What are units in sports betting?

For newcomers to betting on sports, and the average sports fan who aims to elevate their game to approach their weekly sports betting as an investment in sports, we’re often get similar questions about what are units when betting on sports.

When a sports better starts to evaluate units on a game, its typically one of the first steps down the path of a sports bettor getting an elevated view of investing in sports and how best to calculate profitability.

Handicappers in sports use ‘units’ to determine the actual amount of profit or loss in relation to their handicapping record. For example, its easy for an amateur handicapper to pick the favorites on each game, with this comes lower payouts.

Over time, their record may show a higher than average win percentage, but betting on odds that don’t provide the highest payout, their profitability will be much less than others handicappers who analyze the games to looking for underdogs or favorites being undervalued by the sports books. As we wrote about in watch the numbers in handicapping football, if you’re buying NFL picks or other sport predictions from expert handicappers, also evaluate the units and ratings they apply to their picks.

Just like investing in Wall Street, you may have a company who’s not performing in recent quarters, but as a handicapper or investment analysts whose done his research, may understand the reasons why the company hasn’t been performing (ex. bad leadership or management), and the handicapper or investment analysts knows that the leadership will be out the door this quarter, and a new CEO will take his spot who comes with a solid track record. Similar to sports, the same could be said for the quarter back getting injured or not playing, or weather conditions on the field or historical performance between the two teams, etc. etc. Any edge the handicapper can find that may influence his prediction, he may seek to take advantage of the odds, and of course with that, assuming their is a win, will be much more profitable than the amateur handicappers.

Let’s walk through an example of an expert handicapper units. Jim Feist is one such industry handicapper, with over 30 years experience handicapping NFL and college football games. A hypothetical record may show…

His record for the NFL season shows 50-35 and up +11.5 units on the season. Now let’s assume JimFeist is calling a 1 unit a $110 bet to win $100 on each game. At the average-110 betting odds, he’s more or less saying that he’s won 50 games (50 x $100=$5,000.00) and lost 35 (35 x -110= minus $3,850.00.)

Since his unit is $100 and he’s up 11.5 units, this would state that he is beating the book for $1,150 on the season.

Remember, a unit does NOT have to be $100. Every sports investor will apply different values to a unit. This is your risk tolerance and applying prudent bankroll management.  Your unit may be $10 with your bets risking $11 to win $10. In that case, you would be up 11.5 x $10 = $115.00.

To recap, remember, each expert handicapper and sports analyst will rate their nfl and sport picks using units, typically ranging from 1 to 10. While winning percentage may be the first statics most bettor and punters will see when evaluating sports a bet, “Units Won” is considered the most important metric when evaluating a betting system or handicapper’s true worth.

We’ve described above what units are, but now lets look at how to calculate units.

“Units Won” is the amount of money a group of plays won or lost after factoring in juice. It is a simple way to compare a group of plays regardless of your bankroll. On average, a 110 bet will factor in a 10% juice, so be sure to incorporate this into your calculation as its a cost do doing business with the sportsbooks and is all part of calculating your true ROI.


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