NBA Betting – The Basics

NBA Betting, it’s tough…

NBA basketball betting is a marathon, not a sprint.

With a long 82 game schedule with an additional four rounds of Playoffs in a best of seven series format. Played by 30 teams, the NBA season is one of the toughest seasons for players and bettors alike.

If you’re serious about betting on the NBA we’ve got just one word for you…Bankroll (we’ll explain Bankroll management for NBA basketball below).

Listed below are the most common types of NBA bets, with some tips for winning on the NBA.

NBA betting is not for the faint of heart

Before you get too excited heading into the NBA season, grab yourself a cold beer and stare into the horizon for a good long hour. Composure is key.

NBA is one of the most difficult sports to wager on. With poor teams often playing it out until the final whistle and elite teams resting their starters in junk time, there is a 5-10 minute period of NBA games where things can go from elation to despair for bettors. It’s these last seconds of games where spread betting can go wrong, and hearts are broken.

In saying this, betting on NBA is our true love…. and it’s the ones you love that hurt you the most.

NBA betting can be summed up in one GIF…

NBA Betting Markets

Now that you’ve decided to join the marathon, it’s time to learn the different types of NBA betting markets.

Below is a list of the most common NBA bets…

The Point Spread –

Betting on the ‘Spread’ is the most common bet on NBA, and offers more value than a straight up Moneyline bet. The Spread is an educated guess from the bookies as to how much each team will win/lose by in a game. Bookmakers aim to get around 50% of bets on each side of the Spread, hence why it’s at even odds.

The Spread is represented in the books as either a (+) or a (-) symbol, with the favorite given a handicap of points to overcome for the wager to be a winning bet.

A Spread bet will have odds ranging from -105 to -110 for each team in the game. ( The higher the odds, the less “Juice” (percentage of takings from each bet) the bookmaker skims.

More information on Spread Betting.

An example of a Point Spread Bet –

Denver Nuggets__ -8.0 (-110) |  Phoenix Suns__+8.0 (-110)

In this example, the Denver Nuggets are heavy favorites, and must win by 9+ points for an outright win, and 8.0 points for a Push.

In the same example, the Phoenix Suns must win the game, or lose by 7 points or less for a winning bet. A loss of 8 points will make it a Push.

Moneyline –

A Margin bet has the bettor place a bet on the team they think will win a game.

NBA Moneyline betting is riskier than a Spread Bet, as there is no room for error if you bet on an underdog. Likewise, if you bet on a favorite, you will be getting pretty low return for your outlay.

One great thing about NBA betting is that it’s common for long shot underdogs to get up and win. Remember that it’s a 5-on-5 game with the best players in the world and sometimes the ball just bounces right.

Total Points Over/Under Market –

The Total Points Over/Under has the punter bet on whether the total number of points in a game (both teams combined) will go over a total number given by the bookmaker. This will again be at odds ranging from -105 to -110 depending on Juice.

More information on NBA Over Under Betting.

Proposition Bets (Futures) –

An NBA Prop bet is a bet placed that will have it’s outcome determined at the end of the NBA season. An example of these bets include the NBA Championship Winner, NBA MVP Winner and NBA Rookie of the Year Winner.

NBA Betting Advice

  • Recent matchups – Certain teams match up well against others and there are also cases where sub .500 teams have winning records against more elite teams (these are cases when there may be value). It’s best to pay attention to the last 5 match-ups between teams in a matchup, as lineups and rosters would likely be the same as the previous season.
  • Home and Road Form – It’s easy to find  stats on team performance on the road and at home (look at the NBA ladders). Generally teams have a higher winning % at home, but there are also teams that excel on the road. You may find value when two similarly matched teams play, with the travelling team having a positive road record. Take the away team.
  • Previous 5-10 game results – Teams often go on streaks, both winning and losing. Studying a team’s form over the previous 5-10 games is a good indicator of cohesion and form coming into a game.
  • Back to backs and travel – No matter how good a team is, if they are playing back to back (or back to back to back) games, they will be mentally and physically worn. In the same light, if a team is travelling on a road trip, they will be tired. If a team has rested for a few days, they should have cleared themselves of niggling injuries, and freshened their bodies and minds. Keep an eye on a team’s history over these stretches, as some teams perform poorly following multiple rest days, while others play well back to back.  
  • Player injuries  – Injuries on either team can cause a big changes in the spread. Being a 5-on-5 game, the loss of a star player can be the difference between a win or loss, more so than any other professional sporting league. Keep an eye on pre-game reports for injuries and “leave” of players, and you could spot a weak spread from the bookies.

Managing an NBA Bankroll

It’s an commonly accepted that bankroll management is easy to explain and very difficult to stick to.

I you are not able to stick to strict bankroll management, you’re going to end up in the red at the end of a grueling NBA season.

Long term bankroll investment is the name of the game, and keeping a level head is key. Win, lose or draw.

NBA bankroll management demands the bettor to stick to a plan, and to stay on course whether you lose, win or have too many whiskeys on a Friday night at the bar.

Don’t chase your losses, and never increase the amounts of your units should you get on a roll with some winners.

The most popular method of bankroll management is the “unit” or a “star” system.

What are unit and star systems in Bankroll management?

This is where bettors allocate a rating or confidence level for each bet.

Allocating a different star or unit to a bet indicates your confidence in that bet. A simple way to do this would be to have three confidence levels.

For example –

  • 1 star/1 unit, 2 stars/2 units, 3 stars/3 units. (These may go up to 4 and 5 star/units for more experienced bettors)

Following that, each star or unit has a dollar value attached to it, depending on the total amount of your bankroll.

For example –

  • 1 star/1 unit ($10 bet), 2 stars/2 units ($20 bet), 3 stars/3 units ($30 bet).

Regardless of the value that you see in a bet, you must always within your set bankroll limits.

There are many different theories for NBA bankroll management but the general rule is to never bet more than 2-3 % of your allocated bankroll on a single bet.

Let’s say the NBA season starts and you allocate $1,000 as your NBA betting bankroll.

Total Bankroll = $1,000

1% = $10.00 | 2% = $20.00 | 3% = $30.00

After the first week of the NBA, your Bankroll has gone up to $1,150, now it’s time to adjust –

Total Bankroll = $1,150

1% = $11.50 | 2% = $23.00 | 3% = $34.50

Should your bankroll increase with wins, don’t get excited! If you should lose during the first week, you will need to adjust your star and unit sizes accordingly also, as such –

Total Bankroll = $800

1% = $8.00 | 2% = $16.00 | 3% = $24.00

Follow your system through wins and losses and you’ll have less chance of busting your bankroll. You’ll also have a more enjoyable, less stressful NBA betting season.

If you are new to betting on the NBA, we suggest ‘Flat Betting’.

What is Flat Betting? NBA Betting for beginners.

Flat Betting means placing identical dollar amounts on each bet, no matter how confident you feel about a bet.

We Flat Betting to those new to the NBA betting scene, or those that don’t have the time to put in the research necessary to know when a market deserves more units than another.

Should your NBA betting knowledge increase, the star or unit system is a great way to build your bankroll.

Don’t start your bankroll with more than you can afford to comfortably lose, and never create a new bankroll during an NBA season.

Do this, and you’ll have a good time.

Final thoughts on NBA betting

NBA betting is one of the most difficult sports to bet on, but boy do we love it!

Daily games, constant lineup adjustments and so many ways to find an edge, NBA is one of the most exciting sports to bet on.

Keep a bankroll. Following a bankroll enable you to accurately follow your wins and losses, it will also save you from the stress and worry of betting beyond your means.

Start a bankroll, create an account, and have fun!