7 NBA Betting Tips For Beginners
As an NBA lover who loves a bet, and has been at it for a while I know how confusing things can be at the outset of your NBA betting journey.
I’ve decided to put together a post of 7 NBA betting tips to help you get the most of of your endeavors starting out. These tips have the aim of helping you succeed this season and in many seasons to come.
The early-season games are generally referred to us as “betting poison”, however as the season goes on and you gather more information about the performance of teams, trends can be found, and bets can be won. Many winning bettors don’t place many bets early in the season because of the unpredictability.
Follow the tips in this post and you’ll get a better idea of how to build the knowledge necessary to build a solid betting system that helps you win your bets during the NBA season.
Without further ado, let’s get going!
1. The NBA is a league driven by superstars
It’s no surprise that the NBA is a star-driven competition. The biggest names in the NBA are some of the biggest names in world sport, despite the league itself being a relative minnow on the world-stage.
The current trend of roster building in the is heading toward organisations trying to build “super teams” with two or three superstar players. Miami put together a few great seasons with James, Wade and Bosh, while currently the Warriors have brought together Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant.
How is the knowledge that the NBA is star-driven useful to a bettor?
To know of why this is important, you need to understand how the bookies set lines for each game . Bookmakers know that the newbie bettors are enamored by the superstars, so when they set lines they often adjust them against the best teams and players. They can do this because they predict that fans of NBA will bet on them anyway (Tip – Don’t be a fan when placing a bet).
The bookmakers prefer a balanced book of takings on each market/game. To do this they set lines in a way that will encourage equal bets to both sides of the market. Then, when they think a superstar team or player has a large group of biased bettors, they will move the line against them to encourage bets to be placed on the other side of the market to even the books.
A sharp NBA bettor has an opportunity to find value in this situation.
The value is rarely on the superstar teams or players, but in betting on lines that have been adjusted too far against them and profiting from the other side.
But of course, lines will never stay still. If a line moves too far and too much money comes in on the other side, adjustments will again be made by the bookmaker. This is the ongoing dance between the bookies and professional punters.
The bookies are masters at taking advantage of the average NBA punter. If it weren’t for professional NBA bettors, the bookies would be able to build their mansions even faster than usual.
You must do your pre-game study and be aware of the stars. Find out if they are injured, how they perform against they upcoming opponent and anything else that may influence the game.
Understanding that the NBA is a star-driven league can help you find the cracks in the markets.
2. Team Travel Schedules
Home teams in the NBA do better than road teams, that’s just a well known fact, and is pretty much a given for any league in sports.
As with back-to-back games (we go into this below), it’s important to understand how much better the average improvement is for a home team and how much worse teams perform on the road. It’s not enough to know that home teams perform better, the more important part of this is how much.
The NBA schedule (82 games per team) creates many different variables that bettors need to acknowledge. Road teams playing the 2nd game of back-to-back schedule are at an even larger disadvantage. But you also need to factor in how far a team has to travel. For example, when Brooklyn travels to New York it’s much different than when Houston travel to Dallas.
Experienced bettors are able to factor in all aspects a team’s schedule to predict how these factors may change the expected outcome of games. The only way to do this is by keeping track of team performances in all situations. (There are some sites that keep very detailed stats around these things, such as Covers).
You’ll need to know how Golden State historically performs on their first game at home after a road trip and how the Bulls are likely to play when they travel to New Orleans versus when they travel to the East.
There are countless statistics out there to absorb,it’s just a matter of finding the puzzle pieces that help you predict the outcomes on a consistent basis. This out is what separates winning and losing NBA bankrolls (find out more about betting bankrolls here)..
3. Back-to-Back Schedules
Playing games on a back-to-back schedule is one of the hardest things on teams, particularly teams that are very young (concentration can wane), or very old (injuries, wear and tear). If you follow performance of a team’s back-to-back schedule, the trends become obvious.
Bookies know this as well and adjust their line to account for the second night of a team’s back-to-back. The uninformed NBA bettor rarely takes this into account, so in order to balance the action, often the betting lines aren’t adjusted far enough.
This presents opportunities for value and profit for the knowledgeable bettor.
You track the performance of teams on a back-to-back schedule over time and find that Dallas is a strong team, but plays very poorly on the second night of a back-to-back. In the second game of a back-to-back you’ve found that Dallas are favored by 4 points at home.
Your findings of the match-up is that, if they weren’t playing on the second game of back-to-back, they should win by 4 points. However, because they are on their second game, you find that the game is a toss-up. This means that the value is know placed on the underdog away team.
On the other hand, if you find that they should win by 8 points, even with it being the 2nd night of back-to back, the value is on Dallas, the home team..
It’s important to remember that teams typically don’t play as well on a back-to-back schedule. The 1st night of a back-to-back can also be influenced, with coach’s resting players with the knowledge that they will have to play again the following night. Minutes restrictions come into play here, so perhaps deduct a point or two on the first night also.
When you realize how far the expected drop off is for teams on a B2B, you can start shopping for betting lines that offer value.
4. Don’t jump on the rookie hype trains
A new group of rookies enter the NBA every year and the media coverage makes them seem like they’ll take over the league in their first year. This year those expectations fall on Fultz, Ball and Ben Simmons.
It’s important that you take these hype reels with a grain of salt. Rarely does an NBA rookie have the impact equal to their ESPN hype reel.
Winning NBA bettors work with facts and hard statistics, something that zero rookies have entering the league. Bettors are using real, hard earned money and can’t afford to make bets based on hype (looking at you Lavar Ball). Rookies are the drivers behind many of the early-season betting markets, so make sure you don’t get sucked into the hype. There may also be some value leaning away from said hype, and instead leaning towards middle of the road teams from the year previous.
In saying that, how good is Ben Simmons…
5. Money Line
We generally prefer a money line wager over a Spread and that’s probably because we love a 3-4 leg parlay. This isn’t because the moneyline offers more value, but because I we evaluate games for the moneyline better.
This is something you should also do. Find one type of bet and learn how to identify the value on a consistent basis before you start diving into other NBA bet types.
Here’s how we assess NBA games for moneyline bets.
Firstly, we look for a home team that has more rest than their visiting opponent. A home team with rest vs a visiting team on a B2B creates a situation that is perfect for a line that doesn’t match the expectation of inexperienced NBA bettors.
The value is even better if the home team is an underdog.
We give a quick example of how this has played out before here –
When the 76ers were in full rebuild mode and the Heat had James, Wade and Bosh, Miami traveled to Philadelphia. Miami were heavy favorites but the 76ers won. If you looked at the game without considering the rest and travel, Miami were money for jam.
A smart bettor would have recognized a danger situation for Miami and compare it to the money offered on the home team Heat. If the moneyline was + enough on Philadelphia, you’d have found nice value.
This game sticks in our memory because it was a big light-bulb moment. We ignored the travel and rest and like most of the punters, decided there was no way the 76ers were a chance. We lost big.
The first thing that we do now is study each game and determine how often each team should win if it were played several times. Then check out the moneyline and decide whether or not it offers value.
For example –
If we look at a matchup and decide that the home team should win 1 out of 3 times, if the game were to be played multiple times, we look at the moneyline and decide whether it offers any value.
When the moneyline is +210 or more, the matchup offers value on the underdog. Note that the value is only there when we view the game correctly.
Here’s how we do the math:
If we place $100 on the underdog at +210 three times, our total outlay is $300. If they win 1 time, we receive our $100 back + the win of $210, for a total return of $310 on $300 outlaid.
Alternatively, if the visiting team is favorite at –180, the value is with them if they win 1 out of 3 matchups.
The total investment for taking the bet 3 times is $540, and you get back your $180 and a win of $100 on the 2 games you win. This is a return of $560, for an overall win of $20.
Often the moneyline on a match-up where we determine the underdog will win one 1 of 3 times is +200 and –190. This is a situation where there’s no value on either side of the market. In this case, the bookies evaluated the game basically the same way that we did.
The issue with evaluating moneyline bets this way is that the market only gets decided once. This means that it can take a long time to get the required feedback to determine if you’re evaluating the markets well.
6. Totals Points betting
Most sports markets have total lines as an option. In some places, like Australia, they’re also referred to as over/under lines. Totals are a bet on the total combined score of each teams being over or under the total points line offered by the bookie.
A total or over/under points line of 227 means that if you take the over, the two teams must combine for 228 points or more for you to win. If you take the under they must combine for 226 points or less for a winning bet result.
Some teams score more than others and some have better defensive units than others. But you can’t make the mistake of thinking that it’s easier or requires less work to bet on totals.
Most NBA fans who bet have a love of offense. This means that they think their favorite teams are going to score more points than is realistic. Like getting hot on NBA Jam.
The bookies realize this, and know that the league encourages high scores. For pro sports bettors this can create matchups that offer value on the under. The bookies are wise, so they don’t adjust the lines too far. If they do, it creates opportunities for sharps to clean up on the under frequently.
If you learn how to evaluate games well, including the scoring and defense abilities of both the home and road teams, you’ll find totals that offer value. The majority of value is going to be found on the under.
We wrote earlier about the importance of stars in the league, and they have a massive impact on totals. It’s hard to make predictions about how a team fills the scoring gap when a stars is out, but you can find many opportunities every season to find value if you do the work.
Some teams have enough quality players on their roster to fill the gap when a superststar is out, while other struggle to score. Your aim is to take advantage of the lines when the bookmakers lower the total too far or don’t lower it enough.
7. Live NBA Betting
More NBA bettors than ever are taking advantage of in-game betting. Until many online books started offering it, in-game sports betting was only available on a private one-to-one basis between a bettor and friends.
Just like prop bets, you can find a wide range of live-betting options. The simple live-bets involve totals and which team wins each quarter or half.
NBA offers a few unique opportunities for in-game live betting too. If you’ve plenty of NBA games you’ve probably noticed that frequently one team extends to a big lead that makes it look like the game is over. But, as is often the case, the final score ends up much closer than it seemed like it would early in the game.
When live betting was first offered, many bettors tried to take advantage of this by wagering on the team that was down by a large score to win the 2nd half. This is of course still offered, but sports books are wise to this trend and set water down their lines to take it into account.
While it’s thrilling to place live NBA bets, ensure that you approach the same way as any other bets you make. Exploit value.
Don’t place bets based on emotion or feelings, this is exactly what the bookies want. Unless you have researched analysis and value to place a bet, leave live-betting alone.
To sum it up
NBA offers more games than the majority of world sports, with the exception of MLB and NHL. Because of the sheer number of games in a season, some daily schedules have 12+ games. Pick wisely.