Understanding Totals Bets: Over/Under Strategy Tips & Tricks
Understand how totals bets work, find out the sports where they are popular, and how to devise a clever Over/Under betting strategy
A totals bet is the second most popular type of wager after Moneyline betting (picking winners). Under/Over bets are available for every sport, as these predictions can rely on goals, points, bookings, corners, runs, fouls, rounds, laps, gaps, possession and many other stats.
Totals bets have expanded: Now you can wager on individual teams or players, as well as quarters, periods or even shorter time intervals like minutes.
Also, Asian handicap total goals have become increasingly popular by providing a wider threshold selection range. They can be used both as a safety net as well as to slightly increase the odds compared to the standard totals.
We’re going to take you through the basics, give you a glimpse about the sports where totals or Over/Under bets are popular, and then wrap-up this betting guide with some tips and tricks that you'll hopefully be able to use to devise your singles or accumulator sports betting strategy.
Quickly navigate to your desired topic:
- Over/Under Bet Types & Handicaps
- Sports Where Totals Bets are Popular
- Over Under Football Betting Strategy
Over/Under Bet Types & Handicaps
Although full lines in Asian Handicap Over/Under bets may lead to a stake refund, totals are two-way bets, which makes them easy to understand. No wonder they are so popular.
Nevertheless, some punters wager on goals tips they do not fully understand. That’s a big no-no. So, let’s address that right now by breaking them down:
- Over/Under X.5 – We decided to start with these as they are the most common totals bet type. All bookmakers and sports betting sites have this popular bet. Half point goal totals are traditional bets that can be either won or lost. So, no result can trigger a refund. For the sake of clarification, please note that these sports bets appertain to Asian Handicap Half Lines.
- Over/Under X.0 – These ‘exact’ predictions fall under the Asian Handicap Full Lines category because the prediction is based on a whole number, e.g., +/- 1, 2, 3 etc. So, the bets are refunded when the result matches the actual line number, meaning that both an Under 3 Goals and Over 3 Goals betting picks would end in a push when a total of three goals have been scored in a sporting event.
- Over/Under X.25 & X.75 – This is where things get more complicated. Each quarter line bet represents a combination of two predictions, namely a full line bet and a half line bet. For example, an Over 2.75 Goals wager involves half stake to go on Over 2.5 Goals and the other half to go on Over 3 Goals. We explained this in detail in this post about Asian Handicap Quarter Lines.
Please don’t be discouraged if you are struggling with some of these more advanced sport betting concepts because you’ll certainly be in awe when you discover the fantastic betting flexibility they offer after you figure out how they work.
Sports Where Totals Bets are Popular
If you’re new to betting totals, these considerations will give you a general idea of what to expect for these sports. Notwithstanding that general patterns may apply in some sports or leagues, each fixture should be analysed independently.
- Football – The main totals here revolve around the tally of goals scored. The typical totals line for a football match is +/- 2.5 goals. Football is a low-scoring game. So, you will rarely see the main line higher than this. The Dutch Eerste Divisie (2nd tier) is one of the few exceptions where the Under/Over 3.5 Goals is the most frequently used goal line.
- Tennis – Here, there are many popular totals markets: total games, total sets, 1st set totals, and the total number of points during a game. The main games' totals line in fixtures between fairly evenly matched players usually stands between 23.5 and 24.5 in men’s fixtures and within 20.5-21.5 in women’s matches.
- Cricket – The main totals bets here involve the number of wickets a bowler takes or the number of runs a batsman scores. There are many short-term bets you can make, but at the same time, you can place a wager which can last for up to 5 days. Live betting markets involving the number of runs scored in the next over or whether there will be a run from the next delivery are also quite popular.
- Basketball – Basketball is a high-scoring game, so the Over/Under lines will vary according to the league or tournament. In the NBA, the main line will land in the range of 180-220 points per game, whereas in college and European basketball, we can expect to see much lower point totals in the range of 120-160 points.
- Boxing & MMA – The most common Over/Under betting line on combat sports is about how long the bout will last and has nothing to do with the judges' score. The lines will depend on several factors like the number of rounds the fight can have (maximum 12 rounds distance in boxing, 5 rounds in UFC title fights), the fitness level and the style of the fighters who will compete.
- US Sports – Over/Under bets make the second most popular betting market after the spread bets. The typical totals line for an American football NFL game will be around 41 points, whereas the totals line of NCAA games will move around much more. You’ll find a line around 5.5 goals for most hockey fixtures. Although the main totals lines in baseball can vary a lot, it’s worth keeping in mind that 7 and 9 are two of the most common totals in MLB.
It's worth keeping in mind that unlike European sports, where betting on totals excludes extra-time, wagers on major US sports will likely include overtime. Such terms may differ from one sportsbook to another, so don’t forget to check out what will happen with bets if a game goes into overtime.
Over Under Football Betting Strategy
Once you grasp the basic principles, it's time to develop your online betting model. Expanding your betting knowledge is always a great way to keep your betting interesting. Feel free to use some of the following tips to polish your football totals betting strategy.
1. Analyse average league and team goals. Find out which teams tend to have a high or low average number of goals, ensuring you inspect the separate home and away tables, like this one. Try to observe if there are substantial differences when the respective teams are playing in different competitions.
2. Study the form. Compare the season average Over/Under stats with the figures registered during the last 5 games. Investigate why some matches have had many or no goals because overlooking factors like red cards, facing lower-tier opponents or using the second squad may lead you to erroneous beliefs.
3. Acknowledge playing styles and mentalities. Many sports bettors focus solely on the offensive display. Thus, they often forget to weigh in the quality of the defence.
Act your age, not your shoe size! Learn how early and to what extent each team employs time-wasting techniques, and don’t forget to take note of any unbalanced potential one-on-one duel, i.e., like when a pacey winger will be marked by a slow full back who is a natural centre-back.
4. Check the head-to-head results for peculiarities. Although the history of results between two teams will rarely provide much valuable data, there are cases where this information can be of utmost importance. Pay very close attention to derbies.
5. Determine all the motivational factors that can affect the game. Try to figure out how motivated the board, staff and players are and what result they would settle for. Knowing the head coach’s history and understanding his plans can be vital.
Stay up to date with the team news, but most importantly, try to decipher the manager's speech, just like a poker player would do.
Be wary of fixture congestion, as managers will often rest important squad members or instruct the players to save energy, especially when they have a hugely important fixture ahead.
6. Factor in the match conditions. The number of scenarios regarding how the two teams will behave under specific conditions is limitless, so there's really no point trying to list them.
You can expect more goals to be scored when the weather and pitch conditions are helpful, and one or both teams are known to be pretty efficient in the last third. In contrast, if the conditions are garbage and favour the defence, a lower number of goals should be expected. Again, it is essential to evaluate how each team will be affected by the match conditions.
The crowd can also impact the game, but it's going to be very different from one club to another, so knowing how the teams react under different conditions will also help your judgement.
Travel could be another important aspect. Teams playing away can be unsettled to a greater or lesser extent by delays or long and annoying voyages, poor accommodation, and incidents like when Barca fans set off fireworks in front of PSG hotel to prevent Parisians from sleeping ahead of Champions League clash.
7. Don’t bet if the odds feel too short. It is fairly common for popular football games where high scoring teams are involved to have poor bet payouts for Over bets. It may not be the best of ideas to back odds that lack value, except for football accumulator betting.
Of course, you may get away with it as long as you scour the internet to discover which bookmaker is offering the best odds for your selected prediction – betting odds comparison sites may come in handy. These fine margins can make a difference over the long term.
Asian handicap markets tend to be more competitive, and therefore, have higher liquidity then other goals markets and, subsequently, better odds are available. Feel free to use this to your advantage.
One last thing to be aware of is that the ‘crowd’ tends to disfavour Under bets, as they feel that Over wagers are more likely to bear fruit, only because these bets are never settled before the final whistle. That’s the reason why you’ll find many more Over 2.5 Goals betting strategies than Under betting systems.