What Is Betting Over Under?

Many sports betting fans are familiar with sports betting odds, which are often times found on the back of a sportsbook poster or a sports section in a newspaper. If you’re new to this world, here’s a quick (and probably controversial) definition to catch you up to speed: betting odds are simply the probabilities of various events happening.

You may be asking yourself, “What’s the difference between betting odds and betting over under?” Let’s take a quick dive into the world of over/under wagering and try to make this distinction a little less murky.

What Is Over Under?

When you place a wager on sports, you’re usually rooting for one team or player to win. Maybe they’re the favorite, or maybe the underdogs have a chance at knocking off the top team. Regardless, there’s a sense of excitement (and maybe even hope) when one of your team scores a touchdown, runs the ball in for a score, or defeats the opposing team.

What if you’re not rooting for one team or player? You may be thinking, “I don’t know who’s going to win, but I want to get a feeling of how the game is going to turn out.” In that case, you’ve arrived at the right place! You can bet on the outcome of the game (usually involving two teams), but you don’t have to choose between the two competing sides. You can have your pick of the litter when it comes to teams or players, and that’s exactly what over/under wagering is: taking a side or a player you don’t particularly care for and betting on them to lose.

Let’s say you’re a fan of the New England Patriots and you don’t want Tom Brady to throw a single pass all game long. You can bet on the Pittsburgh Steelers to cover the 3.5 points (or whatever that margin might be) and win the game outright. Or, if you think the Arizona Cardinals are going to cover the spread, you can bet on the New York Giants to win the game straight up.

What if you had a pair of buddies who were sports fanatics and couldn’t decide who they were choosing between (Bill Clinton and Al Gore)? You can get them to take a side in a wagering pool, with the winning team being the pair who picks the teams that most opposite each other in their selection. In that way, you would beat the spread (but you might not necessarily like the outcome)!

Under Versus Over

It’s important to note that most sportsbooks or gambling establishments won’t take your wager if you’re betting against the house. In other words, most places don’t want to risk losing your wager because they don’t want to give the opposing team the satisfaction of winning. For that reason, most sportsbooks won’t allow you to place an over/under wager if the total is 14 or less.

Say you’re playing $10 bettor, $10 bookie, and the over/under is set at 3.5. You don’t want to risk the bookie taking your bet (and the bookie probably doesn’t want to risk you picking the team they favor winning either), so you choose the under. Your $10 will be wagered along with the $10 from the bookie, for a total of $22. The other team’s ($20) wager will push the total to 27, which is within range for the house to accept.

The History Of Over/Under Wagering

Over/under wagering may not be a brand new thing, but it’s certainly a thing that’s gained popularity in recent years. Part of the appeal is that it allows you to bet on the outcome of a sporting event in a way that isn’t always available. For instance, if you’re playing in a league that uses a 16-team bracket and your opponent wins the coin toss but chooses not to drive until there’s five minutes left in the game, you won’t be able to watch the end result because it’ll be over by then.

With traditional betting, you would have to choose either (1) to watch the game and wait for the outcome, or (2) to stop watching the game and hope that your team wins in a blowout. With over/under wagering, you can still root for your favorite players or teams and feel confident that your wager will pay off. Additionally, if you’ve got a hunch about which team is going to win, you can place a wager on them without worrying about whether or not the bookie will like you.

Over/under wagering isn’t for everyone, but it suits certain situations well. For example, you may want to try it if you’ve got a hunch that one team is going to score more points than the other. If you’ve got a pair of friends who want to play and you want to give them something different to do with your evening, you can always suggest that they try out over/under wagering. It may not be for everyone, but it’s worth a shot!