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How to bet on basketball

Publication date: 09/08/2022

In this article we will look at everything you need to know about how to bet on NBA games. We will look at all of the sports betting options, tips and tricks for both beginners and pros, as well as answer your frequently asked questions.

Understanding basketball betting, the most common NBA bets

Moneyline Bets

Moneyline bets are the simplest kind of bet, you are wagering on who will win the game and that is pretty much it. Odds for betting on who will win the game outright can be quite extreme because when two NBA teams meet there is often a heavy favourite and an underdog and no option of the draw.

Point Spreads

A Point Spreads is put on place to even out the odds between the favourite and the underdog in each match. Where you see a 'minus' - that is how many points will be subtracted from that team's score at the end of the game when settling the bet.

An example would be if the Golden State Warriors are -4.5 against the Phoenix Suns. That would mean the GSW would need to win the game by 5 or more for your bet on them to win. Often you will see the point spread market look like this:



Golden State Warriors

-4.5 (1;91)

Phoenix Suns

+4.5 (1;91)

The point spread is 4.5 and the + and - represent if the points are being given to that team or taken away from them. The 1.91 is the decimal odds that are given on either choice. These do not “have” to be the odds but they will be most of the time. The Fractional way of displaying the odds is 10/11 and the US system write it as -110.

NBA Totals

"Totals" refers to the total number of points that are predicted to be scored during a game. It is most common that you can bet on either over or under the total amount the betting site has predicted with the same odds available on either choice. You will notice that there is always a +0.5 attached to each total. It is obviously impossible to score half a point and this is there so that bets either win or lose, but never push.

A totals bet will often have the same odds, regardless of if you bet Under or Over

A totals bet will often have the same odds, regardless of if you bet Under or Over

In this example, if the combined final score is 169 or less then you win if you chose Under, and you lose if you chose Over. On the other hand 170 or more wins if you chose Over, but loses if you chose Under.

NBA Parlays

A Parlay is a type of bet that combines many different selections into one. The term parlay is American and in the UK it would be known as an Accumulator bet, or Acca. An NBA Parlay is simply a bet where someone has combined a series of NBA bets, probably either on who will win the game or the total number of points that will be scored and combined them all into one. When you make your selections they will go onto your betslip and once it is placed you will have what is known as a parlay ticket. This is likely to be pretty high odds because each time you add a new bet to it the odds are multiplied by the total existing odds, just three bets of 3/1 shoot up to a total parlay odds of 27/1 so you can see it has a high reward but with high risk. (Note it is possible to make cross-sport parlays, so you might some NBA point spread bets on the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks and combine it with some NFL betting onto one bet slip).

Prop Bets

A prop bet is short for a proposition bet, where you are suggesting something may happen, or happen a certain amount of times and this thing has nothing to do with the result of the game.

It is most common that a prop betting market will be on an individual player but it does not have to be. You can also get team prop bets and also match prop bets too. Prop bets are mainly to provide entertainment value during the whole course of the game because they can still happen long after it is obvious who will actually win.

For example, you may bet on an individual player to score over a certain number of points, if they are playing for the favourite team this will likely be better odds than the team winning, although the two events are correlated. From the minute the game starts you will have something to cheer on and since basketball is such a high-scoring sport your interest in the bet will be maintained regardless of who is winning or losing, you only care about that one player.

NBA Futures

NBA Futures, are as the name suggests, betting on things that will happen in the future over the course of the NBA season rather than on a specific upcoming match. They can also be known as outright bets. For example, the most popular one to bet on would be who will win the NBA Finals in the upcoming year. The market will look like this:

All NBA teams can potentially become the Champion

All NBA teams can potentially become the Champion

Note that sometimes you can also bet “Each Way” where you will still be paid if your choice does not win but does finish second. In that scenario, you will win a lot less but you will still win something. It is not just the outright winner that you can bet on, there are a number of different futures markets where you can bet on each conference winner and also on many markets surrounding individual player performances. You can even bet on who will be this year's best coach!

Each way

Each way

Basketball betting tricks for Beginners

Whether you are a sports betting veteran or more of the sports fans looking to learn about it, all NBA bettors should consider taking note of the following advice before betting on an NBA game.

Prepare in advance

When you are considering placing a bet on basketball it is important to prepare thoroughly. There are a large number of websites on the internet that provide up to date data meaning you should be just as informed as the bookmakers when it comes to placing a bet on the NBA. These sites will list not just the final score but quarter by quarter performances, also individual player statistics, breaking down every NBA point that is scored. A site we recommend you start at is Basketball Reference.

Walk before you run

In an ideal world, there should be some form of strategy behind all of your bets. You can find many many many strategies on the internet but very few of them actually work. We recommend that before risking your money you paper trade for a while, following the games and keeping a tally of how much you would have won (or lost) if you had placed the bet for real. Only when you are confident that you have a strategy that you can trust should you bet on the NBA for real.

Basketball Betting Strategies and Tactics

If you are betting mainly for fun and to enjoy a game you are watching a bit more then there is no need to be so serious. However for people looking to make money they must have a well researched strategy to stand any chance at all. Two strategies to consider are:

"Middle" betting strategy

An “Under” bet is when you bet that the total number of points scored will be less than an amount proposed by the bookmaker. An "Over" bet is the opposite, betting on there being more than the proposed amount. What we are trying to do is bet twice at different points of the game, where the predicted amount of total points has changed and we can hit the "Middle" of the two bets. To bet on this with a strategy a fundamental part of it is finding matches where you think that there is a good chance the first half of the game will have the most points. What you need is for the first half to have 10 more points than whatever 50% of the total points in a game was predicted.

Initially, in these games, you should bet on “Over” the total predicted. Then if as predicted the game has many points early on, as long as the betting site offers live betting they will shift their predicted total upwards. You can now place an opposite bet on “Under”. So you now have two bets which are, for example:

Over 151.5 points, and another on Under 161.5 points.

If there is a score of 151 or less you have one losing bet but one winning bet, so you will lose the bookmakers margin, probably about 9% if you bet at 10/11 which is standard.

If there is a score of 162 or more, then you also have one losing bet but one winning bet, so you will lose the bookmakers margin, probably about 9% if you bet at 10/11 which is standard.

However, if there is a score of 152 - 161 then you have TWO winning bets. Assuming again you bet at odds of 10/11 your return is now a massive 181%. And remember when you placed your bets it was assumed that those numbers would be winning around half the time.

Given when you lose, you lose 9%, but when you win, you win 181%, you only need to have one in twenty hit for you to break even.

Why does this have the potential to work, it is believed that basketball players often slow down after a dramatic high scoring start to a game. They will then score fewer in the second half.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it hard to bet on NBA?

No it is not. In this article, we have explained how to bet on NBA games but overall there is nothing different about an NBA bet. It is no different to placing any other bet that you can think of. It is simplest to bet on NBA games online, you just register an account, then find the match you want and check the betting odds to see if there is a bet you like the look of. Enter your stake amount and submit the betting slip. Then you are done.

What does +2.5 mean in basketball?

In a basketball game, there is often a team who is more likely to win than the other, and this can lead to odds being very low for the favourite team. To keep odds nearer to evens, which is what Americans like, online sportsbooks give one team a head start, and +2.5 would indicate how many points they are given at the start.

What does HT mean in basketball?

In basketball, HT stands for “Half Time” which it does in all forms of sports betting. It is the halfway stage of the game, which in basketball games is after two of the four quarters are finished. One quarter lasts 12 minutes so half time is after 24 minutes of playing time.