Basketball betting - quick guideline

Updated: 5794 Basketball

It has been two years since I last looked at NBA betting for thebenefit of OLBG members and while I was experienced enough backthen, in the early days of my work for OLBG, I was still very greenwhen it comes

Basketball betting - quick guideline
Darren Brett Tipster Competition Manager

Horse Racing, greyhounds and snooker specialist with thirty years experience of writing about sport across multiple platforms. A QPR and Snooker fan

It has been two years since I last looked at NBA betting for the benefit of OLBG members and while I was experienced enough back then, in the early days of my work for OLBG, I was still very green when it comes to putting up informative enough articles. 

Since then the OLBG betting school has also added some helpful information via their Basketball Betting Advice Article.

With the new NBA season now starting and a lot of new members showing interest in NBA and basketball betting, I am revisiting and revising some of my original basketball strategy blogs.

I will expand the blogs to cover more markets and provide a more comprehensive, second edition guideline. 

This blog of mine will also be the first one I will cover in a vlog pretty soon, 

If you have any questions or you want further clarification on how to become a profitable basketball tipster, feel free to leave comments or message me on twitter. 

The 3 Major Markets In NBA Betting

Bet Button

In order to structure this better than two years ago, I will first explain briefly the most basic and most popular markets in basketball and more specifically NBA betting.

They are:


The three markets are widely available even with the most obscure bookies on the web.

While some bookmakers actually limit their customers merely to those three, the majority of the other markets I will look at are also directly related to them. 

You should always start with trying to predict a winner and go from there into spreads. 

Start with something easier to navigate and investigate from a statistical point of view and slowly move into more difficult areas. 

Basketball Knowledge

You should start to immerse yourself in the vagaries of Basketball Betting if you want to profit from your bets.

Money Line

The MONEY LINE market is probably easiest to understand as it is a two-selection market that deals only with the actual winner of a basketball game.

It is the same as predicting the outcome of a football match in terms of home/draw/away result with the only difference being the lack of draw option. 

That immediately brings the question of what happens if a game ends up drawn in regular time, well the money line is valid for as many overtimes until you get an actual team winning. 

Since the number of games going into overtime in basketball is relatively low or closer to that in rugby than in football, the general understanding is that including a draw in the most basic of markets is just neither popular not interesting for the punters. 

There is a handful of bookies that recently expanded the money line with a second market, called DRAW INCLUDED but given there are no more than two or three offering that, I guess the assumption I shared is still valid.

Point Spread

The POINT SPREAD market is pretty much your usual handicap market that includes a certain number of points going for or against a basketball team. 

While the money line is an odds-driven market, namely, any market movement is reflected in the odds, the spread is point-driven with the market movement here representing changes in the point handicap originally offered. 

The two selections available here are valued exactly the same or with a minimal difference and usually, that is 1.91 to 1.95, meaning you get 1.91 for +9.5 points on one side and 1.91 on -9.5 points on the other. 

This market is much easier when trying to evaluate market support or certain developments that might influence the outcome of a game as even a 0.5 point movement is quickly noted by the experienced punter. 

This market is also very often used in the value buying and value selling strategy in case you hear of something quicker than the bookies. 

While I will explain that later, I should also mention here that point movements are rarely too aggressive and it takes significant developments like injuries or entire line-ups being rested for the spread to move more than a point or two. 

What comes to mind is the policy of San Antonio Spurs to rest their old-aged stars on back-to-back games and with them, you might see something like a -8 spread jumping to +3 or odds-wise the money line going from 1.50 on Spurs win to 3.50 as the news spread.

Point Totals

The POINT TOTALS is your equivalent of the total goals market in football but one more detailed version as points go in the hundreds.

It is again an over or under market, usually with a .5 differential to avoid voided bets and bookies most often rely on team averages directly from the stats database when determining the lines. 

You get one predetermined line of total points, which could move up and down according to information becoming available closer to tip-off.

I must stress that the basic market only deals with total points for both teams included and not individual points for each team.

There are less-popular individual team markets, but they are again not offered by all bookies.

Value Buying and Selling On Basketball Markets

Miami Heat

I did mention the terms value buying and selling in my market presentation and I have posted a separate blog on the topic around 2 years ago. 

In that time, this has become much more popular with punters who feel confident enough to try and cheat the bookies out of value, or for those looking for additional security when a certain spread or total is a bit on the high end of their valuation. 

These are normally under the heading Alternative

In short VALUE SELLING and VALUE BUYING are two alternative markets to the point spread and point totals that are offered in different forms by the different bookies. 

Some limit the opportunity to play with what they have put up as the valuation of a game while others are leaving it all to the customer.

Alternative Basketball Markets

Look at the alternative spreads, check the odds different bookies are offering. You can get a huge variation in prices for your Basketball Acca by shopping around.

For example Bet365 and PaddyPower are allowing alternative spreads and points to the lowest of margins, namely you can move your spread from, let's say, 8.5 to 9.0 if you wish or get extra point on your total (from 199.5 to 200.5). 

As you would expect in one case your odds will drop and in the other will increase according to how well you read the original valuation of the bookies.

Getting back to that San Antonio Spurs comment from before, if somehow you get ahead of the bookies on info of players being rested or a significant injury, you could get that huge difference which will open on the market in the form of extra value.

If the San Antonio Spurs are playing rock-bottom LA Lakers and the market opens at Lakers +9 @ 1.91 on the spread but you hear Spurs are resting all their starters early enough, you could buy the value, which will be lost once the bookies reflect on the news. 

The +9 will turn to -3 for example and the odds will remain 1.91 but if you get ahead, you will have that -3 on bought value at 4.20. 

It is all about being up to date and knowing when to buy or when to sell. 

Selling is the other way around when you have Spurs at -9 at 1.91 but for some reason, you feel they might not win that convincingly and with the bookies not making any moves, you can bin the 1.91 in favour of 1.50 for a line of -5.5 for example. 

Selling value is extremely popular with people accumulating selections as while the odds are low enough, there is significantly less risk involved as rarely the bookies valuation of a certain line is too far off.

Looking at the specific bookies, I already mentioned the two most renowned for providing options. 

Bet365 were the pioneers in giving punters the initiative and they have a wide range of spreads and point totals available. 

Online Bookmakers have expanded their Basketball markets in recent years with the game becoming more popular in Europe.

With that being reported to be widely used, competitors like Paddy Power and Ladbrokes started implementing it.

The majority of online bookmakers now offer alternative spreads. 

You can see an abridged alternative spread (or handicap) market in the table below and visualize clearly the concept of selling or buying. 

You can choose which prices to take across a variety of games for your accumulator. 

If you wish to follow OLBG tips on Basketball Accumulators, please check out the create my acca page.


+3.5 @4.25 -3.5 @1.21
+4.0 @4.00 -4.0 @1.22
+4.5 @3.65 -4.5 @1.26
+5.0 @3.50 -5.0 @1.28

Other Basketball Markets


As you would have probably figured already, apart from the three major markets and their derivatives, the bookies are mixing things up by offering numerous obscure markets that could be studied. 

I have seen up to 80 different markets on NBA games, including the alternatives already explained. 

There are the individual quarter totals, the aforementioned individual team total points and for those who are more into Vegas-style betting, there are odd/even number of points both for the entire game and with individual teams. 

I will not go into details about all of those as some are a pure gamble and I am not that much into non-scientific basketball betting, 

Below are a quick look at some of those I have been using from time to time. 

In order to go deeper into those and into basketball betting in general, you would have to watch games and follow developments closely (with NBA more than European ball) 

Basketball is a very dynamic sport with thousands of games every season and options on a night-to-night basis, so if you miss a couple of days or a week, the chance things have changed drastically is pretty high.

Winning Margin

The WINNING MARGIN market is playing with the spread market but offers more than the one option for a team to cover or not. You could get more value here on a team winning by specific result, those most often used being 1-5 point win, 6-10 point win, 11-15 point win, 16-20 point win and 21+ point win. 

As you would expect getting a specific result right is more difficult, hence the better odds available, starting from 5.00 and going as high as 100.0!

First Basket/Winner Double

The FIRST BASKET/WINNER DOUBLE market has become one of my favourites recently but very detailed knowledge of the different teams is required. 

Here you have the equivalent of the first goalscorer/final score football market with the only difference that the first basket will come pretty much immediately and there are just ten players on offer. 

One piece of advice I always give here is to monitor who has the better center who is more likely to provide the first possession to their team on the jump ball.

It is the safest strategy to go with the team that has the better center and then take the best scorer on that team to predict the first basket scorer. 

From there on, it is up to you to decide the winner too. 

Odds vary greatly and are of course influenced by the money line but given how hard it could be to get the first scorer, you will rarely see something less than 5.00 on the combination!

Players Market

The PLAYERS MARKET I have looked at extensively in a separate article in the past and it is getting even more attention now. 

Again good knowledge of the teams and team dynamics is needed but it is the very basic over/under market on the number of points/assists/rebounds a player would have during a game.

It is always offered with the .5 margin so no void bets can happen. 

While scored points are the most common player market, with centers you could get blocked shots or even scored free throws, which is something new and recently introduced by some bookies. 

Finally, anyone who wants to test their Basketball tipping prowess can do so via the OLBG tipping competitions - good luck. 

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