroll, a betting unit size of $100 is not out of the question. 

It is much more difficult to justify a large bet when you have a smaller bankroll. With a $100 bankroll, you can make one bet of $100. If you lose, you’re done. 

Typically, the smarter bettors will never wager more than five percent of their bankroll. It’s like watching professional bettors attack NFL playoff betting. Anything more than five percent will take away from their long-term goals. There is a psychological advantage to wagering smaller amounts. 

When your betting unit size is significantly smaller than your bankroll, you know you can lose a bet without worrying about your financial standing. You will still have more than enough to make up for the loss. 

Bettors are much more at ease when they know their bankroll isn’t going to suffer from a bad loss. They make better betting decisions because they aren’t as stressed. 

Sharp, or professional, bettors will typically wager between one and five percent of their bankroll on a given event. When the bankroll grows, bettors can adjust their betting unit size as they see fit.


Betting Style

How an individual bets greatly affects the size of your wagering unit. You can afford to increase your bet size to a higher percentage of your bankroll if you flat bet. That means you wager the same amount on every game. 

Many bettors take into account their perceived edge in a bet. For example, they are extremely confident in the Cowboys -3.5. They will vary their betting unit size to reflect that confidence. 

Remember, the best bettors will wager between one and five percent of their bankroll. A one-unit (one percent) bet would be a less confident wager. A five-unit bet would be one that reflects extreme confidence. 

It’s the same with making a bet. Smart bettors make the logical sports betting choice.They should do the same when determining unit size.

The bettor with the $10,000 bankroll who really likes the Cowboys -3.5 would wager five units or $500 on Dallas. This is an example of being aggressive with a bet. Unit size often reflects betting style. 

Aversion to Risk

This is a pretty obvious factor and affects one’s betting style. It is a point that must be carefully considered though. Risk aversion may be the factor that most affects your betting unit size.

How comfortable are you with losing? The size of your betting unit must take into account your comfort level with risk. A more aggressive bet size will make sense if you’re willing to gamble. If you like to take big risks in search of big potential returns, you are less averse to risk. You may choose a higher betting unit size.

A better that prefers a slower, steadier, patient approach to bankroll growth will likely bet a smaller percentage of the bankroll. There is nothing wrong with either approach. Bettors just have to be honest with themselves about how comfortable they are with risk.

There may be occasions where a bettor is more risk averse than others. A very confident NFL bettor may choose a bigger unit size on NFL games. When betting the NBA, the same bettor chooses a much smaller stake because he is less confident.

Bet Types

This is pretty simple. The lower your expected win percentage on a wager, the longer your potential losing streaks can be expected to be. That means you need more units available to you to weather that losing streak without going bankrupt. 

The basic types of sports bets you make will affect how much you wager. For example, if you like to bet parlays, you will most likely use a smaller stake. Parlays are much harder to win than a straight bet. Your unit size would be larger when betting favorites.

Goals of the Bettor

What are your goals for a given sports season? Are you looking to make a profit during the NFL season, for example? 

How much you wager depends upon what you hope to gain from sports betting. If you want to turn a profit with little risk and gradually grow your bankroll, you are probably going to choose a smaller betting unit size.

Not everyone in the sports betting industry can handle slow, steady growth. They want it now. They are drawn to sports betting because of the idea of winning big. Bettors like sports and love having action on games they watch. Nothing beats the thrill of a big betting win.

Some bettors will chase the big win. That can go bad sometimes. Other times, risk-averse bettors do pull off some big wins. Sometimes, bettors are careless, but if they do live by the high-risk, high-reward credo, they will favor a higher betting unit size.

In the end, the size of a bet comes down to the individual. If you follow the standard rules of smart bettors, one of five percent of the bankroll is the typical stake. If you don’t follow the rules, the stake size could be much higher.