Over/under wagers are among the most popular types of sports bets, right up there with the moneyline and the point spread. Though they're usually presented on single-game slips, there is such a thing as over/under future bets. Regardless of how often you gamble on sports, and how experienced you are overall, it's paramount to explain everything there is about over/under betting.
The first thing you need to know. These lines are available everywhere, at every sportsbook. Still, we've put together a best-of-the-best list. Check out the table below to discover a selection of sportsbooks that offer over/under betting on a wide range of sports:
How Over/Under Bets Work
Interpreting over/under lines is ridiculously easy. They're predetermined score totals for all participating teams, players, or props, and your job is to predict whether the actual final tally will go above or below the provided number. That's it.
Granted, it works in different ways for different types of over/under bets. In addition to score totals and futures, you'll also be able to get in the prop-betting market, which we'll go over later.
For now, the focus is on score totals. That's the most common over/under wager because it's available for every single event. Though this also can vary by the sport you're betting on, it generally works like this:
Let's say you're exploring the NFL betting market, and the over/under for the upcoming Green Bay Packers-Kansas City Chiefs game is 57.5. If you go with the over, you're predicting that both teams will combine to score 58 or more points. On the flip side, if you go with the under, you're banking on the Packers and Chiefs to combine for 57 points or fewer.
Easy peasy, right? Well, the good news is it doesn't really get harder. But you did need to prep yourself for different types of over/under options, not to mention how these wagers can change depending on the sport.
Over/Under Betting By Different Sports
The concept of betting over/under single-game totals doesn't change by sport, per se. You're always looking to choose whether the final score will clear the oddsmakers' determined number. But the context of the sport changes how high the totals go.
If you're betting on NFL or college football odds, you'll be dealing with over/under scores in the 40s up through, maybe, the low 70s. If you're dealing with NBA odds, you'll be looking at combined totals anywhere between 150 and the low 200s (usually not higher than 235).
Lower-scoring sports are much different. Over/under MLB, NHL, and soccer odds are almost defaults. On NHL and soccer totals specifically, you're not going to see many lines rocket above eight. There's a little bit more room for variance; oddsmakers will have over/under totals into the teens, but you're not looking at anything above a total of 15 runs.
As always, though, remember these lines refer to the combined scores of both teams, not just one. Keep that in mind when deciding whether you're going with the over or the under.
The returns on these bets will—you guessed it—vary. For the most part, however, they'll vary somewhere between +110 and -110, though you will get the occasional -120. The profit margin on these lines, then, isn't all that high, but what bettors lack in lucrative return potential, they make up for with simplicity. Predicting the over/under is a lot easier than wagering on a point spread, where there are more outcomes on the table because sometimes these spreads can be so large.
Over/Under Futures Betting
Future over/under lines aren't actually called this. They're instead called win-total bets. These are wagers you make for the distant future in which you're predicting how many wins a team—or, in some sports, a given player—will have over the course of a season.
Here's the thing: These win totals are predetermined...just like single-game over/under lines. Let's go ahead and use college football as an example. The LSU Tigers may have a regular-season win total set at 9.5. You can already spot the similarities to a typical over/under bet. If you chose the under, you're banking on LSU finishing with nine or fewer wins. If you go with the over, you're counting on them to get 10 or more victories.
Unlike single-game over/under wagers, these bets aren't usually available at any given point. They're most popular before seasons ever start-up and then typically disappear from the betting ledger thereafter. Certain sportsbooks will update their win totals earlier in the season, but the odds will be adjusted so that you're not able to win as large of a return.
Overall, though, these win-total bets can net you higher payouts. That's how it tends to be with future lines. There's more of a potential for your pick to go sideways, not just because you're deciding without watching a game, but because there's so much season to play. That risk factor motivates the sportsbook to shell out more lucrative returns.
Of course, we're not talking about a major difference. Our hypothetical 9.5-win line for the LSU Tigers will likely be worth somewhere between +150 and -150. Still, the little extra range can translate to additional cash. Select sportsbooks that will even let you "buy" wins or losses to customize your line.
So, in this case, if you think LSU is going to win 11 games, you can choose to wager against a 10.5-win over/under for the chance to grab a higher payout. But these made-for-you lines aren't to be taken lightly; betting with them means you won't win if the oddsmaker-approved over or under hits yet yours does not.
Over/Under Prop Betting
Oh, yes, you can bet the over/under in the props department. And the possibilities are virtually endless.
Prop bets are what we like to call off-beat events. You're not necessarily wagering on the outcome of an event, but rather, you're investing in an outcome that's happening within the event.
Think along the lines of playing first- and second-half score totals, or betting on the number of rushing yards LSU's running backs will have in a particular game. These props can even get more off the rails. Some sportsbooks let you bet on the number of penalty yards two teams rack up or the number of substitutions a head coach makes during a basketball game. And all of these wager types can be broken down by quarter or half rather than just for the entire game.
While these over/under bets can be a nice change of pace from the single-game scores and win-total lines, there aren't as readily available. Many sportsbooks only bust them out for big playoff games or championship tilts. If you're looking for these wagers to be more of a game-by-game staple in your arsenal, we'd recommend focusing on college football or the NFL. The scarcity of games in both encourages sportsbooks to offer more prop options—and more creation prop options—on a regular basis.
The Early-Season Over/Under Betting Strategy
There are a bunch of different betting strategies that you can test out, though we caution you that these approaches aren't necessarily foolproof. However, one strategy that has gained popularity in recent years, particularly among NFL and NBA bettors, is the early-season overswing.
This approach is exactly what it sounds like: You end up investing heavily in overs at the beginning of the season, the thought process is that it will take some time for the oddsmakers to adjust to new rosters and competitive landscapes and even rule changes.
The latter is actually an important part of this approach. The average scoring total is up in both the NBA and NFL over the past decade or so. Every year, teams seem to have more firepower in their armory. A lot of this has to do with shot selection for basketball and the elevated importance of quarterback play in football. But it's also a matter of rule changes that have given defenses less leeway; protecting shooters and quarterbacks are all the rage now, and the rulebook reflects as much.
This invites higher scoring totals. And if the average final score of each game is going up from year to year, oddsmakers won't always account for this—or they at least won't predict the type of scoring jumps with great accuracy right out of the gate. Hence why a lot of betters believe that investing in the over for the first few weeks of any season—including his baseball—is a good idea.
And really quickly: If you're looking for an under strategy, many people believe that any time a leading playmaker, in any sport, ends up missing a game, that's the time when it makes the most sense to invest in the under.