What is totals betting?

What is a total or over/under bet?

The total in sports betting is the set amount of combined offensive scores by both teams in a sporting fixture. The sportsbook sets a pre-determined number predicting how many points, goals, or runs there will be in a game or event. You can wager on whether the two teams combined will go above or below that total, which is why such markets are also commonly called the over/under.

Total or over/under markets are offered for almost every single match in all major sports, including hockey, football, basketball, baseball, and soccer. The total is commonly set to an increment of .5, e.g. over or under 47.5 points, to ensure there will be a set outcome for any wagers. After all, it is impossible for a MLB game to have a total of 7.5 runs.

Sportsbooks attempt to set totals which have an approximate 50/50 chance of going over or under, meaning you will often see the same odds offered for both outcomes. Before recent legislation, Canadians had to bet on multiple total or over/under outcomes in a parlay in order to make a wager. As of 2021, Canadians can use single-game betting to bet on the total or over/under market for a game on its own.

How can you place a total or over/under bet?

Totals markets often offer payouts of around 2:1, as sportsbooks try and get close to an equal number of bettors taking both the over and under to insure themselves against the risk of taking significant losses.

Below are the total or over/under odds for a NBA game between the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors:

Total points


Over 219.5


Under 219.5


As you can see, the total has been set at 219.5 points. That means for the over to win, the Nets and Raptors would have score 220 points or more between them in the game, while for the under to win they would have to score 219 points or fewer.

The odds have been set at -110 for both outcomes, meaning a winning $100 bet on either the over or under would return a payout of $190.90 (your $100 bet plus $90.90 profit).

You may occasionally see sportsbooks set totals to be over or under a whole number. In this case, the same conditions apply for winning your bet, but if the game finishes with the exact total number of goals, points, or runs specified, your bet is refunded to you by the sportsbook as a “push”.


How is the total or over/under calculated?

While odds for most totals markets offer payouts of around 2:1, that can change depending on what bettors are wagering on. For instance, let’s the imagine that the total for a NHL match has been set to 7.5 goals. If most of the bets are then wagered on the under, the odds will start to change and the under will be assigned shorter odds, so that the payout will start to decrease further away from 2:1. If money continues to be bet on the under, then the total will likely change, in this case potentially falling to 6.5 goals.

As mentioned, sportsbooks aim to try and even out the bets made on both outcomes to protect themselves. This is why timing your total or over/under bets right can be very important.

Tips for total or over/under betting

Many sportsbooks are good at setting totals that aren’t far off the actual number of points, goals, or runs in a game, even in high-scoring events like NFL and CFL football and NBA basketball. As a result, totals betting can be a great tool when two evenly matched teams are going head-to-head, and the outcome is just too close to call. It may be easier to try and be on the right side of the over or under instead of the moneyline.

Totals or over/under lines also offer more consistent odds than some other markets. Wagering the over/under will always pay somewhere close to 2:1, whereas the moneyline can offer wildly varying value depending on the extent to which a team or player are considered the favorite or underdog.

For instance, here are the moneyline odds for the previously mentioned example involving the NBA match between the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors:



Brooklyn Nets


Toronto Raptors


If you were confident about both predicting the total and that the Raptors would win, it would be far more advisable to bet on the total. A successful $100 bet on the over/under would net you $90.90 profit, whereas you would have to bet $360 on the moneyline just to win $100.

Live or in-play betting often provides opportunities to find value in the total, as if a team is up late in a game, it may be advisable to place a wager on the under. For example, if in a NFL game the Buffalo Bills are winning 41-7 at the end of the third quarter and the total is set to 60.5, the Bills will be looking to run out the clock in the fourth quarter, meaning it is going to be difficult to go over the number.

Totals betting FAQs

Is overtime included in totals bets?
What is the Proline over/under?
Can I win money on the total if I bet both the over and under?

All betting guides on BET.CA are written by in-our house team, who have over 40 years’ experience in the sports betting and gaming industries, and have worked and written for several of the world’s leading sportsbooks. They possess in-depth knowledge of betting markets and strategies, as well as an understanding of what is important to bettors, meaning you can read on with the confidence that they will help improve your betting.

BET.CA staff
BET.CA staff