Looking at odds for the first time can be a scary process. But just like everything else, practice makes perfect. We’ll teach you how to understand:
By the end of this guide, if you’re not ready to make the right picks but want to wager, our NBA computer picks page can help. But before you place your first NBA bet, let’s go over what the experts already know.
NBA odds are usually expressed in three different ways:
The most common format used by European sportsbooks are decimal odds. As the name implies, they are always positive and decimal numbers.
Below is the formula for calculating the return and profit for decimal odds of 1.24.
So…what’s the difference between profit and return?
Used primarily in Ireland and the UK, fractions represent the profit you would earn for a successful bet. The following is the formula for calculating the profit for the fractional odds of 7/1:
American odds are the most common format used by top US sportsbooks. Odds start with either a minus (-) or a plus (+) and are always a whole number (+195, -130, -350, +225, etc.)
The odds tell you how much you need to bet to win $100, which team is the underdog and which team is favorite.
The positive odds are very easy to calculate. The odds represent how much you’ll win if you bet $100. In this example, we win $315. To calculate the payout for odds of +315, simply use the following formula:
For negative numbers, the value of the odds tells you how much you need to bet to win $100. In this scenario, we need to risk $145 to win $100. To calculate the payout for odds of -145, just apply the following formula.
The leading online sportsbooks offer 200+ NBA betting options on a single basketball game. Commonly placed NBA bets include:
For the most straightforward way to bet on an NBA game, look no further than the moneyline. It’s a prediction on which team wins the basketball game.The sportsbooks assess the two teams, determine an underdog and a favorite, and then release the moneyline odds. For example:
In this example, the Boston Celtics are the favorite. A $100 bet on the Boston Celtics would earn you a $62.11 profit if they won the game. On the other end, a $100 bet on the Golden State Warriors would earn you a $152 profit.
This is the most popular NBA bet. The oddsmakers at NBA betting sites will assess the strengths and weaknesses of the teams, focusing on defensive and offensive stats, recent results, home advantage, head-to-head matchups, injuries and so on.
They determine which team is stronger, and they assign a points handicap to that team. This results in a point spread, and it allows the sportsbooks to offer similar odds on either team covering that spread.
In this example, the sportsbooks have concluded that the Celtics are the favorite to win. You have two options:
There is always a favorite and an underdog in an NBA game. If both teams are deemed to be evenly matched, there will not be a point spread, and you can simply bet on either team to win (moneyline.) That is known as a pick’em, and it is rare.
This is another popular NBA bet. You just need to estimate how many total points will be scored in a basketball game. The NBA sportsbooks will release a total points line on each game. For example:
If you expect the Boston Celtics and the Golden State Warriors to combine for at least 211 points, you can bet on over. If you believe the game will see 210 points or fewer, you should bet on under.
There will be a standard total run line, but you will also find alternate total run lines (usually valued around -110 value on the odds.) They allow you to move the line up or down, which changes the odds. You will also find alternate point lines for both basketball teams.
NBA proposition bets provide you with hundreds of additional betting opportunities on any given basketball game. Prop bets focus on a proposition – whether something will happen during a game – and they are not usually tied to the result. Prop bets in basketball often fall into two distinct categories:
Player props concentrate on individual performance stats. You can bet on the total number of points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, three-point field goals, etc. You can also bet on the following popular metrics:
Game props might include betting on the highest scoring quarter or first half or whether the game goes into overtime. You can also bet on the following game props:
Sportsbooks release NBA futures odds on a range of markets in-sea before the season begins. These odds update often and will be available to bet on throughout the season. These are often season-long or playoff-long wagers, which do not depend upon the result of a single basketball game.
Examples of NBA futures bets include:
The odds on these markets change over the length of the NBA season, depending upon how poorly or well the teams are playing.
You can also bet on a specific quarter or the first or second half of a basketball game. Sportsbooks release the same key betting options – spreads, totals, money lines and props – on quarters and both halves of a basketball game. See the following for an example of a “first half” bet:
In this example, the Boston Celtics are the favorite. A $100 bet on the Boston Celtics would earn you a $83.33 profit if they won the first half, whereas a $100 bet on the Golden State Warriors would earn you a $120 profit.
NBA betting sites allow you to keep betting on games after they have started. This type of betting is also known as “live betting” because moneylines, the runlines, total points lines, props, and alternate lines will dynamically update as the basketball game progresses.
You can continue betting until the game ends, but make sure to do your research. You want to avoid betting with your heart at all costs, if not, you’ll eventually deplete your bankroll.
Let’s say the Golden State Warriors are playing the Boston Celtics and the odds to start the game are as follows.
Live odds are shown in green that take into account the current game score. Bettors can then hedge wagers if the game slips away from one team.
A parlay bet lets you combine predictions on multiple games into a single wager. For example, let’s say you like these two bets:
If you combined them into a two-team $100 parlay, you would earn a profit of $244.17. The winnings from each leg roll over onto the next leg, meaning the profit compounds inside the parlay, leading to large payouts. However, if one leg fails, the parlay fails and you lose the wager. Alternative options include:
You can bet on NBA games legally in many different states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Nevada, and Illinois. Just one piece of advice – please sign up with a licensed online sportsbook such as PointsBet, BetMGM, FanDuel, DraftKings, or Caesars Sportsbook.
The highest rated NBA betting sites include FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars Sportsbook, and BetMGM. If you are looking for a broad variety of bets and useful features, Draftkings is a great option, while Caesars Sportsbook is the best for odds boosts and bonuses.
DraftKings, BetMGM, and FanDuel are the top ranked sportsbook apps for NBA betting. They all have elite reviews on the App Store and Google Play.
You can bet on NBA games by downloading a sports betting app or visiting an online sportsbook website. You can browse a range of betting options, including totals, moneylines, run lines, either for the full game, a specific quarter or first/second half, etc.
For most people it takes years of experience to perfect the art of betting on the NBA. At the start of the basketball season, establish your bankroll (set an amount of money you’d like to bet with.) Sports gambling professionals are very disciplined at managing their bankroll. This helps them stay in the game and not run out of money if they go on a losing streak.
Before placing a bet, make sure to do your research, here’s some ideas of things to look at:
There are many things you should consider before placing a bet on an NBA game. Amongst these things are:
Rule number one of handicapping sports – never place a bet unless you know who’s playing. This might seem obvious but who’s active for the game has a massive impact on the odds. When the game day status of key players like an all star player like Lebron James are unknown most sportsbooks will not release the odds to the public.
The consensus generally refers to which team the majority of the public is placing bets on. It’s not uncommon for popular teams to receive 75% or more of the wagers. This can cause problems for the sportsbooks and opportunities for handicappers who know how to take advantage of these situations.
It means that an NBA team is a 12.5-point underdog in the spread betting market. If you bet on that team to cover the spread, they must win the game or lose by up to 12 points for the bet to pay off.
You can bet on basketball online in a handful of states including West Virginia, New Jersey, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Tennessee, Virginia, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Colorado, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wyoming. Sportsbooks offers websites and mobile apps for NBA and general basketball bettors.