Sure you can make a bet on who wins the game, but isn’t it more fun when we put our differences aside and come together for the greater good? Two teams working with one another to achieve new heights, or submerge new depths. Throw a touch of simple arithmetic in and you have the second chapter of sports betting: the point total.
The point total is a very common bet in the sports gambling landscape. Unlike the popular nursery rhyme, you can go over it and you can go under it. All it takes is a tiny little touch of addition and subtraction and two teams unknowingly working as a single unit. This article will explain everything you need to know about the point total and how you can win with math! Your sixth grade homeroom teacher is smiling down on you.
The point total
The point total is a simple and easy concept to understand as a sports bettor. At the end of the game there is likely a winner and a loser, but the point total doesn’t care about that. The point total only cares about the scoreboard. How many points did Team A score, and how many points did Team B score?
Put both of those numbers together and you get the point total
POINT TOTAL: The combined score from both teams in a certain game.
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Quiz: The Point Spread 101
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Example time! For this session we will pretend a game has already been played between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals. Hard-fought and highly entertaining, this battle came down to the wire with Justin Tucker nailing a long field goal as time ran out producing the result below.
Ravens fans were cheering, Bengals fans were crying and sportsbooks were calculating. That final field goal made the point total in this game a voluminous 58. (Ravens 30 + Bengals 28 = Total 58).
That’s how you calculate a point total. Pretty simple. But how do you bet on one?
How to bet the point total
Before the Ravens and Bengals game kicked off, the sportsbooks set a myriad of lines for sports bettors to sift through, including but not limited to a line for the point total as seen on the board below.
The line for the Point Total is very easy to find as it is usually under a column marked ‘Total’. In this example, the Point Total is 57, a high total for two very explosive offenses.
The two ways you can bet the point total are also listed on the board. The first is marked ‘Ov’ for over. The second is marked ‘Un’ for under.
The final column of the board represents the odds for each point total bet. Both the over and the under are listed as -110 odds. (Check out our article on American odds here to find out what those numbers mean, and how much money you’d win should you place these bets.)
The two bets you can make on the point total are taking the over or taking the under and both are as easy to understand as you think.
OVER: A bet that there will be MORE points scored than the total.
Points! Points! Points! It doesn’t matter who scores if you bet the over — just that there is a lot of it. Over bettors are rooting for offense and big plays that end in points on the board. ANY score outcome that adds up to MORE than the point total means the over has hit.
Let’s check back on our Ravens and Bengals score:
As stated before, that Justin Tucker field goal not only won the game for the Ravens but sent this point total OVER the line of 57 (30+28 = 58. 58 > 57). Overs win, cash your tickets.
What about the other side of this coin? Introducing our pessimistic friend, the Under
UNDER: A bet that there will be FEWER points scored than the total.
If you bet on the under, you are rooting for blunders. Defense, mistakes, miscues, stalling, arguments, popcorn tossing, the works. ANY score outcome that adds up to LESS than the point total means a win for the under.
Let’s imagine Justin Tucker missed that last second field goal, leaving us with this final score:
Much like the Grinch, the under bettors heart shrunk two sizes when that clock hit triple zero, for they had won their bet. (27+28 = 55. 55 < 57). Congrats, I guess.
Let’s try another example with a classic showdown between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. The point total at the beginning of this game was 44. Here is the final scoreboard. Did the over or under win the point total?
Well it’s clear the Packers won the game pretty handedly, but the score didn’t go over or under the total (30+14 = 44). This my friends is called a push.
PUSH: When the margin of victory EQUALS the point total.
When there is a push, there is no winner and no loser on the point totals that were bet. As a result, all wagers are refunded. Lame, but fair. To eliminate the possibility of a push, sometimes point spreads have a half point or .5 attached to them. Like in this example.
HOOK: The half point or .5 attached to the end of a point spread.
In order to win a bet on the over here, you would still need a combined score of 45 or more. The under, however, would only need a combined score of 44 or less. Since you can’t score .5 points in a NFL game, having the hook on the end of a point spread eliminates the possibility of a push.
That’s everything you need to know about betting on the point total. Go over, go under, go wherever your heart desires! For more information keep reading our other articles on sports betting or test your knowledge and win prizes by taking a pass on our Betting Academy courses.