Betting the over/under, sometimes referred to as O/U or over-under, is as simple as determining if a sportsbook’s prediction for a specific statistic is too high or too low. Some bookmakers call the over/under game totals, but whatever term used it’s the same thing.
The most common type of over/under bets offered by bookmakers are the combined score totals of teams or participants. Bettors place wagers on the actual combined totals being either higher (i.e. over) or lower (i.e. under) than the bookie’s prediction. O/U betting is especially common in NFL betting and NBA betting.
What is Over-Under Betting?
Knowing how to bet the over-under is a fun way to actively stay engaged in betting markets without having to pick winners and losers, like in moneyline betting and point spread betting. In this way, bettors are simply just rooting for offense or defense depending on what side of the bookie’s prediction their wager stands. They are also popular as part of parlay betting.
Over-under bets typically cost 10 percent of the total wager to account for what people in the gambling industry term the Juice or Vigorish. In sports gambling, the amount of money the sportsbook takes regardless of whether the specific bet is a winner or loser is the sportsbook’s commission on the transaction.
While some betting options, such as those involving moneylines, price the Juice into odds for both sides, over-under betting usually involves paying the Juice upfront.
For example, to place a $100 bet on an over-under for total points scored by the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants in an NFL game, the bettor would pay the bookmaker $110 on either option to win $100.
So if the Cowboys-Giants O/U was set at 46 points and a wager was placed on the under, any score totals by both teams equaling less than 46.5 (e.g. Cowboys 27, Giants 10) would pay out $100 for someone who laid $110 on the under wager.
Explaining Betting Over-Unders
Bookmakers offer over-under betting options on a wide variety of sports including football, basketball, hockey, soccer, baseball and boxing.
While most O/U betting options are about the total points of both teams combined, bookmakers also sometimes offer over/under bets on other statistics and totals, both team- and player-specific.
Here are some sport-specific examples of how to play the over-under market:
- NFL betting - Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers O/U 48.5: This betting option is for total number of points scored by both the Cowboys and Packers. If the Packers win 30-29, bets placed on the over option win the bet.
- NBA betting - Golden State Warriors O/U 63.5 total wins for 2017-2018 season: This betting options is for the total number of wins the Warriors accumulate over the entire season. If the Warriors end the season 70-12, bets placed on the over option win the bet.
- MLB betting - Houston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox O/U Astros team hits 7.5: This betting option is for the total number of hits made by Astros players for their game against the Red Sox. If the Astros get five hits, bets placed on the under option win the bet.
What to Consider in Over-Under Betting
Game totals are one of the most popular play on the sports betting market, so bookmakers spend much time and many resources ensuring they do the proper amount of research before setting their O/U numbers.
Bookmakers consider many different aspects of each event, including current trends, specific in-game matchups, injury histories and weather conditions. Moreover, bookmakers look at past results between competitors for glimpses into what might happen in the future while also taking into account situational emotions and perceived passions.
Knowing how to bet on the over-under market comes down to looking at the same information available to bookmakers and drawing reasonable conclusions.
Moreover, it’s important to note that the betting public traditionally overplays the over in the market because many people confuse their own expectations about wanting to see a fun, high-scoring game with more relevant statistics and current trends.
For example, two high-flying offenses in the NFL might seem to the novice a good bet to go over when the reality of the situation is that both quarterbacks are banged up and will be playing in conditions that include high winds and torrential downpours.
What Does it Mean to Push?
Bookies usually set over-under predictions at halves, meaning the O/U for a particular event would be 47.5 instead of 47 or 48. In situations where bookies don’t set predictions that way, which is always at the discretion of the bookmaker, any bet becomes a Push when neither side of the O/U options win the bet.
For example, if the Cowboys vs. Packers O/U is set by the bookmaker at 48 and the game ends with the Cowboys beating the Packers 28-20 (or any other score totaling 48 points exactly), the game is a Push and all bets are voided.
Does Overtime Count for Over-Unders?
Bookmakers set O/U’s for the totals from events meaning sports that go into overtime situations aren’t settled until the game or event is complete. For example, if the New York Giants vs. Denver Broncos O/U is 31 and the game is knotted at 14-14 at the end of regulation but the Giants score a touchdown in overtime to win 21-14, bettors who wagered on the over win the bet.