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How to Make a Team Total Bet at a Sportsbook

by Mike Spector April 11, 2020

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Have you ever been in a scenario as a sports bettor where you see an over/under on a game but are hesitant to bet it because you are only confident in one of the teams to score enough points? This is where a team total bet can come in very handy. Instead of worrying about both teams to do their part and contribute to the total, one can place a bet on one team or the other.

In this article, we define what a team total bet is as well as explain the steps to make such a bet at a sportsbook.

What is a Team Total Bet?

A team total bet is a variation of an over/under bet that focuses on the number of points one team will score. Most sportsbooks offer team totals in all the major sports. While “points” are the term used in basketball and football, team totals are available for the number of goals a hockey or soccer team will score or the number of runs a baseball team will score.

What are Examples of a Team Total Bet?

Here is an example of a hypothetical team total bet:

Dallas Cowboys Team Total (Over 24.5 -110, Under 24.5 -110)

In this scenario, the team total for how many points the Cowboys would score is 24.5 points. Thus, bettors who wager on the over are betting on the Cowboys to score 25 or more points for the game. If one took the under, they would be rooting for the Cowboys to score 24 or fewer points.

Team totals are full-game wagers, meaning they take overtime into account. Thus, whatever Dallas’s final score is at the game’s conclusion would dictate the winning side of the bet.

How Does Soccer Offer Different Team Total Bets?

Since scoring in soccer is at much more of a premium, sportsbooks get creative with how they offer odds on team totals.

The following is an example from FanDuel Sportsbook:

Dinamo Brest to Score 1 or more goals in the match -220
Dinamo Brest to Score 2 or more goals in the match +220
Dinamo Brest to Score 3 or more goals in the match +850
Dinamo Brest to Score 4 or more goals in the match +3100
Shakhter Soligorsk to Score 1 or more goals in the match -195
Shakhter Soligorsk to Score 2 or more goals in the match +250
Shakhter Soligorsk to Score 3 or more goals in the match +1000
Shakhter Soligorsk to Score 4 or more goals in the match +4000

As you can see, there is an opportunity for a big payout if either team were to erupt for four or more goals. Dinamo Brest to score four or more goals would payout odds of 31:1.

If you think either team may get shutout, similar team total bets are offered under the heading of “Number of Team Goals.” For example, one bet would read “Dinamo Brest to Score No Goals.” This bet had odds of +150 for this particular match.

How Can I Make a Team Total Bet?

On a mobile device or app, follow these steps:

  1. Log into your sportsbook account
  2. Find the league and game you wish to bet on
  3. Look for a heading that says “Team Props” or “More Wagers”
  4. Find the team you wish to wager on and review their team total
  5. Click on either the over or the under for their team total
  6. Type in the amount of your wager
  7. Review the odds, and click “place bet”

Placing a team total bet in person at a sportsbook can be much less confusing. After approaching the cashier, say “I would like to place a team total wager.” Once you identify the team, the cashier will know exactly the prompts to follow to take you to those odds. He or she will show you the team total on their screen. Tell the cashier if you would prefer the over or the under. Just like on a mobile device, review the odds to make sure they are agreeable. The last step is handing the amount you want to wager in cash over to the cashier and hope for the best.

Mike Spector is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeSpector01.

The over under bet was likely invented in the United Kingdom during the 19th century. It became popular as sports suitable to total betting became common: soccer, football, basketball, baseball, hockey and cricket.

  1. Review sportsbook’s estimated point total.
  2. Decide if result will be over or under. Sportsbook Juice follows o or u. O is for over. U is for under.
  3. Assume -110 juice where no number specified.
  4. A result equal to the sportsbook’s prediction produces a tie bet.
  5. ½ totals – Major sports tally points using whole numbers. Lines with ½ increments mean the final result will be over or under the sportsbook’s estimate. All bets will either win or lose. No bets can tie a ½ point total line.

Common straight bet. Can be combined into parlays, if bets or reverses. Teaser bets allow adjustments to over or under values.

This means that you would be betting $1.10 for every $1 you want to win. And you’ll win if you correctly predict that total points scored will be less or more than 8. This will be displayed as -110 odds. The same ratio holds for all bets, so if you bet $11, you’ll win $10. If you risk $55, you’ll win $50. $110 wins $100.

Understanding Over-Under Bets

In order to understand how to use over-under bets, it’s instructive to see what they look like from the perspective of a sportsbook. The aim of a sportsbook is to have an equal number of bets on either side of the over-under for a given game. They will therefore post what they think is the most likely value for the over-under.

A lot of math goes into predicting the over-under for a given match, says Steven Petrella, but there are two main factors: “pace (on offense) and efficiency (on both offense and defense).” And, like all odds in sports betting, these predictions will change as a betting pattern emerges. “After a few sportsbooks open up the first version of totals for a given sport on a given day,” Petrella says, “sharp bettors influence the lines with their betting action, and then other sportsbooks copy that number.”

Sportsbooks will also set the vigorish (or vig) for an over-under bet. This is normally set at 10%. Using American odds, this will result in both outcomes initially being quoted at -110 (which means that bettors must risk $110 to win $100). If the amount bet on both outcomes is exactly even, the money wagered by the losers will be paid to the winners, and the sportsbook will keep the 5% profit.
However, sometimes there may be an imbalance between the number of bets on over, and the number on under. In this case, the sportsbook will try to even out the numbers. They can use two strategies to do this:

  • Change the over-under value itself. If this was originally 45, and too many people have bet over, it might be adjusted to 46 to encourage others to take the under bet.
  • Change the odds. A sportsbook could lower the odds on the under to -105, for instance, and raise those on the over to -115. This will also encourage bettors to go with the under.

When it comes to paying out, a standard bet on a total is treated just like a point spread. The sportsbook will take its cut, and then pay out to the winners.

The payout on an over-under bet doesn’t just depend on predicting the score correctly. You should also pay attention to the odds (also called the vig or juice) so you know how much that sportsbook will take out of your winnings.

Such wagers are fairly uncomplicated – the sportsbook sets a proposed total and you simply decide if the final number in question will be higher or fewer, then bet accordingly.

Reading Over/Under Betting Odds

Over/unders can be used in just about any sport. The most common market is in total points scored, which makes over/unders applicable to fans of the Big Four in NY, which includes Caesars Sportsbook NY and DraftKings Sportsbook NY, and to bettors who want to get involved in a variety of other sports around the world. Let’s look at some examples of possible over/under total bets in different sports.

But before you sign-up with a sports betting site and start betting in any league, be sure to compare the best betting promo codes in New York.

NFL Betting

Football, either college football or NFL sports betting in New York, lends itself perfectly to an over/under bet, especially on the total points in a game.

For example, if the New York Jets are facing the Tennessee Titans, the total number set could be 50 points. But if the New York Giants are traveling to Arrowhead Stadium to meet the Kansas City Chiefs in an NFL game, the sports wagering operator might foresee a total amount of points of 40. You then bet according to how high or low you think the scoring will be.

The Super Bowl is just about the biggest annual betting event in the world. As well as betting on the football game itself, you can even wager on the length of time taken to sing the national anthem. At the 2021 Super Bowl, the over/under set total was 1 minute 59 seconds; sports bettors who went over collected a payout because the anthem lasted 2 minutes 17 seconds.

NBA Betting

Basketball over/under markets are always popular because of the relatively high number of points that can be scored in an NBA game, compared to other low-scoring sports. When the New York Knicks meet the Chicago Bulls at Madison Square Garden, for instance, the over/under game total for points scored could be set at 225.

You should also be able to bet over/under on particular NBA players who are known for scoring a high total of points in each match. In basketball, over/under bets are the second most popular form of betting on the NBA after the points spread.

MLB Betting

A baseball match tends to be a low-scoring sporting event compared to baseball and basketball, but over/unders are still popular with fans of America’s game. When the New York Yankees meet the Boston Red Sox, the predicted total set for the combined scored of both sides could be as low as eight runs.

In such low-scoring sports, online betting sites or mobile sports betting apps in New York will usually add a half point to ensure a payout and eliminate the possibility of a “push” (see below). So if the total set is 8.5 and you take the over price, you win if nine runs or more have scored. If you bet on the “under”, a total of up to eight will be a win bet.

NHL Betting

Unlike many outdoor sports, hockey matches tend to be relatively low-scoring affairs, but that does not stop numerous bettors trying to win a totals bet on the game result.

When the New York Rangers meet the New York Islanders, for example, a sports wagering site might set an over/under total number of 7.5 goals. If the final score sees a total of eight goals or more, sports bettors who have wagered on the over have had a winning bet.

As you can see above, PointsBet New York offers a wide array of bets, especially in comparison to other retail New York sportsbooks. Casual bettors love to dabble in parlays and prop bets while more serious bettors will be fixated on straight bets and total lines.

PointsBet New York Sportsbook Best For: Online Sports Betting Landscape

PointBet NY is great for the online sports betting landscape since they incorporate basic betting options such as spreads, sides, totals, and parlays while also offering new ways to bet like PointsBetting and picking your own spreads and totals on games. These offerings are unique and help PointsBet New York distinguish itself from other major bookmakers. PointsBet is also great for its ease of use, its sleek app and website design, and the wide menu of events a bettor can place wagers on. It is certainly equivilent, in terms of quality, to other operators like BetMGM New York.

Anyone placing a total bet had the option to wager on the total points in the game going over or under 52.

Over/Under Definition, Examples

A bettor can wager on whether or not the combined points/goals/runs scored by both teams will go over or under a predetermined amount. You’re not trying to guess the exact amount.

Let’s say the Bills–Chiefs total is 54.5, a high total for the NFL due to the offenses involved:

  • If Buffalo wins 24-20 (44 points), under bettors win
  • If Buffalo wins 34-24 (58 points), over bettors win

Over under betting has many more uses than just the final score now — you can wager on a quarterback over or under 249 passing yards, or a team under 2.5 touchdowns.

But wagering on the total number of points in a game is still among the most popular betting options available, so when someone refers to the over/under in an NFL game, it’s likely they’re referring to the total points scored.

Table of Contents
1. Over/Under Definition
2. Examples
3. How To Make an Over/Under Bet
4. How Much it Pays
5. How Are Totals Made?
6. Over/Under Strategies

Over/Under Definition

As a bettor, you’re trying to predict whether the total score will go over or under a certain amount set by the sportsbook. You’re not trying to guess the exact number. If the over/under lands on exactly the posted number, it’s a push and your bet is refunded.

A total bet — the combined points scored by each team — is the most common form of over under betting, but the concept is now applied to things like props, regular season wins, and so much more..

Total bets are among the most popular wagering options in sports betting, behind point spreads and moneylines.

Understanding the Over/Under

Let’s dive into an example of over under betting.

DraftKings set the over/under at 52 for Chiefs vs. Titans in the 2020 AFC Championship Game.

Anyone placing a total bet had the option to wager on the total points in the game going over or under 52.

The Chiefs won 35-24 — a total of 59 points — putting the game over the total. Anyone who took the over won their bet. Anyone on the under lost.

If this game landed exactly at 52 points, it’s called a push and all bets are refunded.

Over/unders come in all shapes and sizes — you can wager on the total points scored in a game, or on a prop bet like total field goals in an NFL game or total rebounds by an NBA player.

How Do I Make an Over/Under Bet?

It’s easy to make an over/under bet at any sportsbook, from BetMGM to a heavyweight national player like DraftKings.

  • Navigate to your desired sport
  • Click on the over or under in the game module (the over will always be listed on top) to highlight your bet.
  • Head to the bet slip on the right side of the page (on your phone, it will pop up automatically).
  • Click “Login to Place Bet” and login, then submit your bet

DraftKings will give you a $1,000 sign up bonus to bet totals or anything else you want to wager on.

How Much Do You Win on an Over/Under Bet?

A standard bet on a total is treated just like a point spread. The sportsbook will take its 10% cut, displayed with American odds. You can use our odds calculator to determine your payout.

For the most part, you’re going to be betting $1.10 for every $1 you want to win on a total bet in a football game. That’s what the -110 odds mean next to the Chiefs-Titans total points.

So if you bet $11, you’ll win $10. If you risk $55, you’ll win $50. $110 wins $100.

In low-scoring sports like hockey, soccer and baseball, a sportsbook will often adjust the juice before moving the number.

Let’s say a Yankees–Red Sox game has a total of 8.5, but the sportsbook makes its projection closer to 9 than 8.

In that case, a sportsbook may make the over -120 and the under +100 to reflect its projection of how the game will go, forcing anyone who bets the over to risk a little bit more because that outcome is slightly more likely.

At -120, you’re risking $1.2 for every $1 you want to win, and at +100, you’re risking $1 for every $1 you want to win.

If the Red Sox win 5-3, under bettors win. If they win 6-3, over bettors win.

How Are Totals Made?

There’s a lot that goes into making odds like totals, and it of course varies by sport. Bookmakers and bettors use many inputs — including how fast each team plays, offensive and defensive efficiency, weather, and more — to create a total.

Here were the average betting totals for each of the four major U.S. sports for the 2019-2020 seasons, per our data at Bet Labs.

Sport Average Total
NFL 45.4
NBA 222
MLB 9.1
NCAAF 55.4
NCAAB 139.8

Average totals are constantly changing as rules and team philosophies evolve in sports.

Just five years ago, NBA betting totals in the 180’s were common. But there has not been an NBA total under 190 since 2017, as small-ball and 3-point shooting have taken over the league.

There have been six NBA totals in history greater than 245, with five coming in February and March of 2020.

In the 2016-17 season, the average NBA total was just 210.6 — almost 10 points less than the 2019-20 season.

Over/Under Strategies

If it was that easy to bet only unders or only overs, you’d be retired on a beach somewhere.

But unders have been a better bet in every sport over the last five years — just not enough to blindly bet them and become profitable because of the cut the sportsbook takes on all your bets.

Here are over under betting records for each sport since the start of their 2016 regular seasons, listed as overs-unders-pushes (last updated Jan. 20, 2022):

Sport O/U Record Under Win %
NFL 619-666-11 51.8%
NBA 3213-3215-74 50.01%
NHL 2959-3009-355 50.4%
MLB 4985-5130-486 50.7%
NCAAF 1807-1941-51 51.8%
NCAAB 9318-9333-235 50.1%

It’s human nature to root for points and offensive success instead of rooting for offensive ineptitude. So the betting market tends to price totals slightly too high.

Your bet is also never technically dead when you bet an over — there’s always a chance the game goes to overtime, or there’s a flurry of late scoring to push it over.

Does Over/Under Bets Include Overtime?

Yes, any points scored in overtime will count toward your over/under bet. Sorry, under bettors.

This includes almost every type of total — second-half totals, team totals, player props. Overtime will count toward everything but specific markets like first half bets and fourth-quarter bets, for example.

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