Typically, when you have a sports game with two teams, you can choose one of three types of primary bets: Moneyline, spread, and total. The last one is often referred to as overs and unders.

The first two types of bets, Moneyline and spread, mainly focus on betting on the winning team. As the name suggests, totals try to bet on the total number of points or goals scored. That said, once you step into a bookmaker’s shop or open your preferred betting website to place your bet, you might get confused. How does it all work? What are these decimal values? How can someone score half a goal?

Since totals are one of the most common types of bets in football, let’s explain how this type of betting works.

What is Over/Under in Betting?

Once you decide to place an over/under bet on a game, you’ll quickly notice that it is not that simple to win big. You’ll see terms such as “over 2.5 goals” or even “under three goals”. But, what does this mean?

In short, when you place this type of bet, you are actually betting on a certain number of goals scored throughout the game. That’s what the number part is all about. Now, the over or under part of the bet is your estimate on whether you feel the result will be over or under a certain number. For example, if you place a bet on “over two goals”, and the final score is 2-1, you can pocket the estimated return, as three goals were scored in total.

Essentially, you’re not backing a particular team; you’re betting on the overall outcome of the game. It can also be placed on the number of yellow or red cards in the game or even on the number of corners.

The same goes for other types of sports as well. For example, you can bet on the number of runs in a cricket match or even the total number of rounds in a boxing or MMA match. For boxing and MMA betting, though, the principle of overs and unders slightly differs.

The over/under is not limited to sports either. Some bookmakers allow you to place this type of bet on a variety of non-sports events, such as how long the singer will perform the national anthem at the Superbowl or how long an Oscar speech may be.

But, what’s the point of the .5?

Now, what would happen if you bet on something, and it’s a draw? Well, that’s where the .5 comes into play. What initially seems like the most confusing part of over under betting is actually a pretty simple concept used for settling a bet. Let’s explain it.

As we’ve mentioned, overs and unders are bets that are supposed to guess whether a certain amount of goals/points will be scored. That said, what if exactly the number of goals you are betting over and the house is betting under actually gets scored? In that case, your bet would be returned, and no one would win.

Enter decimals: since you cannot score half points or goals in football (or most sports, for that matter), these ensure that someone will actually win the bet. How? It’s simple: an over 2.5 bet means that you’ve won the overs bet if three goals were scored in the match. There is no way a game could have 2.5 goals, so the other option would have been betting under 2.5 and needing two or fewer goals to win the bet.

How to bet on over/under in football?

Now that you understand how it all works, the big question is, how do you actually read the odds and place your bet on the outcome of the football match at the bookmaker? Once you check the available listings at a bookmaker’s sportsbook, you’ll be able to see the teams playing, the Moneyline, and other game-related parameters.

However, you should look for the “total” section, typically in U/O format, and the available numbers that define the over or under limit. These odds are set by the bookies, and you should definitely shop around to find the best rates before you place a bet. It is one of the key strategies for maximising your winnings.

How do bookmakers define these over/under betting odds?

Many factors can affect the numbers presented, especially in outdoor sports. Some of the things that will affect the score for over/under wagers are:

  • Quality of offence or defence of each team
  • Stadium and venue considerations
  • Weather conditions for outdoor sports
  • The current form of the teams

All of these would be calculated with some help from computer models that also factor in many other parameters that could influence the game outcome. This is why it is important to get familiar with all the relevant stats before you place your bet.

When should you place an over or under-bet?

Now that we’ve got these football bets explained, it should be clear that over/under betting is great if you are not feeling confident in picking a game-winner. This type of bet is where it pays to get familiar with the teams playing so that you can gauge more accurately the total number of goals that will likely be scored during the match. For example, if you feel like both teams will be playing a defensive game, betting on under would be wise.

It also helps shop around for the best odds, as the favourable points total may vary per bookie.

FAQ

Is it better to bet over or under?

Whether you’d be going with over or under depends on the game, your knowledge of the teams participating, and your game expectations. If you are betting overs, you are hoping for a high-scoring game. If you are betting unders, you are hoping for a slow game full of defensive moves.

Does over or under win more?

Typically over and under are 50/50 bets, so you have a shot at the same winnings with either type of bet.

What are unders and overs?

It is one of the most common bet types, often used in football and many other sports. Unlike other types of bets, where you’ll typically wager on the winner, with overs and unders, you are betting on whether the total number of goals or points will be higher or lower than whatever was set by the bookie.

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