What is an Over-Under Total Bet?

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An Over or Under Total Bet allows you to guess whether the final point total will be over or under what the house predicts.

Online Sportsbooks have very good oddsmakers that are careful to weigh a game’s factors before determining the final total. Otherwise, the sportsbook could lose a pile of money :).

It’s Saturday afternoon. The Uconn Huskies are playing Georgetown. Since it’s a basketball game, you’re thinking the total will be fairly high: about 180 points. Your sportsbook’s oddsmaker predicts the game will be low scoring: the total is forecast to be 120. Based on this estimation, you can bet against the house and choose whether you think the final total will be over or under this amount.

Because you think 180 points is probably more accurate, you bet the “over” option.

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Over/Under bets offer a unique opportunity to go head-to-head with your sportsbook’s linesmaker. It’s an interesting matchup, because the bet is a three step process:

1. Your bookie picks what he thinks the total will be.
2. You decide what you think the total will be.
3. You bet “over” if your point total is greater or “under” if it is less.

This is an interesting betting alternative because the exact total of the game really isn’t much of a factor. Instead, you are matching wits with your online sportsbook’s linesmaker seeing who is more accurate.

At first glance, and over/under total bet would appear to be 50/50 odds, since there are only two options. This is not typically the case, for the following reasons:

1. The house has to have an edge somwhere to make money (see our article on “Juice“). The oddsmaker has to figure a point total that will sway the odds of the various over/under wagers in favor of the house, if possible.
2. The number of players choosing “over” or “under” will not be equal. This means the sportsbook has to be careful not to expose itself to excessive risk.

Over/Under bets are fun, but generally don’t pay out nearly as much as a multiple team parlay or other long odds bet. Essentially, you’re picking result A or B against the book’s estimate, so the payoff is going to be similar to a straight bet. In some cases, you get 1:1 or less on your money. Over/under totals can vary with the particular sport being contested. Basketball games are more challenging than hockey games because the number of points scored is higher. A greater variance in the number of points scored makes guessing over/under harder.

We believe over/under totals are a safe bet. With this information in mind, you can make a better, more informed, and most importantly more profitable bet! Enjoy!