Totals Bets & Over/Under Bets
Totals bets and over/under bets are the same thing. They are simply two different terms for a type of wager. This is a very straightforward wager and one that has become extremely popular. You don't have to pick the winner of a match or event, but rather whether the total number of something (such as points scored in a match) is higher or lower than the number set by the bookmaker.
For example, a bookmaker might set the expected number of points to be scored in an upcoming football match at 41. You would have to decide whether you think the actual number of points scored is likely to be higher or lower than this number. If you think it's going to be higher, you'd bet on the over. If you think it's going to be lower, you'd bet on the under.
There are a lot more betting markets than just the total number of points or goals scored. In golf, for example, you can bet on the total number of birdies during a tournament. In cricket, you can bet on the total number of boundaries scored. In soccer, you can bet on the total number of yellow cards given. These are just a few examples, and there are many more.
The basic rules for totals betting are pretty much the same, but these betting markets can be presented by bookmakers in a number of different ways. We provide examples below for further insight into wagers of this type.
Example 1 – Equal Odds (Football)
The above image is a screenshot from a US sports betting site, showing a selection of betting lines for college football games. We are interested in the end column (highlighted) as this shows the totals bets on offer.
As you can see, the total set for each game is different, but the odds are the same. What this bookmaker has done is to set the total they think is most likely for each game. The actual total is therefore equally likely to be higher or lower: theoretically at least. This explains why the odds are the same.
Note that the odds here mean that you'll win an amount slightly less than your stake. Wagers at moneyline odds of -110 win $100 for every $110 staked.
Example 2 – Varying Odds (Tennis)
This screenshot is from another US sports betting site. The betting line this time is for a tennis match at the US Open. Again, we are interested in the end column, showing the over/under information.
In this case, the wager is on the total number of sets that will be played in the game. Unlike the previous example, however, the odds are different for the over and the under. The bookmaker clearly thinks that the actual number of sets is likely to be less than 3.5, making a $100 bet on the under wins only $22. A $100 bet on the over would win $300.
Example 3 – Varying Odds (Soccer)
The screenshot you see above is from a UK sports betting site. The betting markets shown are for the over/under on the total number of goals scored in each game. This is similar to the previous example in that the odds vary each time.
The bookmaker in this example has set the over/under at 2.5 for each game. The odds offered reflect how likely he thinks that either more or less than 2.5 will be scored in each game.
Example 4 – Varying Over/Under (Soccer)
In this final example we use a screenshot from another UK sports betting site. What you see here is the different over/under bets available on a single soccer match. Rather than setting a fixed over/under for the match, this bookmaker has offered multiple options. This gives you more control over the level of risk you want to take and the potential return you can make.
You might think there will probably be less than 2.5 goals, but decide to bet on under 3.5 goals to be a little safer. This will give you a greater chance of winning your wager with a lower potential payout due to lower odds. If you want to go for a larger payout, you could place a wager on under 1.5 goals. This would be less likely to win, but the higher odds would give you a better return.
Hopefully these examples have illustrated exactly how totals betting works, while highlighting the different ways in which bookmakers may present the betting markets for wagers of this type. If you would like advice on how to bet on the over/under effectively, please see our following page on wagering the over/under.
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: March 2015
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