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How to Bet Totals

 How to Bet Totals


Betting totals is one of the easiest ways to make money each week in the NFL and college. What exactly is a total? It is simply the line for how many combined points both teams will score in any given game. The line is not set with an attempt to get equal action on both sides of the line: it is set with an attempt to make money off the gullible public. This concept actually took me the longest time to understand. Forever I blindly assumed the books wanted equal action so as to make money off the vig (the -110 you make for every bet). The books actually want that money plus the extra 10-20% that the public will make them after they push the line up or down depending on the game. If the Packers-Eagles are playing and the total is determined to be 50.5, then the books will probably push that total up to 53 or so simply because the public will bet the over in the game no matter what. 80% of the bets will come in on the inflated over and the book will have an edge over all of those bets. Similarly, if the Ravens-Steelers are playing then the books will probably give a deflated number like 37.5 (as opposed to more accurate number like 40) because of the public perception that the game will be a defensive battle. In the long run, these extra points become extra money for the books.

So really what you need to do is avoid your natural instincts and study line movements. On certain sites you can actually get updated numbers on what percentage of the public is betting the over or under. If the public pushes a total up a couple of points, take the under. If the public pushes it down a couple of points, then take the over. Our natural inclination is to bet the way we perceive the game, not the way it actually is. We think of Vick versus Rodgers and we think of a high-scoring affair where one team wins 45-42. The total of 53.5 doesn’t seem very high, so we take the over. The only problem is that most games do not break 50 points and the average total for this series over the last decade is around 49 ppg. The books take that 3-4 point edge and win with it consistently. In order to win, our job is to get on the side of that number that has value with it. If it is a clearly inflated number, bite your tongue and take the under. If everyone is raging over the defensive battle that is going to take place, watch the number deflate and take the over. It is a pretty simple formula.

We also have the extra added benefit of accurate weather reports for all games. If you have ever watched a game in Chicago then you know this plays a key part. If you see that two high-scoring teams are going to be playing in high winds then take the under in the game. If you see two horrible offenses are playing in perfect conditions or in a dome then consider the over. Fade the public, fade your initial thoughts, and always look at the under first. If you stick to this formula, then betting totals will become very natural to you.


by Rance Young

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