What Is Over/Under Betting?

Online sports betting will launch in Ohio on Jan. 1, 2023. This page will be updated with the latest news, odds and promos once Ohio sportsbooks are live.

One of the most popular wagers in sports betting is the over/under, also known as the total. Bettors who prefer to place point spread or moneyline bets are wagering on which team will win or by how many points, while over/under bettors do not worry about the winning side. All that matters is the combined number of points in a particular matchup.

If you’ve ever heard somebody say something like, “I’ll take the under” — whether talking about sports betting or making a joke in a real-life scenario like how long your best friend’s relationship will last — that person is referring to the over/under in sports betting.

In this guide, we will take you through all the key aspects of one of the most basic sports bets, with examples and tips for betting on the over/under.

What are over/under bets?

The most common over/under bet is a wager on the total number of points between the two teams in a game. Oddsmakers at the sportsbooks have their own system to project a line for the total points in the game, and it’s up to you to decide if their numbers are too low or too high.

While the point spread may receive most of the attention, some bettors have more success with totals. The best over/under bettors will develop strategies and have a good feel for how a game will play out stylistically — whether that be a low-scoring game or matchups that are more likely to produce a ton of points.

How do total bets work?

Now that you have a basic definition of what a totals bet is, let’s put it into action with a few examples.

In our first example, let’s take a matchup between Ohio’s two NFL teams, with Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC North showdown. Here’s what the Over and Under could look like on the betting board:

  • Over 45.5 (-110)
  • Under 45.5 (-110)

Oddsmakers have set the line at 45.5 combined points. After doing your research, you may decide that the total is too low and expect more of an offensive showing in this matchup, so you would bet the over. If the game ends with more than 45.5 points, you have a winning wager. If the two teams score fewer than 45.5 points, you lose your bet.

In our next example, let’s go to the NBA and take a game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Milwaukee Bucks:

  • Over 210.5 (-110)
  • Under 210.5 (-110)

While the total is at 210.5, your research may indicate the possibility for fewer points, so you take the under. It can be less than entertaining to root for both teams to not score points, but many bettors find that picking the under has great value. If the teams combine to score fewer than 210.5 points, you’ve got a winning bet.

If you’re new to sports betting, you might not have a full understanding of what the -110 in parentheses means. Those are the odds, and the fact that they’re -110 on both sides is a major reason why sports betting is slanted in favor of the sportsbooks.

Just like a point spread, oddsmakers generally aim to set the point total so bets on both sides have a roughly equal chance of winning. The standard vig for these bets gives -110 odds to both sides. That means a bet of $110 would win you $100 in profit if it ended up being correct. So if wagering is roughly equal on both sides of the bet — which is the sportsbook’s goal — the book makes money no matter which side ends up winning.

The odds will not always be -110, but both sides will generally hover around that number for over/under bets.

How to place an over/under bet in Ohio

To start betting on anything like an over/under, the first step is to sign up at a legal online sportsbook. Ohio bettors should soon have a variety of options to choose from. Before you decide on which betting site is right for you, do some research to see what sportsbook bonuses are available for new users.

When you find a promotion that you like, create an account and download the sportsbook app. Once you’ve deposited some money into your account, you’ll be able to start sports betting online in Ohio.

If you are specifically looking to place a wager on the over/under, you can navigate through the app by choosing a league or sport and then selecting the game you’re looking to bet on. When you find the matchup, you’ll see three columns of numbers, one of which will be the point total. The other two will be the point spread and the moneyline. The next step is for you to place the bet, enter how much you’d like to wager and watch the action unfold.

Best sports for total bets

It will take some experience for you to determine which sport is the most entertaining when it comes to over and under betting. However, sports that feature a lot of scoring are generally the most exciting. Betting on football is a popular option for over/unders as the NFL is king when it comes to sports betting. However, basketball betting is also an entertaining way to bet on the over/under, especially if you get to watch the contest play out live, rooting for your side on every possession.

Other bettors, meanwhile, will prefer some of the lower-scoring sports like baseball or soccer. Baseball is a very statistic-driven game, and bettors have a good understanding of how games will play out considering the pitching matchups and other stats they can get their hands on.

Live over/under betting

An exciting recent development in legal online sports betting in the US and elsewhere is live betting. Just as it sounds, this means you can bet on the action as it is playing out.

Live betting can be a thrilling way to go about your over/under betting because of how quick the action is. Sportsbook apps will show rapidly moving numbers and odds based on what is happening in the game, so bettors need to be quick to get their bets in at the numbers they want.

Sports bettors may develop strategies for in play betting based on how a game is going and what the end result might be. Some bettors may even wait to wager until the game gets started because they feel they have a better understanding of what to expect after seeing the first few possessions play out.

If two offensive-led teams struggle to put up points in the first half, betting on the over at halftime could be a good bet rather than assuming the same results will play out in half No. 2.

Tips for betting on over/unders

Here are three tips to get you going in the right direction when you decide to place your next over/under bet:

  • Research styles of play: Because you do not care which team wins in an over/under bet, most of the time you are betting on the style of play. Teams can win in different ways with many strengths and weaknesses. In a sport like basketball, taking a look at a stat such as possessions per game will usually give you an idea about the pace a team likes to play at.
  • Get in early: The over/under line may change slightly from where it started, especially in a sport like football as the lines come out nearly a week in advance. If you place your bets earlier in the week and have a good idea of where the lines will move, that could be the difference between winning and losing a bet.
  • Factor in location/weather: Another important area to look at before placing an over/under bet is how well certain players perform at home compared to road games and what the weather might be. With an NFL game that features high winds, that could have an impact on the passing game and the kicking game, making the under a much better wager.

Finding better value in your online bets

Another tip that deserves mentioning in just about every sports betting guide is the idea of line shopping. As mentioned earlier, you will have a variety of legal sportsbook apps to choose from, and there is no reason to limit yourself to a single platform. By signing up at multiple sportsbooks, you can look around to get the best numbers for any bets you want to place.

When you go out shopping at the store, you’re looking for the best price. The idea is the same with line shopping in sports betting. The over/under numbers and odds will generally be very close among all the online sportsbooks, but some may be a little different, and that’s where having an account with multiple sportsbooks becomes an advantage.

For example, DraftKings Ohio might be offering -110 odds, and FanDuel Ohio might be giving -105. Because -105 would offer a better payout, you would place your bet with FanDuel. Similarly, the Caesars Ohio Sportsbook app could have the over/under line at 44, while the BetMGM Sportsbook app has it at 43.5. If you’re looking to bet on the over, you would place your bet at the book offering 43.5. You’d be getting 0.5 points of value.

This may not seem like a significant difference, but over time, the value you’re getting with line shopping can add up, and sports betting is all about taking advantage of slight edges to give yourself the best chance at success.

Is it better to bet the Over or Under?

This may fluctuate by the year, but generally, the under is a more profitable way to go in most situations. The main reason for this is because the over tends to attract more bets, as it’s much more fun to bet on teams to score points than it is to bet on teams to not score points. Bettors will drive that number up, and that’s when you might be able to find value on the under.

Looking at the 2021 NFL regular season, only seven of the 32 teams hit the over more often than they hit the under. That is a little more extreme than most seasons, but in general, unders are more likely to cash more than 50% of the time, which is why professional bettors may lean toward taking the under.

Does overtime count in over/under sports betting?

Betting on the over/under with overtime involved can be a thrilling or devastating experience, depending on what side you’re on. If you took the under, obviously you want the game to end as quickly as possible. Those who bet on the over, meanwhile, would love for the game to go on forever.

Unless a sportsbook notes otherwise, overtime counts in over under betting. If you bet under 49.5 in an NFL game and the game goes into overtime with a 24-24 score, that’s just bad luck because any score in overtime would lead to a losing bet, and those who took the over received a gift. It goes both ways, and sports betting luck generally has a way of evening itself out over time.

Sportsbook rules on over/under bets

No matter which sportsbook or sportsbooks you intend to use, always take a look at the fine print for whatever wager you place. If you have any questions about the rules and regulations, the sportsbook should have answers to any of your questions.

One item that you may see quite often is what happens when the point total hits the line exactly. Let’s say you bet on an MLB game with the total line at eight runs, and the game ends with a final score of 5-3. In that scenario, bettors would get their money back as if the game never happened.

Other rare occurrences may vary by sportsbook, but with a sport like baseball, all over/under bets may be void if there is a late change to who the starting pitcher will be in a particular matchup. When games are outright canceled for whatever reason, bettors would get their money back, and the same is likely true for a postponed game, depending on how quickly it is made up.

Again, for all of these scenarios, check out your sportsbook because individual rules may vary.