Is It Better to Bet Over or Under?

by | Jan 4, 2022

Over/under bets are one of the most popular betting options available for sports. It’s easy to understand how it works, and most people feel pretty confident one way or the other when they put money down.

As simple as the concept is, what is the actual best bet to make? Sportsbooks try to set the over/under appropriately so there is action on both sides, but does it work?

Is It Better to Bet Over or Under?

There’s no perfect answer to betting over or under. A lot of fans for a particular team will constantly believe that they have a chance to score more points than what the number is placed at, but that’s optimism more than anything. Critical thinkers might be more prone to betting the under, especially when considering popular teams. With so many bets coming in on the over, it may sway the number a bit.

Fully Understanding Over/Under Bets

In most cases, the over/under bet is going to be the total of the two teams. This is the simple number included with every point spread and money line. However, there are times when there is an over/under offered for just one particular team, so pay attention when that happens. It could be a smart bet for those particularly confident in one side having success.

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Instead of having to deal with a bunch of different numbers, the over/under is designed to be a pretty simple concept so that people can get into sports betting. In fact, a lot of people say that this is the first bet they actually make when they start.

What is the Most Common Example of an Over/Under Bet?

The most common example most people see with an over/under bet is a -110 line. This means that a person will need to bet $110 to win $100. That extra $10 on what is essentially even odds is a payout to the sportsbook (known as the vig).

Instead of changing the payout for any bet, most sportsbooks will just put in the effort to make sure that they have an accurate over/under. The over/under is almost always going to have a .5 after the number, to eliminate the chance of a tie.

What Sports Offer Over/Under Bets?

Just about every major sport will offer over/under bets of some sort. Some of them are more straightforward than others. For example, in individual sports, the over/under bet might be the number of rounds (boxing), number of sets (tennis), etc.

The reason why every sport makes this effort to offer an over/under bet is that they know how easy it is to entice gamblers to get involved in the action. Even if there is no traditional scoring, there is a way to make something into an over/under bet.


There’s a lot of variance in the over/under for American football. They are almost always going to be higher at the college level, since scoring is a little more prevalent. The NFL is a lot more predictable, so the over/under total each week is closer.

Plenty of factors plays into how the over/under is figured out in football as well. Location, weather conditions, rest, and more can change the over/under a little. Ultimately, the team matchup is the largest determining factor. Teams relying on the pass extend the game and usually score more often than run-oriented teams.


As the highest-scoring major sport, the over/under can be quite a bit different from game to game. NBA rules have opened up scoring, and it’s not rare to see both teams score over 100 points routinely. College basketball totals are lower because the game is shorter, but there’s quite a bit of variance there as well since there are so many teams with different skill levels.

Keep in mind that at the end of close games, a lot of empty points start to add up to the score. Free throws can easily add 10+ points in the last minute of a contest. It not only significantly messes with the point spread, but the over/under as well.


The over/under for baseball tends to be in that 8-10 run range in a lot of cases. The pitching matchup matters to some degree, but with the way teams utilize bullpens, it’s playing less and less of a factor. Weather conditions also play a pretty big role, as certain parks are more prone to runs scored than others. If the ball flies out of the ballpark, that can lead to an extra home run or two in the game.


In most professional soccer matches, the over/under bets tend to land right around 2.5. Since there’s not a lot of variance in scoring, one side could have slightly different payouts than the other. It’s easier for sportsbooks to adjust the payout, instead of going up or down a goal.


The most common over/under line for hockey is 6.5. This puts it just a little bit below baseball in most cases. They do the same thing as soccer, adjusting the odds payout instead of adjusting the line. This comes down to it just being too difficult to get a 100% accurate over/under line that has equal payouts.

When is it Best to Bet the Over?

While there might not always be a perfect solution to betting over or under, there are times when one makes more sense than the other. For example, if it seems like the matchups involve an offense that is starting to put up numbers, putting money down on the over is smart. As long as one team goes off and scores with consistency, it will play out fine.

Perfect weather conditions for outdoor sports play a role in going over too. Keep the amount of rest in mind, as offense always has the upper hand when everyone is rested and ready to compete at a high level.

When is it Best to Bet the Under?

Bet the under if the defense for at least one of the teams is locked in. Another strategy that a lot of people use is that they will bet under if they feel like one of the teams is a bit too popular and therefore, overrated. When a team is popular, a lot of fans are optimistic that they are going to score points and reach the over/under total with ease. That can move the over/under line a bit and play in favor of those betting the under.

What Bet is the Most Fun to Place?

One of the ways people get in trouble when they are placing a bet on an over/under number is that they go with fun instead of using their brain. It’s true that in a lot of cases, people want to root for more points when watching a game. Scoring is fun to see, and it keeps everyone engaged. While some people enjoy watching a defensive battle, most are going to opt for points instead.

A rule that some people implement is only betting over, but being disciplined enough to stay away if they think that it’s not going to happen. This way, they still enjoy all the benefits of only betting one way, but they are not placing as many bets in general. As long as people stay disciplined about that, they are good to go.

Are Over/Under Bets True 50/50 Bets?

In many cases, sportsbooks try to make an over/under bet as a true 50/50 chance of winning. In the lower scoring games, that’s not true, as usually, one side is paying out more than the other. Remember that even though it might be a 50/50 bet, winning doesn’t double up the money. There’s always the vig going to the sportsbook for accepting the wager.

Is It Easy to Find Over/Under Bets Online?

Every sportsbook that offers other forms of sports betting will also offer over/under bets. They know that this is one of the most popular options, and easy for people to learn.

Who Should Stay Away from Over/Under Bets?

Think of over/under bets as a great option for those who do the work to study up on a contest and have a good idea of how it will play out. It’s a bit of a sucker bet if people are just blindly putting money on one side or the other without doing any research.

The design of the over/under bet is so easy that it will attract a lot of first-timers into thinking that they can make some easy money. In reality, it’s going to end up being just like flipping a coin, which isn’t a long-term strategy to winning money. When factoring in the vig, people will lose little by little if they put money on one side or the other without doing any type of research.

A Final Look at Over/Under Bets

It’s always worth looking at over/under bets is another smart way to put money on a contest. The key is knowing when there are solid opportunities to win, and when it’s best to stay away.

The great thing about over/under bets is that there’s never any huge risk involved. The goal is to make them close to even odds, so even winning 60% of the time will help earn money as time goes on.


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