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Vegas Sportsbooks over/under secrets

Sportsbook Over/Under Total Secrets

Check out these Las Vegas secret tricks of the trade to make money on Over/Under bets

The most popular wager in all Las Vegas Sportsbooks is spread line bets on football and basketball, but that shouldn’t mean you discount over/under bets. The NFL and college football remains the biggest moneymaker in every sportsbook on the Strip. Football spread line wagering is followed by ATS wagering on NBA and college basketball games. This is true for almost every online sportsbook and individual bookie as well.

Sportsbooks would wither and die without the spread of betting action. There’s a difference between surviving and succeeding, though. Although most sportsbooks can survive by promoting ATS action, they won’t succeed. In the long run, sportsbooks succeed if they get a good mix of both ATS action and over/under action.

Also called total wagering, over/under wagers require handicappers to bet above or under a set amount of points. In this blog, we take a close look at what over/under total wagers are and how Vegas books, online sportsbooks, individual bookies, and pay per head agents profit from over/under wagers.

How to profit from Over/Under wagers

What are Over/Under Wagers?

Most of us know what an over/under wager is. Oddsmakers set a total on the game. The total is the final score of combined points from both teams. If the predicted total is 45 ½ for a football game, we expect both teams to score a combined total close to 45 points. One team could score 42. The other team could score 3. One team could score 30. The other could score 20.

The prediction is close to 45 points. The line is 45 ½. Bettors make money by betting over or under the total line. If they believe the two teams won’t combine for at least 46 points, they bet under. If they feel the two teams will combine for 46 or more points, they bet over.

What happens if the total is 45 and the final combined score is 45? We call that a push. Bookies and sportsbooks must refund wagers in the event of a push. Sportsbook operators don’t want to refund wagers. Whenever a bookie must refund a wager, the bookie misses out on the vig, or juice. That’s the fee bookies charge to accept bets in their sportsbooks. 

NFL & College Football Over/Under Totals

Most United States sports bettors wager on NFL and college football games. For U.S. based bookies, NFL games provide the most over/under wagering action. College football comes in second.

Bookmakers mustn’t provide encouragement to get players to wager over or under football totals. The over/under football bet has gained in popularity. It’s become the second most popular wager after against the spread bets.

Over/Under totals for NFL wagers range from 34 to 55. For college football games, over/under totals range from 42 to over 70. Often, there’s a half-a-point added to the total.

NBA & College Basketball Over/Under Totals

Basketball games provide the second most popular over/under total wagers. As one might expect, the totals for basketball games are much higher than the totals for football games. The totals for NBA games are much higher than the totals for college basketball games.

The highest total we can expect to see in a college basketball game is around 170. A 170 total implies that both teams score 85 points. The highest-scoring college hoops squad in the 2019-2020 NCAAB Season is Gonzaga. The Zags average of 88.6 per. There’s a 5 point drop off to the next highest-scoring team. That’s Duke at 83.4.

It goes down from there. Some college games offer a 130 over/under the total. Due to rules, college teams play tighter defense than NBA teams.

Totals in NBA teams often exceed 200. It’s rare to find an NBA total under 200.

NHL Over/Under Totals

Hockey totals are much different than basketball and football totals. In basketball, teams can score 2 or 3 points on every possession. In football, teams get 6 points for every touchdown. In the NHL, it’s tough to score a goal. How tough?

The highest-scoring team in the National Hockey League during the 2019-2020 season, the Tampa Bay Lightning, averaged 3.9 goals per. Only 11 teams in the NHL during the 2019-2020 season averaged 3.0 goals or more per match.

NHL over/under totals range from 4 ½ to 6 ½ goals. At times, a bookie might see a 6 to 8 goal total. But those are rare occasions.

MLB Over/Under Totals

Like NHL totals, Major League Baseball totals are on the low end. But they are often much higher than hockey over/under totals. In 2019, the New York Yankees averaged 5.8 runs per game. Whenever the Yankees played a team that lacked decent pitching, per head bookies often saw totals past 9.

Oddsmakers set totals for MLB games based on pitching versus batting.  Whenever two teams with good to great pitching play against each other, a total of 5 ½ to 6 ½ is common.

Soccer Over/Under Totals

Sports bettors can also play the over/under on soccer games. Soccer over/under total is often smaller than hockey over/under totals.

3 goals in a soccer match is a ton. A 2020 Champions League match between Atletico Madrid and Liverpool produced a 2 ½ goal total. The total on Tottenham versus Leipzig in a Champions League match in 2020 was 3.

That same year, no quarter-finals Champions League match produced a goal total over 3. At times, a goal total could rise as high as 4 or 4 ½. That almost never happens. When it does happen, often, one team is much better than the other team.    

How Vegas Profits from these wagers

Vegas profits from over/under wagers similar to how they profit from ATS wagers. Vegas sportsbooks use 2 methods to produce profits: balance the book, and the inflated rate over/under method. Below, we dive deep into both methods.

Balance the Book

The goal of most sportsbooks is to even out money on both sides of a wager. For example, if $1,000 is placed on Team A to cover at -6 ½, the sportsbook changes the odds on Team A to attract wagers on Team B.

The odds could change from ½ point to a point, even up to 2 points. It depends on the amount of “action”, or betting dollars, that book has already gotten on Team B. The more action on Team B, the fewer bookmakers must change odds on Team A.

Once there’s equal action on both sides of the spread, bookies rest easy. They know no matter which team covers, they keep the bookie fees, the juice, as profit. In the case of a $1,000 wager, the bookie fee should be at least $100 and no less than $50. Bookie fees are what makes bookmaking so lucrative.

The method to balance the books on over/under total wagers is the same as it is for spread bets. There are a couple of differences. Spread betting doesn’t exist on soccer, hockey, and baseball games.

Some bookies use the term spread betting when they discuss run line, puck line, or goal line wagering. The actual language is to call those wagers “handicap bets”. Handicap betting doesn’t follow the 10% bookie fee rule. Neither does over/under total betting on soccer, baseball, and hockey.

The best way to handle over/under betting on those 3 sports is to do nothing. The reason is that unlike totals on football and basketball games, the investment cost on handicap bets almost always leads to a book balance.

Inflated Rate Bookie Method

“Inflated rate” comes from the financial industry. Those in finance use the word “inflated” to talk about bubbles. There could be an inflated interest rate on home purchases, as an example.

What happens to bubbles? They burst.

Bubbles burst in sports betting the same way they burst in financial markets. We often see those bubbles burst in against the spread wagers but bubbles can burst on over/under wagers as well. A bubble burst in an NBA game on Feb. 3, 2020.

The San Antonio Spurs battled the L.A. Clippers. Before the game, San Antonio averaged between 114 and 115 points per. The Spurs allowed an average of 114 to 115 points per. The Clippers averaged over 115 points per.

Oddsmakers set the over/under total at 228. The total assumes both teams could score 114 points. The assumption was that if the Spurs didn’t score 114 points, the Clippers would blow them out. Oddsmakers set the spread at Clippers -9.

No matter what happened, bettors assumed the total would blast through the 228 thresholds. We know this because before tipoff a bubble developed over the total. The total went from 228 to 229 ½. What happened? The bubble burst. The Clippers beat San Antonio 108-105. 

Even though the Clippers allowed less than 110 per, most bookies allowed the bubble to develop. We can assume that some bookies added the ½ point to ensure the inflated rate. True, most sportsbooks attempt to get the same amount of action on both sides to protect bookie fees.

But if a bubble develops on a single side of a spread, some risk-taking bookies take a shot. The key for the inflated rate over/under bookie method is to know when to take that shot and when not to.

Per Head Tools for Over/Under Profit

One of the reasons bookies should consider signing up with a pay per head company is to have access to PPH software tools. With per head software tools, online bookies can ensure profit from all types of wagers, including over/under bets. Keep reading for a rundown of the top 3 bookie tools to manage over/under wagering.

Layoff Account

Like for spread bets, the layoff account is the most important tool to manage over/under betting. The layoff account ensures that an equal amount of money is on both sides. With equal money on both sides, the bookie pockets the vig or juice. Since the fee is often 10% on over/under total wagers, bookies can make a lot of profit by keeping bookie fees.

Overusing the layoff account, though, destroys the inflated rate bookie method. Overuse of this tool can lead to profit “left on the table”. Let’s use the Feb. 3 game between San Antonio and the Clippers as an example.

The total rose from 228 to 229. Those bookies using the inflated rate method turned to the line mover as their tool of choice. Most added a half-a-point. We’ll discuss why in a moment.

Those sportsbook owners afraid of losing out on their bookie fees used the layoff account. Since most players bet over the total than under the total, bookies that balanced wagering on both sides missed out. Bookies didn’t have to pay one side of the over/under total with the other side. They could have pocketed the bookie fees and profit from losing over wagers. 

Line Mover

Bookmakers that added ½ a point to the Spurs-Clipper over/underused the line mover to do it. By adding ½ a point to the 229 odds, bookies accomplished two things.

1) They ensured they wouldn’t have to refund wagers

2) They inflated the bubble

At 228, the rate was already inflated. We know this because the Clippers offered -9 odds. They’d have to beat the Spurs with ease to ensure a cover. The bubble became more inflated once it rose to 229. Online bookies decided to inflate it even more by adding a half-a-point.

Individual bookies should always add a half-a-point to ensure they mustn’t refund wagers. In the case of Clippers versus Spurs, inflating the bubble on the over was an added bonus.

Override Limits

For the conservative per head agent, nothing beats override limits. Override limits allow agents to create a schedule limit override on a specific sport, team, or bet. We can use Super Bowl 54 to illustrate how bookies can use this tool to manage over/under wagers.

The 2020 Super Bowl over/under odds opened at 51 ½. Within a couple of days, the total rose up to 53. By the end of the week, the total rose to 55. At that point, the total was inflated. Conservative bookies could have set a schedule limit override on Super Bowl over/under betting.

Any override may have lasted until the Friday before Super Bowl Sunday. During that week, the total receded from 55 to 53. This happened because the steam plays on over the total settled. After reopening wagering, bookmakers likely got as many bets on over the total as under.

The game ended Kansas City 31 and San Francisco 20. That’s a half-a-point off the first over/under odds. It’s 2-points under the over/under settled odds.

Live Betting Interfaces – Over/Under Total Profit Boosters

Live betting interfaces can increase profit on over/under total bets. Players can wager while a game happens. Bookie fees are often higher on live bets, which means pay per head agents make even more money on live wagering. Check out a list of why all agents should encourage live wagering.

1) Longer player activity means a higher probability of wagers

3) Other live events can stimulate players to bet on different sports than their sport of choice

4) Increased branding image for per head agents

5) More markets and live bet options available than ever before

Vegas has gotten into the act with live bet wagering. That means individual sportsbook owners must offer live betting as well. We can turn to Super Bowl 54 again to show how powerful live betting has become.

In the second half, the 49ers grabbed the momentum. San Francisco went up 20-10 over the Chiefs. The NFC Champions carried that advantage until less than 7 minutes remained in the game. At that point, the over/under odds were barely over 30. The reason why is because, on Kansas City’s last possession, Patrick Mahomes had thrown an interception in the red zone.

But the Chiefs rallied, scoring 3 touchdowns within the final 7 minutes. No doubt, most live bets streamed under the total after Mahomes’ second interception. Those live under wagers ended up as profit in bookies’ pockets. 

Bookies Make Money on Over/Under Wagers

Bookmakers profit from over/under total wagers by either balancing their books or using the inflated rate bookie method. Companies like Pay Per Head provide tools that allow online bookie agents to profit just like Vegas sportsbooks. PPH sportsbook agents use the line mover, schedule override limits, and the layoff account to ensure profit. Live betting is a great way to ensure bookies make money on over/under wagers.

Pay Per Head offers two live betting interfaces. To get the low down, agents should call a Pay Per Head customer service rep at 800-605-4767. They can also discuss via chat.     

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