How Win Totals Betting Works

The sports betting futures market continues to grow in popularity. That’s true for all of the bet types offered, but one, in particular, is gaining even more traction. This is the season win totals bet, and we’ve got you covered on what you need to know.

Overall, it’s a simple bet to understand. Michigan betting sites set a benchmark number for team regular-season wins, and bettors then get to decide if they expect the number to be over or under that amount when all is said and done.

It functions just like a totals bet and is simple to place, but the wager requires a long-term perspective.  These wagers are fun and easy to understand, but there’s much more to finding the winning side than just making your best guess. We’ll cover some tips you can use as we move along.

What are season win totals bets? 

In advance of the regular season for all of the major team sports, there’s always tons of speculation on how things will play out. Spending some time trying to figure it all out can be lots of fun, but it can be even more enjoyable when you can get a little skin in the game.

Thanks to the futures market at legal and regulated sportsbooks, you can. As the name implies, these are wagers that you can place on events that will happen in the future, such as the winner of the next Super Bowl or World Series.

A huge part of the marketplace revolves around things on a much smaller scale, such as the performance of the individual teams. Oddsmakers will release a projection for each team in the form of an estimated win total.

Bettors then decide if they think the team win total will be over or under that mark.

How do win totals bets work?

Sportsbooks release win totals for each team in the respective leagues in advance of the season. As soon as they come out, action will begin to flow in.

At online and mobile sportsbook sites in Michigan, each sport will usually have a dedicated tab for futures bets. Once you click on that, you’ll see all of the markets currently available. For win totals, the listing will look something like this.

Detroit Lions 2020-21 regular-season win total

  • Over 6.5 (-110)
  • Under 6.5 (-110)

The bar is set at 6.5 games. Bettors who think the Lions will post seven wins or more in the coming year will go with the over, while others who expect a tougher campaign will choose the under. As bets come in, the odds can shift on either side in response to the action.

For example, a good number of over bets on the Lions could result in the odds on that side spiking to -120, while the odds on the under could go down to +100. In some cases, the win total itself could be adjusted in response to new developments that emerge after the release.

When do season win total lines come out?

Season win totals bets are a very popular item on the wagering menu, so sportsbooks tend to get them out well in advance of the regular season.

The timelines are different for each operator. Some just like to be the first to market on win totals and expedite the release as a result, while others will trickle in afterward. Here’s a ballpark guide on when you can expect to see the numbers for the major sports.

NFL win totals

Season win totals for NFL teams are one of the biggest attractions in the futures market. Here’s what the projections look like for the coming campaign.

NBA win totals

In the NBA, there are often some powerhouse teams, squads looking ahead and rebuilding, and everyone else jockeying for position in the middle. Let’s take a look at the current lay of the land for NBA season win totals.

MLB win totals

The offseason is a time of hope and speculation for MLB fans, and the release of season win total numbers is a huge highlight. When the numbers come out, bettors have plenty of homework to do as they try to figure out where the sportsbooks are off. Here’s what the MLB win totals look like for the current season.

Bet on pitcher win totals

The futures market goes beyond season win totals for teams. You can also bet on the performance of players in the upcoming campaign on certain benchmarks. For example, one popular market in MLB circles is on the win totals for stud pitchers.

What are the most important factors for betting win totals?

Just like any other sports bet you plan to place, there is some handicapping to be done on season win totals bets. There are also plenty of outlets that dissect the market and provide recommendations. Some are free, while others are of the paid variety.

While gauging the consensus of the marketplace can be helpful, it’s also a good idea to do at least some of the work on your own. Here are three key things you can examine while breaking down win total possibilities.

  • Past performance: The past is not a guarantee of what’s to come, but learning from history can also provide some guidelines on what to expect. Teams that have been strong for several years and that haven’t experienced any major disruptions may be on the path to continued success, while those that can’t seem to get out of their own way or know how to fix what’s wrong could be in line for more pain.
  • Offseason moves: For the pro sports, the offseason is a busy time with free agent signings and departures, as well as the draft. In the college ranks, it’s a similar story with recruits, departures, and transfers. You should have a good handle on what kind of moves the teams you are interested in betting on have made. Adding key pieces can make a big difference while losing cogs can have the opposite effect.
  • Overall trajectory: This can be tough to quantify on paper, but you’ll have a number of clues to go off of. For starters, how did the team wrap up the previous season ? Next, gain a sense of the mood surrounding the team. Local beat writers can have a good sense of what’s going on, and there’s usually a general league-wide perception of squads that are on the ascent or decline.

How do I calculate/determine strength of schedule?

Strength of schedule refers to the overall quality of the opponents that a team has faced or will face during the season at hand. There are a number of ways to calculate the metric, ranging from the simple to the advanced.

On the simple side, you could simply tally up the record of opponents for the previous season, or the year to date, and use the average as a gauge for the strength of competition. Heading into a season, you could do the same by using the season win totals posted by oddsmakers.

As for the advanced side, there are a number of formulas to use, all of which attempt to quantify a true strength of schedule. Among the variables are not only the strength of the opponents but also the strength of any teams those opponents have faced. It can be tough to calculate all of it by hand, but thankfully there are solutions.

A simple internet search for the league you are looking to project plus the words “strength of schedule” will open up the floodgates. There are a number of quality outlets that track the metric for all of the major sports leagues such as NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL.

Strength of schedule can be a good gauge for which teams are for real versus those that aren’t, but remember that no one statistic is the end all and be all. This is a piece of the puzzle that can help to build or strengthen arguments, not necessarily settle them.

When are season win totals bets paid out?

As with all other bet types in the futures market, season win total wagers require a long-term perspective. It’s based on the performance of a team for the season as a whole, so the bets can’t be settled until everything is certain.

The exact rules can vary by operator, so we encourage you to review the terms and conditions at the sportsbook you are wagering on for specific details. That said, a good rule of thumb is to assume that the bets won’t be graded until the regular season is officially in the books.

Additionally, be aware that the bets can be impacted in the case of extreme circumstances. For example, a complete cancellation of a season or a team being unable to complete its schedule will generally result in the bets being voided. Once again, the best advice is to check with your operator to see the exact policy on extreme events.

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