What Is Over/Under Betting?

Over under concept

On every major online bookmaking platform these days you will spot the option on most sports to bet on the over/under market. But, what is it? We delve into what over/under betting is, how it is worked out and how you can make the best of these intriguing markets.

Over and under betting markets are available on a host of sports now, such as football, rugby, tennis and cricket, though traditionally, were the domain of American-based sports given the way they are scored and handicapped.

Over/Under Betting Explained

Put succinctly, over/under betting means:

  • Betting on something happening in a sports game a certain number of times as a minimum or maximum.
  • Betting on over or under a certain number of goals, tries, runs, corners and more.
  • Deciding whether a bookmaker is right with their pricing when it comes to the number of goals, corners, tries, runs, etc. expected in a game.

Betting on the over/under markets means that you are tasked with predicting how many times something happens in an event, or more to the point, guessing whether it will happen more times or fewer times than stated by the bookmaker.

We could be betting on how many goals are scored in a football game, to how many points are scored in a rugby game, how many runs a cricket side gets and so on. The bookmaker sets a number and with that lists odds they believe are fair. From there, it’s down to you to decide whether that number is too high or too low, backing over or under as appropriate.


Handicapping, or the ‘spread’, has always been a part of sports betting, especially in the States. This way of betting allows us to back over or under. To avoid the potential for a ‘tie’, whole numbers aren’t usually used. You will mostly see the numbers in an over/under bet in halves, such as ‘over/under 2.5 goals’ or ‘over/under 44.5 points’. As half goals or half points can’t be scored in popular sports matches, you will either win or lose your bet. There is no in between.

Nowadays, online bookmakers love using over/under markets on a range of sports. This offers both them and you flexibility in betting, not being reliant on simple straight ‘win’ markets. You can now watch a football match and bet on over/under numbers of goals, corners, free-kicks, goal kicks, cards, tackles and more. That’s just with one sport! You can use over/under betting on anything from football, cricket, tennis, rugby, golf, snooker, basketball to American football and more. The possibilities therefore, are almost endless.

Over/Under Markets in Football

Football in goal

This sort of betting was once most popular in America, owing to the fact that rather than goals, points are scored in most popular American sports meaning a spread is needed. The fun comes with the fact that, even if you do think a team will go on to lose, you can at least cover the spread.

Over/under betting is a take on that, so now instead of simply betting on a team to win or draw, you can bet on the over/unders with football punters being the ones who’ve taken to this form of betting best of all.

Most Common Bet: Number of Goals in a Game

Plenty of markets are available for over/under betting in football, probably more so than within any other sport. The number of goals in the game is the most common bet of its type, though there are so many more. These over/under markets in football have been made more popular since the advent of Bet Builder tools.

To create an accumulator bet within one game, punters bet on numerous markets, such as goal numbers, corners, cards, etc., all using over/under. Here’s a Bet Builder we put together for a game in the Premier League:

Over/Under example

The first image shows the various markets individually, and what the odds are for each thing to happen. When we make our selections, however, the total bet comes to 15/4, in this case:

  • More than 2 goals to be scored in the match
  • More than 7 corners to be awarded in the match
  • More than 2 cards to be shown in the match
  • Callum Wilson to have more than 2.5 shots in the match

Standard over/unders are listed for football, usually with the half numbers. Even without a Bet Builder, you’ll see ‘over/under 2.5 goals’ as a standard bet listed. As well as the over/under bets in football, bookmakers now offer odd/even too.

You could, for example, bet on whether there will be an odd or even number of goals in the match for one team, or in total. The same goes for cards, corners, etc., so this would be based on guesswork from the punter’s point of view and we don’t recommend you get involved in that.

Pros of Over/Under Betting

The biggest advantage when it comes to over/under betting is the greater flexibility that it offers punters. This is especially true of sports, such as football, but also cricket. Before, many people were resigned to simply betting on home/draw/away win markets, and perhaps putting teams in unwinnable accas just to get the potential returns up. Not anymore.

Much like spread betting in the States, over/under betting allows us to put money on a game or on a specific team without the need for them to win. Your team could push the opposition all day but be undone by a sucker-punch towards the end, ruining your bad value win bet. Backing over or under a certain number of goals, however, means you can sit back and not care who wins the game, as long as you’ve got your totals right.

Cons of Over/Under Betting

Over/under betting can be a great way to squeeze some value out of a sporting event. It must be taken into consideration, however, that this sort of bet, just like your straight up win betting, can go all to pot very quickly and it is not an easy way to betting success.

For instance, you may have done all your research and you see no way that two football teams will produce more than 2 goals in what looks like a tight game. With just three shots at goal, however, that bet could be knackered in half an hour! You may also be betting on a certain number of runs to be scored in the cricket, only for a big-hitting batsman to be ruled out injured or for the weather conditions to change. Over/under betting is not fool proof.

How Over/Under Odds Are Calculated

Horse racing stats concept

You should keep in mind that in most cases, especially with the ever-popular football markets, you can change the numbers yourself and the odds will change accordingly. ‘Over/under 2.5 goals’ may be the headline, but you can take different odds for backing over/under 1 goal, 2 goals or even 4 goals.

In points-based games, there is always a handicap or a spread. This is the perceived difference between the two teams and provides most of the betting action for under/over bettors. How does the bookie come up with this number?

  • A team’s supposed efficiency defensively or in attack
  • Statistical history
  • Current league standings
  • Weather conditions

Based on these factors, odds compilers will come up with a price they believe is right, and a number to go along with it. It is up to you to decide whether they have got it right or wrong, or whether there are any factors the bookmaker hasn’t taken into considering when putting up over/under prices. That’s when you strike.

Tips for Making Your Over/Under Bets

Betting on the over/under markets means you should really know the sport/team/player you are betting on in as much detail as possible. This is not a market in which you can simply play the numbers. Real sporting knowledge is required.

Remember to watch out for team news. Just because it reads ‘Manchester City’ on the coupon, it doesn’t mean goals are guaranteed. Should De Bruyne and Haaland be out injured, their capacity to score goals genuinely goes down. Keep that in mind.

Always keep in mind that nowadays, you have an abundance of stats to read. From player ratings to goals scored, goal expectancy, runs scored, tries scored, player values, etc. Read up, and don’t just rely on a team or player’s reputation.

  • Do your research – know the teams and players you’re dealing with
  • Follow the team news vehemently
  • Read the stats – don’t go by reputation