How to Bet on Basketball

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Basketball is one of the most popular sports wagered on in the US, with both NBA and college basketball betting games available for betting throughout the year.

Use the following ‘Bet On Basketball’ guide to help you get started with basketball betting while providing you with the best NBA lines & NCAA Basketball Lines to look for.

What are Basketball Betting Odds and lines?

When you bet on basketball via online betting apps, you will be required to place your wagers on specific NBA or college basketball odds.

The NBA or college basketball odds can be given to you in three different formats: American, Fractional and Decimal.

All three NBA & college basketball odds types provide the same chance to bet on basketball but do so within different systems.

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New customers 21+ may sign up and opt-in for a Risk-Free Bet. If your first bet loses, get refunded up to $500 in site credits. Register anywhere in the US, but only bet from IN, NJ, and PA. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call 1-800-Gambler.

Decimal Odds

With decimal odds, you will be given a specific number which will be the odds on your bet winning. So for example, if we took basketball betting odds on a game between the Lakers and the Celtics using the decimal system, odds would be given to each team in numbers such as 2.20 for the Lakers and 1.75 for the Celtics.

If you placed a wager on the Lakers using these NBA odds for $10 you would receive 10 x 2.20 = $22 in total, whereas if you placed a $10 wager on the Celtics at 1.75 odds you would get 10 x 1.75 = $17.50.

Decimal odds are arguably the easiest to comprehend and should be used as a default for beginners who bet on basketball.

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds are similar to decimal odds when you bet on basketball in the sense that the odds given will be multiplied against your bet to decide your winnings but uses fractions instead of numbers to display the odds. Another difference is that the amount you will win will be provided as profit instead of total winnings.

For example, if we took the same NBA betting odds on the Lakers vs Celtics NBA lines game, the odds would be displayed as 6/5 for the Lakers and 3/4 on the Celtics. So if you bet $10 on the Lakers using the NBA odds you would still win 10 X 6/5 = $12 in profit.

American Odds

American odds use a completely different system to that of Fractional or Decimal NBA odds. American NBA odds represent how much a bettor will have to wager to win $100. So the basketball betting odds provided were -135 it means you must risk $135 to win $100 from the sportsbook.

Whereas an NBA betting odds of +350 on an underdog means you risk only $100, but you win $350.

All three odds types can generally be interchanged very easily at most top sportsbooks so you should have no trouble finding the odds type that is best for you to bet on basketball.

Basketball Lines

In basketball line betting the sportsbook handicaps the game by creating a margin that attempts to equalize both teams. The margin is referred to as the line. Most NBA lines give users odds close to 1.90 as the margin between 1.90 and 2.00 are the house margins.

Both NBA betting line and NCAA basketball betting lines are very popular amongst bettors and can be found on virtually every basketball game.

An example of an NBA lines would be Warriors -10.5, Pacers +10.5. Basically, the sportsbook is awarding the Pacers 10.5 points as a head start to equalize the basketball betting odds on this NBA lines.

The odds on this type of bet will almost always yield close to even money.  

How To Read Basketball Betting Lines

To bet on basketball you must be able to read basketball betting lines.

Reading NCAA basketball lines and NBA betting lines is very simple but requires that users understand the +/- points system. Normal NBA betting lines or NCAA basketball lines will include a number next to each team which is either + or -.

If the number is (+) then that many points will be added to the end score to decide the winner of the bet. For example, if we took an NCAA basketball lines where there was +5 for Team A and -5 for Team B and the end score was 99-100 in favor of Team B, a wager placed on Team A would still win due to the fact they have a +5 point head start.

The important part to remember when making line bets is that the team which is the favorite in the game must cover the spread (the number of points awarded to the underdog) and the underdog must lose by no less than the spread. In the case of a draw for NBA or NCAA, basketball lines result in a refund.

Keep in mind that odds can change for line bets based on injuries and rumors nearing game time. Whatever line you bet on, however, will not change in your betting slip.

Bet on NBA + NCAAb

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Live Basketball Betting Markets

Download app for iOS & Android

Get up to $500 Risk-Free Bet

New customers 21+ may sign up and opt-in for a Risk-Free Bet. If your first bet loses, get refunded up to $500 in site credits. Register anywhere in the US, but only bet from IN, NJ, and PA. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call 1-800-Gambler.

NBA Best Bets

NBA betting strategy comes into play when you bet on basketball. Some of the NBA best bets come in the form of handicaps, lines and over/unders.

When betting on lines and handicaps it’s good NBA betting strategy to look at past performances between teams and the most recent games. Be sure to look at injury lists and whether key players are expected to be rested in a certain game before placing your bet.

Some of the other NBA best bets you can look towards wagering on are over and under bets. With over and under bets you will have to predict whether both teams will score an aggregate number of points over or under an amount set by the sportsbook.

Example of NBA best bets: Lakers and Celtics to score over or under 210 points. A good NBA betting strategy is to look up the past meetings of teams and predict whether the teams will have a similar score.

College Basketball Best Bets

College teams tend to be a lot less consistent than the professional ones. That makes college basketball wagering a lot more dynamic, especially if you’re betting on March Madness.

As the players are much younger, sometimes as young as 18, you can generally expect more volatile performances.

Team cohesion is very important when betting on college basketball. It’s rare that a King James-style player dominates the college court.

So when considering a college team to bet on, evaluate an entire team’s strengths and weaknesses. Don’t fall into the trap line of thinking that a single player or two might be “hot”.

Hot streaks come and go and it’s best to look at the whole picture before placing a bet on a college team. You don’t want to fall prey to the hot hand fallacy.

How To Calculate The Probabilities To Bet On Basketball

A required NBA betting strategy to ensure you’re getting the most out of your bets is checking implied probabilities on NBA betting lines and college basketball betting lines.

When you bet on basketball there are certain implied probabilities which can be calculated to assist you in making your bets on college basketball lines and NBA betting lines.

Implied probability converts your betting odds to a percentage by taking into account the sportsbook margin when expecting the probability of a certain team winning.

Implied odds on NBA betting lines and college basketball betting lines can be calculated for NBA betting odds and college basketball odds for each of the three different odds types using the following formulas:

Decimal odds  – (1/ the decimal odds) X 100 = implied probability

Example for college basketball betting lines: if you bet on college basketball odds of 5.00 on then (1/5) X 100 = 20% implied probability.

Fractional odds – the denominator / (the denominator + the numerator) X 100 = implied probability

Example for NBA Betting lines:  if you bet on basketball NBA betting odds were 5/2 = 2 / (5+2) X 100 = 28.5% implied probability

American odds – Negative odds / (Negative odds + 100) X 100 = implied probability

Example for NBA Betting lines:  if you bet on basketball NBA betting odds -200 = 200/ (200+100) X 100 = 66.6%

When the sportsbook implied probability is lower than your own calculated probability on NBA betting lines or college basketball betting lines then you have a good betting opportunity on your hands. Implied probability should as a NBA betting strategy to make NBA best bets.