How to Bet on Basketball - An Expert Guide to Basketball Betting



How to Bet on Basketball

• Basketball
• Sports Betting

How to Bet on Basketball

If you have ever wondered about how to bet on basketball game, you’ve come to the right place. This Expert Guide to Basketball Betting article will not only give you an overview of the key aspects of basketball betting, but it will also explain how to bet on basketball and win.

The sports betting industry continues to grow in the United States. If your state has not already legalized betting, there is a good chance it will happen soon. Before you start putting some money down, it is important to know and understand the ins and outs of how to bet on basketball.

Basketball betting is very similar to betting on other sports, but there are some key differences. This guide will highlight those and provide the information you need to help you become a successful basketball bettor.

Where To Bet On Basketball 👇

Choose your state

Basketball Leagues to Bet On

The two most popular basketball leagues to bet on are the NBA and the NCAA.

NBA refers to the National Basketball Association. It is one of the most popular professional sports leagues in the United States. NBA betting takes place from October until June each year. The NBA Playoffs and NBA Championship are two key betting events that take place in June.

The NCAA is the National Collegiate Athletic Association. College basketball betting runs from November until the first week of April. NCAA basketball ramps up during the month of March when 'March Madness' tips off.

Even though these are the two most popular basketball leagues, they are not the only ones out there. There is also a Women’s National Basketball Association, and women’s college basketball. 

Basketball Betting Types

There are several different types of bets that can be placed on basketball. The options available to you will depend on where you are placing the bets. Understanding how each type of bet works is useful so that you can take advantage of whatever is accessible to you.

Basketball betting lines and basketball betting odds work the same way for most of these bets, but they are presented in a different format. 

👇 Below you will see our NBA odds comparison tool, which gives you betting lines from legal US sportsbooks to make sure you’re getting the best price no matter what you want to bet.

Did you know?

  • Our odds are updated every 3 seconds, you will see them blink red for when the odds are "shortening" and blue from when the odds are "drifting".
  • The best odds will be highlighted in bold.
  • Use the filter odds tab to look at spreads, over/under, or money lines. You can also filter by state to show sportsbooks available in your area.
  • You can visit directly the operator by tapping/clicking on any of the odds from the odds table.

Live Basketball Odds


Here is a look at the most common basketball betting types found at sportsbooks in the United States. 

How to Bet on the Basketball Spreads

Basketball point spread bets are extremely common, especially when it comes to NBA and NCAA Basketball games. Knowing how to bet in this market can win you a ton of money if you get good at it. 

Sportsbooks and bookmakers will set the point spread based on the probability of a certain outcome to occur. Basketball spreads can change several times before a game tips off. You therefore need to be ready to place a bet when the spread offers the best value. 

Let’s use a matchup between the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels to explain basketball spread betting.

Duke Blue Devils-5.5-110
North Carolina Tar Heels+5.5-110
Basketball Point Spread Example

In this game, the Duke Blue Devils are the favorites. You can tell that because they have a (-) sign in front of their number. Their score will be reduced by 5.5 points before your bet is settled. Duke not only has to win, but to win by at least six points for your bet to succeed. 

The Tar Heels are the underdogs. That's why their number is preceded by a (+) sign. This team will have its score increased by 5.5 points before your bet is settled. They can therefore lose the game by five points or less, or win it outright, for your bet to win.

Most of the time, the payout is the exactly same for both teams in basketball spread betting. 

How to Bet on Basketball Totals

A total bet is sometimes referred to as an Over/Under bet. That's because you have to predict whether the combined number of points will go over or under the quoted line. This is a popular market among NBA bettors, and it also applies to NCAA Basketball games.

It’s not that difficult to understand how to bet on basketball totals. If you believe that the total points will be higher than the line, you bet Over. If you believe it will be lower, you bet Under. Should your prediction prove accurate, your bet will win.

Basketball totals give you a break from trying to pick the actual winner of each game. Most sportsbooks will offer lines at -110 for both sides of the bet. That helps to take some of the decision-making out of the process. 

As in many other basketball markets, betting totals quotes are likely to change several times leading up to tip-off.

How to Bet on Basketball Moneylines

Basketball moneyline markets are particularly easy to understand. For that reason, they can be a great way for someone to break into basketball betting. All you have to do with a moneyline bet is pick the winner of a basketball game. The odds for each team could be very different, depending on the game. 

Here is an example of moneyline betting odds concerning a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics.

Boston Celtics-135
Los Angeles Lakers +165
Basketball Moneyline Example

Boston are the favorites in this game, and it would take a $135 bet to win $100. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers are the underdogs, and will pay you more if they win. A $100 bet on the Lakers would earn you a profit of $165. 

Basketball moneyline betting is that simple. However, it isn't the most popular type of betting market for NBA and NCAA games. Spreads and Totals tend to be most popular. 

How to Bet on Basketball Futures

Future betting is the only type that doesn’t focus on a single game. Instead, it focuses on the culmination of a much larger event, or the outcome of a complete season. Some common future bets when it comes to basketball are:

  • NBA Champion
  • NCAA Tournament Champion
  • Division Winners
  • Conference Champions
  • League MVP
  • League Rookie of the Year
  • Teams to Reach the Final Four
  • Teams to Earn No. 1 Seeds

Future betting is popular because it provides entertainment for the long term. Odds are released well in advance of an event getting underway, and are adjusted several times before the bet closes. 

How to Bet on Basketball In-Play

Live betting, otherwise known as in-play betting, has become a popular way to bet on sports, most notably basketball. Live betting is usually done online through a basketball betting app, but it can be done atretail sportsbooks as well. 

In-play betting is popular because it gives you the chance to bet right along with the game. 

If you are wondering how to bet on basketball live, well, you already know the answer. You can make basketball spread bets, or basketball total bets, in just the same way as normal. Of course, the exact options available to you will depend on which sportsbook you visit. 

Searching for value is always important, but you won't have much time to do that when betting on live basketball games.

Where to Bet on Basketball

You now know how the most common basketball betting markets work. But where will you be able to make your bets?

There are two main options in the United States. The first is online basketball betting, and the other is betting on basketball at a retail sportsbook or casino. Both of these options will offer similar basketball betting lines and odds, but the look and feel of each of them are different. 

Let’s explore the top basketball online sportsbooks, as well as what betting on basketball in Vegas looks like. 

Best Basketball Bookmakers and Sportsbooks

One of the newest and most popular ways to bet on basketball is through an online bookmaker or sportsbook.

As more states legalize sports betting, there is a greater opportunity to play at an online sportsbook near you. Here are four of the top regulated sportsbooks in the United States where you can bet on basketball. 

Recommended Sportbooks:


DraftKings was founded in 2012 as a competitor to FanDuel in the Daily Fantasy Sports space. It is still one of the top DFS sites on the market, but wasted little time jumping into the growing sports betting industry. 

This sportsbook currently operates online in at least eight states across the country, and it is one of the best places to bet on basketball. 


Basketball betting at FanDuel is just as comprehensive as it is at DraftKings, and these two companies have built up a nice rivalry over the years. FanDuel Sportsbook was founded in July 2009, and it originated as a Daily Fantasy Sports betting site. 

Its headquarters are in New York City, but it has sportsbooks all over the country. Its online sportsbooks are now live in at least three states, and it offers competitive NBA betting lines and some great promotions. 

William Hill

William Hill is known as America’s number one sportsbook, and it has a presence in several states across the country. This sportsbook also offers a sports betting app, that can be used as a basketball betting app for betting fans. 

It offers competitive basketball betting lines and some great promotions.


PointsBet might not be a household name yet, but it will be soon. This sportsbooklaunched in Australia, but it has had little trouble finding its way in the United States. 

PointsBet offers some unique betting opportunities to basketball bettors.

First, they have a system in place to allow players to choose how many points they think a team will win by. The payouts are then tiered based on the number of 'points' the bet wins by.

Second, PointsBet offers a 'Random Booster Odds' promotion from time to time, giving players in certain locations better odds for a game.

Betting on Basketball in Vegas

The traditional way of betting on basketball in the United States was to visit Las Vegas and do some gambling in person. You can find guides on how to bet on basketball in Vegas, but you already know how basketball betting works if you have made it this far. 

One of the best reasons to bet on basketball in Vegas is for the atmosphere and the experience. Las Vegas used to be the only real place to bet on basketball in the US, and today it still offers a great betting experience. 

Check out some of its sportsbooks or sports betting lounges and watch the games while you bet. This would also be a great time to try out your live betting basketball strategy. 

Live NBA Odds


Basketball Betting Tips and Strategy

There are several basketball betting tips and strategies that can be useful, but we are going to focus on four things that can help you win some money. There are certainly other basketball betting tips that you can use as well, but be sure to think about these things when looking for some action. 

Listen to a College Basketball Betting Podcast

As the sports betting landscape continues to grow in the United States, betting experts are starting to pop up as well. If you plan on betting on the NCAA Tournament, then it would be wise to listen to a college basketball betting podcast. 

These podcasts will give a rundown of some of the best basketball bets of the day, and they will point out some betting trends. You can still make your own decisions, but it never hurts getting some advice from the experts. 

Bet on Women’s College Basketball

Even though NCAA Men’s Basketball and the NBA are the two most popular leagues to bet on, you shouldn’t forget about the women’s game. It can be very profitable to bet on women’s college basketball, especially during the NCAA Tournament. 

Their version of 'March Madness' tends to be a little bit more predictable, and it can help guard against some bad losses. 

Do Plenty of Research

It's highly advisable to do plenty of research before betting on basketball. The best research is broken down into several smaller segments. Look at recent betting trends, injuries, recent history, coaching matchups, and location when doing research for a game.

There are plenty of people who will do this research for you, but you will likely have to pay for their information. Knowing how to read basketball betting lines is one thing, but you also need to know how to read the recent betting trends. 

How much research you do can be a huge part of whether or not you are a successful basketball bettor. 

Search For Value in Basketball Betting Odds

When you are looking at the betting odds for basketball games on a certain day, you want to try and look for value. It’s important to be able to pick out the winners when looking at the betting slate, but that’s just a small part of the equation. 

Try to find the odds that will pay out well as opposed to just looking for 'locks.'

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How to Bet on Basketball FAQ

Is basketball betting profitable?

The short answer is yes, at least potentially, but it depends on your definition of profit. Betting on basketball is not some ‘get rich quick’ scheme, but like betting in general, there is always the opportunity to make money. 

To make betting on basketball profitable, you need to really get to know the game. You need to be able to read betting lines and spot value. Then you need a sound bankroll management plan.

A bankroll management plan will keep you from losing a ton of money by betting on basketball and will give you a chance to recover from any losses you experience.

How do I read basketball betting lines?

When you are looking at the daily lines posted for basketball games, you will see them posted in a chart that looks something like this:

Date/TimeRotation NumberTeamPoint SpreadMoneylineTotal
12/2/20111Chicago Bulls-3.5-120+221.5
7:30 PM112Miami Heat+3.5+140+221.5

We will break down this chart as well as point out some important terms to know when betting on basketball.

The first column is the date and time of the game you are looking at. You can usually find basketball odds for every game on that date.

The rotation number is set by the sportsbook, and you will need to reference that number when making your bet.

The next column is the two teams that are playing in that game.

The final three columns are the important numbers that can determine what way you want to bet, and also how much money you can win. The first is the point spread, which we discussed earlier. 

Betting against the spread means picking the winner, and the spread of the final score. Most sportsbooks will offer odds set at -110 unless otherwise noted. 

The same odds are usually given for the final column, which is the betting total. This is also sometimes referred to as over/under.

The fifth column features the moneyline. The moneyline is simply choosing a team to win the game, and the odds are very different for each team in the matchup. 

Can I buy basketball betting picks?

Yes, you can buy basketball betting picks, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be paying for guaranteed winners. You might be able to find a site that will deliver a ‘Basketball Bet of the Day’ and that just means that it is one of the best options to consider. 

A tipster will do the research for you and will usually break down why their pick will win the basketball game. It really is just basketball betting advice, rather than a guaranteed winner, but it could be something that you find works for you. 

Is it easier to bet on college basketball or the NBA?

This answer basically comes down to personal preference, as college basketball betting and NBA betting work much the same. There are usually more betting options available for NBA games than there are for NCAA games, but the lines and odds are similar. 

The NBA season is much longer than the college basketball season, which will give you more chances to win. It’s more important to recognize the different ways to bet on basketball and choose the best option for you. 

If you are an NBA fan, then stick to the NBA, but if you prefer the college game, then that should be where your betting is done.

About this author

Cole Paganelli author profile

Cole is really big into Major League Baseball, but really - the big four Pro US sports are his passion. Cole grew up a Yankees fan, but married a Red Sox fan. It's tough around the house during those big games, but his hatred for the Red Sox has waned a little. Cole has a goal of seeing every Major League Baseball Stadium before the end of 2022!

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