In this exclusive over/under betting guide, we’ll share some of the top strategies used by professional handicappers for coming out on top when betting over/unders.
Each tip on this list can add to your bottom line — and when you put them all together, they’re dynamite.
We’ll also list a couple of sportsbooks that consistently offer many different O/U betting markets and great odds to go along with them, with BetOnline on top of the list.
Let’s get started.
Best Sites for Over/Under Betting
- BetOnline: Best overall
- Bovada: Best for NBA
- BUSR: Excellent welcome bonus
- MyBookie: Best for prop bets
- Everygame: Great tennis odds
- Xbet: ideal for crypto bettors
- Thunderpick: Top pick for esports
- MyStake: Widest range of betting markets
- BetUS: Best for NFL
- Sportsbetting: Best for soccer
An over/under bet is one of the simplest bets you can make in sports betting — but that doesn’t mean winning them is easy.
Countless handicappers out there targeted these bets because they were ripe for a quick score, only to find out that beating the bookies isn’t as easy as they thought (the house is the house for a reason, after all).
However, that doesn’t mean getting an edge when betting totals is impossible — you just have to know what you’re doing.
What is Over/Under in Betting?
You may already be familiar with popular sports bets like the point spread and money line. However, these bets have one thing in common that can be off-putting to many punters: they require you to pick a winner.
If you don’t have the foggiest idea who will win the game but still want to get in on the action, then over/under bets (also called a “totals bet”) are the way to go.
These popular wagers require you to bet on the total points scored by both teams during the game — that’s it. No picking of winners is required.
The way it works is the bookie will set a number that they think is the most likely point total for the final score. It’s up to you to decide if you think that number was too low (in which case you’d bet the over) or too high (causing you to take the under).
The basic concept behind over/under betting is something you can learn in under a minute, but mastering it can take a lifetime.
Identifying Over/Under Bets at Sportsbooks
When you’re ready to place a bet at a sportsbook, you’ll likely see a line that looks something like this:
- Detroit Lions (+7)
- Kansas City Chiefs (-7)
- O 54.5 (-110) U 54.5 (-110)
The first two lines are the spread — in this case, the Chiefs are favored by 7 points over the Lions.
The third line is the over/under. In this case, the bookies think the teams will combine for 54.5 points (the half-point is to prevent pushes).
It’s important to note that you don’t need any opinion about who will win the game to bet the over/under. All you’re trying to figure out is if Vegas set the line too low or too high.
You should understand another thing from looking at this line: that little (-110) next to the over and under.
Those are the odds the sportsbook has placed on each bet. In this case, both the over and under pay out the same; at -110 odds, you would have to bet $110 to win $100.
In high-scoring games like football and basketball, you’ll almost always see over/under bets listed at (-110). That’s because, unlike picking winners, there isn’t a “favorite.” You’re betting on what seems like a coin flip — why would they give you the incentive to choose heads over tails?
Of course, as we’ll soon see, these bets aren’t true 50/50 propositions, and a sharp bettor will be able to exploit the lines even if they’re laying slight odds.
In lower-scoring games like soccer and baseball, though, different odds will usually be assigned to both the over and the under. That’s because it’s harder for the bookies to zero in on a “true” number since there will likely only be a few scores in the game.
Can You Bet the Over/Under in Any Sport?
The short answer is yes, you can bet the over/under in just about any sport you can think of. However, these bets will differ slightly depending on the sport.
Games decided by point totals — like football, baseball, and basketball — are relatively straightforward. The bookie will set out a total they think is likely, and you wager accordingly.
Not all sports are point-based, though, so betting totals can get a little tricky.
In boxing and MMA, for example, over/under bets are usually geared toward how long the fight will last. If you see “O/U 3.5,” the bookie thinks it will last three-and-a-half rounds; it’s up to you to decide whether you see one fighter ending the action sooner than that.
Tennis is very similar — you’ll be betting on how many sets you think the match will last. In golf, the bookie will set a score for the tournament, and you have to decide if the winner will be higher or lower than that score.
You should also realize that you can bet over/unders on things like props, so you’re not limited to game totals.
Most prop bets are written in an over/under structure; for example, if the bookie sets Jared Goff’s total passing yards for the Chiefs game at 300, you’ll have to decide if he’ll throw more or less than that.
Read more: MLB Playoff Odds
Factors to Consider When Betting Over/Unders
Before we get into advanced betting strategies, it’s important to cover some bedrock principles in totals betting. These techniques aren’t exotic and sexy; you may already be familiar with them.
As with anything else, though, getting the core competencies right will take you farther than trying to push tiny edges.
Statistics, Statistics, Statistics
If you’re betting to win, then you shouldn’t even think about placing an over/under bet until you have a firm grasp of the statistics behind the bet.
That means knowing everything there is to know about the teams, their historical performance in similar situations, and their recent performance trends. Then, once you know that, you should figure out the same for the key players involved.
Does it sound like work? It is. If you want to succeed in this game, you must put in the effort. Research skills are one of the biggest factors that separate winners from losers in sports betting.
You should start by looking at how many points each team scores and allows per game. This should give you a broad idea of whether the game will be high-scoring or a defensive slugfest.
However, Vegas will also look at those numbers, so that’s only a jumping-off point. Here are some other factors worth considering as well:
- Both teams’ performance at home or on the road
- How the teams and players perform in the specific location or climate
- Key players and their performance against the systems used by the opposing coach
Once you understand all the underlying statistics, you’ll have a much easier time determining which direction you see the game going.
Injuries and Suspensions
While analyzing statistics and historical performance is important, it won’t do you much good if the team that takes the field is dramatically different from the one that played six months ago.
If key players are injured or suspended, it could make a huge difference in the points scored in the game. As a general rule, injuries to key defenders should cause you to favor the over, while having important offensive players out of action will make the under more attractive.
Don’t just stop with the injury report; go one step further. Who are the backups for each team? Some franchises have guys on the bench ready to step up at a moment’s notice, while others…aren’t quite so ready.
If you bet the over, you don’t want to die in the water just because the quarterback sprained an ankle.
You can take that even a step further and analyze the playing style of key performers. Is the quarterback adept at feeling pressure and reducing the damage he takes when he’s hit, or is he often lit up when a blindside rusher breaks free?
If it’s the latter, you really need to see who his backup is.
Weather and Location
The literal and figurative climate in which the game is played can greatly impact the point total.
You shouldn’t expect a shootout if a football game is played in a blizzard. In baseball, humid conditions create less resistance for the ball, which can turn routine pop flies into home runs. All of this is worth considering before you place a bet.
The fans can have a huge impact on the final score as well. Some teams enjoy a true home-field advantage; you should factor that into your estimate. If you think the visiting team will have a hard time hearing snap counts due to crowd noise, it’s unlikely they’ll be firing on all cylinders during the game.
Consider the schedule when taking location into account as well. A team on the tail end of a long road trip will likely be exhausted, and they won’t perform at their best. However, a team playing at home for a few days is more likely to be primed and well-rested — and potentially likely to light up the scoreboard.
Interested in other betting markets? Check out these guides:
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Advanced With Your O/U Bets
The sports betting strategies above are the essentials you must consider, but they should only be a jumping-off point for your analysis.
You will need to get advanced to get the most accurate idea of how the game is likely to progress.
Advanced analytics have been a godsend for gamblers, as they reveal some hidden keys to the game. Looking at average point totals can be helpful, but those figures can be skewed by many outliers — hot streaks, injuries, scheduling, and more.
Many sharp sports bettors have begun tracking the most minute details of player performance — such as their production versus various schemes, their expected value per play, and more — to better understand how games are likely to unfold.
Some take this further by creating complex algorithms to predict game outcomes.
As you might expect, most gamblers aren’t keen to share this information with others, so if you’re interested in something like this, you’ll probably have to figure things out on your own.
It’s impossible to say how much advanced analytics help professional handicappers versus how much of it is the placebo effect. However, given that tactics like these are increasingly popular among professional sports bettors, it’s likely that you should incorporate at least some of these techniques into your over/under betting if you hope to be successful.
Expert Strategies for Over/Under Betting
Everything was designed to get you thinking more about over/under betting and highlight the factors you should consider before placing a wager.
Now, let’s get into some of the actual strategies you can use to increase your odds of success.
Maintain Accounts at Multiple Sportsbooks
Perhaps the easiest way to get an edge on totals is by finding a line that’s out of whack from the rest of the industry. Even a half-point here or there can make a huge difference in the long run — some estimates say it could add as much as 2% to your bottom line over time.
You can’t line shop effectively unless you have accounts open at multiple sportsbooks. Odds change quickly, so you need to be able to pounce the moment you see a juicy line.
Fortunately, opening up new accounts is quick and easy, and as we’re about to see, doing so also comes with some sweet incentives.
Take Advantage of Deposit Bonuses
Almost every online sportsbook offers generous welcome bonuses to new customers. These can range from deposit matches to free bet offers, and they’re a great way to pad your bottom line.
Earning these bonuses is easy — all you have to do is claim them when you make your first deposit and then make a few wagers.
It’s not enough to just claim these offers, though. You also need to be smart about how you leverage them.
Free bets are a great opportunity to take long-shot bets, as they can pay off massively — and won’t cost you anything if you lose. Consider using them for parlays as well, for that exact reason.
Bet In-Game Over/Unders, Too
Most people only think to make over/under bets well in advance of the game, but the fact is, betting live totals can be even better.
The reason why is game flow. You can take advantage of how the game is shaking out in real-time, rather than just making an informed prediction a few days beforehand.
If both defenses are struggling right out of the gate, it’s unlikely that they’ll figure out a way to clamp down as the game progresses and they get more and more gassed. Conversely, teams that engage in rock-throwing contests early on seldom end up in shootouts.
There are exceptions, of course. We’ve all witnessed football games when two hapless offenses suddenly catch lightning in a bottle once the two-minute warning hits.
For the most part, though, the early action will dictate the final total, so it may be wise to wait until the game begins.
Keep in mind, though, that the bookies will be adjusting the odds as quickly as they can, so you need to have your thumb on your phone ready to take advantage of the lines before they move (this is also where having accounts at multiple bookies can be a godsend).
Be Bold When Multiple Lines Are Available
When you visit your favorite sportsbook, you might see more than a single over/under total available — some sites will have a dozen or more.
They’re offering you the chance to give or take points in exchange for an altered payout. They’ve already determined the most likely total — this is the primary over/under, but they’re giving you additional options, each with different odds.
For example, you might see the following:
As you can see, the odds change as the total goes up; specifically, you’ll get shorter odds on the under and longer odds on the over.
This gives you the option of taking more of a cushion in exchange for a reduced payout or aiming for a bigger payday (but with worse odds of winning).
You should probably avoid the alternate lines, but sometimes they’re worth taking a shot. We’d discourage you from trading points for better odds, as that’s usually a sucker’s bet.
However, in this case, if you were confident that the total would be over, it might be worth giving up an extra run or two in exchange for a larger payout.
We wouldn’t do this too often, but it’s a nice weapon in your totals-betting arsenal, as it could lead to some handsome paydays when it works.
Bet in Segments
You don’t have to limit yourself to just betting on the final score over/under betting line. Almost every sportsbook also divides games into chunks, and you can bet on those chunks individually if you like.
For example, if you’re experimenting with NFL totals betting, chances are you’ll find lines for the total at halftime and each quarter. These may present juicier lines than the overall total does.
Betting in segments can be especially useful if one team has a tendency to play the games in a certain way; for example, if they tend to start slow, you can take the under in the first quarter, and if they finish strong, you can bet the over later.
Timing is of the essence when betting on quarters or halves, though. You need to get in early before the public money comes rushing in and the lines change — or you need to wait until that moment has passed so that you can bet the other way.
Do the Math
Certain sports, like the NFL or college football, have scoring systems that make some point totals much more likely than others. You should use that knowledge to inform your over/under bets.
For example, 41 points is a common final score in the NFL. If you think about the scores required to get there, it’s not hard to see why — a game could end 31-10, 21-20, 27-14, and so on. All of those are fairly common outcomes.
39 and 40 points, on the other hand, are much less common options for a combined score. Consider what it would take to get to 40 total points — you’d need scores like 30-10, 21-19, 26-14, and so on. Those numbers are very difficult to reach in a sport where most scores are either 3 or 7 points.
So how do you apply this to betting totals? Simple — if you see a line like 40.5, you should take the over, as it’s much more likely for the final score to hit a total like 41 or 42 than 39 or 40.
That might seem slim, but sports betting empires have been built on slim edges.
Related: NFL Betting Systems
One of the most important things that sharp sports bettors know is that you don’t have to have action in every game. You can afford to wait and pick your spots — especially now when the abundance of online sportsbooks makes finding great odds easier.
Don’t bet on it if you don’t have a strong feeling about a particular total. It sounds simple, but you’d be amazed at how many punters feel they need money riding on every game.
You can only research so many games; the further you get from your comfort zone, the worse your odds of winning. There are thousands of games each year; it’s ok to let most of them go by.
Think of it like being a successful batter. Choosing which pitches to swing at is half the battle, and you won’t stay in the big leagues for long if you’re whiffing at throws way outside your zone.
Best Sites for Over/Under Betting – Reviews
1. BetOnline — Best Over/Under Betting Site Overall
One of the leading online sportsbooks for the last 25 years, BetOnline has some of the juiciest odds when making a totals bet. We’d recommend checking here first when line shopping — you may not even need to look any further.
The welcome bonuses at the sportsbook are top-notch as well. The primary bonus is a 50% deposit match up to $1,000 using code BET1000, but they also have a 100% match up to $1,000 for crypto users with code CRYPTO100. The fiat bonus has a 10x rollover, while the crypto playthrough requirement is 14x.
2. Bovada — Best Over/Under Lines for NBA Games
If you like to bet on live games, Bovada is your site. They update their odds constantly, and sharp bettors with quick fingers can take advantage of some great odds (especially on in-game totals).
Like BetOnline, Bovada has special bonuses for crypto and fiat bettors alike. The Bitcoin bonus is a 75% match up to $750 using code BTCSWB750, while the fiat currency option is a 50% match up to $250 (no code necessary).
Both offers come with a 5x rollover.
3. BUSR — Best Over/Under Betting Site for Bonuses
Prop junkies will love BUSR, as they have some of the most extensive markets we’ve found anywhere. They also tend to have an incredible array of alternate lines for most games.
Their deposit bonus is one of the richest we’ve seen, as you can get a 100% match up to $1,500 on your first deposit using code SPORTS100FP. The catch is that the minimum deposit and rollover numbers are high: $100 and $ 20x, respectively.
4. MyBookie — Best Over/Under Betting Site for Proposition Bets
While BUSR has great alternate lines, MyBookie somehow manages to leave even them in the dust. It’s not unusual to see several dozen lines for an NBA Playoffs game, for example, and other sports are just as varied.
MyBookie boasts a 50% deposit match up to $1,000 using the code MYB50. There’s a $50 minimum deposit and a 10x rollover attached.
5. Everygame — Best Over/Under Lines for Tennis
Everygame has a wide selection of European sports and the major leagues in the USA. They even have a section dedicated completely to halftime betting, making them a natural spot for those who like to wager on in-game totals.
The site runs special sport-specific bonuses all the time, but their basic deposit bonus is a 100% match up to $750 using code 3XBOOST250. The bonus is paid out over your first three deposits and has a 4x wagering requirement.
Guide to Over/Under Betting – FAQs
Is It Better to Bet the Over or the Under?
There’s not much of a difference between the two, so one isn’t necessarily better than the other. The under tends to win slightly more in most sports, but not enough to overcome the vig, so don’t plan on blindly putting money on unders as a get-rich-quick betting strategy.
Can You Include Over/Under Bets in Parlays?
You can include over/unders in parlays, and many bettors do. They’re a very popular bet type in parlays because the odds are usually quite good compared to many other bets like the point spread.
What Happens If the Game Hits the Exact Total?
If the two teams’ combined score hits the exact total (meaning, the two teams combine for 55 points when the line was set at 55), then it’s considered a push, and the bettors’ money will be returned to them.
What Does the “.5” Mean in a Totals Bet?
Many bookies will include extra half-points on their totals, which is what that .5 represents. This is just to eliminate the possibility of a push.
Check out more of our betting guides:
Ready to Try Your Luck at Over/Under Betting?
If you’re looking to get into sports betting as a hobby, then betting over/unders is one of the easiest (and most fun) ways.
Betting totals don’t require you to pick a winner or have sophisticated knowledge of the sport, and your odds will be much better than with more complicated bets like parlays.
We’d recommend starting at BetOnline, as they have a sterling reputation and an excellent assortment of over/under options, but any of the betting sites above would be a fine place to play.
Regardless of where you choose to gamble, we wish you luck. You’re well on your way to learning why there’s nothing more exciting (or tragic) in sports than a last-second meaningless score that takes the total into the over.
DISCLAIMER: The information on this site is for entertainment purposes only. Online gambling comes with risks. There’s no guarantee of financial gain, so you should only gamble with what you can afford to lose. All information on this site is for entertainment purposes only.
While gambling can be fun, it can also be addictive. If you or anyone you know suffer from a gambling addiction problem, we recommend that you call the National Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700 to speak with an advisor. Please remember that our guides and all gambling sites are only for people who are 21+. Also, check with local laws to find out if online gambling is legal in your area.
For free online gambling addiction resources, visit these organizations: