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What is the Over/Under? What is the Over/Under?
Let’s say the Temple Owls and the Florida Seminoles are playing football tonight. Let’s say both teams typically score a ton of points. This... What is the Over/Under?

Let’s say the Temple Owls and the Florida Seminoles are playing football tonight. Let’s say both teams typically score a ton of points. This should be a shootout! Wouldn’t it be interesting if you could wager on whether (or not) both teams will reach a certain point total?

Say hello to the Over/Under, which allows gamblers to bet on whether teams or individuals reach certain statistics during specific games.

How does it work? 

The over/under, also known as O/U, is quite popular in football, hockey, soccer and baseball. It’s one of the simplest forms of betting out, given you’re basically wagering on a total stat during a game. Often, it’s the combined score of both teams.

So the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings are meeting this weekend. In their infinite wisdom, the bookmakers have utilized all of their formulas and decided the over/under for this particular matchup should be 45 points. It’s as simple as it sounds. You can bet that the game’s final combined score will be either over 45 points or under 45 points. If you bet over and the final score ends 28-21 then you’re going to cash in (49 total points).

If you bet the under, you’ll be kicking yourself. As for the over/under number itself, it will usually be a lower figure if a pair of top defensive teams are battling it out and typically a higher amount of points if two freewheeling, high-scoring teams are squaring off.

How do I know what I bet on? 

When checking out your favorite sportsbook, the visiting team will be listed first or on the top of the betting slip with the home team coming next. The odds for the over/under will also be listed and remember -110 means you’ll need to wager $110 to win back $100 plus your original $110 for a grand total of $210. When betting on football, the odds for the spread, over/under and moneyline will typically all be shown side by side with the over/under often being listed as “total.” 

How does overtime work?

The over/under is usually also good for games that go into overtime, but be sure to confirm this with the sportsbook before making your wager. If the total given is 45 points it means more than 45 points must be scored for an “over” bet to win and fewer than 45 points for an “under” wager to be cashed out. If a game finishes with a combined score that is equal to the over/under then it’s considered to be a push and all bets are returned. In this case, a 24-21 final equals 45 points and would be a push. For games that have over/under totals which include half points such as 45.5, it means you either win or lose since a push isn’t possible.

So how does a gambler choose over/under?

If you’d like to know what the sportsbook is predicting the final score to be, you can figure this out by using a semi complicated mathematical formula using the game’s spread and over/under totals. To do this you need to split the over/under total in half. Once you’ve done that you also have to cut the point spread in half. You then add half of the over/under total to half of the total point spread for the team that’s favored to win the game. When it comes to the underdog, you’ll need to subtract half of the total point spread from the half of the over/under total.

Now that we’ve thoroughly confused you, we’ll give an example of this using the Steelers vs Vikings game with its over/under of 45 point and with the Steelers being favored in the spread by eight points (-8). Half of the 45 points over/under is 22.5 and half of the point spread is 4. In this case, the bookmaker is basically predicting the Steelers to score 26.5 points when the two numbers are added together (22.5 + 4). On the flip side of the coin, they’re predicting the Vikings to score 18.5 points (22.5 – 4). There’s not really any betting significance to figuring out the projected score, but some people do like to use the formula to determine if they think the over/under total is realistic or too low or high.

You may find some sportsbooks will offer a wagering option for the over/under based on the output of just one team. For instance, an NHL line may show the Los Angeles Kings playing the New York Rangers with the Kings having an over/under of 2.5 and the Rangers being 1.5. Some sportsbooks may also offer over/under options on specific plays such as total rushing yards, down conversions, pass completions, interceptions and field goal percentage in football and steals, turnovers, blocks, assists etc. in basketball. And in baseball you might find you can bet on a team or player’s number of RBI’s or home runs in the game. There will basically be different types of wagering options depending on the sport.

A good example of this is boxing where punters can bet the over/under on a specific round they think the fight will end in or go past. You may see the odds of a fight such as Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder listed as Over Rounds 4.5 (-350) and Under Rounds 4.5 (+275). This means the oddsmakers are giving you the choice of betting that the fight between the two heavyweight sluggers will either end before or after 4.5 rounds (one minute and 30 seconds of the fourth round).

Be aware that the over/under totals may change before a sporting event gets underway depending on the betting trend, but your bet is based on the total published at the time you made the wager and the over/under total on your betting slip.  


There are also common terms bettors use when laying out their cash on point spreads. These include:

ATS: Against the spread

Hook: This means a half point. For example, if the Patriots are listed as – 4.5 it’s known as laying four and a hook.

Juice: Unfortunately, bettors need to pay a fee to bookmakers and this is also known as vigorish or vig and is typically 10 per cent.

Favorites: This refers to the team or competitor that’s expected to win the contest straight up.

Underdog: The team or athlete that is expected to lose the event straight up.

7 point dogs: The word dogs is just a short form for underdogs. Therefore 7-point dogs would mean they’d be listed as +7 on the betting slip.

Cover the spread: This means the underdogs have won the bet for you since they lost by fewer points than the point spread or they won the game outright. It can also refer to favorites if they won by more points than the spread.

Beat the spread: If the favorites end up winning the contest, but don’t do so by the specified point spread, then the underdogs have beaten the spread even though they lost the game.

Even money: If there are no favorites and underdogs for an event then the odds are 50-50 and you’d win a dollar for each dollar wagered.

Take the points: Taking the points means you’re betting on the underdogs to lose by less than the point spread or to win outright.

Give the points: Giving the points means you’re backing the favorite and need to win the event by more than the specified spread.

Over/Under: Betting on the final number of something scored — or produced — during one game. It’s typically the total number of combined points by both teams, but it can be one individual’s rushing yards or passing yards. Bettors decide if they think something will go over the number given or under the number given.

Mike McNulty

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