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NBA Betting Guide

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Tips & strategies to become a more successful NBA bettor

Ok, so you want to bet on some NBA action, what are your options?

Point Spread

The most popular wager placed on the NBA is via the point spread. A point spread is a type of bet which is used to create a balanced or fair wager between both sides. To win your bet, the stronger team (known as the “favorite”) must win by a certain number of points, and conversely, the weaker team (known as the “underdog”) can lose by the same number of points or win the game outright.

Example: The Bulls are -3 Vs the 76ers. This means for the Bulls to cover the spread; they must win by 4 or more points. For the 76ers to cover the spread, they can lose by 2 points or less, or win the game outright.

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  • Result: Bulls win by 5 - Bulls cover the spread
  • Result: Bulls win by 1 - The 76ers cover the spread
  • Result: Bulls win by 3 - Push - the bet is a tie, and your wager is refunded


If you are betting on the moneyline, this means you believe that the team you wagered on will win the game. There are three possible results for a moneyline bet; your team wins, and you win the bet, your team loses, and you lose the bet, or the game ends in a tie and the bet is fully refunded to you. In basketball however there are no ties, so one team must win.

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Unlike a point spread, the margin of victory in a moneyline wager is not important.
Let’s assume you want to bet on the Bulls to win this game. You have the option of betting them to win outright (the margin of victory does not matter) at -145 or betting them to win via the point spread at -3 (must win by 4 or more points to win the bet). Obviously, It is more likely that Chicago were to win on the moneyline rather than forcing them to win by 4 points to cover the spread. Therefore the odds for the moneyline (-145) is more expensive than the odds for the point spread (-110).

To win $100 on the Bulls moneyline (-145) you must risk $145
To win $100 on the 76ers moneyline (+125) you would only need to risk $80

Totals (Over/Under)

A totals bet (also known as an over/under bet) refers to a wager where you are betting on the combined amount of points that are scored in a match. In this type of wager, the winning team and the point spread have no bearing. Let’s use the following example:

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The total for the Bulls vs. the 76ers game is listed at 213 – This means you can bet on whether you think the total score will be over 213 points or under 213 points.

  • If the Bulls win 105 to 100 (a total of 205 points) the game went under
  • If the Bulls win 115 to 114 (a total of 229 points) the game went over
  • A push would occur if the final score totaled exactly 213 points.

Team Totals (Team Over/Under)

Can I bet on how many points an individual team will score?

Yes, this is also a very common type of totals bet; we refer to this as a “team total”. Here is an example of a team total:

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Based on the above example, you have the option of betting the Bulls over or under 108 points, and the 76ers over or under 105 points. Keep in mind, when betting on a team total, the opponent’s score is irrelevant. Also worth noting is the greater than average juice. Most total plays are offered at -110 on each side. However, when placing a wager on a team total, it is common for the sportsbook to increase this price to -115 or -120.

Daily Prop Bets

What is an NBA Prop Bet?
NBA prop bets are bets on the statistical performance of a player or a team. Prop bets are completely independent of traditional bets such as point spread, moneyline or totals.
The most common basketball prop bets include:

  • Player points
  • Player rebounds
  • Player assists
  • Player 3-point shots made
  • First team to 10 points

Futures Bets

NBA futures bets allow you to bet on an outcome that will take place in the future. For example, you can bet on which team will win the NBA Championship. Here is an example from the 2020-21 season:

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The better the team, the smaller the payout. We can see that the Lakers were +275 to win the title. That means for every $100 bet on them, you would win $275.
A team like Portland on the other hand were not likely to win. That's why they were offering odds of +5000. This means if Portland were to happen to win it all, for every $100 wagered, you would win $5,000.

Futures include more than just the eventual champion. You can bet on awards such as MVP, or the Rookie of the Year; and you can bet on other props such as how many games a team will win throughout the season, or which team will win their division. Futures are a fun way to keep engaged throughout a season.

NBA Tips & Strategies

If you want to increase your chances of being a successful bettor, here are a few tips to help you on your way:

  • Price Shopping: When placing a bet, you always want to make sure you are getting the best price/line possible. Don’t be afraid to shop around. Different sportsbooks offer different prices; and they fluctuate throughout the day. If you want to save a ton of time, check out betstamp.app. It's free to join, and all the line shopping is quickly and efficiently done for you. You get updates in real time of which sportsbooks are offering the best line.
  • Track Your Bets: Keep records of your wagers and stay on top of what is working and not working for you. Without documenting your bets, it is difficult to see where you are winning or losing as a bettor.
  • Bankroll Management: Set your bankroll and learn to manage it properly. Don't deviate too far from your average bet size and ensure that you are always betting within your limits.
  •  Injuries & Rest: Keep in mind that injuries play a huge factor in basketball games. Don’t rush to bet on a line that you think is too good to be true. Take your time and do some homework. Make sure that your team doesn't have any injuries that you are not aware of. The NBA is also known to have its players rest for a few games in the season. So although your all-star may not be injured, it's possible the team is giving him the night off to rest. This is known as load management.
  • Know the Schedule: The schedule is a major component throughout the NBA season. Playing on back-to-back nights or being on a 10 day road trip can have a great influence on the outcome of a game. Sportsbooks are aware of these details, and factor them into the line; and so should you.
  • Ignore the Standings: The standings have absolutely no bearing on the result of a game. Recreational bettors are often persuaded by the standings. For example, if the 5th seed is playing the 10th seed, rec bettors may be more inclined to wager on the 5th seed. Do not fall for this. The level to which a team is playing in the last week or so is much more relevant when compared to how the team was playing two months earlier.