For an over/under bet, an operator posts a number for total points, runs or goals in a game and bettors wager whether the actual number will be higher or lower. Different sites might have different numbers for their over/under, so bettors should shop around for those over/unders with the best odds.
In this guide, we'll drill deeper into totals betting and how to better utilize it into your wagering repertoire.
What Does Over/Under Mean?
Let's say a site has set the over-under at 46.5 points for an Arizona Cardinals game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The bettor interested in an over/under wager must guess whether the teams will combine to score more than 46.5 points or fewer. If you think it's going to be a lower-scoring game, you will want to bet the Under. If you think it'll be a higher-scoring game, you should bet the Over.
How Are Totals Used In Betting?
There are lots of different over/under options available for games. It doesn't have to be just the combined scores of the two teams. Maybe you want to bet the over/under on the points in the first quarter of a Phoenix Suns NBA game, or the first half. You can do that. Maybe an operator has odds on just one goal combined for the first period of an Arizona Coyotes NHL game. You can bet that there will be a scoreless first period, in which case you bet the Under. Or vice-versa on the over. If there is only one goal scored, that's called a push. You didn't win the bet, but you didn't lose it either, and your money will go back into your account. That's why most sites will often add a half-point onto most predicted totals, to avoid a push.
Reading Over/Under Betting Odds
NFL Let's say the Arizona Cardinals are playing the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. Many bettors will only be looking at the moneyline or the point spread betting odds. But you're more interested in the over/under number. Let's say these are two very good defensive teams, at least statistically, so the operators set the over/under betting line at 33.5 points. If you are betting on the NFL in Arizona (or college football) Under, you are wagering the combined points will be 33 points or less. If you bet the under and the Cardinals score in the fourth quarter to make it a 20-14 game, sorry. The Over has been hit and you lose the bet.
NBA The Phoenix Suns are playing the Milwaukee Bucks and the total points posted at various Arizona sports betting sites is 222. So, let's say you take the Under for total points scored at -110 for $100. If it's a 111-110 final score and you took the under, congratulations. You just won $190.91 (your $100 back, plus $90.91 profit at those -110 odds). If the final score is 112-111 and you bet the under, sorry. That's 223 points. Should have taken the over. As with Arizona NBA betting totals, the same rules apply for NCAA basketball or other basketball totals bet options.
MLB The Arizona Diamondbacks are playing the New York Yankees. The oddsmakers set the over/under at 9. Your job as a sharp bettor is to guess whether fewer or more than nine combined runs will be scored in the game. If the game ends in a 5-4 final, it's a push and sports bettors get their wager amount back. This Arizona baseball wager didn't result in either winning or losing money.
NHL It's a November night, and the Arizona Coyotes are playing the Minnesota Wild at Mullett Arena. Some scan the moneyline betting numbers listed, but sharp over/under bettors want to see the totals bet odds for the combined goals between the two teams. The operator has the betting total set at 6. If you're betting the under, you need at most a 3-2 or 4-1 game. There are no ties in hockey betting so if regulation ends with the score 3-3, you're heading for a lost bet. There must be a goal awarded either in overtime or a shootout, and the final score will be 4-3. The Over bet would have been the right play here.
A lot of bettors prefer the over/under because the odds are usually close to even money for most every sport on such bets. Most of the time, the number of points (or goals or runs) in a game will carry odds right around -110.
So, if you take the Coyotes to go Over in their game against the Minnesota Wild at -110, you're betting $110 to win $100. If the over/under is set at 6 and it's a 4-3 final or a 7-0 final or a 5-2 final, your Over bet just cashed. You just won $210 (your $110 back, plus $100) on over/under betting.
When you see a minus sign in front of a number next to a team, that team is the odds-on favorite to win the game. It's the same thing on an over/under bet, except the minus sign here signifies that the total number of points/runs/goals is the odds-on favorite - not which team wins or loses the game.
If the under is listed at -110 for 9 total runs in the Diamondbacks-Yankees game, the bookmakers are saying they believe it's a slight favorite that under nine runs will be scored.
Let's say the Diamondbacks-Yankees game shows an under of 8.5 at +110. Those "plus" odds mean that the operator thinks that 8.5 number is something of an underdog on the Under. They think it's a bit more likely that at least nine runs will be scored so they are giving you a higher payout if the Under bet wins.
If you bet $100 on the under at +100 and win the bet, you've doubled your initial wager. You won $200 (your $100 back, plus $100 more). When you bet on anything with plus odds and you win, you will always at least double your money. However, over/under odds with sports bets rarely stray much further than -110 or +100 or +110. But bettors generally like odds like that, because anything close to even money is a nice payout, no matter the size of the bet.
Many times, you'll see half points added to the prediction of a total set by the oddsmakers. That's because they don't want bets to end in a push on a totals bet. What is a push? It's when the total points in a game exactly match the over/under number set by the bookies. If the over/under for the Diamondbacks-Dodgers game is 9, and the final score is 5-4, both the Over bet and the Under bet are pushes. Sports bettors neither win nor lose their money. The site will then put your wager amount back into your account.
Totals In Prop Bets
In today's online betting world, where you can make in-game bets on the fly, totals bets as proposition bets are gaining in popularity. Let's say you've looked at the starting pitchers in a Diamondbacks-Yankees tilt and think they both are going to throw scoreless first innings.
There should be an in-game prop bet for that. You can, in fact, make a bet that there will be no runs scored in the first inning. This is becoming more of a popular bet in the digital, in-game age. Or you can bet that there will be more than 4.5 runs scored in the first five innings. You can bet that the D-Backs will score more than 1.5 runs in the first five innings. These are all prop sports bets, and they usually have nice payouts if successful.
Let's say you want to bet that not only will the Diamondbacks score more than 4.5 runs in the first five innings of their game, but you also think the total number of runs for the Angels-A's game will be under 8.5 and you bet on that, too. That's an over/under parlay bet. Successful parlay bets always have better payout odds, because they're harder to achieve than a bet on just one game. But all parts of the bet must hit for the bet to pay out.
Over/Under Betting Strategy
Over/under bettors tend to be numbers geeks - and that's meant in a complimentary way! Over/under bets are all about numbers, not which team wins or loses. Totals bettors could not care less about who wins or loses, or the point spread. They only care about the total points scored (or goals/runs) in a game or event.
Generally, successful totals bettors really must pay attention to a team's scoring trends. If the Arizona Cardinals only average six points a game through the first half of the season, you probably don't want to bet on them suddenly scoring 30 in a game or a total number of points that seem too unrealistic. For over/under bettors, scoring trends matter.
A bettor will want to be up on a team's injury list, or whether players are tired on a road trip, or if two ace pitchers are facing each other, or if it's each team's fifth starter. As with anything, the more information sports bettors have, the better choices they usually make in predicting a combined score.
Overtimes And The Final Score
In general, points or goals and runs that are scored in overtime or extra innings count toward the combined score in a totals bet. If you bet the Over on a baseball game where sportsbook sets the over/under betting at 9, and it's only 1-1 entering the 10th inning, you're probably not feeling too good about winning the bet. But maybe the teams will combine for eight runs in the 10th? Hey, it could happen. In that case, you'd win.
There are some bets allowed on just what the score/total will be after regulation in a game. That's especially the case in soccer bets.
Defensive And Offensive Trends
Let's say we were betting on a game involving the 1985 Chicago Bears – the NFL team often considered to have had the best defense in league history. Chances are, you are going to bet the under for the combined score in the game, and especially as a prop bet for the Bears' opponent.
Careful, though. The bookmakers aren't stupid. They study those defensive totals trends just as much or more than you, and they'll set the odds appropriately. Scoring trends generally tend to stay consistent for teams or players over the course of a season. That's why they're called "trends."
Make sure you're up on all of them when betting real money on points scored in a game.
The pace of a game can sometimes be a real factor in total score betting. If two football squads move the ball consistently up and down the field, more plays will happen during the game. It's the opposite for points scored in a football game where both offenses prefer 3 yards and a cloud of dust.
If two ace pitchers are mowing down their opposing team's lineups, then you've got a quick, low-scoring game on your hands. The Under bet would be the play in that case.
If the Cardinals enter a game against the Atlanta Falcons and the over total score is at -110, but one of the starting quarterbacks gets injured and is out for the game after the first play? The total score odds shift, perhaps dramatically, to the Under. In-game line movements in today's modern, digital age happen all the time, so you can make live bets on points scored accordingly.
How The Over/Under Is Determined
The real numbers geeks are the employees at the sites who come up with totals bet numbers for sports bettors. They study injury lists, weather and anything else to determine the number to set for a combined score. If the Phoenix Suns are averaging 110 points a game and an opponent is averaging only 103 a game, you can figure that bookmakers will set the sports betting number at or close to 213.
Get Started On Over/Under Sports Bets AZ
Our knowledgeable writers have pored over all the scoring trends of teams. When we make betting recommendations on the over/under betting, a lot of thought has gone into it. That includes all kinds of bets, including parlays, point spreads and props.
If you're ready to start betting real money on things like the over/under and final score totals, it's easy to set up an account with top sportsbooks. We have done all the heavy lifting there too, vetting them all for reliability, ease of use and functionality.
Over/Under Betting in Arizona FAQ
In general, you're simply betting on how many points (or runs or goals) are scored by both teams in a game, based on a number set by the bookmakers. Matchups, weather, injuries, team trends and averages all play a role in making the right bet for over/under sports bets AZ.
There is no right answer. It's all about the trends and the data going into the game. Weather also can be a factor, as well as injuries.
That's called a push, a result where you get your original wager back but no profit. Most of the time, sportsbooks list over/under numbers with a .5 so there is no chance of a tie or push. For example, 45.5 points.
Yes, points scored in overtime count when deciding over/under bets. Sometimes there are listed exceptions in other sports. Shootout goals do not count in hockey. Soccer over/under bets often are capped at goals that are scored within the 90 minutes of regulation play.
Yes. You can combine multiple over/under bets on one ticket but they all must hit for the bettor to win.
Adrian Dater writes about the NHL for BetArizona.com. The longtime NHL writer spent 25 years at The Denver Post, 20 of which as the beat writer of the Colorado Avalanche. He also covered the Avs for BSN Denver and was the lead NHL columnist with Bleacher Report from 2013-16. Dater has written six books, including the best-selling hockey book "Blood Feud: Detroit Red Wings v. Colorado Avalanche, The Inside Story of Pro Sports' Best and Nastiest Rivalry of its Era," and was a regular contributor to Sports Illustrated from 2011-13.