# How to Bet on the NBA

**How to Read NBA Odds**

Before you head into your sportsbook and prepare your bet slip, it is vital to understand the different odds formats.

American odds, also called moneyline odds, are what you'll come across most commonly if you're placing a bet on the NBA from the USA. American odds are negative or positive whole numbers that help you quickly gauge what kind of returns you would get. If the odds are negative, they inform you how much you would need to bet to win $100.

If the odds are a positive number, they tell you how much you would win if you placed a bet of $100. For example, if the Cleveland Cavaliers are given odds of -400 to beat the Brooklyn Nets, a bet of $400 would win you $100 profit if the Cavaliers won, or $40 would win you $10, and so on. On the other hand, if the Nets are +600 to beat the Cavaliers, you win $600 profit from a $100 bet if the Nets win. This odds format gives you a clear indicator of which team is the favorite and which one is the underdog. In this case, the Cavaliers are heavy favorites.

Decimal odds, true to their name, are presented as decimal numbers. The quickest way to understand these odds is to multiply your betting amount by the decimal number odds presented, resulting in your total payout on the bet. The equivalent decimal odds format figure for the Cavaliers' -400 moneyline odds from the above example would be 1.25. So, if you multiply your stake amount from that example, i.e., $400, by 1.25, you would get a figure of $500 as your total payout. The payout is the total of your bet amount and your winnings, i.e., $400 + $100 in this case.

Fractional odds are represented as fractions and are also correlated to the other formats. In fractional odds, the numerator denotes the profit you would make for every value of the denominator that you invest. Continuing with the Cavaliers example we've been using, and you would see the above odds represented as 0.25/1, which means that for every dollar you bet, you would win $0.25 profit if the Cavaliers won. So, on a $400 bet, you would win 0.25x400, which is $100.

**How to Bet on the NBA, Types of Bets**

Now that you can use the odds to gauge just how much of a risk it might be to bet on teams or players who are considered underdogs, here are some of the different types of bets you can place.

**Moneyline bets**

If you're wondering what might be a good place to start when you're learning how to bet on the NBA, the moneyline bet is it.

This type of bet is also called a straight-up bet and entails just picking the winner of the match. That's it, no fuss, place a bet on who you think will win. The examples we showed you earlier involving the Cavaliers and the Nets were an example of the moneyline bet.

To recap, the higher the number on the odds, the more of an underdog a team is considered to be. So, if the Cavaliers vs. Nets game is a -400 vs. +600 game, then the Nets are the underdogs because they are said to have longer odds, and the Cavaliers are said to have shorter odds.

Suppose the Cavaliers are given odds of +150 in their next game against the Golden State Warriors, who are given odds of -120. In that case, the Cavaliers are considered underdogs in that game because of their longer odds, i.e., a bigger number.

**Point spreads**

Let's persist with the example above of the Cavaliers vs. the Nets. The moneyline odds on this game have the Cavaliers at -400 and the Nets at +600. If you consider those numbers, they're telling you that the Nets are such heavy underdogs that you would essentially 7x your investment - if you put in $100, and the Nets win, you walk away with $700 in your purse. If you put the same $100 on the Cavaliers, and they win, you only walk away with $125. That is clearly a heavy mismatch.

To even things out, the sportsbooks create what is called a spread, which basically attempts to put the favorite at a disadvantage and the underdog at an advantage so that the scales aren't as heavily tipped to one side. It will look something like this:

**Team **

**Spread**

Brooklyn Nets

+16.5 (+120)

Cleveland Cavaliers

-16.5 (+180)

In this example, the Cavaliers have to cover the spread, which means they must win the game by a margin of more than the spread number (-16.5) for your bet to be successful. On the other hand, the Nets need to either win the game or lose the game by a margin less than the spread number (+16.5) for your bet to be successful.

Think of this as the sportsbook giving the underdogs, the Nets, a 16.5-point advantage at the start of a game. If the Nets manage to hold on to that advantage, irrespective of the game's final result, you will win $120 for every $100 you bet on them.

While the point spreads aren't generally likely to give the underdogs as big an advantage as in the table above (notice that the Nets' odds are shorter than those of the Cavaliers), they provide you with a much more level playing field.

**Total Score Bets or Over/Under Bets**

In this market, you're betting on how many aggregate points will be scored in a game. If the Cavaliers-Nets game ends 107-63, then the aggregate is 170 points. So, the aggregate score is as simple as the sum of the two teams' scorers at the end of the game. You're betting on whether that score will be over or under the predetermined figure.

You aren't betting on the exact number of points in this market. If you thought this game would be a low scoring one, for instance, and bet on the combined score being UNDER 190, you would win the bet. If you thought, in this instance, that the Nets would have given a better account of themselves and bet on the OVER 190 market, you would have lost the bet.

**Prop bets**

Prop bets are short for proposition bets and highly specific within a game. They are bets on events during the game that may or may not directly affect the actual result of the matchup.

This type of bet is the closest example in the betting world of sipping a beer during a game night with your buddies and shooting off "propositions" at them, like how many rebounds will Evan Mobley have? How many assists for Darius Garland? Will the Cavaliers score over or under 30 points in the first quarter?

As such, prop bets are the most entertaining types of bets and form the basis of most live or in-play betting - something to keep in mind if you're trying to understand how to bet on the NBA because betting should always be fun.

**NBA parlays**

A parlay is a multi-level bet that lets you bundle multiple events, propositions, or games into a single bet with higher, compounded odds rather than individual bets with shorter odds. The catch, of course, is that every single level or tier of that bet has to win for you to come out with a profit. If even one of the wagers loses, your whole parlay falls apart. As such, this is a slightly advanced form of betting on the NBA.

A parlay can involve different types of bets. For instance, you can combine a bet on the Cavaliers (-100) winning in their game against the Hawks, a bet on the total going over 201.5 (-160) in the Golden State Warriors vs. Boston Celtics game, and the Lakers covering the spread (-200) against the Clippers.

Suppose you placed a bet individually on each of those occurrences. In that case, you'd have to bet $100 on the Cavaliers, $160 on the Warriors-Celtics game, and $200 on the Lakers to win $100 on each game. In simpler terms, a total spend of $460 to win $300 if they were all successful, i.e., a payout of $760 at the end of the round.

However, if you were to combine them in a parlay, the payout would be significantly higher because the odds would be compounded. These odds are calculated by converting each leg into the decimal format and multiplying each of them:

**Bets**

**American odds**

**Decimal odds**

Cavaliers to win

-100

2

Warriors-Celtics (over 201.5)

-160

1.63

Lakers to cover the spread

-200

1.5

The parlay odds would be calculated as: 2 x 1.63 x 1.5 = 4.89

If you placed the combined $460 on this parlay instead of on each bet individually, your payout on all of them being successful bets would be 460x4.89 = $2249.4. Or, from another lens, you would only need to wager about $62 to win the $300 you would win through individual bets on these outcomes. But the caveat is that you would lose the entire stake if even one tier didn't come through.

**Futures**

Futures markets involve betting on long-term outcomes, like which team will go on to win the championship, which player is going to end up the MVP at the end of the season, whether a team will qualify for the playoffs or top a conference, and so on. If it's set in the future, you can generally bet on it from as early as pre-season.

**NBA Betting Tips**

Learning the technical subtleties of betting on the NBA is only half the job done. Keep the following key points in mind when you strategize how to bet on the NBA:

It is a long season that is sometimes unrelenting in terms of schedule and travel. The shorter the recovery times between games, the more pressure there is on the players to be at their best, so make sure you've done your reading on the recent form and travel histories of all teams and players you're betting on.

Find reliable stats sources that have been in the business a long time. Understanding key metrics can elevate your betting game above the vast majority of others in the market.

Track the lines and odds history a week before the games. Odds, spreads, and totals usually start at one value and keep changing in the lead-up to the game - keeping track will give you an idea of which way the public sentiment is going, and many opportunities can come.

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