The betting limits on sides at many Vegas shops are around $20,000. The limits on totals? $5000. Why is this? The simple answer: totals are easier to beat.
This article will provide strategies for bettors on how to choose which totals to focus on when making the classic over/under wagers.
- One of the first things to learn when betting totals are the key numbers. Many bettors can tell you that -3, -6, or -7 are all key numbers when betting football sides but can’t name any key numbers when selecting totals. Since the year 2000, 41 has been the most common NFL total, followed by 37, 44, 47, and 51.
- With the increase in passing and the rule changes favoring the offense, the average NFL team has seen scoring steadily rise over the last 20 seasons. In 2000, the average NFL team score was 20.7 points per game. 2019 the average had reached 22.8ppg. This rise in scoring has forced bookmakers to constantly battle the public, who are usually taking the over in every game. Some pre-game totals have reached 59/60, in 2018 the Rams and Chiefs played a 105-point game.
- Always know the weather. This is easy to remember when betting a solo event like Monday Night Football, however, when it’s college football Saturday, there are 60 games on the board and bullets are flying, it can be easy to forget. One great College football spot is around week eight or nine when it starts to get cold. In freezing temperatures the football feels like a brick, hands get numb and passes are dropped, college kickers who are always unreliable become dreadful. Many coaches refuse to even attempt normally makeable kicks and choose to punt into the end zone. Keep an eye on the big 10 teams (Midwest) as well as the Northeast and East Coast teams. In the NFL, temperature or precipitation are not necessarily an automatic under bet, however when there are very high winds (20+ mph) it effects the passing and kicking games heavily and these are great under targets.
- Know how to set up a “middle” or “get out” of your total at halftime. Here is an example of setting up a middle: The Eagles are playing the Saints and you bet over 47 pre-game. The first half is a wild one and both teams turned in a few explosive plays, as the Saints head to the locker room up 21-17. Now, just because the teams scored 38 first half points does not mean the sportsbook will set the second half total at 38. The second half total is exactly half of the pre-game total, plus or minus a point or two. In this example the books second half line would likely be around 24. If you add 24 to the 38 points the teams already have, the new game total is 62. If you bet Under 62 at halftime, you now hold two tickets, Over 47 and Under 62. This is called a “middle” where one ticket will always cash and you have a chance to cash both tickets (if the game lands between 48-61, hitting the “middle”). These are very low risk wagers that in the long term will be some of the best you can place in all of sports betting. Another method would be betting the middle for only half of your original bet size, as over 47 is very likely already a winner with 38 first half points.
Here is an example of how to “get out” of a total bet. The Packers are playing the Bears in a cold December game. You hold an over 40 pre-game ticket. As you watch the first half unfold, it looks like an under style game, as both teams struggle to move the ball. Both teams head into the locker room tied 10-10 and you don’t feel great about your ticket. At halftime you are able to bet against your previous wager, knowing that both are unable to cash, but you will only lose juice (vig) and not your entire original wager amount.
- Understanding the difference between NFL and NCAAF totals. The college game has a number of rule changes (such as the clock stopping every 1st down) that drastically change the betting totals. In addition, over the past few seasons many schools have utilized the up-tempo spread offense made famous by Chip Kelly’s Oregon Ducks. With the offense rushing to the line to snap the ball every 10 seconds, the defenses get worn down and wide running lanes appear. It is commonplace for Big12 games to surpass 80 points with many schools running the Air-Raid passing offenses. (Big ups to Mike Leach!) After taking some years to adopt, even the SEC is now playing wide open offense, with former LSU/Alabama matchups being 9-6 or 6-3, last season Burrow and Tua went score for score in a great 46-41 game. Some key numbers for College Football totals include 55, 51, 59, and 63.
Sportsbooks place lower limits on totals because they are much more beatable. Some NFL games eclipse their total in the third quarter, while side bettors are sweating out the spread in the fourth quarter, you are enjoying the dramatic finish already a winner. Last season the 49ers played a 48-46 thriller against the Saints that cashed the over in the second quarter! A few weeks later those same 49ers played a rain soaked game in Washington that never had a chance at the over 38 as neither team could move the ball and San Francisco won 9-0.
Savvy bettors watching the pre-game weather were betting that game down from 40. Learn to master the betting totals and you won’t care which team is the winner – Good Luck on your bets!