Totals betting is a way to bet on a sporting event that doesn’t force you to choose sides. Instead, you’re essentially hoping that the sportsbook’s prediction was too conservative or too generous in regard to the scoring of the game.
Perhaps an easier way to explain: Your wager depends on the total final score, not who wins. In order to win your bet, you simply guess whether that score will be combined score of both teams will be more or less than predicted. Unlike in point spread betting, how many points an athlete or team scores isn’t crucial.
Successful bettors often opt to bet this way when they think a sportsbook might be over or underestimating the scoring in an upcoming contest. Sportsbooks offer the option to bet either side, so there’s ample opportunity to win.
Accordingly, novice bettors may think these wagers are easier to win. That’s not necessarily true, however. New bettors should always assume that every market is set up for the sportsbook to win. Just like with any other kind of bet, knowing the subject matter is important. If you do your research and invest your money wisely, you can get great enjoyment out of totals betting.
All you need to get started is to share some identifying information, a device that can access the internet, and a spare few minutes.
If you’re a new customer, the sportsbook will ask you to provide some personal details. The book must verify your identity, ensure you are of legal age, and confirm you are physically located in Tennessee.
The next step is to deposit funds. There are many options for doing so, and many times, sportsbooks will offer a bonus for your first deposit. At that point, you can start looking through the available betting markets. Although it’s not a guarantee that a total points market on your sporting event of choice will be available; however, most of the time, you can make such wagers.
Whether or not it’s wise to put your money down on these lines depends on several factors. You can’t accurately assess the value of point total markets until you understand how the odds work.
Just like point spread odds, sportsbooks use point total lines to “even the odds” when the competitive difference between one athlete/team in a contest and the other is significant. That doesn’t mean these bets are impossible to win, however.
Let’s look at a real example of a point total market on a Chinese Taipei basketball game. In point total markets, you get two choices for how you bet. Those are the over or the under.
Taiwan Beer O 169.5 -118
Yulon Dinos U 169.5 -118
At most sportsbooks, you will see point total markets in lines with the names of the athletes/teams participating in the contest, the moneyline odds, and the point spread odds. The only relevant information to the total, however, is the “O” or “U” and the numbers after those letters.
Even though these lines are horizontally laid out across from the names of the athletes or teams, you should disassociate those two pieces of information. In our example, you would not be betting on the Taiwan Beer to score over 169.5 points themselves.
Rather you need to decide whether you think the two teams will score more or less than 169.5 points combined in the game. That will determine whether you take the over or the under. The -118 is the potential payout if you choose correctly. This information tells you that if you wish to make $100 in profit off your bet, you need to wager $118. Should you wager that amount and win, you would receive $218 from the sportsbook. If you lose, of course, the sportsbook keeps your wager.
While you may readily understand how these markets work for team sports, like basketball, you may also be wondering if they exist for individual sports like golf. They do, and they work essentially the same way.
In this example, a sportsbook sets up a market on the performance of one competitor and sets the line on the player’s score after all rounds.
Brooks Koepka O 228.5 -200 U 228.5 -200
In a market such as this, you need to decide whether you think Brooks Koepka will finish over or under 228.5 at the event. Because where he places in the field, and his scores from individual rounds are both meaningless.
Sportsbooks will also set up markets like this for tennis on the number of games a player will win in a set, for example. Even within team sports like basketball, sometimes sportsbooks will set up prop bets on the statistical performances of individual players within those games.
While these are technically props, they are also totals, because you’re betting on the over or under. Regardless of the details of a totals wager, whether you win the bet is simple.
These markets depend on whether the game’s total score adds up to less or more than the line. In our basketball example, the line is 169.5. As you’re aware, it’s impossible to score half of a point in basketball.
You might be wondering the 0.5. In betting terms, that’s called a “hook.” Its purpose is to ensure that either you or the sportsbook will win this bet. So, in our example, if you bet the under and the final score is 85-84, you would win as 85+84=169.
On the other hand, if you bet the under and the final score is 86-84, you would lose because 86+84=170. Once again, who wins the contest is completely irrelevant in terms of totals betting. The margin of victory is also totally meaningless.
Even if the Yulon Luxgen Dinos win this game 169-0 and you bet the over, the sportsbook will still keep your money.
Many sportsbooks will set the lines for these markets well in advance of the games. Those odds are still subject to change, however. Many factors could motivate oddsmakers to adjust them.
While the sportsbooks set the lines, bettors do play a part. Just like the stock market, these markets react to the amount of buy-in action.
If bettors put down most of the action on either the over or the under, the sportsbooks will adjust. They may do so by making the odds more attractive for the side that’s not getting as much love.
They do that to ensure that regardless of the outcome, they will make a profit. While that’s the primary reason sportsbooks may move lines, it isn’t the only. Several factors related to the contest in question can influence these lines as well.
Those included but aren’t at all limited to some of the following:
Since these factors can affect how many points a team might score, the sportsbooks will adjust lines.
In our example, if the Beer’s best player suffers an injury, the sportsbook might reduce the line to a lower number. For this reason, it’s essential to stay aware of updates relevant to your bet. You can be sure the sportsbook is doing so. The book is essentially your “opponent” in this matter.
You may have an interest in wagers on several point total markets. Although sportsbooks are happy to take your bet on each individually, there is a better way.
A parlay wager is a way that you can make one bet contingent on the results of several events’ point totals. By doing so, you increase your risk but also your potential reward.
If you decide to combine point total markets into a parlay bet, each line in that wager is called a “leg.” Going back to our example, let’s say you wanted to use the point total for this game and the same for three other games in the Chinese Taipei league to form a parlay.
Your enhanced risk comes from a heightened degree of difficulty. You have to hit the over or the under correctly for each leg of your bet. If you hit on three but miss on the fourth, your wager is a loss. In exchange for increasing the likelihood that the sportsbook will keep your money, the book will increase your payout. As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
The same logic applies regardless of whether you choose to parlay several totals together or just put your money down on one. In order to enjoy a payout, you have to take some risk. That’s what makes it such a thrill when you do win.