In the United States, the NBA is the 2nd most popular sport to bet on, behind NFL football. As the premier basketball organization in the world, it’s also a popular sport for punters outside of the U.S.. Serious NBA handicappers need to have accounts at several online sportsbooks to compare odds. Over the course of a season, small advantages on every game can be the difference between winning or losing.
Superstars such as those above have made the NBA by far the world’s most popular basketball league
How to Bet on NBA Basketball
While there are a number of ways to bet on NBA basketball, the three most popular bets are on the point spread, money line, and total score of a game. The point spread is the most popular of the three, but a lot of punters look for added value in money line bets. If you’re looking to add some excitement to a game, most online sportsbooks offer a wide range of prop bets. Prop bets can even be made from a mobile phone, so you can place a bet from the pub, or while watching the game from the stands.
Best Online Sportsbooks for NBA Betting in Australia
NBA Point Spread Bets
A point spread is a handicap given to teams in order to even out the betting. Underdogs are given points, while favorites have to give up points. Using the spread, punters can get in the range of -110 odds on most NBA games. Here’s an example:
- Los Angeles Lakers -5.5 -110
- Denver Nuggets +5.5 -110
In the scenario above, the Lakers are favored by 5.5 points, so for bets on them to win, the Lakers would need to win the game by 6 or more points. For the Nuggets, they could lose the game by 5 or fewer points, and bets on them would win. Using the point spread, bets on either of these teams pay out at -110, which is $10 profit for $11 wagered.
NBA Money Line Bets
Money line wagers are straight-up bets on the winner of the game, with no point spread. If you think Team X will win, bet on Team X. If you think Team Y will win, bet on Team Y. Since no point spread is used, odds are adjusted to reflect the favorite and underdog. Favorites are indicated with a negative (-) money line, while underdogs are indicated with a positive (+) money line. Both money lines use $100 as the basis point for calculating payouts, but the calculations work differently. For example:
- Boston Celtics -230
- Philadelphia 76ers +190
In this case, the Celtics are the favorite. Since they have a negative money line, it would require a bet of $230 to win $100 in profit (or $23 to win $10). For the 76ers, a bet of $100 would result in a $190 profit if they win. Just remember that negative money lines represent the amount of money needed to wager in order to win $100 in profit. Positive money lines represent the amount of money that would be won from a $100 bet. Obviously there are benefits and negatives of money line bets versus point spread bets. When betting on favorites, your team doesn’t have to cover a point spread, they just need to win. However, since they don’t have to cover a spread, the odds on them are lower. For underdogs, odds can be much greater on the money line versus the point spread, but they have no handicap. More risk, more reward. Remember, there is no such thing as a lock. While it’s seems like easy money to take a -600 favorite, risking $6 to win $1 is a risky proposition.
NBA Total (Over/Under) Bets
Also called over/under bets, totals bets are wagers on the combined score of both teams in a game. For example, a score of 100-90 would have a total of 190. Online NBA betting sites set a number on what they think the total will be, and a punters job is to determine if that number is too high or too low. If you think it’s too high, you’d want to bet the ‘under’. If you think it’s too low, you’d bet the ‘over. While there is some skill involved in betting the over/under, this is essentially a prop bet. Getting in the neighborhood of -110 for total bets, unless you can beat the books fairly consistently, this is a hard way to make money.
Parlay Betting on NBA Basketball
A parlay bet is a wager that combines multiple, single bets onto one ticket. For a parlay to win, every bet on the ticket must win or the entire parlay is lost. Point spread, money line, and total bets can be mixed into a single parlay. For example, you could bet the point spread on one game, the money line on two other games, and the total on a fourth game – all on one parlay ticket. The benefit of a parlay is dramatically increased odds over individual bets. Since only one bet within a parlay ticket needs to lose for the entire parlay to lose, online sportsbooks offer much better odds for these bets. Of course, that also means you’re less likely to win parlays than single bets. NBA parlay bets can be used to go for big wins, or to add value to a straight bet.
For example, some bettors like to add a -500 favorite to a tight game where they’re getting +105 – +130 odds. The idea is that you’re taking a shot with the underdog, but getting better odds by adding a huge favorite that you definitely expect to win. Most online sportsbooks allow punters to take as many as 8 teams on a single parlay, but some offer 15 or more. Of course, the odds of winning a parlay of this size is close to impossible. For this reason, we recommend keeping your parlays down to 3-5 teams maximum. The payouts can be very big, and you’ll win your parlay bets more often – good for your mental attitude, as well as your bankroll.
NBA Futures Bets
For the NBA, futures bets (basically betting on things that havn’t happened yet) can be placed on the eventual winner of the NBA Championship, along with divisional champions, and East/West champions. These bets are usually made available well in advance of the season, and run deep into it. If you’re picking an underdog to win next season, you’ll typically get better odds if you place the bet before the season starts. If you turn out to be right and your team is winning, odds on them will go down.
However, if you’re picking a favorite to win, wait until the season has begun and make sure your team is performing as you thought they would. Odds on favorites generally won’t go down much during the first few weeks of a season, so there’s little reason to place your bets early. While NBA futures bets can offer attractive odds, the sportsbook will have your money all season long. If you’re a serious NBA handicapper, it’s not a good idea to tie up part of your bankroll on a bet that will take so long to pay off.
NBA Basketball Prop Bets
Prop bets are wagers that don’t fit into any of the categories listed above. While props can be fun bets to make, they often charge a higher vig than point spread or money line bets, and they can be difficult to win as well. Prop bets are really designed for casual handicappers, not for professionals. If you’re a casual bettor looking to add some fun to a game, some of the NBA prop bets that can be made include:
- Which team will score first?
- Which player will score first?
- Alternative point spreads.
- Will player X record a double-double?
- Will player Y score over 25 points?
Most online sportsbooks offer a nice variety of NBA prop bets, especially for big games. A lot of bookmakers also offer mobile prop betting, so you can bet on specific events during a game from anywhere.
NBA Playoff Betting
During the NBA playoffs and championship series, every online sportsbook expands their betting options. Look for more team & player props, and shop around for the best prices. Since more people bet on NBA playoff games than regular season game, lines move a lot more. Big favorites and teams with large fan bases tend to move the line against them, offering value for the opponent. This is because casual bettors are inclined to take the favored team (or their personal favorite) regardless of the spread or money line. When most of the money is being bet on one team, look to bet on the opponent once the lines have made significant moves in their favor.
NBA Betting for U.S. Residents
Cool graphic by a Reddit user showing each NBA team by State
While there aren’t any laws forbidding U.S. handicappers from betting at online sportsbooks, there are challenges when it comes to making deposits. The UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) which was enacted in 2006 seeks to make it more difficult for Americans to deposit at online gambling sites. Some online sportsbooks have done a better job of finding companies to process Visa credit & debit cards than others. Obviously, if you can’t make a deposit, you can’t make a bet. The sportsbooks with the best Visa deposit success rates have been Topbet.eu and Bovada.lv.
These two sportsbooks have been the most consistent for U.S. bettors, while the rest are very hit or miss. Serious handicappers need to have accounts at several online sportsbooks so they can compare odds and get the best prices. If this is you, check into alternative deposit options at each book you’d like to sign up at. Some sportsbooks offer Western Union, instant echecks, and even wire transfers directly from your bank. Instant echecks are as easy as paying a bill online, and Western Union is very simple as well. To make a Western Union deposit, instructions on where to send your money will typically be located in the cashier window at the sportsbook website. If not, contact customer support and ask them where to send the money. Get green cash out of your bank account and take it to your local grocery store. Most grocery stores have a Western Union kiosk near the front of the store. Fees are reasonable and your account will generally be funded within 30 minutes of making the transfer.