The Ultimate Guide on How to Bet on Basketball - Tips, Strategies and More

Updated: 21469 Learning

Ignite your betting game with our comprehensive guide, offering insights from basic betting to pro-level strategies on basketball betting.

The Ultimate Guide on How to Bet on Basketball - Tips, Strategies and More
Nigel Skinner Blog Content Manager

Football Manager Expert and Political Betting Specialist across Exchange and Spread Betting Sites

Welcome to your one-stop-shop for mastering the world of basketball betting. This comprehensive guide takes you by the hand, moving you from the initial basics to highly tactical bets favoured by professionals. By investing your time here, you will discover how to boost your betting skills, increase your wins, and maximize your betting profits.

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Types of Bet: Lines and Spreads

Basketball is huge for betting purposes and the NBA is one of the most popular sporting leagues the world over. 

For that reason, combined with the fact many fans also like to bet on NBA games, there is a wide range of bet types, some obvious, some more complicated.

Free Bets and Special Odds are regularly on offer from the bookmakers, these specials often involve star players or notable teams. 

  • LeBron, N.Jokic & J.Tatum 25+ Pts Each 
  • Boston Celtics to go 41-0 at home in the Regular Season 
  • In Which Game Will LeBron James Score his 40,000th Regular Season Point
How to approach betting on the NBA

How to approach betting on the NBA

You will recognise many of these bets if you have bet on other American sports, so let's take a look at the most popular first.

Handicap betting

You will find with most American sports like FootballBaseball and Ice Hockey that handicap bets are the most common. 

The reason for this is that there are a lot of one-sided matchups in American sport. 

This isn't so much the case in basketball as there are a lot of closer games, but handicap betting is still the most popular approach.

Katelyn Mulcahy // Getty Images

The other reason why handicap betting is in place is that in most American sports a draw is not possible as at the end of the normal play time; if the scores are tied, games go into extra time to determine a winner.

The handicap prevent such an outcome so that there is definite winner.

Point Spread

The point spread is a handicap bet on a basketball match and is usually the most popular type of bet to place on a basketball fixture.  

The point spread is also the most popular market in the NBA Betting Tips page on OLBG. 

The idea of the point spread is that the team that is least likely to win is given enough of a head start to make both teams the same odds (so all bets will be a fraction odds on).

The bigger the difference between the two sides the bigger the point spread will be but betting on the point spread requires many of the same considerations in betting on the match outcome. 

When looking for a value match outcome bet you look for a team that the bookies have underestimated and when looking for a good bet in the point spread you look for a team that has been given a generous handicap for their match by the bookies. 

It is also worth shopping around with the best betting sites the prices will remain the same but the handicaps will differ and you want to find the best handicap for your selection.

We also have a comprehensive comparison of 60+ UK bookmakers who are best for your basketball betting

How to bet on the Point Spread

If you want to make a bet on the point spread on a basketball match in the NBA, you will have to find the game you want to bet on first and navigate to the point spread market on your bookmaker app.

You will have each of the two teams listed with a + or - and a figure next to them. 

Let us take the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons from the Central Division as a point spread example. 

Chicago Bulls-4.51.91
Detroit Pistons+4.51.91

The first thing you may notice is that the odds are the same for either choice. 

The idea of the handicap is the predictions from the bookmakers of how many points better one team is deemed to be over the other and a prediction to make the game as even as possible, hence the same odds, 

The bookie feels with the point spread in place the teams now enter the game evenly matched.

All you have to do now is decide one of three things:

#1 Can Chicago Bulls win by at least 5 points?

#2 Can the Detroit Pistons lose by less than 4.5 points or Bulls win by less when 4.5 points?

#3 Can the Detroit Pistons overcome the handicap and win by more points anyway?

If you bet the Bulls to win, they have to win by more than five points for scenario #1 to be a winner for you at odds of 1.91.

If you bet on the Pistons +4.5, as long as they hit either #2 or #3 above and lose by less than 4.5 points your bet at 1.91 would be a winner.

Why is there half in the spread?

The reason you see halves in the spread is so that it is possible to bet on either side of the handicap.

If the number was whole it brings in the option of a drawn game where there would be no winning bets. 

A whole point spread can often be found with a 'push' (Stake returned/ or a Void bet), should the draw be the result once the handicap is factored in.

Remember the Half-Point Handicap Rule

You'll find this half point included in many line bets in American sport outside basketball too.

Total Points - Under/Over

Another very popular bet on basketball matches is a bet on the total points scored during a match. 

You don’t have to call the exact number of points, simply bet on over or under the points tally suggested by the bookies. 

Philly @Orlando
Paddy PowerBet VictorUnibetSporting IndexBoylesportsBetway
Over 216.5 Points

The points tally will vary between matches as per the points spread, the bookies select the points tally in order to create equal odds for overs and unders, so you should find you get a shade of odds on whichever outcome you select. 

Shopping between bookmakers should allow you to pick the best total points outcome selected by the bookmaker for your bet, 

If you are planning to bet on overs you want the points offered by the bookie to be lower and if you are betting on under you want the points offered by the bookie to be higher.

Understand where the game is being played!

The @ sign means the first team mentioned is playing away. This can be confusing at first as in the UK the 'home' team is always mentioned first.

How to bet on Totals in Basketball

If you have ever had a bet on soccer and played the total goals markets of under over 1.5, 2.5, 3.5 etc then you should understand how this bet works.

Of course there are many more points scored in a basketball game than you will find in your normal football matches, so the number is going to be much higher. 

Generally speaking the totals range between 190-210 points in total. 

Lets head off to the Atlantic Division now for the Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks. 

Here the bookmakers have decided to offer a totals line of 204.5, providing the options to bet that there will be more than 205 points in total or less than 205 points. Again, often the odds will be the same either side of the spread, or very close.

Boston Celtics @New York KnicksOver 204.51.91
Under 204.51.91

Regardless of the outright winner of this game between the Celtic and the Knicks, what you are going to be interested in throughout the game is the number of combined points the two teams can put together.

Final Score

Celtics 98 - 103 Knicks - Total points scored, 201

  • Bets on Under 204.5 would be winners
  • Bets on Over 204.5 would lose
You Can Support Both Sides With Totals Betting

Watching and betting on Basketball on the Totals markets is my favourite bet. You are willing both sides to score a basket on every attack when you bet Overs. However, my favourite bet is to bet Unders and enjoy every miss!


For UK punters who prefer to make a prediction on the outright winner of an event after all time has played including overtime, the money line is the equivalent of a full-time result in football betting. 

As mentioned there can be some very one-sided games, offering very short odds for the favoured teams. 

The best way to use the moneyline is to combine them in an Basketball Accumulator to boost the overall odds of your return if you can correctly predict several games accurately. 

On you can customise the best basketball tips via the My ACCA feature

Beware though, you can have a 5 team accumulator, 4 winners, but if there is one losing prediction in the bet, then the entire bet will be counted as a loser and you will lose the bet and your stake.

In America, Accumulator bets are known as Parlays.

Betting on the NBA - accumulators and value selling explained

Betting on the NBA - accumulators and value selling explained

Types of Bet: Proposition Bets

A proposition bet is a bet that has no bearing on the outcome of the match directly, in so much as the final result or winner. 

Although some elements of the proposition bet may have a bearing on the final result.

Thomas S, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

If that sounds complicated, let's make s much easier by explaining it is the same as betting a correct score or first goalscorer in football in the UK. it is betting on just one element of the game.

Proposition bets can be broken down into three categories too. You can bet on the game as a whole, individual teams, or even down to specific players performances like points scored. 

  • Game Props
  • Team Props
  • Player Props

Game Props

Game proposition bets will be based on events that can happen within the game. These will include things like which side will score the first points.

Team Props

Team proposition bets will be based around a single teams performance in the match. You will have options on these for both sides

Player Props

These are very specific propositions bets concerning the performance of a single player in a match for example you may be predicting how many points the named players will score or maybe even how many dunks!

Team To Score First Basket

This is a pretty self-explanatory bet on the first of the two teams to score a basket. 

This bet isn’t a great one for those looking for some entertainment in a game as it will be over very early, whether a winner or a loser, but it can be a good bet if particular teams are very strong or slow starters.

Betting on the NBA - players market

Betting on the NBA - players market

Futures and Outrights Betting

Ante Post betting is gambling on future events often weeks or months in advance, for example you could predict the EPL winners at the start of the season in  August. 

The same thing can be done on American sports but the term used is Futures betting. 

Futures = Ante Post

When betting on divisional winners of Championship winners in advance, it is known as futures betting in the US. The same as Ante-post in the UK!

There are whole host of futures betting markets on the NBA involving conferences and divisions, and the overall championship.  

There is a futures betting opportunity on the following. 

  1. Divisional Winners
  2. Eastern Conference Winners
  3. Western Conference Winners
  4. NBA Championship Winners
  5. NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP)
MVP Betting

The MVP is the player deemed to have been the most valuable over the course of the season in the NBA. In Basketball it is decided by a panel of sportswriters who cast votes, it is not awarded for point scoring.

Basketball Betting Advice

When people think of basketball they will most commonly think about the NBA but there are also professional basketball leagues in Europe which attract plenty of bets from native punters.

Unveiling the Surge of Basketball Popularity in Europe: An In-Depth Analysis

Unveiling the Surge of Basketball Popularity in Europe: An In-Depth Analysis

In the NBA there are 30 teams from USA and Canada and they are divided into East and West conferences. 

Each conference is divided into three divisions of five teams and each team will be kept busy with 82 games not including any matches in the playoffs. 

The playoffs are the four best teams from each conference.

NBA Preview and Betting Guide

NBA Preview and Betting Guide

1. Make Your Own Point Spreads

One of the best strategies for picking value basketball bets in the point spread is to look at a set of fixtures before you have even looked at the bookmaker odds.

You then create your own spreads/handicaps that would make the game even in your opinion. 

Once you have a list of spreads for the round of fixtures, check the bookmaker spreads, and whichever ones you disagree on most should offer the best value opportunities in your eyes; the more you disagree, the better value the bet should be. 

Dedicated spread betting firm Spreadex also offers very keen basketball lines. 

If your point spreads are the same as the bookies for some matches or very close, then those matches are best left alone as you have very little edge. 

As long as you are a decent judge of basketball over the long term, you should find this a profitable strategy.

2. Know As Much As The Bookies

In order to win money by betting on a sport in the long run you need to know at least as much as the bookies as this is particularly important for basketball, especially when it comes to knowing who is playing and who is injured. 

This will play a large part in how the bookies decide their spreads and with basketball teams only made up of five players the dynamic of the team can completely be changed by one missing player

This is especially true if that player is one of the more dominant or talented team members and most likely the point guard.

3. Follow NBA Betting Tipsters

Having run an OLBG Basketball Tipping Competition for years we can see which NBA Tipsters are worth following. 

Each month when the NBA matches are played we receive a host of tips on the NBA Money Line, Point Spread and Game Totals.

A Basketball betting table is collated each month where you can check the best performing tipsters and their ROI and LSP. 

These NBA Betting Tips are followed by hundreds of readers looking for helpful reliable advice from proven basketball tipsters. 



  • Where can I bet on the NBA?

    You can bet on NBA basketball with an online bookmaker in the UK. Just about every bookmaker will list NBA matches during the season as well as college basketball too. Read some reviews of bookmakers to find the best one for basketball betting, as some will be better than others.

  • Can you bet on basketball?

    With basketball taking place year round around the world you can bet on basketball just about any time you want. The NBA in the US is the leading and most popular league for betting, but there are also many leagues in Europe and Australia too. Betting on Colege basketball in America is also popular.

  • How do you bet on basketball?

    The way to bet on basketball is to decide what outcome you want to predict. This could be the match-winner, or maybe how many points you think will be scored by either team or in total. Many bookmakers have a lot of different betting market options for Basketball, especially the NBA in the US. 

  • How do NBA odds work?

    NBA Odds work in the same way as any other sports betting odds you see. Most often you will find decimal odds on display if betting online on basketball in the UK. Simply, explained, you multiply how much you want to bet by the odds on offer for the prediction you are making to work out how much you would be returned if you make a correct prediction

  • How can I get NBA tips tonight?

    You can get NBA tips tonight and throughout the NBA season right here on this page from OLBG's knowledgeable basketball betting tipsters. Our basketball experts add their daily NBA predictions as soon as the games odds become available. 

  • What are todays best NBA tips?

    Today's best NBA tips on this page are the most popular selections from our basketball betting tipsters , these NBA tips cover the NBA Money Line, NBA Pointspread and Game Totals markets. You can also check our Best Basketball Tipsters for NBA tips tonight, these are NBA predictions from our most profitable experts for basketball betting tips covering the last 12 months.

  • What is the best basketball betting site?

    Check out our Best Bookmakers for Basketball Betting Guide to see which bookies are the best to use for your NBA bets. The best basketball betting site guide covers which bookies have the best NBA odds, bookies with the best range of basketball betting markets, the best bookies for Pointspread betting, best bookies for free basketball stats and much more. Take a few minutes to read our informative guide before placing your NBA picks tonight.

  • Is NBA easy to make betting predictions for?

    A good knowledge of the NBA teams and how they are performing in the current season makes it easier when it comes to making NBA betting predictions. If you think a team is going to win the game then you place a Money Line bet, this is a simple straight win bet. If you think the game will be a high tempo NBA game with lots of scoring then you may want to place a bet on the Game Totals market especially if the bookies have set a low total. This is a simple 'Over' bet if you think the combined teams score will be over the total set by the bookies or an 'Under' bet if you think the total is too high. Our experts NBA tips tonight cover these basketball betting markets. 

  • Can you bet on basketball in the UK?

    This article includes a list of the top ten basketball betting sites in the UK. You can use any of these bookmakers, plus many more, to place bets on basketball when you’re in the UK.

  • How does betting work in basketball?

    Like any other sport it is a matter of finding the markets that you want to bet on and choosing an amount to stake. There are hundreds of different markets to bet on, allowing you to choose the one that suits you.

  • How are NBA betting lines set?

    Bookmakers set their own lines. All NBA games will have lines set – you’ll see these on your bookmaker’s display – and it is down to the individual bookmaker to determine what those lines are.

  • Where is best to bet on the NBA online?

    The best place to bet on the NBA online, if you’re in the UK, is with Unibet. There are plenty of other great basketball betting sites, but Unibet comes out on top based on our detailed research.

  • Do basketball bets include overtime?

    Generally, overtime is included in basketball bets. Double check with your bookmaker, but most include overtime as standard for bets such as spread, over/under and moneyline wagers.

Responsible Gambling

All forms of gambling should be conducted responsibly. On OLBG we have a range of helpful articles on this subject. 

Responsible Gambling Features, Function and Help

Responsible Gambling Features, Function and Help

How to be Sensible and Gamble Responsibly (Examples)

How to be Sensible and Gamble Responsibly (Examples)

Editorial Information

The Ultimate Guide on How To Bet on Basketball was collated and updated by NIgel Skinner with assistance from a range of  OLBG Betting Experts

Nigel Skinner

Nigel Skinner

Blog content manager

Nigel is one of OLBG's senior editors with 19 years of industry experience. Today he specialises in researching and writing about the betting angles to political and mainstream news stories and being the OLBG in-house expert on 'next football manager' betting markets.

Specialist Subjects🔬📚

⚽️👨‍💼 Nigel is an Arsenal fan first and foremost but has an unrivalled knowledge of English football managers at every level. Meticulously putting together our Next Manager articles, Nigel can quite possibly name you every manager of every club in the land, not to mention a pretty good eye for predicting replacements when changes happen. 

📈📊📉 A long-time exchange trader and spread betting fan, Nigel is our go-to for advice on the subjects and uses them daily in his own betting activity. 

🗳️💼 Finally, Nigel loves his politics and [some would say] has an unhealthy interest in the day-to-day events in the UK's political landscape, contributing to all our Political betting content and new pieces.

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