Totals and Over/Unders

Totals, also known as the over/under, concern only how much scoring takes place in the game. The winner is irrelevant. If the Lions are playing the Bears and the total is set at 49, that means it is expected that the combined number of points scored by the 2 teams will be 49. From there you decide if the total will go over or under that figure. Like the spread, the standard vig is -110 but can vary depending on how much money is coming in on each side.

The Under

It has been discussed that there is perhaps more value to betting the under when playing the totals. The reason for this being, fans like to see a lot of scoring, no matter what the sport. It is quite a lot of fun to bet the over and always be rooting for the offense. Scoring is what seems to excite people. Keeping points off the board is just as important when it comes to winning, and while we all know that, at the end of the day, touchdowns generate louder cheers than incomplete passes.

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Casual bettors, unlike professional sports betttors, like to give action on things they want to see happen. Since everyone knows scoring is one of them, the sportsbook can think hey, let’s just make the line higher than it should be because most people will take the over anyway. Therein lies the strategy that taking the under may offer some extra value even as the lesser exciting play.

Football Totals

There are certain things you should be asking yourself before take a side in football. How is each team doing lately, is anyone hurt, what will the weather be like, etc. If you know that there is going to be a blizzard, this presents arguments for both sides. On one hand, it’s snowing hard and no one can see that well. So it’s all just a chaotic mess, how is the offense going to get anything done? It’s a fair question, but it’s not so easy to tackle either. The defenders also struggle to keep their traction. You see guys break away for huge gains and the touchdowns can pile up fast.

Sometimes you look at a game and see it’s between 2 strong defensive teams. It makes the under seem like the obvious preference. Except you get so preoccupied with how little scoring the defenses will give up that you forget they can do it themselves. You realize it though when one of the quarterbacks loses a fumble 20 yards in front of his end zone and 2 plays later a touchdown has been scored.

Football Halftimes

There is a total for the game, the 1st half only, and for the 2nd half too. As you would probably guess, each of these 2 totals are either exactly, or almost exactly half the total for the game. Things to pay attention to are how do these teams perform in each specific half. Some teams perform drastically different. You’ll notice in the 1st half of games that a lot of drives are put together methodically and at a more modest pace. There is not as much urgency or as great a concern for how much time is left. Teams don’t use their timeouts as frequently either.

All of this makes taking the first half under sound appealing, but you also need to remember that for the entire first half, each team is constantly trying to score touchdowns. Regardless if there is no hurry up offense, no one is thinking about trying to run out the clock and not make a full on effort to score. They are trying to pull away if they can so, so that they can just try to control possession and end the game. Certain teams do like to go with the no huddle offense in the first half, which is another thing to consider.

There are appealing situations for the 2nd half going over too. Sometimes the first half can go a little slow since it’s more careful and precise. But if the game turns into a close scoring battle, the slow pace from the first half is going to be gone. The teams are going to play differently, and more scoring will take place simply because the teams really need to do it now, time is of the essence. You’ll see teams be up a safe number of points late in the game, and then put the prevent defense on. They aren’t trying especially hard to keep you from coming down the field slowly, while the clock continues to run. The main concern is be sure you don’t score a touchdown all at once. So they sacrifice protection against little plays to make sure they don’t give up the big one, and touchdowns really begin to pile up.

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You might see a team completely blow the other one out in the first half and be up something like 24-7, and you think the 2nd half over is a good play since the offense was moving the ball at will. But as mentioned before, this now presents the part where the team’s main focus shifts from scoring to just running out the clock and winning the game. What the teams are capable of doing to the scoreboard isn’t necessarily what’s going to happen, because scoring more points isn’t as necessary as not turning the ball over and just killing the clock to end the game. Certain teams never take their foot off the gas, and other teams do get very conservative when they have a lead. Know who wants to score until their opponents are blue in the mouth, and who doesn’t care. 

Baseball Totals

There will be a total set for the game, and also the first 5 innings. There is nothing available for the latter portion of a baseball game. Picking which side to get on presents many factors to consider. The most obvious ones will be who is pitching, and how good are the offenses. Are there any prolific basestealers? If so, how well does the opposing catching throw out would be basestealers? You can’t forget the fielding either. That’s as important as anything else. With so many games in a baseball season, there is a lot to look at.


Teams go on long stretches of playing, sometimes 15-20 consecutive days. Baseball may be an everyday sport, but that’s going to get tiring. Be aware if any of the regular productive hitters are slated for an off day. Certain players do tend to perform much better in day games than night, and vice versa. How offenses do against lefties or righties. The weather is also important. April is pretty cold in a lot of parts of the country. Cold weather tends to freeze the bats more than the pitcher’s hand. This also starts to come back into play in the October postseason games.

In today’s game, starting pitchers tend to come out of games at certain points by design regardless of how well they might be doing. With the bullpen becoming a larger and larger factor, you need to pay attention to which relievers have been working a lot lately. The high volume schedule means you can’t go all out to win every game. Everyone on the field is of course trying their hardest to bring home a win, but who the manager chooses to lean on to try and get it done can depend on how important it is to win today at the expense of overworking one of his main relievers.

If you notice the top relievers have pitched a lot most recently, something like that could entice you take the over with the hope that one of the “B” relievers pitches poorly enough to help you win by a run. Certain games may add up to a low score because the offenses aren’t very good, but you might consider taking the over for the first 5 innings if one of the starters stinks. If it’s something like 3.5 and you can knock him out early, get up 4-0, hold on to win 4-2 and the game still goes under.

Baseball Playoffs

You don’t see a lot of high scoring games in the playoffs. Firstly, you can’t get very far in baseball without some quality pitching. With the better arms out there, runs are at more of a premium, and more regularly you see teams playing for 1 run. More bunting, and just trying to make sure you score a couple and let the ideal pitcher-batter matchups carry you to a 1 run victory.

The Home Plate Umpire

Some umpires call a pitcher friendly strike zone and are constantly ringing up the hitters. Others have a tighter zone and that will favor the battle. Get to know the plate ump’s strike zone before you pick a side. This can make a somewhat invisible, but huge impact on the outcome.

The Ballpark

Baseball is the only sport where not only is every playing field not totally alike, they are all totally different. Of course the basepaths and mound to home plate measurements are all equal, but the fences are not. This is only because the fences are only a measure for what’s needed to hit a home run. A home run is merely a type of scoring play, it is not at the center of the basic rules of the game. More and more of the recently built stadiums seem to be hitter friendly. Not all of them, but between fans liking to see scoring, and chicks digging the long ball, whether or not the stadium of the game you’re looking to play the total for is a hitter’s park or a pitcher’s park should be factored into the over/under decision.

You also want to be aware of what direction the wind is blowing in and how hard. Some ballparks, regardless of how deep the fences are, are also known for how well the ball carries there. Sometimes the thinness in the air, depending on the stadium’s altitude, can have an impact on how explosively the ball jumps off the bat.

Basketball Totals

The nice thing about basketball is that it’s always indoors, weather can’t affect anyone. The fewer the factors to consider, it should be easier to make a decision. Throughout the 82 game season, every team is going to have to play back to back days. About 20% of their games will be followed by a game the next day, so because of this frequency, you can see the differences in how teams perform when they’ve had rest and when they haven’t. Certain players will also either sit out one of the two consecutive games, or at least see limited action. Like football, you can also bet on the 1st half total individually, and the same with the 2nd half.


Be aware of who is officiating the game. Some refs are stricter with their judgment and call more fouls. This would certainly appeal to someone wanting to bet the over as more guys will be able to get to the line for free throws. But there are other refs who are a bit more lenient and let the players settle the result more on their own. If the game is permissibly more physical, the defense is going to be more aggressive. Guys are going to be hacked at more and working harder. Points will come at more of a premium, thus appealing to anybody thinking about taking the under.

Hockey Totals

The NHL also has an 82 game season, so be aware of who is playing on back to back to back nights in case the regular goalie needs a night off, or if any team has been playing and traveling a lot lately. Teams may be at a struggle to score because of fatigue, but that can also keep them from defending the goal too.

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Do you believe in betting on what’s hot, or what’s due? Hot meaning, if a team is scoring a lot of goals, are you the type who thinks that it should continue, or that they are due to have an off night and barely score, if at all? It really isn’t that relevant as each game is independent. No matter how well or poorly anyone is doing, you never can know when these freak professional athletes are going to suddenly start performing to the opposite level that they currently are.

Power Plays

When a guy hits the penalty box, and for 2 minutes you have a 5 on 4 setup, it’s a tremendous advantage and scoring opportunity. Be aware of how each team does when it’s on the power play, and how often each team is penalized too.

Empty Net Goals

In a 1 goal game, when it’s crunch time and you have to tie the game, the trailing team will pull their goalie when they’ve got the puck in their opponent’s territory so that they can have an extra skater on the ice, therefore one of them will always be unguarded. But, empty net goals are not unusual. This begs the question, how good is either team at scoring when there’s an empty net? One extra goal is very often the difference between over and under.