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Over Under Bets

Over Under Bets: Betting Totals

By Loot, Sports Handicapper,

In sports-betting, you don’t always have to take a side. You can instead predict whether the score will be over or under the total posted by the bookie. It’s called betting on totals or as some might know it--over/under betting. You can take the over or the under, where the only thing you’re betting on is the score. Who wins the game is not an issue.

Totals betting is available in virtually all sports. You can do it with games in basketball, baseball, and football. You can also bet totals in boxing and MMA. In team sports, you’re dealing with scores. In sports with no score, like boxing and MMA, the total is based on how long the fight lasts. In addition to betting on whether the final score will go over or under a certain number, you can do the same thing with quarters and halves. Totals can also be applied to different kinds of wagers, like prop bets. So there are a lot of options.

When we hear the best in the business of betting sports say that totals-betting represents more opportunities for profit, we should listen. The thinking is that when a wager receives a lot of play from the betting public, it sucks the value out of it. It’s like mining for gold. You’re not going to find a good spot to mine at the mall. You have to go way off the beaten path to find a good spot.


In sports-betting, the untapped resources are the ones that provide the most upside. It’s not as easy to find value betting on the Monday Night Football game between New England and New York as it is with, say, the total in the Wyoming-San Diego State game. Being that totals are a neglected part of sports-betting, there could be more opportunities in that area.

In addition, the bookies are focused more on sides, but not as much with totals. That doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to exploit every posted total. It just means that the bookies are going to be a little more on their game when posting odds for something that a ton of people will be betting. They are less likely to be as strong when posting a total for the Ball State-Western Michigan game than they are for a NFL playoff game. Less people will be betting it. There is less information and interest in the game. It’s easier to catch the bookie asleep at the wheel in games where there is minimal interest.

That should stoke our fires to look beyond the glamor match-ups and games with rabid national interest. That means totals. Let’s look at some examples to gain a better understanding of how betting on totals works.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Over 41.5 (-110)
Under 41.5 (-110)

In the above game, the posted total is 41.5. If both teams combined to score at least 42 points, the “over” would win. If the combined score is under 42 points, the “under” would win. You see each side is -110, meaning you have to bet $110 for every $100 you hope to win.

Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks
Over 191 (-110)
Under 191 (-110)

In this NBA match-up, you predict if these 2 teams will score over or under 191 points. If the score were something like 100-91, it would be a “push” and everyone would get their money back. Sometimes, the juice can get weird when betting on totals, with one side getting more vig than the other side.

Chicago White Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Over 8 (-130)
Under 8 (+110)

Here you see the over is actually favored by a little bit. The odds not always going to break evenly among the two choices. Then there are also totals for just part of the game...

Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs (First Quarter)
Over 10.5 (-110)
Under 10.5 (-110)

This bet is just confined to what happens in the first 15 minutes of play. Let’s look at a boxing example:

Wladimir Klitschko vs. David Haye
Over 10.5 Rounds (+140)
Under 10.5 Rounds (-110)

In a boxing totals wager, the juice can be more staggering, as you can see. Each side can be very different in terms of the odds being offered. The total is 10.5, but be careful. That doesn’t mean the magic mark of the bet is midway through the 10th round. 10.5 actually means that 10 and a half rounds must be completed before the over wins, which is actually midway through the 11th round.

Betting on totals might run counter to everything we have learned as fans. We look at things in terms of who will win or by how many a team will either win or lose. Most of us didn’t grow up predicting the scores. At the same time, if we are serious about sports-betting, we shouldn’t be looking for wagering to shadow our fan experience--we should be looking to make money. You can do that with totals, which means we should all be looking for good spots. When the top guys in the biz tell us totals is where it’s at, we should be inclined to at least check it out and try to slowly incorporate it into our arsenals.

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