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Win Totals Strategy for Sports Betting

by January 9, 2020

One of the most common bets that sportsbooks offer across all sports is a team’s season win total. Casual bettors who may not have the time or energy to bet daily or weekly on their favorite sports during the season may find wagering on a team’s win total in the preseason just as satisfying. Making a bet like this is one of the rare ways to stay invested all year long. In this article, I will take a look at how to properly assess team win totals futures, along with strategies for making sound wagers.

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Assessing Team Win Totals – Futures

A sportsbook will likely offer a team’s win total in an over/under format. For example, the New York Yankees’ season win total is currently projected at 101.5 wins. Thus, one could bet the over that the Yankees will win at least 102 games or the under that they will win 101 games or fewer. 

It may seem like common sense, but one should always be aware of the sport they are wagering on and the format of its regular season. Major League Baseball plays a 162-game season. Thus, it is likely to see win totals ranging anywhere from 65-100 wins. The NFL plays a 16-game regular season, and projected win totals typically range from 4.5-12. The NBA and NHL each play an 82-game schedule, so win totals would adjust accordingly.

Most sportsbooks will set an over/under for a season win total with a half win. It thus makes it easy to distinguish between a winning and losing bet. In the Yankees example, setting their win total at 101.5 makes a clear delineation between the over (102 or more wins) and the under (101 or fewer wins). However, in some cases, a win total might be set on a whole number. If the New England Patriots’ win total was set at 11, a bettor would “push” — their bet would be refunded — if they went 11-5. Someone who bet the over would need the Patriots to finish 12-4 or better to win the bet. It may seem like a minor difference, but sometimes that half-win means everything. 

Strategies for Betting on Win Totals

Compare the Lines at Different Sportsbooks
Before diving in and making the first bet you like, shop around and compare that line at other sportsbooks. For example, a particular NFL team’s win total might be 8.5 wins at one site and eight at another. That half-win could mean the difference between pushing or losing your bet. In sports like baseball that play more games, a team’s win total may vary by two-three wins at different places. Do your due diligence and search for the best line possible. 

Pay Attention to Offseason Moves
A sportsbook will certainly factor in a team’s offseason transactions into its season win total, and so should you. Did the team make any trades or sign any free agents? Is the coaching staff intact, or did they bring in new people? Do they appear to be “going for it”, or are they in rebuilding mode? Who did they draft, and will they have an impact this season? How will the moves a team made affect its chemistry? These are all questions to analyze before wagering on a season win total.

Review What Happened in Prior Years
A team’s past successes or failures are not always indicative of how the upcoming season will play out. However, there are certain things that are worthwhile for bettors to know. Does the team typically start slow and then get better as the season progresses? If a team starts strong, is the front office aggressive in adding pieces to a contender? Did injuries prevent them from reaching their true potential? In projecting how a team will perform in the future, it is wise to study their past tendencies.

Analyze the Schedule
When making a prediction on a team’s win total, it is often just as important to project the strengths of the other teams they are set to play. Furthermore, when analyzing a schedule, it is important to first take note of the rest of the division. No matter the sport (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB), a team always plays more games against divisional opponents. In the NFL, for example, a team plays six of its 16 games (37.5%) against the other three squads within its division. Thus, if a team is projected to be in a strong or weak division, that would go a long way in determining the amount of success it’s likely to have. 

Watch the Preseason
Whether it is spring training, NFL or NHL preseason, or summer league basketball games, it is important to watch teams in the preseason. This provides insight into how new acquisitions are being utilized. In addition, it gives a better sense of the club’s depth and strategies the coaching staff will use. Also, while it is impossible to predict injuries during the course of the season, any injury that happens in the preseason gives bettors a chance to adjust their projections accordingly.

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Mike Spector is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeSpector01.