Totals Betting or Over/Under betting as it’s commonly referred to is a simple sports betting wager you can place on any game where you predict the final collective score of both teams combined. And yes, it’s just that simple! Before the game, oddsmakers will set the line – they will choose a total number that will reflect both team’s points or goal total. Your job is to decide if the final score for both teams collectively (added together) will be higher or lower than the oddsmaker’s number.
Oddsmakers are very skilled at coming close to this number in most situations, so it can be challenging to determine whether your score will go over or under, but it’s also easy depending on the game and whether you think a team will rise to the occasion and blow their opponent out of the water.
Totals betting is great for new bettors or bettors that don’t follow sports as closely. You don’t need to predict the winner of the game, you don’t need to know the teams in-depth, but you definitely need to know them well enough to figure out if they will over or underperform in the matchup.
Totals betting is offered for many different sports as it lends itself to different styles of play – you can find totals betting odds on all professional sports, collegiate sports, and combat sports. Outside of regular team sports, the rules can be a bit different, but we’ll explain that below and outline how totals work for each sport.
Totals Betting Odds Explained
While it’s not difficult to figure out how totals work, you also need to pay attention to the odds that are associated with each side of the totals wager. The oddsmaker’s goal is to predict the exact amount of points both teams score, and most times they are dangerously close to being accurate, so you do have your work cut out for you to decide if you want to bet over or under that score.
The odds attached to each side of the wager will be modest, you won’t see huge underdog odds like you would in moneyline betting. If you prefer the American odds format, you will likely see a range of -150 to +115 depending on the game or sport. These odds represent the likelihood of the score going over or under. The larger the negative number, the more likely, and a positive number will indicate it is less likely, but you would win more money overall.
A good trick to reading American odds is to visualize a $100 wager. If you bet the more likely scenario, the over, let’s say at (-150), you will need to bet that amount to win $100. If you want to bet the less likely situation, the under at (+115) you will win that amount on a $100 bet.
If you aren’t used to American odds and prefer decimal, you can toggle your view on most sportsbooks. Decimal odds are commonly used in European countries but are still used in the United States to this day. The odds don’t change by using decimal, they’re just displayed differently, so if you have over/under odds set on an NHL game of 5.5 with 1.87 odds on the over and 1.95 on the under, the more likely outcome is the over, and least likely is the under. You could make more money betting on the under, but you do need to weigh the risk.
The decimal odds will show you how much you would win for every dollar wagered. You simply need to multiply your bet amount by the odds. If your odds are 1.95, you will win 95 cents for every dollar you bet. So, if you decided to place a wager of $10, you would return $9.50, plus your initial $10.
Sometimes it can be easier to think of betting in fractions, like using the term ‘10/1 odds.’ This is called fractional odds and is more popular over in the United Kingdom and Europe, but still used worldwide. Fractional odds require the most work to determine how much you’d win on a wager, as you need to do a calculation to get your answer. To determine your winnings using fractional odds on a totals wager, you will need to multiply your bet amount by the top of the fraction (numerator) and divide that total by the bottom number (denominator).
Let’s say we want to take the under on a $15 wager and the odds are 20/21. We would multiply 15×20, which is 300, then divide that into 21. You would win $14.28 plus your initial $15, almost doubling your money.
Totals Betting By Sport
While totals betting is still quite simple to wrap our heads around, it’s important to understand how the odds are shown in each sport as totals can be viewed in different ways when you aren’t looking at a team versus team sport. You can find plenty of total-based props and specials as well for special events.
All team sports will have season totals, these are forms of futures wagers, but you can look at these to try to predict the number of total wins a team or player might have during the season. You would have to wait until the regular season is over to claim winnings on these.
NFL Totals Betting
NFL totals betting is quite popular during the season, as you can usually predict how a team might perform against another when evaluating defensive/offensive situations. You might learn that the Green Bay Packers defensive line gives up very few touchdowns to running backs, and if they’re playing a team that focuses on their run game, you might not see a high-scoring game.
A common total in the NFL can range from the 30’s to 50’s in some cases. You might see a total of 43 for a Buffalo Bills versus Cleveland Browns game. If you take the under, you would only win if the final score was 42 or less (25-17 for example). If the score ended up being 30-15, you would lose your wager because the total would be 45.
NBA Totals Betting
When betting the totals on the NBA, you will follow the same principles as you would for the NFL. You will be looking to predict the total number of points for both teams, which can be quite high in any NBA game. Many NBA games have totals in the 200’s, which is a lot of points consider. On any given day, many of the totals are in the 210 to 240 total range.
You might see an NBA total of 219.5, which just means that hitting 219 is entirely possible so oddsmakers want to take away the option for a push, and you will need to choose if you think the game’s total will be less than 219 or more than 220. If you choose the over and the final score is 120-98, that is a 218-point total and you would lose your wager.
MLB Totals Betting
Baseball totals betting can be tricky because the outcome relies on the starting pitchers first, but also the batting order. If you aren’t looking at these things, you are likely just guessing your totals bet. MLB and Baseball totals usually range from 6 to 12 or so, depending on how the teams match up.
You might see a total of 8, and decide you want to take the under. If the Braves beat the Marlins 7-0, you will win your bet. If you see a total of 12, and you take the under, and the Braves beat the Marlins 9-5, you will lose. It’s quite simple once you get the hang of it.
For more info, check our baseball betting rules page here
NHL Totals Betting
The NHL is probably one of the lower-scoring sports out there. It’s very common for NHL games to have totals of 5.5, to eliminate the possibility a game ends 3-2 or 4-1, etc. You will frequently see this total on the oddsboard because it’s a safe option for sportsbooks.
If the Chicago Blackhawks are playing the Dallas Stars and the total is 5.5, and you don’t feel like either team has strong scorers this year, you could take the under and if the score ends up being 2-1 you would win your bet.
MMA/UFC Totals Betting
UFC and MMA totals are a bit different, as you aren’t really betting on their judge scorecards. You will be betting on the distance of the fight. When betting UFC totals, you will bet the over or under on the number of rounds the fight lasts. For three-round bouts, you will see a total of 1.5 usually, and the over/under is decided at the 2.5-minute mark of the second round. For five-round bouts, you will likely see a total of 2.5, and the over/under is decided at the 2.5-minute mark of the third round.
Soccer Totals Betting
Soccer is one of the lowest scoring sports in the world, if you thought hockey’s five-point totals were low, it makes things even more tricky to bet on soccer. The totals for soccer can be so unpredictable as there are so many variables. It’s common to see totals of 2.5 meaning you will need either 2 goals to cash on the under and 3 goals to cash on the over. Same as above.
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