If you want to learn how to bet on one of the easiest sports you can possibly bet on (out of the 4 major sports), then basketball is made for you. The teams that are favored or expected to win are called the favored teams, and the ones who are expected to lose are called the underdogs. This expectation is based on the history of the teams together with their odds. The team that will be expected to win will lay points to the underdogs for betting purposes. For example, if the Knicks were playing against Celtics, most of the gamblers, bettors would rather bet on the Celtics (to win the game).

Basketball betting is very similar to football because it uses the point spread for wagering bets on both teams, as well as the over/under numbers. If you already know how to bet on football, you pretty much know how to bet on basketball, too. One of the most common methods that gamblers like to use while betting on basketball involves the point spread, which is kind of a handicap that bookies impose on one side (team) that will make both sides equal when it comes to betting.

You might be asking yourself, how does this work? It is quite natural that when the two teams meet on their court, one is always going to be better than the other. If all that gamblers (bettors) had to do was to simply pick one team that is the winning team, every one of them would just wager their bet on the team with the best odds, and collect their money.

The example we can use is from the Super Bowl 50 when the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers played against each other. The general public believed that Carolina was the better team of the two, and if all that the bettors had to do is to pick the team with better odds of winning, most of them would just have taken the Carolina Panthers. However, what the bookies and the sports books did to make both of the teams equally attractive in the eyes of the gamblers, was to make a point spread. Because of this, the Panthers were looked at as a 6-point favorites, which is usually written as ‘Carolina -6’. The underdogs (Denver) were usually written as ‘Denver +6’ (in this case).


Panthers have to win by 7 points or more in order for you to win your bet if you placed the bet on the Panthers. Remember that the Carolina Panthers are favored by 6-points, so in order to win your bet you have to subtract the final score by 6, and the result has to be bigger than a six. If the Carolina Panthers were 24 – 17 (meaning that they won) the bettors who bet on this team would win their wager. But if the Panthers won by a score of 21-17, the bettors would then lose their bet since they did not win their wagers with more than six points.

If you want to bet on the underdogs, the Denver Broncos, you are going to win your bet only if the Denver loses by five points (or less), or if they win the game. Since the Denver Broncos are the underdogs in this situation, we have to add six points to the final score (their final score), for the betting purposes. All the bets will be refunded if Panthers win the game by exactly six points (23 – 17) since that is called a ‘tie’.

When you see the point spread, you will usually be given an option to wager your money on the game with a ‘money line’ bet. Point spread and money line bets are somewhat similar, but yet different. To understand this better you need to know more about the money line bets.

Money line wager is a bet that is placed on the winner of a certain game, but without the point spread. When some teams are given more than a 50% chance of winning, these money line wagers will be made using odds. This way if you bet on the favored team you will risking more than you stand to win. The best way you can understand these bets is with an actual example. Imagine if there was a game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Charlotte Hornets. When you look at the odds of the game, the gamblers will see this:

Brooklyn Nets  – 130
Charlotte Hornets + 120

In this example, the Brooklyn Nets are the favored team as marked by the minus written in front of their points (- 130), which makes the Charlotte Hornets the underdogs that can be recognized because of the plus.


It is important to know when you should use money line bets. These bets are mostly used when the point spread becomes unimportant, and it can be used in a variety of sports; boxing, auto racing, and tennis, together with baseball, soccer, and hockey. Since soccer, baseball and hockey games have margins of victory, they are so tiny that it would be quite impossible to have a point spread for every single game. The difference between the odds (money line odds), on the underdogs and the favorites, is likely to increase as the favorite’s winning increases.

The reason behind shifting the differences in odds is simply because the bookies usually make money only if the less favored team wins. While in the point spread betting, the bookmakers always hope to get an equal amount of money that is wagered on each team, since this will surely guarantee a profit. While in money line betting, the bookmakers realize that the bettors are going to wager their money on the team that is more likely to win, so they can only hope that they will have enough wagers on the underdogs, so that they can cover the potential losses on the favored team.

Deciding when to bet with the money line bet or with the point spread will be just one of the decision you will have to make as a gambler. There is no actual rule for when to use the money line bet and when to use the point spread, the decision is always left to the gambler and his point of view.

The 2nd most popular method for betting and wagering on a basketball game is called totals betting, which is also known as the over/under. A lot of gamblers believe that this bet is easier than trying to predict who is going to be the winner of a certain game. Even the bookies usually agree with this fact, so they put a smaller bet limit on the over/under than they would do while betting a team (either against the money line bet or the point spread). This is a type of a bet where the bettor wagers his money on the outcome of the game that is connected with the bookie’s posted total, which can go under the number. The winner of this bet will be determined after adding the final score of the teams (both teams). It is very simple.

Colony Park Photo by Matt A. Brown

Imagine if the Miami Dolphins were playing against the New York Jets, then the total which is posted is 40. If you place a bet on the game, you will win your bet if the total of both teams is more than 40 points. If for example, the Dolphins win with a score of 24 – 17, then you win the bet. But, if the score is 24 – 14, then you lose your bet because the total of the score is not over 40.

The other types of bets in the game of basketball come in the form of teasers and parlays, and they can sometimes be called the exotic bets. A parlay is a mixture of two or more bets or wagers that a gambler will link together, and they all must be a winning bet for the bettor to win his parlay bet. In the world of gambling on sports, the “teaser” is a bet that is made out of at least two basketball or football teams. In order for the gambler to win, all of the teams have to cover point spreads. Unlike in a parlay bet, in a teaser bet the bettor is able to subtract or add points from the point spread and he can receive lower odds than in a parlay bet.

In these types of bets, the bettor must correctly predict the outcome of the game, who is going to win (in two or more games). In parlay bets, the gamblers have an option of going up against the point spread (using the money line bet) while the teaser will be made using the point spread and parlay bets that are able to adjust the point spreads in their favor. There is one catch when it comes to teasers and parlays. In order to win your bet, all of your teams have to win.

When talking about the parlays bet, there are the so-called money line parlays. They do not use fixed odds since the odds can vary greatly from a team to team. When you bet a parlay against a point spread, you will have a 50% – 50% chance of winning, however in money parlays you will not. To put it simply, these bets (the money line parlays) will take the amount that you wager and they will place all of your wagered money on one of the teams. If that team wins, the amount of your bet will be calculated again on the next team, which means that it will place your entire bet on that team (again).


Now, there is the age-old question: Are parlays good bets? And the answer is no (especially when parlays involve point spreads or totals). The payoff odds are going to be lesser than the true odds. When the true odds of a three-team winning parlay (while putting a wager on point spread) is 7 – 1, and the payoffs are only 6 – 1, it will get even worse as you continue betting on more teams. The odds of the game calculate the money line parlays (payoffs), so there is no disadvantage or advantage when wagering you money with these bets. It is a good advice for bettors to stick with straight bets like betting against point spread and totals.

For the teaser bets, there must me a minimum of 2 teams, and this bet can use up to 10 teams, which all depends on the sports book that the wager will be placed on. Most of the bets placed are usually limited to six. At most sports books, a tie will be counted as a loss, although the number of teams in teaser will be reduced by one (sometimes). Before placing these bets, it is the safest to check with the sports books to make sure you are introduced to the rules.

The teaser bets in basketball games work exactly as the teasers bets in football games, but players usually receive fewer points in which they will be able to move the line.

The typical basketball teaser odds are:

4 – point Teasers;

Two – teams = 10 / 11

Three – teams = 9 / 5

Four – teams = 3 / 1

Five – teams = 9 / 2

Six – teams = 15 / 2


4,5 – point Teasers;

Two – teams = 10 / 12

Three – teams = 8 / 5

Four – teams = 5 / 2

Five – teams = 4 / 1

Six – teams = 7 / 1


5 – point Teasers;

Two – teams = 10 / 13

Three – teams = 7 / 5

Four – teams = 2 / 1

Five – teams = 7 / 2

Six – teams = 13 / 2

Unlike for parlays, there is a debate about teaser bets among the professional gamblers; Is this bet good or not? Opinions on this matter can vary a lot, some believe that the teaser bets are just sucker bets, and others think they are worthwhile.

‘Handicap’ basketball betting is a very valuable type of a bet that bettors use if one of the sides (teams) is greatly favored than their opposing team. To cover the indication of this, the bookies usually offer a handicap bet to make the playing fields equal.

Other bets that can be placed in basketball include:

First – half money line bets: this is an unreserved bet that determines or guesses which team will have an advantage in the first halftime of the game.

First – quarter money line bet: similar to the previous bet, this is an unreserved bet that will determine who is going to have a lead in the first quarter of the game.

First – half point spread bet: this bet ends at the halftime of the game and has the same rules as the handicap bet.

First – quarter point spread bet: this bet will end when the first quarter of the game ends and has the same rules as the handicap bet.

Total points over / under: the number of points that is scored in this game, by both of the teams, will determine the winner of this bet.

First – half total points: the number of points that is scored in the first half of this game, by both of the teams, will determine the winner of this bet.

First – quarter total points: the number of points that is scored by the end of the first – quarter of the game, by both of the teams, will determine the winner of this bet.

After learning about all of the possible bets, you have to make your own solid strategy, which is an important part of basketball betting system. When talking about the strategies of basketball betting, we need to analyze this specific sport that has a variety of betting options. One of the most popular games in the world of gambling is basketball, with millions of gamblers following the games and making their own strategies.

There is a couple of different ways for you to improve your rate of investment (ROI), which will make your experiences with betting a lot more profitable. Both online and offline sports books make a lot of money from the amateur bettors, that impulsively choose their bets that are not led by strategies, but by their emotions. If you want to make some money while still having fun, you need to stick to some general rules. These rules are usually referred to as the ‘betting strategies’. The people that feed the bookies and the sports books companies are the 98% of the people who think that betting is all about the luck. You should never allow yourself to get carried away by the excitement of gambling, or as they call it in poker – the tilt.


Betting can be really fun, especially when you win. But you should always keep a track of the money you lost and the money you won. Make up a schedule of the money you can afford to lose, either weekly or monthly, depending on how often you bet. There is no reason for you to bet every day. You should always be aware of when you are supposed to bet on the market. A good advice is to always back up a team that has a good winning history and is playing against a team with a bad winning history. Statistics or odds are the most valuable part while making a strategy, especially for the in-game strategies. In a situation where both of the teams look like they will score highly in the second half, you should not be afraid to bet against the market. Opposing a big-market can hold a high profit.

An old saying “No one ever went bankrupt by making a profit”, without a doubt applies to basketball betting. In basketball, the games can have a lot of lead changes, and teams are able to score heavily in just a second. Because of this, it is not unusual if the teams trade odds on, during their game. Sometimes, a perfectly profitable opportunity may present itself during the course of a game. So whether you decide to place bets during or before the basketball match starts, it is totally up to you. Both are good choices. Just remember, bet responsibly, do not get greedy, and just have fun gambling on your favorite team.