Basketball Odds Explained

Of the four major sports, basketball is one of the easiest to bet on. Along with football, basketball uses the point spread for wagering on sides (teams), as well as an over/under number. If you know how to bet on football, you already pretty much know how to bet on basketball. However, to help out beginners we will have the most important basketball odds explained.

The most common method of betting basketball involves the point spread. This is a handicap the sportsbooks impose on one team to make both teams equal in terms of betting. With the point spread, the team expected to win will be called the favorite. However, the team expected to lose will be called the underdog. The team expected to win gives or lays, points to the team expected to lose for betting purposes.

Totals Betting

The second most popular method of wagering on basketball is in betting totals, also known as over/unders. Essentially, a total is the predicted combined score of the two teams playing. A number will be posted, and bettors have the option of wagering more than the predicted total points will be scored (over), or less than the predicted total points will be scored (under).

Basketball Odds Explained
Totals Betting

In our hypothetical game between the Knicks and the Celtics, the over/under number might be 188. Bettors wagering on the over would win their bets if the total combined score were 189 or greater, while bettors wagering on the under would win their bets if the combined total score were 187 or fewer points. Again, if the combined score is exactly 188 points, the bet is considered a push, or a tie, and no money changes hands.

NBA Over/Under Betting

Bookies always set a number that represents how many points the teams will combine to score in the game, called the Over/Under, or O/U. You simply pick whether the final score will be greater than (over) or less than (under) the number the odds-makers set. You can’t talk about basketball odds explained without totals betting. Here is an example:

Atlanta Hawks vs. Miami Heat – OVER/UNDER 190.5

Remember that over/under bets will also always have some kind of vigorish (usually -110), so be sure to take that into account when placing this type of wager.

To determine what the scoreboard will look like after 4 quarters, take a look at schedules and injury reports for each side. If a team is in midst of a long road trip or suffering from injuries, they are more likely to have a slow-paced, half-court offense worked into their game plan. But if they’re coming in with fresh legs and/or playing at home, you can expect a lot more running than usual. It’s never a sure-fire prediction, but it’ll help get you above 50% accuracy.

Another scenario that leads to more fast-break basketball is when a coach is trying to play his team into shape in the earliest stretch of the preseason or regular season. However, that tends to happen more often in prep and NCAA basketball than in pro action.

Also, be sure to investigate both squads’ tendencies in “garbage” time. When a contest is a blow-out, pro coaches like to substitute their bench onto the floor. Depending on what type of youngsters are playing out the minutes and who is coaching them, there could be a lot of running – or a more low-scoring half-court game.

Moneyline Betting

While betting against the point spread or on totals make up the vast majority of basketball wagers, bettors also have several other betting options available to them. One is the moneyline wager, which is a bet on the winner of the game without the point spread. But because some teams are given a better than 50-percent chance of winning, moneyline wagers are made using odds, so that if you bet on the team expected to win you will be asked to risk considerably more than you stand to win. 

The moneyline odds on a game will look something like:

  • Boston Celtics -300
  • New York Knicks +240

What this means is that bettors taking the Celtics are asked to put up $30 to win $10, while those believing the Knicks will win are asked to risk $10 to win $24.

All sports betting was done with moneylines at one point, but with too many people betting on the obvious favorites all of the time, the point spread was introduced, and sports betting hasn’t been the same since.

Basketball Odds Explained: Betting on the Spread

If the Celtics are playing the Knicks, most bettors would bet on the Celtics to win the game. But say the point spread will make the Celtics a 10-point favorite. What this means is that the Celtics have to win by 11 or more points for its bettors to win their bet, while those betting on the Knicks would win their wagers if the Knicks won the game or lost by nine points or less. If the Celtics win by exactly 10 points, the bet is a push or a tie, and no money changes hands.

When betting against the point spread, bettors are asked to lay 11-to-10 odds, which means that they risk $11 to win $10. This is how the bookies and sportsbooks make their money. If I bet $11 on the Celtics and you bet $11 on the Knicks, the bookie collects $22 between us, but only returns $21 to the winner. The extra dollar is essentially the bookie’s fee for accepting our wagers. Spread betting is otherwise known as handicap betting. You can check our basketball handicap section to learn more about that. Additionally, check the Coinbet24 blog to learn more about Handicap Betting.

Betting the NBA Against the Spread

Let’s start off with an example of a pro hoops game with the point spread listed:

Chicago Bulls +6 (-110)
LA Lakers -6 (-110)

In these lines, Los Angeles is a 6-point favorite over the Chicago Bulls. Remember, the team with the minus (-) sign is the favorite. The number listed after is how many points they are favored by. That means you could bet on L.A. to best their opponent. However, they must prevail in the contest by more than 6 points for your wager to pay off.

If the Lakers prevail by less than 6 points, your bet would be a loser. If Los Angeles prevails by exactly 6 points, your wager would be a “push” or tie, meaning your wager would be nullified.

On the other side of the ledger is Chicago at +6. This means the Bulls are “getting” 6 points (or are 6-point underdogs). A wager on Chicago would score for you if the Bulls either prevail outright, or lose by less than 6 points (e.g. Bulls 101, Lakers 105 would give you a winning bet if you took the Bulls +6).

The next number, after the point spread, represents the “vigorish,” or juice, that the book requires to place your bet. In the example above, both numbers are -110 (which is fairly typical). This means you must wager $110 to win $100 (or $55 to win $50, etc.). However, this number does change on occasion, so be sure you check it before placing a wager.

Basketball Odds Explained: Bitcoin Betting

When betting on basketball, it’s important to look for the best markets and odds on the most popular leagues. This includes the NBA, NCAAB, EuroLeague, and international tournaments like the World Cup or the EuroCup. This is why we suggest visiting Coinbet24, an online sports betting and casino operator. We hope that our basketball odds explained article shares enough information on the matter.

Conversely, the best place to place basketball bets is on a bitcoin sportsbook like Coinbet24.. The bitcoin sportsbook offers odds and markets from the most popular basketball leagues in the world. You will find markets from the NBANCAABEuroleague, Eurocup, FIBA Europe Cup, etc. Additionally, there are markets from almost every national basketball league in the world.

The Coinbet24 bitcoin sportsbook offers a broad selection of betting types when it comes to basketball. You will find all standard bet types like moneyline (including OT) bets, several different totals score bets, handicap bets (including OT), etc. There is a wide selection of special bitcoin basketball betting offers as well.