NBA Betting: Explaining Bet Types

The NBA regular season is about to start in just over two months and for the sharp bettor, it would be prudent to begin getting ready for opening day. For casual bettors, you still have some time to learn about the basketball betting market, including the types of bets that can be made. In this article, I will explain the different types of bets that are most common for basketball games, with an emphasis on the NBA.


The betting market for moneyline is the most common and easiest to understand. When betting on the moneyline, the team that you bet on simply has to win the game for you to win your bet. It doesn’t matter if your team wins by one point or by thirty points – only the end result matters, which must be a win. Moneyline odds for an NBA game would typically look like this:

Golden State Warriors –150 or 1.67 Cleveland Cavaliers +130 or 2.30

In this example, you may choose two sides to bet on. If you were betting on the Warriors to win with a bet amount of $100, you would profit $67 if the Warriors were to win. On the other hand, if you were betting on the Cavaliers to win with the same bet amount, you would profit $130 if the Cavaliers were to win. In this case, the Warriors are favoured while the Cavaliers are underdogs.


When it comes to betting against the spread, there are two sides – the minus side (favourite) and plus side (underdog). If the Warriors were playing the Brooklyn Nets, it would be quite obvious who would win – the Warriors. As a result, the moneyline for the Warriors to win would be miniscule and would look something like 1.01 – you would profit $1 with a $100 wager. Since there would be little to no incentive for anyone to bet on the Warriors, the oddsmakers assign the Warriors with a handicap for the same payout for both sides, usually –110 or 1.91. Essentially, what this means is that since the Warriors are favourites to win the game, in order for you to win your bet against the spread, the Warriors must not only win the game, they must win by a certain number of points. If the Warriors were –18.5 favourites, this means that they must win by 19 points or more for you to “cover” against the spread. Anything else would result in a loss against the spread. Similarly, for the Nets +18.5, if they win the game, you will surely cover against the spread. However, even if they lose the game but lose by 18 points or less, you will still cover against the spread due to the handicap placed on the Warriors of 18.5 points.


In basketball betting, wagering on totals consists of two sides – the over or the under. If the totals for the Warriors vs. Cavaliers were set at 210.5 and you were to take the over bet, at the end of the game, you would add up the scores for both teams and if the total exceeded 210.5, you would win your bet. Conversely, if you were to take the under bet and the scores for both teams fell under 210.5, you would win your bet. Similar to spread betting, the payout for both sides will always be more or less equal, usually –110 or 1.91.

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