Over-Under Bets in Sports Betting Explained

by | 10 Jun 2022

Over-under betting is a straightforward way for sports fans to get involved in the world of sports gambling. It’s one of the most popular betting options in the industry and can be a great way for beginners to get a feel for gambling. An over-under bet involves predicting whether a specific statistic for a game will be higher or lower than a pre-agreed value. This type of bet is also referred to as a total bet.

Sportsbooks will predict a number for a given game. The most common type of over-under betting is on the combined score of two teams in a game. Bettors can then choose to wager that the actual number will be higher or lower than their prediction. For over-under bets, you aren’t trying to predict the actual score of a game but rather whether more or fewer points will be scored.

What is an Over-Under Bet?

Over-under bets, also known as totals, are a popular form of sports betting. In this type of bet, a sportsbook sets a prediction for a specific statistic in a game, such as the total number of points or goals that will be scored. Bettors then have the option to wager on whether the actual number will be higher (over) or lower (under) than the sportsbook’s prediction.

To better understand how over-under bets work, let’s consider an example with a football game. If the sportsbook sets the over-under at 54 for the total points scored by both teams, bettors can choose to bet over 54 (expecting more points to be scored) or under 54 (expecting fewer points to be scored).

For instance, if the final score is 24-20 with a total of 44 points, those who bet the under would win, while those who bet the over would lose. In the event that the final score matches the predicted value exactly, the bet is considered a push, and all over-under bets are refunded.

While the combined score of two teams is the most common statistic for over-under bets, they can also involve various other statistics in different sports. In American football, bettors can wager on rushing yards, completions, interceptions, and more. Similarly, in basketball, bets can be placed on assists, turnovers, steals, and other stats. Baseball over-under bets can involve home runs and other player or team statistics.

Related: Understanding the Different Types of Bets in Sports

Understanding Over-Under Bets

Two crucial factors considered are the pace on offense and the efficiency on both offense and defense. It is worth noting that these predictions, like all odds in sports betting, are subject to change as betting patterns emerge. Sharp bettors have a notable influence on the betting lines through their actions, prompting other sportsbooks to follow suit.

Additionally, sportsbooks determine the vigorish, or vig, for over-under bets. Typically set at 10%, this results in both outcomes initially being quoted at -110. Essentially, bettors must risk $110 to win $100. When an equal amount of money is wagered on both outcomes, the sportsbook keeps a 5% profit, paying the losers’ money to the winners.

However, imbalances can occur between the number of bets on the over and the number on the under. In such cases, sportsbooks employ two strategies to rectify the situation:

Adjusting the over-under value itself: If too many individuals have placed bets on the over, the sportsbook may choose to modify the over-under value. For example, they might adjust it from 45 to 46, encouraging more people to consider the under bet.

Modifying the odds: Sportsbooks could lower the odds on the under to -105 while raising the odds on the over to -115. This adjustment aims to sway bettors towards choosing the under bet.

When it comes to payouts, a standard bet on a total is treated similarly to a point spread. The sportsbook will claim its cut, distributing the remaining funds to the winners. But, what happens when an over-under is exact is that there will be no “winner”, and all wagers are refunded to bettors no matter whether they took the over or the under.

Related: Free Betting Pitfalls: Mistakes When Using Bonus Bets


Over-under bets provide a simple and engaging avenue for sports betting enthusiasts to place wagers on whether a statistic from a particular game will be higher or lower than a quoted value. These bets are particularly prevalent in relation to the number of points scored in a match. However, like all forms of sports gambling, it is essential to exercise caution when using over-under bets so that sports gamblers can fully partake in the excitement without incurring undue financial risks.

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