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A Beginner’s Guide to Basketball Betting

If you are just getting started betting on basketball, then you will probably be wanting to make bets on your favourite teams or want to look for the most hyped matchups where you can find a number of attractive bets, follow your intuition and hopefully win.

However, you may not feel confident that you understand the many different types of bets that are available. That is why we have put together this guide. We will take you through all the different types of bets you can place, teach you when a certain type of wager is more valuable and why, and teach you how to structure your bets so that you can hopefully enjoy more profit.

The Best Basketball Leagues to Bet On

It goes without saying that the NBA is the most prestigious league in the sport, with some of the most iconic teams such as the LA Lakers, The Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors, to mention just a few.

However, it is also worth checking out the Euroleague, where some of the strongest teams in Europe go head to head. With very high viewing figures, it is surely the best league outside the NBA.

Types of Basketball Bets

There are many different bets you can make on one game and you should not feel like you are limited to placing simple win or lose bets. You can easily bet on other aspects of a match and fully exploit your basketball knowledge to help you win more.


The simplest bet; you bet on one of the teams to win the game, this is perhaps the most popular as it does not have any other factors, it’s straightforward: who do you think will win?

Spread Betting

Spread betting is used to make betting on the underdog team a more attractive prospect.

These are the same as moneyline bets only they give a disadvantage to the favoured team and an advantage to the underdog. The point advance and deduction are evenly distributed based on the bookies’ match prediction, it may look something like this

LA Lakers -4.5 Cleveland Cavaliers +4.5

In this scenario, if you bet on the LA Lakers then you would need them to win by 5 points to win your bet, whereas if you bet on the Cleveland Cavaliers, you will need them either win the game or not lose by more than 5 points to win your bet.

Spread Alternatives let you explore all the different point advances and reductions you can bet on in a match, if for example you think the Lakers will win the match by more than 10 points, you can bet on LA Lakers -9.5 and you will get higher odds for the greater margin. Often there will be numerous alternative spreads offered for each game.

You can also bet on margins, which are similar to spreads but give you a range by which you think a team will win by

3 way Margins are where the margin of winning the match is fixed, so you might find LA Lakers +6.5 Cleveland Cavaliers +6.5 and either team to win by 5 or less

7 way Margins offer ranges of margins by which either of the teams will win, by 1-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25, 25-30 or 31+

The 12 way margins are 12 different options for those margins, but not betting on either side to win but rather 6 ranged margins for one team and 6 for the other.


This bet is on the points amassed by both sides during the match. You are simply betting on whether the total number of points scored by both teams together will be high or lower than the value given in the market. For example, the market may be Over/Under 160.5 points. In this instance, you would bet over if you think there will be at least 161 points or under if you think there will be 160 or less. Sometimes, the over/under bets also have an alternative table, with a range of point tallies which you can bet on, similarly to the spread margins.

Parlay bets

You can improve your bet slip with Parlays, this is when you make several bets that multiply each other. To get the most out of your Parlays, look out for good odds that you would back on different games, remember you can look for more than one league and you do not have to make all your bets for matches on the same day.

Player props

For the hyped matchups, say between Boston Celtics and Lakers, there may be more player props, which are individual statistics of the player during the game. You can bet on the amount of points a player will make during the match or if they will be awarded a free throw.

1st/2nd Half Bets or Quarterly Bets

In basketball you have 4 quarters in 2 halves, you can bet on any of these stages if you want to mix your bet slip up a bit. This could be advantageous with teams that usually start fast and score many points quickly, or with teams that have a track record of usually going down in the beginning of their matches, but make late comebacks.

How to Research Basketball Betting

Player Injuries

Stay up to date with player injuries or when they will be rested. Some teams have a star player who can control matches all on their won. A good example was Lebron James for the Cleveland Cavaliers; however, these players are also sometimes rested for bigger games or they may have been playing too long and need time to recover. This also works in reverse, you can bet on a team where the star player is being rested, or is recovering from an injury.

Winning Streaks

Make sure you check a team’s performance for the past 6 or 10 games, this should be a strong factor in their team chemistry and attitude. It’s important to note teams that are higher in the table, point difference between them, and those above or below them or smaller teams who perform far better against the bigger ones.

Head to Head

Every game is a competition, but there are those that are more exciting when you win or hurt more when you lose, simply because of the history the teams share. Head to head shows the previous games between the two sides, and can be useful when you know that one team performs exceptionally well against the other.

Home Advantage/Road Advantage

This works both ways, there are teams that can be unstoppable at home, they are playing on the same court that they practise on all week, and they have the roars from the crowd backing them on at every attack. Some teams have winning streaks only at home, so when checking the previous matches of one side, it is important to distinguish the home and the away games.

On the other hand, there are some teams who perform better on the road. There is no real explanation for this, but as most sports players are superstitious, this can give a psychological edge to the away team.

Importance of the Match

There are times in a season where the result of one game may not affect the overall season, these occur towards the end of the year. One team might have such a lead that they may not push every game to the limit, thus they can be caught off-guard.

Tracking Your Results

Betting randomly on moneylines and the occasional spread might bring some gamblers a lot of winnings, but the experienced gambler usually keeps track of his/her betting combinations. Try to group your bets and see which ones bring you more success. For example try checking Spreads vs. Moneylines or Straight bets vs. Parlays or Full game bets vs. 1st/2nd half bets and quarterly bets.

At first, this seems a bit of a hassle, but if you enjoy betting on basketball and find yourself doing it quite often, you may be able to identify those bets that are most profitable for you and those ones on which you are just throwing money away.

Everyone has their preference, even though betting on quarters or spreads may sound more risky, you might be better at predicting those results.

The moneyline bets always seem the safest, ask a friend or colleague, who will win the game tonight? You will get an answer, but if you ask, do you think the LA Lakers will win by 20 points, you will either get ten different answers or plainly, none.


With all these considerations we hope you have enough information to start building your strategy. Even for casual gamblers who bet occasionally and for little money, it is fun when you employ some tactics and wager with friends, you can get the same thrill and with a win, you will probably buy the next round!

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