What is Over/Under and Totals Betting

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Over/Under and Totals Betting

If you’ve seen someone watching a game that is well out of hand, the home team is up by 25 points, the benches have been cleared of all the backups, and yet they are still living and dying with each missed shot, that is someone who placed a totals bet.

The winner of the game does not matter. The point spread has already been tripled. But the bet is still very much alive. From garbage-time free throws to a seemingly meaningless Hail Mary to last-minute empty-net goals, when you play, the over/under all scores matter.

How to Place a Totals Bet

At its core, this is a straightforward bet to understand. A sportsbook will set a line for the total points scored in a game, and you have to decide if the two teams will combine to go over the total or under it.

The outcome of the game does not matter. There is no rooting for one team over another. The only thing you cheer for is the offense of both teams or the defense. You want lots of points, or you want as few points as possible.

If the two teams combine for 50 points or more, betting the over pays -110 (of course, you have to pay the juice). If the two teams combine for 49 points or less, betting the under is the winning bet and also plays -110.

If the two teams are hot shooters and play very little defense, go with the over. If it’s a rest day for the best offensive threat or a team is playing a back-to-back, taking the under might be the better play. When you place a totals bet, you need to evaluate the entirety of each team and what they are expected to score that night.

Totals Bets for Other Sports

As with point spread betting, most totals betting information involves football and basketball. But you can play the over/under on other sports too.


Since the amount of runs scored in a baseball game pales in comparison to what we see in football or basketball, adjusting the total runs line isn’t a feasible option when accounting for betting on one side of the line or the other. If there is heavy betting on the over in football, the bookmaker simply raises the line by a point, which would amount to roughly a 2% increase.

But if a baseball totals line is 7.5, raising the line by just a half-run would be a 7% increase. Since that is likely too much of a swing, instead, on a baseball totals line, you’ll see the payout change. It looks something like this.

The totals line in baseball might change, but it’s much more likely you will see a changing of the odds.


Hockey works very much like baseball when it comes to betting the over/under on goals. Typically the total goals line is between 5.5 and 6.5, and to adjust for betting trends, the payout odds are far more likely to change than the actual goals.

So don’t automatically assume that the payout is -110 like you will get with almost all football and basketball over/under bets.


If you are betting soccer over/under lines, then you are likely to encounter the option to bet several different lines. There may be totals listed at 1.5, 2.5, and 3.5, and depending on which line you bet, and if you take the over or the under, you will receive different payout odds.

This type of totals bet gives you more flexibility in your wagering and a chance at a bigger payday if you think the over is going to be way over.


A very common bet you’ll see in boxing is the over/under on the number of rounds the fight will go. Some of these bets may be specific to a particular round. There are also result-oriented bets that are specific to a fighter and an ending round. But the standard over/under rounds bet, which like other totals bets, does not care who wins, is included with all boxing betting.

Totals Betting Rules

Generally speaking, there are no rules to totals betting other than the final score. That dictates if the bet wins or loses, and nothing else matters. While largely true, there are a couple of things you should know.

Like with point spread bets, there can be ties. If the totals line in a whole number, then it is possible for the over/under bet to end in a push. When that happens, all bets are returned, and no juice is taken.

Unless it is specified otherwise by the sportsbook you are using, overtime is included in your over/under bet. If your over bet is short, but the game goes to overtime, all points scored after the end of regulation will count and just might win your bet. On the flip side, overtime might also be the death of your under bet.

The reverse of overtime, a rain-shortened baseball game as an example, will nullify your over/under bet. Even if the total runs are already over and the game is called in the 7th inning, all bets will be returned, including the bet you were about to win.

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Totals Betting Strategies

The betting public loves points. They want to root for scoring and not against it, and this means that when placing a totals bet, they tend to favor the over. What that means for you is that quite often, the under is where you can find the best value.

When you bet the over, it is true that technically your bet is still alive all the way to the final buzzer, and that is appealing. Your under bet can be over by the third quarter, which makes the fourth quarter quite boring.

But if the under looks good, bet it. Don’t be swayed by the public if your analysis tells you something different.

When considering your totals bet, the only thing that really matters is the flow of the game. Will points be at a premium, or will the game go up-and-down the court in an offensive shootout.

And what makes this type of betting analysis so appealing is that you don’t have to figure out which of the teams will prevail at the end of the offensive fireworks.

Point spread bets can be tough to parse when the weather turns, and football offenses will struggle. Will Buffalo cover the 3.5 spread in a game that’s likely to be little more than field goals? If you’re unsure on a bet like that, no worries because a bet on the under is still in play.

And back to the idea of most bettors favoring the over. Because of this, most bettors will focus their pre-game analysis on the offensive side of the ball. Scorers are more glamorous, more fun to read about, and more able to sway the bettor.

But don’t ignore the defense. In fact, start with the defense. Get to know their strengths and weaknesses, and then figure out how they match the opposing offense.

Sports Betting How To Guide

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