How Sportsbooks Come Up With Betting Totals

Forget about the box score and instead bet on the excitement of the game. If you love sports, then why not try betting on the games you love watching the most? You can place bets on virtually any sporting event, and most sportsbooks will match your wager within the hour. Getting those odds locked in is what makes betting on sports so special. This article will go over how bookmakers come up with the betting totals for various sporting events, including the NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB.


The National Hockey League (NHL) is one of the most popular sports leagues in the world, and it operates under a slightly different set of rules than the other major sports leagues in North America. For instance, instead of having a set amount of games on any given day, the NHL has a set number of games that are played at any given time. This means that the games speed up and the time between each one is longer. In fact, the longest game in NHL history lasted for 14 hours and 44 minutes.

Odds makers in the NHL are paid differently than those in other major sports. They get paid based on a percentage of the total pot, not the number of games won or lost. It is the same with parlay bets, the equivalent of a football sportsbook’s three-way parlay, where they take a percentage of each bet instead of the whole thing.


The National Football League (NFL) is another popular sporting league that is officially recognized by the Nevada gaming regulator. Much like the NHL, the NFL has a unique set of rules. Specifically, instead of having two- or three-game sets like most other sports leagues, NFL games are usually played in “pads”, or short segments. And, thanks to the oddsmaker’s equivalent of a parlay bet, called a “package bet”, NFL bettors can wager on the results of multiple games with a single bet. This type of bet is called a “prop” in football parlance.


The Major League Baseball (MLB) is the most popular sport in the United States, and it consistently ranks as the country’s most-loved sport. The history of baseball is rich, with the first game being played in 1861 and the sport being organized in the United States in 1869. It wasn’t long before people started betting on the games, and it grew in popularity quickly. Professional baseball started in the United States in 1876, and in the subsequent century, it spread to Canada, Mexico, and other countries as well.

MLB odds are generally made available within 30 minutes after the last pitch, and as with the other major sports leagues, betting odds are usually posted on the official websites of the sportsbooks and the oddsmakers. Like the other major sports, parlay bets and proposition bets are also legal in MLB. And just like the NFL and the NHL, MLB bettors can wager on the results of multiple games with a single bet.


The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the top basketball league in North America, and it is one of the most popular sports leagues in the world. Like many other sports leagues, the NBA has set betting odds for individual games as well as parlay and proposition bets. Like the NFL, the NBA odds are generally posted on its website within 30 minutes of the end of the game.


If you are unfamiliar, a “parlay” in sports consists of a series of wagers, typically on the results of multiple games. For example, a parlay bettor might bet $100 on the Red Sox – $40 for each of the first three games, and then an additional $25 on the result of game number three. If the Red Sox win all five games, then the parlay bettor will have won $125, even though he had originally put down only $100 on the five games.

The advantage of a parlay in sports is that it is very easy for fans and gamers to place bets. Many sportsbooks offer “parlay cards” that can be used to make wagers in parlays and propositions. In fact, many sportsbooks give away free parlay cards to everyone who signs up for an account. Simply present your card at any time during the game, and the bookmaker will update the wager.

To determine the betting totals for various major sports, Live Odds Canada gathered the data from the websites of the five largest sportsbooks in North America. For the NHL and the NFL, we used data from Bookmaker, Online Sports Book, and Silverdale, as those sites provided the most current data.

How Do Bookmakers Calculate The Betting Totals?

The odds makers in NHL, NFL, and other major sports leagues use a variety of methods to determine the betting totals for their favorite teams. Here are some of the more common techniques:

Manual Calculations

This is the simplest and most common way of calculating betting totals, and it is the way most people will initially think of when asked this question. Manually adding up the scores and stats from each game is the most basic form of calculation, and it is used by most sportsbooks in some form or fashion. Simply put, the totals are calculated manually, and this is done either before or after the game.

For example, if a hockey game ends with the scoring results of 4-3 in favor of the home team, the bookmaker will then have to go back and revise the previous line to something more in the ballpark of 5-3. They will do this by hand, and it is the most basic form of calculation. In the event of a landslide or an extremely close game, manual calculations can be very tedious and prone to errors. It is also more work for the bookmaker, and it takes longer to calculate everything by hand rather than using automated software or a smartphone app.

Statistician Calculations

In a departure from the previous method, more and more sportsbooks rely on statistical models and formulas in order to generate their betting odds. Instead of simply adding up the scores from each game and revising the line as necessary, sportsbooks will use data analysis and modeling to get a better understanding of how each game will “play out”. For example, a statistician might check previous seasons’ data and figureheads’ player wagering history in order to determine the strength of each team and the appropriate line for the given game. Simply put, they will use numbers in order to get an edge over the competition.

However, even with sophisticated software and modeling, it is still necessary to sometimes go back and revise the line. In any case, it is still more work for the bookmaker to perform the calculations by hand instead of using automated software or a smartphone app.

Home Team Advantage

The home team advantage is one of the most important concepts to bettors. Simply put, the home team generally will have an advantage over the visitor team, and this is typically reflected in the betting lines. In most cases, the home team will start as a – 165 against the spread (TSS) or a – 170 favorite, and these are big numbers. For example, if a basketball game is played at the home of the Chicago Bulls, then the home team will almost certainly win, and the betting lines will reflect this fact. In general, the home team will be a 20 to 30 point favorite in a basketball game, and the difference in points between the two teams is usually the key factor that determines whether the bettor will win or lose.

Injury And Weather Considerations

When a game is postponed or postponed because of weather or injury, the betting lines are almost always adjusted. This is particularly the case in pro football and basketball, where injuries are common and games are often postponed due to wet or slippery conditions on the field or court. In these cases, the betting lines are usually adjusted up or down based on the current standings of the teams involved (e.g., teams playing each other multiple times, or the team with the better record playing the team with the worse record).

In some cases, the weather conditions in a game affect the outcome, even if it is not the prevailing factor. Snow is a big factor in football, and very often, games are either canceled or postponed because of bad weather. In these cases, the betting lines will almost certainly be adjusted up or down accordingly.