An alternate total is when you bet on a total that is different from the official line. For example, say the Rangers are on the road facing the Islanders in the NHL, and the oddsmakers open the total at 5.5.
Let’s also say that the spread is currently a pick ’em at 5.5, so the juice is (-110) on either side of the over/under. Now, let’s say that you follow both of these teams consistently and know that both starting goaltenders are among the best in the league.
Not only do you think that there will be fewer than 5.5 goals, but you think the game will be extremely low-scoring, and there will be fewer than 4.5 goals. You could then take the alternate total at u4.5 total goals.
Why would you take a less probable outcome? Well, the payout is much higher on this alternate spread as the u4.5 would probably pay around (+240).
So if you are confident in a very low-scoring game, then instead of betting $110 to win $100 on u5.5, you could take the alternate total and wager $100 to win $240 on u4.5. Alternate totals also work the other way if you want to take a more probable outcome and lay more juice.
Following the same example, let’s say you think there is no way that this game has four or fewer goals. Then, you can wager on the alternate total of o4.5.
However, you will need to lay somewhere around (-330) in juice as this scenario is much more probable. A bettor who is not comfortable betting $110 to win $100 on o5.5 can bet $330 to win $100 on the alternate total of o4.5.
There are alternate totals available in pretty much every single sport you can wager on. While the odds shift more dramatically for goals in hockey as it is a lower-scoring sport, the alternate totals do not see such dramatic price differences in sports with more points such as basketball.
Whether you’re new to sports betting or a betting pro, our Sports Betting Strategy and Advice page is for you. You can get started with our 101 section — including 10 Sports Betting Tips for Beginners — or head to more advanced strategies — like Key Numbers When Betting Against the Spread — to learn more.