How To Bet On Totals

While high-scoring games can be super exciting, there’s also lots to love about defensive-minded affairs. You can even weigh in with your thoughts on how you think things will shake out on the scoreboard when all is said and done.

Totals betting revolves around the total combined points that will be scored by the two teams in a single game. Also known as over under betting, these are wagers that attract plenty of attention from both new and experienced handicappers alike.

Overall, it’s a simple bet to understand that’s basically like a yes or no question. Oddsmakers will set the bar with an estimated total, and bettors then decide if they expect the total to be over or under that mark.

While the concept is simple to understand, there’s a lot more to betting on totals. These are active markets in which just a few ticks in one direction or the other can make a world of difference to your bottom-line results.

We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know right here. Read on as we explore this popular wager type in full detail. Let’s begin by taking a look at exactly what a totals bet is so you can get in the game here in Michigan.

What is a totals bet?

So what does over under mean in betting? An over/under or  totals bet is one of the standard offerings at online sportsbooks for team-based sports. It’s a wager that revolves around the total points that will be scored in the contest by the two teams.

Oddsmakers release the total for each game on the docket right along with point spread and moneyline odds. The total they set is a benchmark number, and bettors then get to decide if they think it will go Over or Under the bar when all is said and done.

Totals are offered for all of the major team sports. We’ll walk through some examples in a bit, as well as the range of numbers you can expect to see for each.

In addition to being a betting market, totals can help to point out which games on the docket project to be high- or low-scoring. It’s a bet type which makes for a great entry point for those new to the game, but there are plenty of experienced handicappers who lean on it as well.

Totals betting odds

For a totals bet, you have two simple choices to consider: Over or Under. There are odds attached to both sides.

At most sportsbooks, the standard range of odds for totals bets is set just like point spreads at -110. After the initial release of lines, the odds will look something like this.

  • Over 49.5 (-110)
  • Under 49.5 (-110)

Initially, the odds will be the same on both sides. Regardless of which side you choose, the sportsbook is offering odds of -110. For a potential return, here’s what you’re looking at off of a $100 bet.

  • Winning $100 bet at odds of -110 returns a total of $190.90, which is the amount of your initial bet plus a profit of $90.90.

After the initial release, the public begins placing bets. If one side of the totals bet attracts more action than the other, then the sportsbook could respond by making the odds more attractive on the side which bettors are shying away from.

  • Over 49.5 (-115)
  • Under 49.5 (-105)

It’s also possible to see the total itself change by a tick or two in response to betting action.

  • Over 50.5 (-110)
  • Under 50.5 (-110)

As with all other popular sports bet types, the idea is to get the wager you like at the most attractive price possible. To that end, you can engage in what’s known as line shopping, which is an industry term that means you’re comparing prices at multiple operators.

While the totals and odds might be in range in a number of spots, they could be different elsewhere. Line shopping across sportsbooks will help you uncover appealing opportunities that may be there for the taking.

How does over under betting work?

Online and mobile sportsbooks such as our recommended sports betting destinations feature slick and easy-to-use platforms. As a result, placing a totals bet or any other wager is a piece of cake. But how do you bet the over under?

All you need to do is locate the contest you are interested in wagering on. For the team-based sports, it’s a matter of scrolling through the main betting lobby or clicking on the sport name from the list of available markets.

Once you find the game you want out of all that are on the docket, the default listing will have odds for the moneyline, point spread and totals.

To place your bet online, all you have to do is click on the odds which correlate with your choice. The wager will be added to the betting slip immediately. Next, add in your wagering amount, verify that everything is correct, and click submit.

Over/Under betting on major leagues

Over under betting NFL

Totals betting on the NFL is very popular. That translates into plenty of betting action for each game on the schedule, so it’s not uncommon to see a good deal of movement in the odds, while totals can also be adjusted by a tick here or there as situations warrant.

The over under sports betting market for the NFL also makes it clear what kind of game that oddsmakers are anticipating. There’s a distinct range of numbers that you’ll come across on the weekly docket which can be broken down into a trio of categories.

  • 40.5 points or less: potentially a low-scoring affair.
  • 41-49 points: the range for a good portion of games.
  • 49.5 points or above: a game that could be a shootout.

One big factor to remember for NFL betting: as opposed to the daily sports, teams are only playing one game per week. The odds for the next slate of games are released soon after the current week is in the books.

As a result, there’s plenty of time for the betting public to have its say. From the initial release of odds until game time, the odds and totals can shift based on betting volume or other circumstances.

Get in the habit of paying attention to the movements to spot which way the money is flowing, and also to point out things that you may have missed during your research.

Over under betting NBA

The high-scoring nature of NBA games makes over under sports betting a focal point for plenty of bettors. As a result, the same notes apply here as for the NFL. From the time that lines are released until right before tipoff, there may be some fluctuations.

In comparison to other sports, the NBA is a points fest. However, there is still a range of numbers that we can key in on to get an idea of the kind of game we are looking at. Here’s a good ballpark to follow.

  • 197.5 points or less: game that might be more defensive-minded.
  • 198 to 210 points: the range for many games on the docket.
  • 210.5 points or higher: contest that could be particularly high scoring.

Unlike the NFL, there are NBA games going on each day during the regular season. Odds are generally released either the night before a contest or no later than the morning of. The exception comes when the oddsmakers are waiting on news like the rest of us, such as a player injury.

Regardless, there are still shifts to watch out for from the initial release until you are ready to place your bets. Additionally, remember to shop around as those seemingly small ticks of difference can actually add up to a lot.

Over under betting MLB

Yes, MLB is low-scoring in comparison to the NFL and NBA, but that doesn’t mean there’s not a good deal of interest in totals. The MLB season is a long one that can be quite the grind at times, but totals betting attracts plenty of action day in and day out.

The majority of betting on MLB totals will be posted between seven and nine runs, but there are variances. As a result, there are ranges that you can watch out for to figure out what kind of ball game you’re looking at for handicapping purposes.

  • 7 runs or less: potential pitching duel.
  • 7.5 to 9 runs: the majority of games on the docket.
  • 9.5 runs or more: potentially a slug fest.

Just like the NFL and NBA, there will be movement in the odds and totals from the initial release up until game time. Additionally, pay attention to swift movements in one direction or the other. This can point out distinct weather events that may be to come, such as the wind blowing out or in at the park in question.

Over under betting NHL

Totals betting for the NHL is pretty unique. The overwhelming majority of games are set at the same number of 5.5 goals. However, that doesn’t deter the betting public from weighing in with its take.

While 5.5 is standard, there are contests that will be posted at 5.0, which indicates a potential goalie duel. A listing of 6.0 or 6.5 could come up here or there, which would indicate that oddsmakers are expecting a potential shootout.

Since many of the totals are at the same number, watching the odds and movement is even more important. Unlike other sports betting markets in which the total could move substantially based on action, it’ll pretty much stay put for the NHL.

That being the case, the odds on both sides of the equation can provide you with clues on which way the money is flowing. When you see unattractive odds on one side and more appealing numbers on the other, that tells you the direction the money has been flowing.

How to handicap totals bets

You’ll be able to uncover information for totals betting while handicapping the matchup at hand, but there are also some additional steps you’ll want to take. During your regular breakdown, you’ll be looking at the matchup, recent performances and other factors.

All of these steps will reveal some clues, but digging a little bit deeper can make the difference between winning and losing tickets when all is said and done. Here are three strategy tips you can work into your totals handicapping routine.

  • Head-to-head trends: As part of your initial review, you should be taking a glance at how the two teams have fared against one another in recent matchups. Take that research a step further and examine the total points scored in the games. What kind of totals have the two squads put up when squaring off? Some matchups just inspire high- or low-scoring affairs, so keep that in mind.
  • Team record on Over/Under: Team overall records and in recent times should also be on the to-do list, but go even deeper by looking at how they have fared on the Over/Under. You can look at the same metrics — season-to-date and last 10 games — for both a big picture and recent times perspective. While trends aren’t a guarantee of what’s to come, they can certainly help make a case for the likelihood of one direction over the other.
  • Ancillary factors that may influence the game: Examining the news and notes surrounding a game can help when you’re picking winners and losers, and it can also provide you with clues on what kind of game might be in the offing. For example, an injury to a key contributor could impact the scoring for one side, while major weather events could have a bearing on the final total. While gathering information, think through how it might affect the scoring for the game at hand.

At the end of the day, remember that the goal of your handicapping is to point out the more likely outcomes. It takes some doing to beat the sportsbooks consistently in all facets, and it’s no different with totals betting.

Key takeaways on over under betting

Totals are one of the most popular offerings at online and mobile sportsbooks. It’s included in the basic listing for all games on the docket, right along with moneyline and point spread odds.

For totals, oddsmakers set a benchmark number which is released along with the other odds for the game. The number represents an estimate of the total number of points the two squads will combine to score in the game. Bettors then get to decide if they think the total will be Over or Under when the game ends. As such, these wagers are also often referred to as Over/Under.

After bettors begin to weigh in, there could be some movement in the odds and totals. This is in reaction to betting action that has come in and any new developments that may have an influence on the proceedings.

The odds and totals won’t necessarily be equal at every sportsbook, so bettors can engage in line shopping to find the most appealing prices. As for handicapping, there are additional steps you can add to the routine which are specific to totals.

This wager type is a great entry point for those new to betting, but there are also plenty of experienced handicappers who focus on it. Totals betting can be fun and entertaining, and hopefully a potentially profitable part of your overall betting strategy.