Over/Under Bets Explained
If you enjoy betting on sports such as football, rugby, basketball or cricket, you may come across a type of bet known as an over/under. This market can make for an interesting alternative to betting on a match outcome, bringing a range of other factors into play.
In this article, we are going to give you the lowdown on over/under bets. What is an over/under bet? How does it work? And how should you calculate potential winnings? We will answer these questions, giving you examples of how over/under betting applies in various sports and highlighting key considerations, you should make when placing an over/under bet. Read on!
What Is Over/Under Betting?
An over/under bet - sometimes referred to as a totals bet - is usually based on the total score in a sporting contest, that is, the combined score of both teams or competitors. To make an over/under bet, you will select if the total number of points (or another applicable scoring measurement such as goals, runs or games) will be over or under a set amount.
How Does An Over/Under Bet Work?
Let's look more closely at how an over/under bet works. To recap, an over/under bet requires the punter to correctly predict the total score of both teams or competitors in a sporting contest in order to win the bet. The choice is simple - will the combined score be higher or lower than a set number?
We can take Premier League betting as an example. The Manchester United vs Newcastle United match may have a total set at 2.5 goals for the over/under bet. But exactly what does over or under 2.5 goals mean? This means that as a bettor, you will decide if you think the match's final score will be over or under 2.5 goals in total.
If the game finishes with a result such as 2-1 or 3-0 to one of the teams, the outcome will be classed as 'over', as there were three goals scored. The same also goes for any scorelines which involve more than three goals. If the match ends 2-0 to either team, 1-1, or with a scoreline with even fewer goals, the outcome will be classed as 'under', as two or fewer goals were scored.
You would typically see the odds in the following format:
2.5 OVER 8/11
2.5 UNDER 6/5
This means that according to the odds, it is more probable that there will be over 2.5 goals, so the over is favourite, as the contest is expected to be a fairly high scoring one. Using the same example, let's move on to how you can calculate potential winnings from an over/under bet.
How To Calculate Winnings From An Over/Under Bet
Using our example of a football match with over/under bets of 2.5 goals:
2.5 OVER 8/11
2.5 UNDER 6/5
Calculating your winnings for an over/under bet is the same as other standard wagers on a single outcome. If you were to bet £10 on the over, and the total amount of goals in the Manchester United vs Sheffield United game was three or more goals, you could expect winnings of £17.27. Your profits would be £7.27, so with your £10 stake returned, the total would come to £17.27.
The same basic betting principles apply to the under bet. If there were two or fewer goals in the match, your under bet at 6/5 would win back £22. That's because a winning £10 wager at 6/5 would return £12 in profits, which is added to your £10 stake if you win the bet.
If you are unsure exactly how betting odds work, we've explained betting odds here in more detail.
How Do Over/Under Bets Apply In Different Sports?
It isn't just football betting which allows you to place over/under wagers. It is possible to apply the same over/under principle for other games, in which are placed on whether the combined score will be over a set total. For example, in rugby union betting, you might bet on over/under 42.5 points. In basketball, the set total for an over/under bet might be 237.5. In ice hockey, the set total for an over/under bet could be 5.5. As you can see, over/under bets for different sports are typically set around what would be a reasonable or likely score for that sport, with longer odds applied to less likely total scorelines.
Different Uses Of Over/Under Bets
It isn't always the combined points total that is used for over/under betting. With some sports, another metric is used for an over-under bet. Let's take a closer look at these variations:
Cricket - Rather than predict over or under a combined total of runs, in cricket betting, an over/under bet usually focuses on player-related outcomes. One of the most common is if a player will score over or under a certain amount of runs. For example, a bet may involve selecting whether England batsman Joe Root will score over or under 47.5 runs in a Test innings against India.
Another common application of over/under betting in cricket is the number of wickets a bowler will take in an innings. For example, will England bowler James Anderson take over or under 3.5 wickets in an innings?
Then there is live betting, which opens up other possibilities for over/under betting in the form of 'brackets', particularly in limited-overs matches. Here it's possible to bet on factors such as whether there will be over or under a total of runs within a set portion of the team's innings; 5 or 10 overs, for example.
Tennis - When it comes to betting on tennis, an over/under bet tends to be placed on the number of games in a match. Let's say that Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have a three-set match scheduled. The over/under bet could be set at 22.5 games. If you were to bet under 22.5 games, this suggests that you think the match will be fairly one-sided and will end in no more than 22 games.
If you were to select the over, this indicates you think that the match could be a closer contest, lasting for a minimum of 23 games for you to win.
Combat sports - In boxing or mixed martial arts (MMA), a match might be set for three, five, ten or 12 rounds, but that doesn't mean it won't finish before the end due to a knockout or submission. In combat sports, the over/under typically relates to the number of rounds that will be completed.
Let's say Tyson Fury is due to fight Anthony Joshua for the world heavyweight championship in a 12 round contest. Boxing betting markets may offer a set total of 9.5 rounds for the over/under bet. That means if you think the fight will go at least as long as the end of the tenth round, you would select over. Whereas if you think there is likely to be a stoppage - with either combatant forcing a KO or technical KO, or another type of stoppage ordered by the referee - before the end of the tenth round, you would choose under.
Remember that this market is usually applied to the number of rounds completed, so if the fight was stopped during the tenth round, this would still count as under 9.5 rounds, as the round had not been completed.
Extra Time And Overtime In Over/Under Bets
What happens in sports matches that occasionally run into extra time or overtime, such as in football knockout competitions or some American sports? In these cases, the extra time period usually still counts as part of the over/under bet. Taking a bet on basketball as an example - if you had bet on over 237.5 points, and the game goes into overtime, you might be highly confident that your bet would win, if it hadn't already, given the additional time period. Conversely, if you had a bet on under 237.5 points in the match, it seems more likely that you would lose the bet if the contest went into overtime. So when it comes to the role of overtime or extra time in over/under bets, it is most often the friend of those who have picked the over, rather than the under!
What Is The Best Strategy For An Over/Under Bet?
For some, over/under wagers are the ideal sports betting option for entertainment when watching a match as a neutral. If you don't like either side and are reluctant to back them, the over/under offers the opportunity to bet on the flow of the game rather than the outcome.
This means it can be possible to benefit from the flexibility of an over/under bet, which offers an alternative to choosing the outcome. For example, if you are having trouble picking who will win from two evenly matched teams but are sure it will be a tight contest with very few points or goals scored, the over/under gives you the chance to back this belief.
To this end, you can derive useful pointers for an over/under bet by looking at two teams' attacking and defensive records. In football, if two evenly matched teams are known for leaking goals but have no problem putting the ball in the back of the net, this may suggest the over is far more likely. But remember, the odds would typically reflect the teams' track records so the over would be priced at shorter odds.
When assessing how high scoring a match will be, you can also factor in weather conditions and look at the respective coaches' usual strategies for this type of game.
In most cases, the odds will increase with higher over bets. If we look at football betting as an example, the odds for a game to finish with over 3.5 goals will usually be longer than for a game to finish with over 0.5 goals. This is because there is a greater likelihood that at least one goal will be scored during the course of the game than four goals. Equally, odds may be shorter or longer depending on factors such as how well matched the teams are in both attacking and defending abilities. For this reason, using a one size fits all approach such as a 0.5 goals betting strategy, where a bet is placed on at least one goal being scored in every game, is usually flawed as any profits made can be wiped out with a single 0-0 draw.
The over/under is a great example of how sports betting isn't always about who wins. It can also be about predicting what will transpire during the course of a game. As with all betting, it's important to remember not to bet more than you can afford to lose. Even if a match or game seems certain to go a particular way, anything can and often does happen in the world of professional sports.