What Is A Total or Over/Under Bet? – Examples

What is an Over/Under in sports betting?

Totals bets are also known as over/under bets. The terms are used interchangeably at legal online sportsbooks and among media covering sports betting.

Totals bets are usually available for all major professional sports (football, baseball, basketball, and hockey) and major college sports (football and basketball). For a majority of over/under wagers, bettors are choosing whether the total number of points (i.e., runs for baseball, goals for soccer and hockey, rounds for boxing and MMA, points in other sports) will be OVER or UNDER the listed total of points provided by the sportsbook.

The beauty of Over/Under betting is it can be applied to almost anything: number of receptions for a wide receiver; number of strikeouts by a pitcher; number of laps led by a driver in a NASCAR race; the winning time in a marathon; how long it takes your spouse to make a round-trip grocery store run.

Over/Under, scored in a game!

Betting on the over indicates that you predict the total points, sets, goals, runs, or any other relevant metric to surpass the specified amount. Conversely, betting on the under implies the expectation of fewer occurrences. Most of the time, the over/under concept is straightforward. For instance, if the total is set at 50.5, you choose over if you anticipate 51 or more points and under if you expect 50 or fewer points. However, these markets can sometimes be less intuitive.

In certain scenarios, such as during draft seasons, sportsbooks open over/under markets for individual players. For example, Alabama QB Mac Jones gained significant hype before the NFL Draft, and his over/under was set at 3.5 when speculation suggested the 49ers would pick him third. Over 3.5 would win if a team selected Jones fourth or later, which happened when he went 15th to the Patriots. Under 3.5 would have won if he was picked in the top three.

Another over/under situation that might confuse bettors is the total cage time in a UFC fight. How can the over/under be 2.5 in a three-round fight? The answer is simple: if the fighters continue competing past the halfway mark of the third round (2:30), the over wins. If the fight concludes before that moment, the under wins.

Over/Under wager explained

There are four key components: the value, the price, the over, and the under.


The value

The actual, operative number is the unit listed bettors are wagering against in the sporting event.

For example, if the totals bet has a listing of 51 points, bettors are wagering a sporting event will finish with over 51 combined points by both teams or under 51 combined points by both teams.

The units vary depending on the sport, with goals for hockey and soccer; runs for baseball; and rounds for boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA). And often you can bet on total points scored by just one team. For instance, Bulls to score o/u 113.5 points in their game against the Bucks.


The price

The price or moneyline applying to the over/under bet indicates the price the bettor is getting on the wager.

For example, if the over/under is established at 51 points at -110, bettors must bet $110 to win $100 regardless if they are picking the over OR the under. That’s a standard 10% “vig” (-110) that goes for most spread bets, too.


The over

Bettors who are selecting the over are wagering the combined number of points (or number of runs in a baseball game) will be greater than the number listed by the sportsbook.

Using that same example of an over/under of 51 points on a -110 bet worth $100, bettors would win the $100 on their $110 stake if the teams combined to score more than 51 points. If the teams combine for exactly 51? That’s called a push, the bet gets “cancelled” or “voided”, and the amount wagered returned to the bettor.


The under

Bettors who are selecting the under are wagering the combined number of points will be less than the number listed by the sportsbook.

Using that same example of an over/under of 51 points on a -110 bet worth $100, bettors would win the $100 on their $110 stake if the teams combined to score fewer than 51 points.

Here are examples of how you can find the total wager in a book:

PointSpread 1
PointSpread 2
PointSpread 3

How does an overtime game impact totals?

Live over/unders give the bettor a great chance to think critically about what they see. Sometimes, the line can change quite drastically in just a few minutes. For example, if the Chiefs defense looks dominant early against the Bengals in the aforementioned 2023, the total might move from 48.5 to 44 after just a couple of empty possessions.

Your job as a live bettor is to determine how predictive these possessions are for the rest of the game. If you think the Chiefs’ success isn’t sustainable, pounce on that over. You got a number 4.5 points better than the pregame markets.

Why was my totals bet canceled?

Only a handful of situations cause cancelation in an over/under bet:

1. The bookmaker posts an obviously erroneous line. Often known as “palps”, books often cancel them if the game hasn’t started. Worse, if you bet at illegal offshore sportsbooks, they might freeroll you and only grade the bet if it loses.

2. Starting pitcher changes in MLB. If you booked a bet with “pitchers listed” on the total, then a late pitching change will void your bet.

3. The game or match doesn’t occur on the scheduled day. Even if they reconvene the next day and play, books often cancel bets and produce a new market.

4. The game or match ends early. Sometimes, this can happen due to inclement weather in various sports or a tennis injury.

Check your sportsbook’s rules to see how they grade these situations and more. Note that a push can also occur if the total market features an even number – 54 instead of 54.5, for instance. If the game lands on 54, all over/under wagers get returned as if the bet never happened.

Totals and live betting

In general, if you place an over bet, you might find yourself cheering for overtime and extra innings/periods because they are exceptionally favorable for your wager. On the flip side, under bettors aren’t fans of such extensions, as they prolong the game and create more opportunities for scoring.

Most often, these overtime periods are considered as if the game is continuing. This rule typically extends to second-half bets or third-period bets as well.

Should I Bet the Over/Under?

Over/unders can be excellent options for some bettors, but they may not be for everyone.

One of the major incentives for betting on the over/under is that they typically involve some of the lowest vig markets provided by sportsbooks. In other words, sportsbooks retain a smaller percentage of the money wagered (referred to as the handle), anticipating a substantial portion to be returned to the bettors.

Those intrigued by constructing mathematical models may particularly enjoy the challenge of strategizing how to outsmart totals. Totals usually involve clear inputs that can be applied to the model, such as expected possessions and efficiency.

On the flip side, the same model applicability makes them challenging for the average bettor to overcome, especially in major-market sports like the NBA and NFL. Additionally, teams generally aren’t concerned about whether a game goes over or under. Their primary focus is on winning, and they typically have no interest in aiding you in winning your bet, although there are exceptions.

For many bettors, cheering for teams rather than predicting whether points will be scored can be more enjoyable.