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What is the under/over market in sports betting?

what is under and over sports betting

In recent years, the range of betting markets has grown exponentially. Punters can now bet on far more than just the outright result of any race, football match or tournament. Amongst the most popular betting structures is the over and under markets, where you can bet on whether a result will be over or under a certain number. But how does this work, and how can you use these bets to win more money from the bookie?

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What is Under/Over?

Under/over is a type of bet where punters are backing a total value to be over or under a quoted number. For example, it might be a bet on over 3 goals to be scored in a game, or a bet on under 4 sets in a tennis match. The bet comes good if the end result totals either under or over the number quoted by the bookie.

With outright bets, and indeed most specific bets, you’re looking for an exact number, or an exact match outcome to be paid a winner. Betting on four goals to be scored in a match is a much less certain outcome than betting on over 3 - while the odds will reflect the difference, it’s well worth considering whether the over market here would represent better value.

Under/over bets give you the benefit of a range of outcomes that can still result in a winning bet. Consider a market for under 3.5 goals in a football match - if the score is 0-0, 1-0, 1-1, 2-0 or 2-1, you’ll win in every eventuality. For this reason, under/over bets allow you to be less specific in your predictions, so you can effectively hedge your position against more possible outcomes.

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Over/Under Bet: A worked example

Let’s look at a worked example of over/under betting in practice. Norway are set to take on Slovakia in an international friendly in Norway. Betway are offering odds at 6/1 on a 1-1 draw, or 15/2 on 2-1 Norway, or 12/1 on 2-1 Slovakia. All of these results feel like plausible scorelines, and in each case there are fewer than 3.5 goals scored in the game.

By contrast, their odds in the unders market for under 3.5 goals are at 2/7. While the odds are better for anyone brave enough to back a specific final score, the under 3.5 bet covers all these eventualities, at 2/7 odds - a much safer prospect, given that in any one of the hypothetical results above, there are under 3.5 goals scored.
In this case, it might make sense to back the under 3.5 goals scored market, assuming you think it’s unlikely to be a massively high scoring game. This gives scope for the final score to come in at a range of different numbers and still pay out as a winner.

Alternatively, if you’re feeling bold, there might be value in over 3.5 goals at 12/5 - it’s all about weighing up where the value lies in sports betting, so your results on aggregate can produce more wins than losses.

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How do you decide whether to bet Under or Over?

As with so much in sports betting, it boils down to value. If you have a suite of expected low scoring football matches, to keep the example simple, betting on unders for total goals might be a sensible way to maximise value. Even if some bets fail, or some bets come in at a scoreline you could have predicted outright, the unders strategy here might actually work better over the course of all your bets. It’s all about sizing up the risks you are willing to take, and deciding whether the odds quoted represent better value for money through over/under betting than the higher risk, higher reward specific markets.

Be mindful that in-play unders and overs can hold some nice value that you might not get before the action gets underway. As a match wears on, you might see the odds lengthening or shortening on either side, simply as a virtue of the clock running down. This can present opportunities for good in-play bets, as well as cash-out potential, depending on the sports you’re betting on and the markets you’re in.

Another strategy you might like to consider is using under or over markets as part of an accumulator. Say you’ve got a few outrights on your betslip - adding a couple of over/under lines could be a good way to increase a potential cash out offer for early settlement. It’s just another device you can use when structuring your betting lines to position yourself for maximum value from the bets you take.

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So should you bet Over or Under, or outright?

Ultimately, the choice is - as always - yours. Do your homework before betting on any match, and decide whether you have enough to go on to get value from an outright, or from a more general bet. Naturally, the odds are lower the less specific you get in your betting - but if that comes with more surety that you’re on to a potential winner, it’s often a worthwhile consideration.

Look at the form - bookies often have statistics, or you can find these with a bit of googling around. Make sure you know how teams or players are performing, and use that to inform your decision making. There are never any guarantees - but provided you’re playing for value long-term and making sensible, informed decisions, you will give yourself the best chance of turning a profit from your sports betting.

Over/under betting is a useful tool to have in your arsenal. Whether it’s predicting the total number of goals to fall within a certain range, or you’re anticipating a golfer will finish well, over/under allows you to bet on a general direction, rather than a specific outcome. While the odds will usually reflect the lower accuracy of the bet, punters may find a reduced risk profile when gambling on over/under totals than backing a specific number.

Now that you fully understand how this betting market works, it’s time to try it out! Check out our under/over predictions page - you can find plenty of ongoing football matches to bet on!

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