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Over/Under Betting: Totals Betting Explained

19.04.2024, 09:15

Those bored of simple betting on the match winner invariably like to try their hand at more advanced betting markets. Over/under betting is perfect for it - it is a fun test of sports betting knowledge while still being easy to understand quickly. In this article, we'll explore over-under betting, also known as totals, what sports it's popular in, and why it's worth considering next time you open an online sportsbook.

TIPS.GG Totals

What is an Over/Under Bet?

In over/under betting, punters wager on whether the total points scored (hence its second name, totals betting) will exceed a certain arbitrary threshold set by the sportsbook. Unlike other forms of sports bets we've explained previously, in totals betting it doesn't matter which team wins or by how much - they only thing matters is that final, combined score.

This is exactly why over/under betting is a fantastic betting market for punters wagering for hobby. Not having to worry about a certain team winning makes spectating the match way more enjoyable, as every offensive and defensive play can be appreciated fully without any bias. After all, betting on the underdog is risky - so it feels bad when your favorite team is one.

Explaining a Typical Over/Under Bet

The overall mechanism for totals betting is the same regardless of the sport. The purest form of over under betting experience would look like this.

Let's look at the example basketball game in the Philippine Cup between Blackwater and TNT KaTropa.

totals betting TIPS.GG

Both outcomes have a close chance of happening as indicated by the betting odds. Betting on the over means we'd want the total points scored between the two teams to be 180 or more, and betting on the under means we'd want 179 or less. In this case, the bookmaker set the point threshold at a decimal point, and scoring half points is impossible in basketball. Why is that? Did they make a mistake?

In fact, that wasn't a mistake but a deliberate choice on the bookmaker's side. Sometimes, bookmakers avoid decimals. But it creates a problem. What if the game ends on exactly the threshold set by the bookmaker?

Totals Push Bet

Push Bet

The solution most bookies have is quite simple. For example, if this match of Turkey's Basketball Super League ends with 154 points scored, the bet becomes a push bet, and all the punters are simply refunded. When a push bet occurs, the bettor is refunded completely, even without losing any of the bookmakers margin they had to put down. The push bets are also recorded in the win-loss record as a draw. To avoid this colossal waste of time, many bookies offer halves on totals betting (or other betting markets where a push bet might occur). Even the bookmakers don't want any push bets!

Over/Under Bet Value

Most bookmakers will attempt to keep the totals even money on both sides, or at least as close as possible to it. Remember, even "even money" line bet is rarely equal on both outcomes because of the bookmaker margin. For example, odds of 1.91 to 1.83 is as close to the fair market as it gets.

Bookmakers often adjust the betting odds on total points scored dynamically. If a sports betting site sees a lot of wagers on under 157, it increases the odds on over 157, making the bet on over more attractive. By doing so, the betting platform balances out wagers on each side, ensuring profit for itself and sports interest for the bettors.

Different Types of Totals

Totals betting isn't all about the final score! Many bookmakers include additional fun betting markets on other aspects of the game that also happen to be totals. Here are two examples of various totals bets possible:

Player Prop Bet on Total Passing Yards (American Football):

American sportsbooks often set in-depth prop bets for American Football. One such example can be a bookie setting a line on the total passing yards for a quarterback in one game. An online betting site might set a line for a player (let's say, the NFL star Patrick Mahomes) to 305 yards. The individual player-related totals might be easier to understand than the type where you're supposed to wager on the score of both teams at once.

Total Kills in an Esports Match (League of Legends):

In many esports, you don't win by score but by completing an in-game objective. Still, betting on the score is possible. For example, a bookmaker can set a total line for in-game eliminations in a League of Legends match match between T1 Esports and OKSavingsBank BRION to 15.

How is the Total Points Scored Threshold Determined?

Bookmakers employ analysts to set thresholds based on several factors:

  • Sports discipline. This part is obvious - sports disciplines can range from low-scoring (football, hockey) to high-scoring (basketball). Setting an over/under at 150 would be a joke in a football match, but it's pretty standard in basketball games.
  • Statistical analysis. The experts weigh in the historical data of the two teams, their playstyles, player stats, and more to determine the most likely combined score for a given game.
  • Market conditions. The bettors themselves influence the total bets. Bookmakers correct the threshold as well as the odds for over/under bets by "voting with their wallets."
  • Bookmaker margin. Last but not least, every sports bet includes a bookie vig. Bookmakers can even lower it for certain events to attract more attention to it from the public.

Over/Under Betting In Different Sports

Even though the typical over/under bet will have the same mechanism in play regardless of the sport chosen, there are some minor differences. Let's take a look at some of the most popular examples.

Over/Under Betting in Football

A sizable chunk of all football games (around 25% of all professional football matches) end in a tie. This makes over/under betting totals a very popular choice among bettors who don't want to commit to a three-way moneyline bet or bear with reduced odds in a Double Chance - or even completely wasted time of Draw No Bet push bets). Since football is a low-score sports discipline, the bookmakers set the totals threshold to lower numbers (like 2-3) in football bet markets.

Over/Under Betting in Basketball

Basketball has way more points scored per game than the vast majority of other sports. As such, bookmakers often feature multiple totals points for a single match to capitalize on a higher totals point spread. Each of these thresholds will have their own odds.

Over/Under Betting in Ice Hockey

Ice Hockey is another example of a low-score sport. As such, bookmakers often set totals to very low numbers of points, like 1-1.5-2 in 1st period. Such low scores allow for no variation in totals in hockey betting, unlike basketball.

Over/Under Betting in Tennis

The most typical over/under bet in tennis is a wager on how many sets occur until a match is completed. There are variations to that (like which athlete will take which amount of games) on some bookmakers, but it boils down to sets in the end.

Over/Under Betting In Baseball

Because of its rather slow format, a typical baseball game will feature a large amount of prop bets based on individual player performance in the over/under format. Score-based baseball totals bets are still popular. Baseball is a medium-score sport, so the totals can range from single digits to double digits.

Over/Under Betting in American Football

Sportsbooks usually present separate totals for first quarters, first halves, and full games in American Football, similar to Ice Hockey. Sports betting platforms have options for score totals as well as prop bets for touchdowns, rushing attempts, etc.

Over/Under Betting In Esports

Over/Under bets are infinitely interesting in esports since most video game titles have a lot of factors that come into winning the game. Few esports titles are decided by points like traditional sports - most involve some sort of an in-game objective that has to be completed to earn a win. These totals bets can include anything from just score and rounds won to number of structures destroyed, neutral objectives taken, kills, assists, and more.

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