Basketball Betting 101

Althought it is not as poplular as football, basketball is probably the second most popular sport for sports bettors to bet on. Before you go out and start betting on basketball with your online sports book,I have included a listing of the different betting options available at the majority of online bookmakers.

Straight Bets

The object with straight bets is to pick one team or one event.
When betting on one team against the spread, the normal ratio is you need to bet $11 to gain back $10. What this means is that for you to break even you would need to win your bets 52.4% of the time. Anything better then that should result in profit assuming that all bets are the same. Straight bets can be made using the point spread or moneyline options.

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Point Spread Bets 

Point spreads are a number assigned to a specific team and set by the bookmakers. The goal is to entice the same amount of money to be bet on both sides of a particular game. Favorites will have a -(minus) sign followed by a number, while the underdogs will have a + (plus), followed by a number.


Here's an example NBA line:
Lakers + 7
Boston -7

Boston is the favorite and must win by 8 points or more to win. If they win by exactly 7 points, the game is a "push" or tie, and you get the amount of your bet back. If Boston wins by 6 points or less, or loses the game outright then you would lose your bet. 

Moneyline Bets 

With moneyline bets, the point spread is not a factor. Basically all you have to do is pick the winner. Since not all teams are created equal, everyone would bet on the best teams. So, sports books offer benefits for betting on bad teams, while giving a penalty for betting on the good teams.

Those benefits are in the form of adjusted odds. Let's take a look at an example:

Boston -175
Lakers +200

Notice the '+' and '-' signs. The '-' sign for Boston means if you bet $175 on New England, as the favorite, you would only win $100 (plus your original bet). If you took the underdog, Lakers, and bet $100, if the Lakers won, you'd win $200 (plus your original bet).
If everything was totally even, both the + and -numbers should be even. The differences in these numbers is where the online sports books make their money. In our example, they are taking in $200, but only paying out $175.

Over/Under Bets 

Over/Under bets or Totals are a very popular wagers among many football bettors. Your betting goal is to try and predict if the total points scored by both teams will be more or less than the number posted by your online sports book.

For example:

Boston/Lakers: Total = 196.5

This means after the game, add up the total points for BOTH Boston and the Lakers scored. If the total is 197 or more and you bet the "over", you're a winner! But, if both teams scored less than that, you'll lose your wager.


Your payoff is also $10 for every $11 wagered, since over/unders are considered straight bets. However, you can bet an over/under as part of a parlay.

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Parlay Bets

This is a bet where more than one team  must win in order for you to win your bet. Since it's harder to predict multiple events than it is for a single event, you'll get paid more than "even money" if you win a your parlay bet.

A parlay is most often bet using the point spread for two or more games. Let's use the "lines" for the following two games:

Game 1:
Boston -7
Lakers +7

Game 2:
Houston -3
Denver +3

Our "two teamer" may be Boston for game one and Denver for game two
for our "two-team parlay". If Boston wins by 8 points or more AND Denver lose by less than 3 points, then we'll win our parlay. Any other result and we lose.

Please note that usually your sports book will allow you include over/unders with your parlay bets. 

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