Basketball Betting: How to Bet on Basketball

• Basketball
• Sports Betting

Basketball Betting: A Detailed Guide on How to Bet on Basketball

If you have ever had any questions about basketball betting, you’ve come to the right place. This guide will not only give you an overview of the key aspects of the subject but 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 on NCAA and NBA betting, it is important to know and understand the ins and outs of basketball betting.

It 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 successful in basketball betting.

Spread Betting Basketball

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

The best basketball betting sites will set the point spread based on the probability of a certain outcome occurring. 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 spread-betting basketball markets.

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

In this game, the Duke Blue Devils are the favorites at this example basketball betting website. 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 spread betting basketball. 

How to Bet on Basketball Over/Under

A total bet basketball game market is sometimes referred to as an Over/Under bet, depending on the basketball betting website you use. 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 Over/Under. 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.

Brooklyn Netso 240.5-110
Milwaukee Bucksu 240.5-110
Basketball Over/Under Example

Basketball Over/Under markets give you a break from trying to pick the actual winner of each game. Most of the best basketball betting sites 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.

Basketball Betting: Moneylines

If you've ever wondered what is a moneyline bet in basketball, you'll be pleased to hear that basketball moneylines are particularly easy to understand. For that reason, they can be a great way for someone to break into basketball betting online. All you have to do with a moneyline bet is pick the winner of a basketball game. The online basketball betting odds for each team could be very different, depending on the game. 

Here is an example of a basketball moneylines market concerning a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics.

Boston Celtics-135
Los Angeles Lakers +165
Basketball Betting Moneylines 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 moneylines are that simple, so now you know what is a moneyline bet in basketball. However, they aren't the most popular basketball bets today for NBA and NCAA games. Spreads and Totals tend to be more popular at most basketball betting websites.

Basketball Betting: In-Play Betting

Live betting, otherwise known as in-play betting, has become a popular way to bet on sports, most notably basketball. Basketball in-play betting is usually done online through a basketball betting app, but it can be done at retail 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, inr just the same way as normal. Of course, the exact basketball betting lines 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.

Basketball Betting: Parlay Betting

Basketball parlay betting is a very popular and fun betting type. The premise of a 'parlay bet', if you haven't heard of it- is quite simple. It is essentially just stacking up bets in order to increase your odds. The only catch is that if even one of your bets in a parlay doesn't come in, you'll lose the stake.

You can create a parlay with bets that all relate to just one NBA game, or you can select bets from different games. Here are some examples of what potential parlays could look like.

  • Lakers @ Clippers - Lakers Win
  • Bucks @ Celtics- Celtics Win
  • Bulls @ Heat- Heat Win

Odds: +400

Or you could see parlay offers that apply to events in the same game, for example:

  • LeBron James to get over 29.5 points
  • Anthony Davis to get over 8.5 assists
  • Russel Westbrook to get over 4.5 steals

Odds- +350

The most popular way to parlay bet, is of course to create your own. To do this, you simply head to your favourite sportsbook, add all the bets you want to parlay onto your betting slip, and select the parlay option. When enjoying basketball parlay betting, always gamble responsibly.

Basketball Betting - Prop Betting

It is formatted very similarly to an Over/Under bet. They will give you a set line for a player as you can see in this
example we have gone with LeBron James and you simply select over/under. This is popular for casual NBA fans
who perhaps are only turning on the channel to see players like Giannis, LeBron, and KD. They can bet on their
favorite player and simply follow them around the court.

Lebron JamesOver 29.5 PointsUnder 29.5 Points
Basketball Betting - Prop Betting

It is formatted very similarly to an Over/Under bet. They will give you a set line for a player as you can see in this
example we have gone with LeBron James and you simply select over/under. This is popular for casual NBA fans
who perhaps are only turning on the channel to see players like Giannis, LeBron and KD. They can bet on their
favourite player and simply follow them around the court.

👇 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 on.

Basketball Betting: Live Odds

You now know how the most common basketball betting markets work, and you've already picked up some essential basketball betting terms. 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.

Online Basketball Betting

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 best-regulated online sportsbooks in the United States where you can bet on basketball. 

BetMGM Sportbook

BetMGM is a company that is one of the top online gambling providers in the US. They are one of the biggest competitors in the sports betting industry as well. 

This sportsbook currently operates online in at least twelve 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 online basketball betting odds and some great promotions. 

Caesars Sportsbook

Caesars 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 sportsbook launched 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.

Basketball Betting in Vegas

Basketball Betting 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 bets today work 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. 

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. They may also discuss basketball betting systems, basketball betting lines, basketball betting terms, and how to bet on basketball for newcomers. You can still make your own decisions, but it never hurts to get some advice from the experts. Indeed, it is always useful to have basketball betting explained by different people, as they each bring different perspectives to the table.

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, which can be handy for basketball betting systems and can help to spread your risk. 

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. Make sure that you understand basketball betting terms so that you know what you're looking for.

There are plenty of people who will do this research for you, but you will likely have to pay for their information or picks from their basketball betting systems. 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 Lines & 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.'

How to Bet on Basketball in Summary

  • The two most popular leagues to bet on are NCAA and NBA.
  • Do plenty of research before making any wagers!
  • There are plenty of betting types to choose from, including Moneyline, Props and Parlays.
  • Look into the history of players as well as teams.
  • Make sure you are getting the best odds with our comparison tool.
  • Always gamble responsibly!

Basketball Betting FAQ

What is a moneyline bet in basketball?

A moneyline bet in basketball is a straightforward bet on which team will win.

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.