How To Bet On Season Win Totals

Futures bets — long term bets whose outcomes will be decided in the future — are becoming increasingly popular in sports betting. When done right, they can prove to be great investment options and better alternatives to the commonly wagered moneylines, spreads, and match totals.

One of the most popular futures bets is the season win totals, which can be wagered in many different sports.

Even if you’re unaware of this type of bet, it simply is what it sounds like. Here’s everything that you need to know regarding season win totals.

What is a season win total?

In basic terms, a season win total is the sum of wins that a team will have at the end of the season.

In this type of bet, a sportsbook picks the number of wins it expects a team to have at the end of the season and sets an over/under line based on that. Bettors then place a bet on whether the actual number of wins will be over or under that number. If they pick right, they get paid.

They are usually set before the start of the season, and the lines frequently fluctuate due to a team’s offseason activities with things such as major coaching changes and player signings playing a key part in shifting the lines.

You can expect a majority of the bets to be determined towards the end of the season, with some even going to the final day.

For example, the line prior to the beginning of the New York Giants’ 2020 season was set at 6.5 wins. The Giants went on to win six games that season, meaning that anyone who bet on them to have under 6.5 wins cashed out at the end of the season.

Prior to the beginning of that same season, the Buffalo Bills line was set at nine wins. The Bills went on to achieve an impressive 13 wins, guaranteeing that anyone who bet on them to achieve over nine wins made a profit on that futures bet.

How much do season win totals pay?

As with any bet type, the payout from season win totals will depend on the odds. This varies depending on the team and the line set by the bookies.

Most odds for the over/under line will typically be balanced and hover around the -110 mark, meaning that if you bet $110 you will get $100.

With reference to the 2020-21 NBA season, here are a few select lines and their odds before the beginning of the season.

Team2020 Season Win TotalOverUnder
Los Angeles Clippers47.5+116-142
Boston Celtics44.5+100-122
Cleveland Cavaliers22.5-110-110
Brooklyn Nets45.5-110-110
Indiana Pacers38.5-110-110
New York Knicks21.5-115-105
Los Angeles Lakers48.5-142+116

As you can see, most of the odds are at -110, meaning that such bets are 50/50s — the bookies still have the edge with their juice, of course.

The Clippers have the highest odds for the over, and if you wagered $100 on them you’d make a profit of $116 come the end of the season if they got 48 wins or more.

The Lakers, the 2020 Champions, have the lowest odds for the over as the bookies easily expect them to notch 49+ wins. However, this does give some considerable value to the under, which could be a great option if anything major were to happen to their squad prior to the season kicking off.

How common is a season win total bet?

If you’re new to betting sports or have never heard of this bet, you may be wondering how common season win totals are and whether bettors actually bet on this stuff.

Within the past few years, this market has become increasingly popular due to its straightforward nature — even novice bettors easily grasp the basics of the bet. And its appeal stretches to non-bettors too, since most sports fans are usually confident of their team when they’re headed into a new season.

Currently, it is one of the most common futures bets placed, with season win totals common in the major leagues. While there are plenty of opportunities to bet on NHL win totals, NBA win totals and MLB win totals, these bets have proven to be most popular within the NFL.

When are season win totals lines posted?

Most season win totals lines are posted early during the offseason and change depending on how a team’s offseason goes. Other odds such as the favorites to win the title are posted simultaneously as well.

For different sports and leagues, this will depend on when their respective offseason is. For baseball, the MLB season win totals are usually released two months before the season begins, with some sportsbooks releasing the lines even three months in advance.

For basketball, the NBA’s lines start to be posted a couple of weeks after the end of the previous season’s NBA finals. Or usually when free agency ends.

In the NFL’s case, lines start to be posted immediately after the draft has taken place, which, in normal circumstances, can be five months before the season starts. This is also largely due to the popularity that NFL season win totals have.

So, as you can see, there is usually a large amount of time between when the lines are first posted and when the games for the respective leagues kickoff. However, as stated before, the lines will fluctuate during the offseason and will be available up to the day that the season is officially meant to start.

Some online sportsbooks even offer the market on ongoing seasons. However, the odds will then be reflective of a team’s current form.

When do season wins become official?

Depending on the sportsbook, winnings may be paid out at different times.

A lot of sportsbooks pay out on such markets at the end of the season, not when the line is passed. This is because there are specific stipulations to season win totals. Sportsbooks mandate that a certain number of games have to be played, otherwise the bets will be voided, giving them ample room should something crazy happen at any time during the season. For example, the betting site FanDuel stipulated that it was 75 games in the NBA prior to the 2020-21 season when the league opted for a 72-game season.

This was evident during the 2020 NBA season after it was affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite many previously posted lines having been surpassed early on, they were only paid out after the league resumed.

However, a few sportsbooks will actually pay out once the chosen line has been surpassed.

To be sure, though, it’s always best to check the terms and conditions of your sportsbook or contact them if necessary.

Important factors to consider when betting win totals

Win totals, like any other type of bet, require an analytical approach if you really want to make money from them long-term. You shouldn’t just bet blindly because you fancy a team or a line. Instead, have a creative approach that will ensure you maximize these bets long-term.

Therefore, when handicapping/assessing a win totals over/under bet, always be considerate of these crucial factors:

1. Knowing the appropriate time to wager win totals

Win totals can either be wagered early during the offseason or just prior to the beginning of the season.

Truth be told, there isn’t a wrong or right approach. If you can spot value early on when the lines are immediately released, then it may be a wise option. If you want to see what major changes a team makes (e.g., player signings or staff changes), that can also be a good approach.

If you are placing a wins total wager late in the season, you can also look at how the line has changed from the time it was first released, giving you an indication of whether any value has been lost or gained. Plus, it may open your eyes to something major that you may have missed.

However, your decision to wager a wins total at a certain time should have some great reasoning attached to it.

2. A team’s previous performances

How did the team that you want to bet on perform in the previous season? Has the team been able to hit the previous lines that the bookies set in previous seasons? What are some statistical trends that the team has matched recently (i.e., has the team always notched more than ten wins in the past five seasons)?

Such questions should be on your mind before you choose to wager a wins total. This will give you a rough idea of what to expect from the team even before you look at the line set by the bookies.

3. Public perception

Public perception matters, but with the opposite effect than one would expect. When teams receive favorable praise from the media and the public, they often get too much action on one side of their bet causing their lines to then become inflated.

A great example of this would be both the Patriots and the Warriors in the 2019/20 seasons.

In such scenarios, you can decide on whether it is best to leave the bet if you were originally going to back the public. Or, alternatively, you can spot some considerable value and instead choose to fade the public.

4. Offseason activities and preseason form

Another crucial factor to keep in mind is a team’s offseason activities, as mentioned before, and how a team performs during the preseason. Both of these can give you a good estimate of what you should expect from the team in the coming season.

What is strength of schedule and how is it calculated?

Strength of schedule is also another important factor that should be considered when one is assessing a win totals over/under bet.

Strength of schedule, SOS in short, is a metric used in different championships and leagues such as the NFL and MLS. SOS determines how strong or weak a team’s opponent or schedule is in comparison to other teams. This is mostly used in situations where there is a difference in the number of matches played or the number of opponents faced.

SOS is determined by taking a team’s win percentage into consideration, along with other factors, but it is easily accessible on the official websites of the major sports league. Sites such as Nfl.com for football and mlssoccer.com for soccer readily offer this information to anyone searching for it.

Final word on season win totals

Season win totals is an exciting market and it’s easy to see why it’s one of the most popular futures bets, with ever-increasing popularity. It adds an extra layer of excitement to the game and the season at large and can be a great betting alternative if approached wisely.

So, if you’re looking for a good long-term bet to spice up an upcoming season and make some money at the end of it, there may not be a better alternative than this wager.