How to Make a Totals Bet

Sportsbook

Also known as “over unders” a totals bet is one of the most common wagers made at online sportsbooks. Almost every team sport will have totals numbers listed for nearly every individual game listed on the board rotation. There are some sophisticated ways to assess and handicap totals. Some players will only bet totals while forgoing any action on sides (picking the team that covers the pointspread). With that in mind let’s take a look at totals.

 

What is a Totals Bet?

Wagering on an over under is one of the simplest bets you can make. You simply bet on whether or not a game will go over or under a set number of what the total combined score between two teams will be. For example, if you see a total on the board of Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers O/U 53.5 that means that you will bet on whether or not the combined score of the game will go over or under 53.5 points. When the Chiefs beat the 49ers in the Super Bowl by a score of 31-20 it meant that the game went “under the total.”

 

Juice/Vig

As is the case with betting on the pointspread when you bet on a total there is a 10-percent commission that the online sportsbooks will charge in order to handle the bet. This fee is often referred to as “juice,” “vigorish,” or “vig.” If you wanted to bet the Super Bowl under the total to win $100 you would lay out $110 up front. You would then get back $210 on the win, ($100 for winning the bet and your initial $110 laid out).

 

How to Make a Totals Bet Online

Few bets are as easy as a total. You will see at the online sportsbook website or app the over under numbers easily identifiable. They are listed in a separate column on the board with the side and money line numbers on the same game. You simply click on “over” or “under” and enter your dollar amount to be wagered. Review your wager and click “confirm” to have it submitted. That’s all there is to it.

 

Handicapping Totals

In like manner to sides, the oddsmakers will set over unders based on the combination of team abilities, public perception, media hype and intangibles such as weather or injuries.


To causal players, betting the over on high scoring teams such as the NBA’s Houston Rockets seems like a good idea. But what gets forgotten is that the linemakers realize that the Rockets will score a lot of points and that the public will always have the initial thought of betting Houston over the total. As a result, they will consistently set the over under number higher for Rockets games in comparison to other matchups on the NBA board. Ultimately this means that even though Houston Rockets games are often high scoring they can still trend under the total if the over under line is set high enough. Which is often the case.


Each sport has different factors to consider when betting on the total. Let’s take a quick look at what goes into those numbers for a football game.

 

Football Factors

The playing style of two teams in a matchup can factor into the over under. In college football a team like Wisconsin will run the ball a lot and eat up the clock. This can help a game go under the total. By contrast the Oregon Ducks were a video game offense a few years ago under coach Chip Kelly. It seemed as if there was no number high enough for oddsmakers to post. Weather is another factor. Rain or snow can cause gamblers to flock towards the under.

 

The Linemaker Always Knows

Regardless of these factors the most important thing to remember is that the oddsmakers always adjust the over under lines in anticipation of public perception and demand. To put it another way you will not fool the linemakers. They are consistently one step ahead of the public, knowing what to expect and having prices ready to reflect that. Just ask yourself if you were setting totals would you not expect a flood of under money for a game played in a blizzard? And would you not set the total accordingly?