Totals betting, also called over under betting strategy, is the second most popular betting option to point spread wagering.
For some, betting totals is an afterthought to point spread wagering and to a certain extent moneyline markets.
In this article, we will go over the basics of betting totals, along with some strategy and links to sport-specific articles which will most probably give you the edge you’re looking for.
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What Is Over/Under Betting Strategy
The total or over/under betting strategy is the oddsmaker’s number on the number of points scored in a game by both teams or participants. Totals markets have increased since online gambling exploded in popularity.
There are now half-time, quarter totals, 5-inning totals, and team totals in many sports. In our example, we’re going to use a traditional totals market for an NFL football game at BetOnline.ag.
The total is listed under the total points column. In this contest, between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos, the total is 43 points. It’s important to remember when betting on American sports at U.S.-facing sportsbooks, that the total includes any overtime or extra period.
This is contrary to 1X2 wagering on soccer in European betting markets, where totals are only scores counted in regulation, not in any extra time period.
For all U.S. sports, the overtime or extra period is counted in the calculation of the total points unless stated otherwise. Betting on totals is incredibly simple.
It’s far easier to understand than point spread or moneyline wagering. Bettors have two options when wagering on totals. They can take the “Over” or “Under.”
How Do Over/Under Bets Work? – Totals Betting Explained
Using the above example, a bettor can place a wager on the total of both teams to go over the 43 points, or he can place a bet that the total goes under the 43 points.
Once the game ends, the total number of points by both teams is added together to determine the total points scored. In the above contest, the total is 43 points.
Since there is no half-point in the total, it’s possible that the bet may push. If the total number of points lands exactly on 43 points, the bet would be graded a push. Wagers from both sides would be refunded.
However, if the total was 43.5 instead of 43, that eliminates the possibility of a push. A total or over under with a half-point, known in betting jargon as a “hook” will always end with an either ‘over’ or ‘under’ victory.
Since there are no half-points awarded in sports, there is no possibility of a push. If a contest with a 43.5 total ends with 43 points, ‘under’ backers would win their wager. If the game is finished with 44 points, ‘over’ backers would win.
It’s also important to remember that attached moneyline odds may change depending on the sportsbook. In our example above, the juice is -110.
However, often bettors will see these odds change, but may not see a change in the actual number. Instead of -110 on both sides of the 43 total, the market may look like this:
- Over 43: -115
- Under 43: +105
Notice the difference in juice when betting on the over versus the under. Bettors will now have to wager $115 to win $100 on the over.
The underdog odds have improved to +105, meaning our $100 wager would return $205, including $105 in profits. Adjusting the juice on totals markets is extremely common in today’s betting market.
You will almost certainly see it at every online sportsbook these days. It’s a way for the oddsmakers to move odds while staying on a particular number.
Totals Bets Market
Totals bets markets have always been a favorite of sharp sports bettors. These elite gamblers figured out a long time ago that it’s often easier to predict how a game might go from a scoring perspective instead of trying to pick the winner.
The sportsbooks seem to agree with this premise. At just about every sportsbook online, the limits for totals are less than sides and moneylines. For some sports, the difference is huge.
For instance, on NFL opening numbers, BetOnline will only take up to $1,000 on totals, but $5,000 on moneylines.
As we head closer to the weekend, they take up to $25,000 on sides Thursday through Sundays, but still just take $15,000 max on totals during these days.
Limits In Over Under Betting
In most other sports, particularly basketball, both college and pro, the betting limits are similar. There are few sportsbooks online that will accept as much on totals as they do on point spreads.
As mentioned in our article on point spread betting, many seem to forget that totals markets exist. We’re being a bit tongue in cheek, but the reality is that gamblers often are too focused on sides to recognize the value in betting totals.
We know that bookmakers, across the board, accept less money on totals compared to sides. This may lead you to conclude (correctly), that they are much more confident on their odds when it comes to totals compared to sides.
If you’re one of those that have fallen into the trap of betting a disproportionate amount of sides compared to totals – it’s time to wake up.
You’re missing a lot of value by writing off a market that is proven to be easier to beat compared to point spreads.
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Strategies For Sports Betting
Each sport is going to have its intricacies when it comes to betting totals. One thing to consider is that the public does bet the favorite and over more often than the underdog and the under.
The squares lose at sports betting, so suffice to say, it’s not going to be advantageous to following their betting patterns.
This doesn’t mean you should avoid placing bets on the over altogether. In fact, in some spots, the over is the contrarian bet you should be making.
Successful bettors are already doing this (some perhaps unintentionally) because that is where the value in betting markets lie. We have advanced strategies for betting totals for both NFL and NCAA football.