- Basketball betting
- How basketball betting works
- Basketball betting lines explained
- Pick which team will win the game
- Point spread
- Betting the spread with basketball
- Betting on basketball point totals
- Three other popular basketball bets
- Basketball betting tips and strategies
- Today’s NBA odds
- Ready to bet on basketball?
- NBA betting contest
- NBA betting forum
- Basketball betting FAQs
Basketball betting is one of the fastest-growing sports gambling markets out there, with a global audience and superstar appeal drawing the attention of new fans learning how to bet on NBA games. The fast-paced flow and exhilarating swings make basketball one of the most fun sports to wager on.
How basketball betting works
There’s no shortage of basketball betting options during the NBA and college basketball schedules. Multiple matchups are on the board, allowing bettors to wager on their favorite teams as well as bet on the big games on TV each night.
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Basketball betting lines explained
Like most major sports, there are endless ways to wager on basketball, but the most popular forms of basketball betting are the moneyline, point spread, and Over/Under totals.
Pick which team will win the game
Betting basketball moneylines is the most straightforward and basic betting market available, simply allowing you to bet on which team you think will win the game.
The moneyline odds for a game are based on each teams’ implied probability of winning and, because not all basketball teams are evenly matched, the moneyline odds will reflect those chances of victory. You can use our odds converter & moneyline calculator to see a team’s implied probability based on their odds.
Moneyline odds are most often displayed in hundreds (American odds) with one team set as the favorite (indicated by a negative value) and one team set as the underdog (positive value).
For example, the Los Angeles Lakers are -130 moneyline favorites versus the Toronto Raptors, who are +110 moneyline underdogs.
Because the Lakers are the stronger team (56.52 percent chance of winning), for every $10 you wish to win betting on Los Angeles you must risk $13 ($130 bet will win $100). Since the Raptors are the weaker team (47.62 percent implied probability), you can win $11 for every $10 risked ($100 bet will win $110).
Betting the spread with basketball
The point spread is the preferred odds market for betting basketball, as this method levels the difference in skill between the two teams. Oddsmakers analyze both teams and take the venue, current form and any key injuries into consideration when calculating the perceived point spread between the two sides.
The point spread favorite is indicated by the negative value in front of the point spread and that team must win the game by more than that spread to win for bettors. The underdog has a positive value in front of its point spread and that team can either win outright or lose by less than that spread to cash in.
For example, the Los Angeles Lakers are -2.5 point spread favorites hosting the +2.5 underdog Toronto Raptors. For the Lakers to cover the spread, they must win the game by three points more. For the Raptors to cover the spread, they must either win the game outright or lose by two points or less.
All point spreads are accompanied by a value or price to make the bet, better known as the juice or vig. Most point spreads have a vig of -110 which means for every $10 you wish to win, you need to risk $11. However, vig can be adjusted depending on current betting action and can vary from book to book.
Betting on basketball point totals
Another popular way to wager on basketball is via the Over/Under odds, also known as the total.
Oddsmakers measure the matchup between two teams, looking at both offensive and defensive production, and set an expected total number of points scored by both sides for the game. Once that total is set, bettors can wager on if the final score will go Over or Under that number.
As an example, the Over/Under total between the Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors is 222.5 points.
A bet on the Over would need the final score of the game to total 223 points or more to win, while a bet on the Under needs 222 or fewer points to be scored.
Like point spreads, both sides of the total – Over and Under – have attached vig, most often set at -110. This value can adjust to betting action and may vary from book to book.
Three other popular basketball bets
There are other methods for betting on basketball odds beyond the moneyline, point spread and Over/Under totals. If you’re looking for alternative ways for how to bet on basketball, these are some of the most popular
Basketball betting tips and strategies
Keep these basketball betting strategies in mind when looking to handicap NBA odds.
Today’s NBA odds
Here are the current NBA odds for today’s biggest games:
Ready to bet on basketball?
Depending on your level of readiness for betting on basketball, you can either try your luck at one of Covers’ free-to-play contests for the chance to win cash and prizes or you can start placing real money NBA bets at the best sportsbooks.
NBA betting contest
Want to try before you buy? Our King of Covers NBA contest is perfect for that. Make real NBA bets for free without having to deposit at a sportsbook. Bet the spread and Over/Under totals on the 2020-21 NBA season for the chance to win cash and prizes.
NBA betting forum
Want to learn more about NBA betting and meet a large, knowledgeable community? Check out Covers’ NBA betting forum to get picks, ask questions, and learn from experienced sports bettors.