Over/under bets are excellent for novice punters because they are, at their core, fairly easy to grasp. The over and under wagers usually relate to the combined total points at the end of a game. Basically, a punter must predict whether the score will exceed the number set by the bookie, or if the teams will fail to reach said score number.

Although wagering on over/under markets is fairly straightforward, there are things punters should keep in mind while they are making a decision. How a team has performed in recent games, for instance, is crucial to what the final result might be. Sportsbooks also take such statistics into account when they offer the odds and the total number, so all in all, staying informed is a good strategy for any bettor. This might sound a bit intimidating at first, but there is nothing to worry about. By making bets and gaining experience, a punter new to the wagering scene will get used to over/under bets in no time.

Key Aspects of NBA Over/Under Bets

Over/under bets can be referred to in several ways. Over/under, O/U, O-U, and totals are all terms you might come across online. Either way, they are all describing the same thing. As previously stated, when you make an over/under wager, you are betting on whether the combination of both teams’ points at the end of a game will be over or under a number set by the bookie. It is important to note that this also includes overtime.

Things will become clearer as we examine the following example:

Denver Nuggets – Golden State Warriors
Over: 228.5
Under: 228.5

It showcases how total bets are usually shown in sportsbooks. To put it simply, choosing over means that you are counting on the total score being 229 by the end of the game, or higher. As for going with under, a punter that picks such an option believes that the game will conclude with an end result of 228 or under.

A bet that focuses on the combined score of both teams is the most common type of over/under wager there is, but it is not the only one. On the contrary, totals are often present within the prop bet section of a sportsbook, since markets the likes of over/under individual player assists, passes, and fouls are also quite popular.

On the topic of sportsbook listings, a word of caution is in order. Occasionally, you might run into a sportsbook that lists its totals as so:

Denver Nuggets: over 228.5
Golden State Warriors: under 228.5

The above listing is in no way different from the one we focused on previously in terms of the information it is conveying. Here, the sportsbook is still indicating that you can bet on both teams exceeding 228.5 at the end, or them failing to do so. As for why certain sports betting websites opt for showcasing o/u bets like this, it is for the sake of keeping things organized.

Pushes and The Half Point in NBA Over/Under Betting

Pushes are fairly rare when it comes to NBA totals. There is, after all, just one margin number, while the possibilities of an NBA game ending with any other score are theoretically endless. Nonetheless, pushes are a concern and something to avoid as far as bookmakers are concerned.

To understand why, you need to have an idea of how sportsbooks operate and make money. All in all, it is a matter of bets having an equal number of bettors on the winning side and on the losing side. Winnings can then be paid out with the money of the punters who lost, and anything extra is profit for the sportsbook. This is the reason equal coverage is very important for a bookmaker.

So what happens when a push occurs? Basically, the bookie is obligated to pay back everyone’s stakes. This means that it did not make a profit off of the listing. In addition, it is not only sportsbooks that suffer when a push occurs.This outcome is not the best for a punter either, because this means they probably missed out on placing a different, potentially more lucrative wager.

On the whole, it should come as no surprise that sportsbooks have found a way to avoid this scenario entirely. It is all thanks to the half-point. NBA games can only end with a whole number as the score, so a bookie offering a half-point means that a push is off the table. This is a simple, but very effective, solution that is commonly used in totals.

Totals and Odds Changes

If you have tried out over/under betting, you have likely noticed that the total number is not static. Instead, as the date of the game draws closer, the number will often change. The reasoning behind this brings us back to something we focused on previously, i.e. how both sides of a bet receiving equal traction from punters is ideal for a bookmaker.

In many cases, large groups of punters gravitate to just one side. This can happen because of new information, or it may also be a matter of the human psyche and how most people prefer to wager on over. Either way, changing the totals is a sportsbooks’ way of nudging bettors towards considering the less popular option too, which usually skews the bets in a more balanced position.

Apart from tinkering with the over/under number, many sportsbooks also change up the odds in such situations as well. This includes giving different odds to each side, which again is done with the aim of encouraging an equal number of punters into wagering on the options.

As for what this means for bettors, it will influence your decision on when exactly to place your bet. Like many other betting types, you will need to time your bet right in order to get the best results possible. Once again, it all comes back to doing research and keeping track of new information that might come out relating to the teams or the event itself. This includes injuries key players might have sustained, along with whether the teams have a history of playing against one another.


Although over/under bets can be one of the easiest wagers a punter can place, and they also pack a surprising amount of diversity. Bettors will often find that apart from the classic total of both teams’ points at the end of a game, things such as player assists among others will also be available as options. This means that over/under bets can be very interesting, and that they can cater to different groups of punters.

As entertaining and simple as they can be, however, totals are not without their intricacies. Research and staying up to date with news regarding the upcoming game is still crucial for a bettor to be able to make the right call. In addition, bettors should also be prepared that the total number and the odds of an event might change, and take this into consideration.

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