When it comes to wagering on sports, you have plenty of options. That's true when it comes to the number of online sportsbooks in operation, the variety of sports and games in play on any given day, and it also applies in the case of each of those games. You might play a straight moneyline wager on any game, puckline on hockey, runline on baseball and wager on point spreads in football and basketball. Or you can eschew all of those options and bet on the total.
A Total-ly Awesome Way To Wager
How It Works
The total or over/under is established by a sportsbook on every game in play that day. It is, as the name applies, an assessment of how many points/goals/runs two teams will combine to score during a single game.
Here's an example from Bovada of what it looks like:
In this instance, the total on this game between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays is 4.5. Your choice as a bettor is which way to wager on that total. If you think the two teams will score more than 4.5 runs, you bet the over. If you anticipate a pitcher's duel and a low-scoring game, then you would wager on the under.
Bovada seems to be of the opinion that the under is the more likely outcome, offering odds of just -110 on an under bet. That means you need to bet $110 in order to garner a $100 profit on your wager The over carries with it a price of -140, so you'd be required to wager $140 on this bet in order to gain that same $100 profit.
The nice thing about this total line from a betting standpoint is that you know there is definitely going to be a winner and thus a payout. With a half-run in the equation, the final can't be, say 3.5 to 2. When the total is listed as a whole number, like six for example, there's always the chance that final score could be a derivative of that number - 6-0, 5-1, 4-2 - meaning it would a push and there would be no winner.
Why Play The Total?
The beauty of the over/under wager is in its simplicity. You aren't counting on one team or the other to win the game, you are merely counting up the number of times each of the teams will score during the game. You won't be sweating out whether your team can hold on to a late lead, or whether the team you bet on can stage a rally for victory, because the only outcome that matters to you is what the final score will be when it's added up.
The amount of research required to stay on top of the over/under is extremely limited in comparison to the amount of time you will spend analyzing the variables of a wager on the final result of a game in terms of whether the favorite or underdog will win, and if you play the point spread, on needing them to win by a certain amount.
Unearthing the calculations you will need to bet the over-under isn't all that challenging. A rudimentary way to do it would be if you were betting an NHL game between the Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings and the total was pegged at 5.5, you could simply calculate the goals per game scored by each team to that point in the season, add them up and see what you get. If it's more than 5.5, bet the over. Should it be less than 5.5, play the under.
With the NFL, a little bit of effort on Google will unearth many sites that list each team's up to date record against the total. During the 2017 season, the Los Angeles Rams were an NFL-best 10-5-1 on the over/under. That means they went over 10 times, under five times, and had one push. At the other end of the spectrum, the Chicago Bears were 4-11-1 in the over/under, meaning their games went over the posted total just four times all season long.
Another thing to remember about total wagering - just because a team is good, it doesn't mean they are a good over bet. The Minnesota Vikings went 13-3 in 2017 and reached the NFC Championship Game, but were a middling 7-9 when it came to the over/under. By the same token, the Cleveland Browns became the second team in NFL history to go 0-16, but seven of Cleveland's 16 games went over the total.
As well, if soccer is the sport that you prefer to make your wagers on, by playing the over/under you eliminate the possibility of a draw coming into play and messing up your bet.
Over/Under Future And Prop Bets
Beyond the games themselves, there are also team and individual player prop bets that offer total wagering. For instance, you can find over/under wagering on every NFL teams' projected wins total prior to the start of each season.
Sportsbooks will offer a wide variety of future bets on sports involving total wagering, but this is annually one of the more popular future book total plays in terms of over/under bets. Here's a sample of what they look like from BetOnline:
In these instances, Arizona's win total for the season has been established at 5.5, while Atlanta's over/under on season wins is set at 9.5. As a bettor, you must decide which outcome appears to be more likely. The price of +130 on the Cardinals for under 5.5 wins is certainly intriguing, since you'd win $130 for every $100 you bet.
You'll also find ample player and team over/under prop bets on various games throughout each sport's season. Here's an offering from BetOnline on a World Cup soccer game between Belgium and Tunisia:
There are some fairly unique total bets available here. Total goals, which you would expect, but also total corner kicks and total booking points. And there are also different numbers available with each bet for you to choose from before you make your over or under call.
Prior to the start of most sports seasons, over/under prop bets will be offered for certain players covering how many touchdown passes they will throw, how many goals they will score or how many home runs they will hit.
As you can see, the options and opportunities when it comes to total betting are virtually endless, which is why you should totally check out this form of wagering.