Basketball is a sport that is popular among sports bettors from the United States (NBA) and Europe (Eurobasket) alike. Though there are a number of different leagues, the game follows the same format when it comes to betting. Like most sports, basketball uses point spreads as one of their primary wagering options. In addition to point spreads, money line and over under bets are also popular. All three of these types of bets are common across the sports betting spectrum, and they will work in almost the exact same way no matter what type of sport you are betting on. With that in mind, the spreads in a basketball game are often times much higher than you would ever find in baseball, hockey, or soccer. A dominant NBA team playing the worst team in the league could easily result in a point spread that is 15 or more points.
Depending on the time of the year, injuries, and so on and so forth, the spreads could be skewed in one direction or another. The Lakers could be a 12 point favorite over the Bulls on February 3rd, but then find themselves as 3 point underdogs on March 5th. This isn’t something that tends to happen in a sport like baseball, largely because losing one player has a much larger impact on a basketball team than a baseball team. The Yankees will not do better if they lose Derek Jeter, but they would still be a phenomenal team. The opposite of this would be the Lakers losing Kobe Bryant, a situation where Los Angeles would struggle mightily. Some factors are easier to consider than others, but true success in basketball wagering is found by bettors who are able to spot the smaller elements that can play notable roles. Home court advantage, a slumping team, and other variables all play into the end game equation for basketball bettors. This gets much more into the basketball betting strategy side of things, though, and are areas for consideration once you have the basics down pat.
Betting on Basketball with a Point Spread
The first line of nba betting strategy would be the point spread which is the most commonly referenced type of bet in basketball. The spread is a way for bookmakers to even out both sides of any given game. If it was not for the spread, the only way to bet on basketball would be through a money line, and money lines are often not even available when a matchup is particularly lopsided. Point spreads are easy to understand; the only information that you will need is how to read the different symbols that are used to indicate how the line is set. An example of a point spread line would be Toronto Raptors (-8) -110 vs. New Jersey Nets (+8) +120. There are a handful of + and – symbols in this “equation,” as well as a few different sets of numbers. Though a bit overwhelming at first, these are not complicated in the least.
Let’s take a look at the first set of numbers (-8 and +8). These figures represent the amount of points that are being given or taken from a team. Another way to look at the -8 and +8 is to say that they are the handicap used to even out the playing field. What this means is that a team is either an 8 point favorite or an 8 point underdog. In this example, the Raptors are favored to win the game by 8 points, while the Nets are expected to lose by 8 points. If you place your bet on Toronto, you will need the Raptors to win by more than 8 points. If you bet on the Raptors and they either lose or win by less than 8 points, you will lose the wager. On the other side of the coin, a bet on the Nets will win whenever New Jersey either wins the game or loses by less than 8 points. This means that you would win your wager even if New Jersey loses by 1-7 points. In this example, a Toronto win of 8 points would equate to a push where all bets are refunded. This is how the point spread itself is read on a line. The next step is to then calculate the odds and payout.
-110 and +120 are set next to each team on this particular line. These numbers are indicative of the corresponding payouts for both teams. The – symbol means that Toronto is a favorite, while the + symbol means that the Nets are an underdog. Using the numbers above, a $110 bet on the Raptors would yield a $100 return. A $100 bet on the Nets would return $120. As you can see, betting on the underdog will make you more money per dollar wagered, but it is also riskier. These numbers are set and adjusted by odds makers according to how many bets are placed on each side of the action. If everyone bets on the Nets right away, the spread could move to +7 or +6, or the payout could be slightly reduced. Point spreads are very popular among sports bettors and are not nearly as difficult to understand as they might seem.
Betting on Basketball with a Money Line
Betting on the money line is like betting against the spread without having a spread. If that made no sense to you, don’t be worried, it will all be clear in a minute. Money lines give bettors the opportunity to simply bet on the winner and/or loser in a game. If the Knicks are playing the Bobcats, all that you would do is pick the team who you think will win. The catch is that the odds will always be proportioned so that the payouts equate to the actual lines. It would be a disaster for sports books if they let players bet on the Celtics every game of the year at even money. A money line of Wizards +500 vs. Thunder -550 would mean that the Thunder are sizable favorites. Using this example, a $100 bet on the Wizards would earn a $500 return. If you bet on the Thunder in this game, you would need to bet $550 to win $100. The risk and reward with money line bets is obvious. You will get paid off when you bet on an underdog, but you won’t win as frequently if you bet on the favorites. There is a lot of inherent variance with money line bets no matter how you look at it.
Betting on Basketball with an Over Under
The over under is the closest thing to flipping a coin in basketball betting. An over under is the total amount of points scored by the two teams in a game combined. If an over under was 170 for the Warriors and Heat, a final score of 90-85 would go over (175 points). If the score was 85-80, it would be under (165). Over unders are very tricky to bet because overtime periods, player injuries, and other factors will often play the deciding role in the final outcome, but they are impossible to compensate for. If a big scorer gets knocked out in the first quarter, your odds of hitting the over will have been drastically reduced, while the under will be everything but a lock. Over unders are a sizable risk and are most profitable for sports bettors who rely on systems and a lot of analytical data.