Understanding basketball betting odds and lines
When bettors are looking for the best and most opportunistic sports to place money on, many find that basketball fits this bill.
Considering international, college, and NBA basketball competitions, there are hundreds of basketball betting lines available on any given night between the months of October to May.
With this high of betting opportunity volume, there is no way you want to miss out on betting on the hardwood action during basketball season.
This article will cover all of the basics of betting on basketball…
including the different types of betting lines and even some of the more advanced and exotic basketball betting options.
The first basketball betting line covered is the over/under line.
The over/under line is the number that is assigned to each game by the sportsbooks and oddsmakers.
This over/under number represents the amount of points that is expected to be scored by each team together, as calculated by the bookies.
Understanding the over/under betting line in basketball is not difficult.
For example, let’s say the Denver Nuggets are hosting the Utah Jazz and the over/under line for the contest is 225.
This implies that bookmakers are expecting 225 points in the entire game by both teams combined.
Bettors now have the option to bet if the game is going to end with less than 225 points (under bettors), or bet if the game will finish over 225 points (over bettors).
If this game ended by a score of Denver Nuggets : 112 – Utah Jazz : 110, the point total would be 222 points scored in the game.
This point total falls under the over/under line, deeming Under bettors as winners, which implies that Over bettors have lost.
If the game finished with the score Denver Nuggets : 116 – Utah Jazz : 111, then the game would have had a total of 227 points scored, 5 points over the over/under line.
This point total for the game would, of course, result in a winning bet for Over bettors.
If a game ends with the points exactly the same as the over/under line, the bet is declared a “PUSH” and the wagered funds will be returned to your account.
Referring to our example one last time, a scoreline of Denver Nuggets : 115 – Utah Jazz : 110 would result in 225 points, right on that over/under number.
This would be a “PUSH”, resulting in a stalemate between the bettor and the bookie.
Betted funds are returned to those who bet on the over/under line, regardless of which side they took.
Always remember that it does not matter who wins the game when betting on the over/under.
The point total between the two teams is the only thing that matters when betting on the over/under.
Keep in mind that overtime periods do count towards point totals, a detail that will typically favor Over bettors.
Betting Basketball : Point Spread
The second basketball betting line covered will be the point spread bet.
The point spread is the amount of points between the two teams after the game is over
Understanding the point spread can be slightly confusing to some bettors, so let’s break it down from a fundamental standpoint.
First off, bettors must recognize the favorite when betting the point spread.
The favorite will be the team who has the (-) before the spread, as opposed to the underdog, which will have a (+) beside their spread.
The (-) represents the margin of victory projected by the sportsbooks, while the (+) represents the handicap for the underdog.
In example form, a basketball spread bet would look like the following : UVA (-8.5) v. Clemson (+8.5)
This point spread line tells us that A) UVA is a 8.5 betting favorite. B) Clemson is a 8.5 point betting underdog.
Spread bettors will now have the choice on betting if UVA will beat Clemson by 9 points or more (UVA covering the spread), OR betting on Clemson staying within 8 points or better (Clemson covering the spread).
If our example game ended UVA : 66 v. Clemson : 59 , those who bet on Clemson (+8.5) covering the spread would have won the bet, while UVA (-8.5) bettors would have lost.
Even though UVA won the game, spread bettors needed UVA to win by a margin greater than 8.5 for a winning spread bet.
To cover the spread, Clemson simply had to stay within 8 points or better.
This means that if Clemson lost by a 1-8 margin or won the game, the spread would have been covered.
Spread betting is one of the trickier betting lines to master, but it does not take long when you begin applying what you’ve learned.
Check out the spread betting line if you have a great feel for predicting close games, big blowouts, or if you simply favor this betting line over the over/under and moneyline bets.
Betting Basketball : The Moneyline
Out of the three main basketball betting lines, the moneyline bet is by far the easiest to understand and apply.
In fact, you’ve probably taken a moneyline bet before without really realizing it.
Betting on the moneyline in basketball simply means betting on who will win the game.
Point totals and win margins are out the window when betting the moneyline, making the win/lose result of the game the only deciding factor.
There is truly not much to mastering the concept of a moneyline bet.
A quick example will show just how simple betting on a basketball moneyline can be.
The Orlando Magic (-370) are taking on the NY Knicks (+270). First off, basketball moneyline bettors will recognize a big favorite in this matchup, with the Magic coming in as big (-370) favorites.
The (-) represents the favorite, while the number after the (-) represents the amount that will have to be wagered to bring back $100 profit.
The (+) is an indication of an underdog, with the numbers following the (+) as an indication of the amount that would be won if $100 was wagered on the line.
If bettors were looking to take the Orlando Magic (-370) on the moneyline, they’d be betting on a big favorite, while Knicks bettors would be taking the (+270) underdog.
Regardless of the amount of points scored or the margin of victory, the winner of the game will decide the betting results.
If the Knicks were to pull off the upset in this mythical matchup, those who bet on the Knicks moneyline would be able to cash that underdog ticket;
But if the Magic won, bettors who took the favorites would be able to cash their winning tickets, even if the odds were not quite as profitable.
The odds of moneyline matchups will change from matchup to matchup, and will depend on a number of variables.
These variables include injuries, coaching and player matchups, location of event, insider information, and of course skill level and ability of teams.
Betting the moneyline is the most popular form of placing bets in all sports due to the simplicity of the process.
It is not hard to understand the concept of simply picking the winner of the contest, making the moneyline bet the go-to of many professional gamblers.
Betting Basketball : Beyond the Basics
While these are the three most popular and most used betting options when wagering on basketball, there are countless other ways to bet.
As a beginner, it is important to understand all of the different ways to bet.
Knowing and applying all of the weapons that a bettor has at their disposal is essential in beating the sportsbooks in the long run.
Here are a couple can’t-miss tactics that can be real profit makers.
All bettors need to know what alternate lines are and how to use them.
By definition, an alternate line is any line that is different from the official over/under or spread.
This means that if the over/under line for a Lakers v. Rockets game is at 232 (-110), then alternate lines would represent point totals anywhere from 222 to 231.5 and from 232.5 to 240.
The farther away from the original over/under line, the more skewed the payout odds will be.
In our example, the over/under line of 232 had (-110) odds.
If a bettor was to take the OVER on the alternate over/under line of 222 points, they are taking a somewhat conservative bet, and the odds will reflect this with odds like (-400) or (-500).
On the flip side, if the bettor took the riskier alternate line, they would be rewarded with a higher payout.
Going back to our example one more time, if a bettor was to take OVER on the alternate over/under line of 240, the payout odds would likely look like (+250) to (+350).
These alternate lines can be used to bet the OVER or the UNDER, allowing bettors to either increase their room for error while betting, or increase their payout odds.
This same concept applies to alternate spread lines. So if the Lakers are a (-5) points favorite over the Rockets, some alternate spread betting lines would range from Lakers (+4) all the way up to Lakers (-19.5), as well as the same spread lines for Houston.
All characteristics of the alternate spread bet are the same as the alternate over/under bet, as it increases room for error or payout odds, all dependent on which side of the alternate line you decide to roll with.
For a more in-depth look into alternate point spread and how to apply it, check out our article dedicated to this subject here. (Link point spread article)
Individual player lines
One of the most entertaining and enjoyable ways to bet on basketball is betting on individual player lines.
These types of betting lines lets you focus on the performance of one player.
Individual player betting lines typically includes allows bettors to wager a certain players’ output in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and other popular stats.
Sportsbooks typically offer a variety of betting options, including giving over/under numbers to wager on the stats mentioned previously, as well as lines on a combination of these stats.
Individual player line betting is best for those who have an eye for a mismatch, and can understand strategies and styles of play.
Some of the most successful sports bettors have sworn by the effectiveness and uniqueness of individual player betting lines, as there are fewer variables to consider when zoning in on one player.
If betting the regular lines is not your thing, give player lines a shot next time.
Betting on basketball futures is the act of betting on basketball results far ahead of the actual event.
For example, if the month is January, sportsbooks will be offering betting odds on the winner of the NBA MVP, the NBA Championship, and the NCAAB Championship.
These events take place months from January, but sportsbooks will offer odds on these big basketball events far before they take place.
While future bets can seem tempting bettor beware. Placing money on future results is a surefire way to tie up a significant amount of your betting account for a while, something that you never want to do.
If you do feel good about a futures bet, explore the possibility of a credit line with your bookie, as it is best to avoid these long term bets, as they do not increase your bankroll in an acceptable amount of time.
- And more
There is truly no end to the betting possibilities when wagering on basketball.
With hundreds of thousands of mens and womens college games, thousands of NBA games, and even more professional international contests, there is endless action to bet on.
Make sure to keep this article in mind the next time you place money on basketball, and check out our other resources made to help you defeat your bookie!