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Over and Under Betting Explained: How does It Work?

July 13, 2017 6 min to read

If you’re a rookie punter, chances are you have so far focused on the head to head betting, where you essentially bet on the outcome of the match, placing a stake on whether one team will win, lose or, in the case of football, come draw.

But there are other markets you can invest your bankroll on.

A less traditional form of betting, but equally popular, is Over and Under betting.

In this article, we’ll go through Over and Under betting explained and how does it work. Also which sports it can be applied to, and what to keep in mind when placing stakes on totals.

We’ll also go over some of the details that can be a bit confusing, like the ‘2.5’ goals line found when betting on the totals for football matches.

Over and under betting explained

What Is Over And Under Betting?

An over-under or over/under (O/U) bet is a wager placed on whether the combined total score of both teams (or players) will be over or under a nominated number set by a bookmaker.

The nominated number is usually assessed based on the average number of goals a team scores per match. One main advantage of this market is its focus on one single statistic, making it quite easy to understand.

Over and under betting is extremely popular with American football, but is also available in other sports, including baseball, basketball, netball, rugby, and tennis.

Let’s look at an example:

Consider a game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Chicago Bulls.

If the bookmaker sets the statistic at 185 points, and the Cavaliers win the game 98-95, the final combined score is 193.

If you bet the over in that game, you win. If the total combined score is the same as the nominative number (statistic set by the bookmaker), your risk amount – your bet stake – is returned to you.

However, the nominated number is usually set to eliminate this possibility.

What Is The 2.5 Goals Line?

You may look at a soccer’s sportsbook and see ‘2.5’ as the nominal number that you can bet over or under.

If you’re new to soccer betting, you may be wondering:

How can a football match have a total of 2.5 scores?

There is no such thing as a half goal, but to avoid refunds in cases where the total score is equal to the nominated score (i.e. the score set by the bookmaker), and not over or under, bookmakers use the 2.5 goals line.

Average total scores of football matches are relatively low, so the 2.5 goals line is used in most leagues.

In this case, punters will either bet that

• 2 goals or less will be scored (The Under 2.5 goals market)
• 3 goals or more will be scored (The Over 2.5 goals market)

The number 2.5 is used because it falls in the middle of both markets. In other sports with higher average scores, you may get higher scores with decimal points.

Over and under betting explained

When Should You Use Under And Over Betting?

‘Totals’ betting is growing in popularity because it is often the best wager you can make on a game.

Think of top-tier leagues – some games are a toss-up and you really can’t find an edge to pick one team over the other – this is when pro punters tend to opt for over or under betting.

Of course, this does not mean that with totals betting you shouldn’t still be analytical.

Finding your edge remains the best weapon any pro punter worth his salt has, but the more popular an event, the more easily-accessible information on it will be, and the harder it is to find any long-term edge over other pro punters.

One fight perfect for a ‘totals’ wager is the Floyd Mayweather vs Connor McGregor boxing match.

Most of the bookmakers have set the nominal number of rounds to 9.5. This means you can select whether the match will have more or less than 9 rounds.

The odds vary on every sportsbook, so we suggest looking at more than one bookmaker to get the best line.

At Bet365, the odds currently are:

OVER 2.00, UNDER 1.72

This is for the 9.5 total.

Some bookmakers, like Bet365 and 888sport, are offering different totals that you can bet on, starting at 2.5 rounds, and go up to 10.5.

We recommend sticking to the 9.5, and you’ll understand why once you’ve read our recommendations for what to keep in mind.

An understanding of betting odds is important when judging whether to opt for over or under in a totals wager.

What To Keep In Mind When Betting With Overs And Unders

Don’t Base A Team’s Scoring Form On Recent Matches

We have discussed this in previous articles, when it comes to outwitting the odds: Do not just consider the last 5 matches a team or fighter has played when assessing totals.

Recent form matters, but to obtain a true assessment of a match’s potential score, you have to take a longer term view. Consider scoring form over the last 20 matches, or even longer. It depends on the sport, league and in general, the number and frequency of games played.

Don’t let a recent streak of losses or wins cloud your judgement. Not letting emotions affect your decisions is something professional bettors should always keep in mind.

Keep Occurrences In Mind

Don’t quote scoring averages when assessing a particular match.

You may be reasonably wondering:

What? You just said to look at scoring averages over a large sample.

What we mean is, look at occurrences. One irregular result can distort the average completely. Look at the times a team or fighter (in the case of boxing) has gone over or above a particular score total. What happened on these occasions?

Don’t Get Overconfident

There are bookmakers offering odds on different totals for the match between McGregor and Mayweather, but these bookmakers who offer these irregular goal totals tend to take a larger than average commission. Understand how bookmakers set up their margins, and keep that in mind.

Keep your Over/Under bets to whatever the ‘even money’ line is for a particular match. In this case, it is 9.5.

On the other hand, if you’ve crunched the numbers, looked at occurrences that may have skewed averages, considered the factors that will be in play for the match, and you have identified a greater value in a total that is lower or higher than the typical score total line, then by all accounts, you should trust your judgement. Consider Context

Consider The Context Of The Match

What are the conditions at play here? How will they affect certain players? A player could be sick, or a team may be playing in an arena they haven’t before.

Apply this to Mayweather and McGregor. Take a look at our articles analysing the different factors that will be in play during the match, the rules, and how they may affect the fighters (particularly McGregor).

Final Words

We hope that this comprehensive guide to Over and Under betting explained and how does it work, has provided a thorough explanation of what this alternative betting market involves.

Now that you have a sound understanding of Over and Under betting (or ‘totals’ betting), you can apply it to the different kinds of sports as you bet.

On many occasions, totals betting can be a smart and lucrative way to make money from sports which you may find harder to profit from through traditional betting markets, so take full advantage of betting systems like this one!

Author photo

Adam

Adam is long time Manchester United fan but admits that he has a few international favourite teams which he looks forward to watching and betting on for international events like the World Cup

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