Regular Season Win Totals

The ‘team win totals’ markets are a sort of hybrid wager that combine elements of both futures and team props.

These have fast established themselves as some of the most popular markets of recent years and are particularly prominently played within the NFL and MLB.

These bets work in similar method as general totals betting, except that instead of lasting for a single game, they stretch over the duration of an entire season. The number given to players in these markets relates to the total number of wins expected in the regular season. No postseason or playoff games count towards this number. Here’s an example:

New England Patriots 10.5 Wins:     Over (-110) Under (-110)

This is an NFL season win total for the Patriots, and is set at 10.5 wins. Each side has the default odds of -110, but these odds can vary wildly based on betting action. In this particular example, both sides are set at -110, standard bookmaker vig.

A wager on the over will succeed only if New England win more than 10.5 games during their 16-game regular season. An under bet will cash if the Patriots win 10.5 games or less. There are no half-game victories in the NFL, but the league does occasionally have ties.

Because the total of 10.5 has a half-point, there can be no pushes. This would not be the case if the total was set at 10. In that situation, if the Patriots finished with ten wins, each side would have their stakes refunded, and the bet would be classed as no action.

Softer Markets

Betting limits are much smaller on props in general, and win totals are no exception. It’s rare to find betting totals with a wagering limit higher than $1k, whereas sides and totals usually have betting limits of $5k or much more.

Despite the lower wagering limit, season win totals can be one of the most profitable markets for bettors who can handicap them appropriately. They are geared towards recreational bettors, so public opinion weighs heavily in the minds of the oddsmakers. Since the public lose more than they win when it comes to betting sports, there’s plenty of value to be found in these markets.

Number of Games Played

Each NFL team is required to finish their 16-game regular season schedule, but that is NOT the case for all sports.

The MLB season is a long 162-game marathon punctuated by rain-induced postponements. If a game is postponed late in the season, and both teams are out of the playoff race, there’s no guarantee that the game will ever be played. College football games can also be cancelled indefinitely through poor weather. Both of these can affect bettors who wager on win totals.

Schedule

This has little meaning outside the NFL, but it’s the most heavily-bet market when it comes to season win totals. Strength of schedule in the NFL is based on the performance of the previous year. Teams that had an easier schedule in the previous season, but still barely made it into the playoffs will face a tougher slate in the coming season.

There are a lot of other factors to evaluate, but this should this should be considered, especially for teams that have just become “contenders.” They’re no longer the upstart squad with the underdog mentality, but will instead have a target on their backs.

Public Opinion

I touched on this above, but want to stress again how vital it is to factor in public opinion when betting season-long totals. If you’re betting the over on a team that is beloved by the public, you had better have a strong reason for doing so.

Public opinion, though, can be used to your advantage when it comes to teams who are regarded as extremely poor. Americans have a short memory span, and will judge teams based solely on their last memory of them, not even pausing to consider other factors.

Be Selective, Look for Highest Edges

Betting every team total on the board isn’t a strategy I would recommend. Choosing a few team totals you feel most strongly about is a much more +EV plan.

If you feel like the Patriots will win 11 games, but their win total is hovering at 10.5, your perceived edge is not that large. Add in the fact that you’re paying juice on your bet, and suddenly this wager looks less and less appetizing.

Imagine instead that you think the Browns could win seven games this year, and that their team total is set at 5.5 wins. This is a much larger difference in opinion with the oddsmakers and is one that gives you a significant perceived edge. You disagree emphatically with the bookmaker’s line. These are the spots to consider placing a wager, forget the smaller edges you might see in many lines.

Keep an Eye on the Attached Odds

Focusing on the total number of wins is vital, but the attached odds are just as influential. The standard vig is -110, but it’s rare that these season win totals have -110 pricing on both sides. Some may be +100 while others could be as steep as -140. These different scenarios change things drastically.

Say that 60-70 percent of the time, you think a team might win more games than their projected total. This is excellent for placing a wager at -110, but when the price moves to -130 or -140, it becomes a break-even proposition at best.

It’s a colossal mistake to blindly bet the attached odds that go with the team total just because you like the base number. The attached odds are just as crucial as the total number of wins. Be sure to evaluate all factors before placing your wager.