Every sportsbook sets a total on each NHL game in its betting line. In this case, suppose the Tropicana has posted 5.5 as the total on a game between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. What this number means is that the oddsmakers at the Tropicana believe that the two teams will combine for 5.5 goals.
Right away you are saying to yourself, how can they score half a goal? Of course, they can’t. The purpose of the half goal is to ensure a payout on every total wager. By setting a half goal into the total line, the Tropicana is guaranteeing that all wagers will be final. If they were to set the total line at five and the game concluded with a five-goal final, such as Edmonton 3, Calgary 2, then all wagers would have to be refunded because it didn’t go over or under the established total, but instead landed right on the number. In betting lingo, this is known as a push and you’d get your stake back.
Now we’ve also revealed to you what the O/U stands for in this equation. It’s your betting options. You either play the final score to go over or under the established total. In other words, based on our original 5.5 goal total, a 3-2 final would pay out on the under.
Were the Flames to dump the Oilers 5-3, then it would be the over bettors who’d be smiling because they would be the ones who were collecting on their winning wager.
You will find as you become more familiar with betting on the NHL that 5.5 is a very common number listed as the total final score on games. The vast majority of NHL games end up with final totals for goals between four and six.
With the growing prominence of live betting options, sportsbooks like the Tropicana offer a wide variety of total betting propositions, including in period totals and single team total wagers. They work in the same manner of a complete-game total. You wager on the over or the under on an established number.