Sports bettors usually focus on moneyline betting and point spreads, but a third major bet type has grown in popularity these past few years: Over/Under betting. Also called totals, the Over/Under bet is about the final combined score of a game. In this guide to totals betting, we teach how to make Over/Under bets and provide some betting tips when handicapping point totals.
Best Over/Under Betting Sportsbooks for US Players
Here is our short list of the best US online sportsbooks that offer Over/Under sports betting.
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Over/Under Sports Betting Overview
Most sports bets involve who will win the game, but that’s not the only way to wager on games. Other bets involve the final combined total of both teams or players in a game. These have a point total in mind — say 55 combined points in an NFL game. The object of the bet is to pick whether the score will go over the total or under the total.
For that reason, totals betting usually is called Over/Under sports betting. Totals wagers apply to most sports, but they also apply to many prop bets. For instance, a sportsbook might offer a prop bet on the amount of time it will take to sign the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. If the total is 2 minutes and 15 seconds, then the betting proposition would be whether the singer takes under 2:15 minutes or over 2:15 minutes.
Over/Under Bet Outcomes
Over/Under betting has three outcomes: Over, Under, or Push. Here is a look at each option.
- Over: If the “Over” hits, then the total number of points, runs, or goals will be higher than the total. For player totals, the bet could be for the points, assists, rebounds, or runs scored. If the Over/Under is 47 and the score of the football game is 27-21, then the Over bettor wins the wager.
- Under: For the “Under” to win, the total number of points, runs, or goals should be lower than the total. If the Over/Under is 47 and the score of the football game is 24-21, then the Under bettors win the wager.
- Push: Sometimes, the Over/Under total or benchmark is a whole number. If so, then it’s possible that the bet will be a “Push”. This means the combined score matches the total and it’s a tie. If the Over/Under total is 47 and the score of the game is 24-23, then it’s a “Push” and both the Over and Under bettors receive back their betting stake.
Over/Under Betting Tips
Sports bettors ask the eternal question, “Should I bet the Over or Under?” Like spread betting, a host of factors go into a totals bet. Each game is different, so each totals bet is different. When choosing the Over or Under option, here are factors you need to consider.
Offensive and Defensive Matchups
Don’t worry about the trends, because each matchup is different. Look at the relative strength of the offensive units, then look at the strength of the defenses involved. Next, look at the specific matchups.
In an NFL game, is it a matchup of strength vs strength, strength vs weakness, or weakness vs weakness? Do the teams have passing offenses or rushing offenses? Is the opposing defense Top 5 against the run or the pass?
In high-scoring games, weaknesses are often exposed by bad matchups. If the top passing team faces a bottom 5 passing defense, the Over option might be a good option. But if a top rushing team faces the league’s No. 1 rushing defense, then the Under option might be a good option.
Injuries & Suspensions
Is one team missing key players? Perhaps one of the teams is ravaged by injuries. If that’s on offense, then the Under option might be best. But if the injuries and suspensions are on defense, then the Over option might be the way to go.
Even then, bettors should dive deeper. If one of the teams has good depth or talented young backups, then injuries or suspensions might not affect the final outcome as much. Coaching adjustments and the ebb-and-flow of the season also affects these games.
A few NFL games each season is deeply affected by the weather. Ice storms and windy conditions of 20+ MPH winds can affect a contest greatly. At the start of the season, 90-degree temperatures in the midday Sun can affect teams not used to the conditions.
The wind is a key factor. Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills have one of the most high-powered passing offenses, but during one blustery Thursday Night Football game a couple of seasons ago, the Bills tried only 3 passes against the New England Patriots due to the wind. Pay attention to the weather forecast before making an Over/Under bet.
The Over/Under Bet Moves
If the betting public favors one side of a total bet, the sportsbook might change the line later in the week to encourage bets the other way. Imagine the Chiefs and Bengals are playing and fans wager heavily on the Over. The book might change the point total in order to even the amount of money wagered on both sides.
That presents sports bettors with a choice: side with the betting public or go with the original line? It’s often said that the oddsmaker knows better than the mass of sports gamblers, so one should bet against the betting public.
Live Betting Point Totals
Many bettors prefer to wager on totals in the Live Betting section of a sportsbook. Once a game starts, the Over/Under might change due to early scoring (or the lack of early scoring). Once the total changes, you might have a hunch that goes against the grain.
If the total is adjusted up and you think defenses will adjust, then betting the Under is a good option. Or if you think a defensive struggle won’t last, you might bet the Over once the total changes.
How to Make Over/Under Bets in Soccer
Soccer totals often are set at 2.5 goals. That doesn’t have to be the total, though. Often, sportsbooks give over/under totals at 1.5, 2.5, or 3.5 with different odds for each. If you expect a high-scoring total, then you’ll receive a higher payout if you bet on a higher total.
How to Make Over/Under Bets in Hockey
Hockey matches often have an Over/Under total of 6.5. Even if bookmakers adjust the bet higher or lower, they often keep the total the same and adjust the payouts. Pay attention to the payouts in a hockey game, because it might not be the normal -110 payout.
How to Make Over/Under Bets in Football
The typical NFL game has a total in the low to mid-40s. That being said, the NFL totals vary wildly due to the teams involved. If the Over/Under is somewhat lower or much higher, study the game to see why the total is different. Pay attention to the weather forecast and the defenses involved to see how they affect the total.
NFL games are known for the in-game prop bets known as micro-bets. Micro-betting is a good chance to make a lot of money, but only if you know individual NFL players well. Pay attention to in-game conditions like injuries, field conditions, and game plans when making live in-play NFL bets.
Sports Betting Guides
- What is a Point Spread Bet?: Learn how to engage in spread betting.
- What is a Moneyline Bet?: Learn to pick the winners in US sports.
- What is Sports Betting?: Go back to the beginning with a Sports Betting 101 primer.