Totals betting is exactly what it sounds like: You wager on whether the final score of a game will be more than or less than a set total. Many books offer this type of wagering, but you won’t find it at every sportsbook. It’s not as common as moneyline or point spread betting, and most bettors probably won’t find much use for totals until they get more experience with different kinds of bets. But there’s still value in totals betting for the informed and diligent bettor who understands its nuances.
TOP 10 betting sites in Canada for Totals Betting
How to bet on the Over/Under
The first step in betting the Over/Under is to find the total. Look for the “o/u” next to the posted point spread. For example, let’s say a game has a posted total of 50. The Over/Under is 50, so this indicates that the sportsbook expects the final score of the game to be between 45 and 55 points. Next, look for the “betting” and “payout” columns. These will tell you how much the sportsbook expects the bet to be worth and how much you’ll win if the bet is a winner. The third step is to decide whether you think the final score will be higher or lower than the posted total. This will determine which side of the bet you want to take. If you think the final score will be higher than the posted total (aka, the “over”), then you’re betting that the two teams will combine to score more points than the sportsbook expects they will. On the other hand, if you think the final score will be lower than the posted total (aka, the “under”), then you’re betting that the two teams will combine to score fewer points than the sportsbook expects.
Handicapping the Over/Under
As with any other wager, you want to handicap the over/under before you make your bet. One of the best ways to do this is to look at the statistics and performances of both teams in recent games. You want to find something that will help predict how the game will play out. This can be as simple as “Team A has played three consecutive games without allowing more than 13 points.” If you can’t find any relevant statistics, you can also try to predict the outcome based on two factors: the length of the game and the strengths of each team. The length of the game can help you predict whether one team will be able to score enough points to beat the over/under. And if one team is clearly better than the other, it’s likely that team will score more points.
Types of bets on totals
Let's take a look at what kinds of totals there are:
- Total game (e.g., "the total number of points scored in a game"): You bet on the total score of both teams.
- Team Total (e.g. "total number of points scored by "Team A"): You bet on the score of only one team, ignoring the score of the other team.
- First Half Total (e.g. "the total number of points scored in the first half"): You bet on the total score of both teams in the first half of the game.
- Second Half Total (e.g. "the total number of points scored in the second half"): You bet on the total score of both teams in the second half of the game.
- The number of quarters in which the game will end (e.g., "outcomes in which the game total is greater than the set total"): You bet on whether the game will go over the set total and that the game will end in regulation time.
The risk in Over/Under betting
The biggest risk in totals betting is that you can’t predict the outcome of the game with 100% accuracy. You might see that one team has a better chance of scoring more points, but you can’t be sure. Scores in football, basketball, and other sports can be incredibly unpredictable. The other common risk in totals betting is misreading the set total. The set total is the amount that the sportsbook thinks the game will go over, and it’s usually based on recent trends. But if someone who doesn’t understand totals betting makes a large bet on the under when the set total is “over”, odds might move and make it impossible for you to win your bet.
Why do games go over the set total more often than not?
The sportsbook is betting that the game will go over the set total, and they’re a business that wants to make profit. They’re likely to be aggressive with their bets, which means that the over is more likely to win than the under.
Can I lose money betting on the over?
Yes, but it’s much less likely than losing money with a bet on the under. The sportsbook sets the over at a number that they believe will be hit. If one team is significantly better than the other, it’s possible that they’ll score enough points to go over the set total.
When do I bet on the under?
You want to bet on the under when you think that the game will be low-scoring. If one team has a reputation for being defensive-minded, they might allow fewer points than the set total predicts.