What Is Over/Under Betting? What Are The Odds Involved?

Written By Isioma Nkwonta on March 1, 2022 - Last Updated on March 23, 2022
Over/Under Betting And The Odds Therein

Whether you’re new to sports betting or a Las Vegas Sharp, you’ve heard all about odds in betting – and you’ve probably placed a few of them.

Understand the over/under type of betting

One of the most common types of these odds is the over/under, also known as totals betting.

It’s an entertaining type of betting where you’re either hoping for both teams to score if you’ve bet for Over, or you’re screaming for none of the teams to score at all if you’ve bet for Under.

Sounds a bit confusing, right? Let’s dive in deeper.

How does over/under betting work?

In an over/under betting or total betting, the bets are placed on the combined score of both teams and whether that score will surpass the projected score.

For every game, a sportsbook sets a projected total score for both teams based on various factors such as:

  • The history of the players
  • Recent events surrounding the team
  • And audience sentiment

Bettors can then place their bets on the probability that the actual game scores will be above or below the projected total score.

For example, let’s say a sportsbook set a 38.5 total score for the Super Bowl LV between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs. Betting Under means you’re betting that the final total score will be less than 38.5. Betting Over means you’re betting it will be more than 38.5.

The final score of the Super Bowl LV was a 31 – 9 victory for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Kansas City Chiefs, meaning that you won if you bet Over.

The individual scores are irrelevant because what matters is the total scores.

What’s the math behind the odds?

You’ve probably wondered this after going to a game and seeing this crazy person in the front seat raving for both teams to win. Sometimes they scream for both teams to lose and you can’t help but wonder what world they live in.

By now, you know that they probably placed an Over/Under bet but let’s go into the math behind it and how much that person – or you – stand to lose or gain.

The first thing to note is that the math behind Over/Under betting is very similar to that of the point spread betting.

Let’s say that the bets for a game between the New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars are placed as follows:

TeamPoint SpreadTotal PointsMoneyline
New England Patriots-10
O 206.5
Jacksonville Jaguars+10
U 206.5

When reading this, you’re to disregard every other column except the ‘Total’ column. The O and U letters placed in the boxes are only for organizational purposes. They are not allocated to any team.

Now, let’s say you place an Over bet of $150 for this game. If the total score from the game is greater than 206.5, you’d be walking away with $286.36. We calculate this using the vig of -110.

Over/Under bets come with a vigorish, or vig for short, which is also known as the juice. Most sportsbooks place the vig at $110, as is seen in the table above. This means that in order to make $110, you’d need to bet $100.

To calculate your profit, divide 100 by the vig of 110, which equals 0.9

Next, multiply 0.9 by your bet of 150, which equals $136.46.

Your total payout is $136.46 plus your initial bet of $150, which equals $286.36.

Other things to keep the odds in your favor

  1. Sometimes the actual total score could be equal to the estimated total score. This is known as a push, and the sportsbooks are required to refund all bettors their money.
    To prevent this, sportsbooks place their projected totals as decimals which is virtually impossible to be scored in a game. This is also done in other types of betting, such as points spread betting.
  2. Overtime is included as part of the bet unless stated by the sportsbook.
  3. Even though the vig is usually set as -110, sportsbooks sometimes change it to even their books.

In the example above, the Patriots are most likely favored by bettors, and this may skew the books. Sportsbooks can even this out by changing the vig for Patriots to -120 and that of Jaguars to -105.

In this way, the Jaguars get a higher payout of 95 cents for every $1 as opposed to the payout from the Patriots at 83 cents for every $1.

With this in mind, you should strategize and time your bets for each game to shift the odds in your favor.

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