Basketball betting basics in NBA

The National Basketball Association (NBA) of the United States is one of the largest sports leagues in the world, even outside of basketball. Its athletes become pop-culture superstars and inspiration to young athletes everywhere. 

The NBA is one of the most-watched sports leagues. Some countries outside of the United States prefer it over their local leagues. This appearance in media makes it perfect for sports bettors because they have mainstream media as their database. 

Different ways to bet in NBA

There are various basketball betting formats other than deciding on the winner. Here are some of the most common ways to bet in the NBA as practised in online sports betting. Some state-exclusive bookies can have unique formats but they are too niche to be included here. 


Moneyline betting is the most straightforward version. Simply guess which team will win the event. Both teams are represented by the same payout values but the favourites are marked with a negative sign while the underdog has positive.

Underdog bets payout equal to the amount written on the market for every $100 bet. Favourite bets pay $100 for every bet equal to the amount written on the market. Bettors don’t need to wager exactly those amounts. They can pay more or less and their payout is adjusted accordingly by ratio.

Point spread

A point spread is also about guessing which team wins but with a twist. Each team is assigned a certain number of points that are also indicated with a positive sign for the underdog and a negative one for the favourite. If you bet on the underdog, they must win with a score difference equal to or less than the indicated number. The favourite, on the other hand, must win with more score differences than the indicated number.


Over/under is a more casual way of betting in the NBA. The bookie estimates the number of scores for each team and the bettors wager if either team will score over or under the assigned number. These are often written with a decimal 0.5 to avoid being equal. Over/under bets usually have time deadlines so the bookie can prepare a new market for every quarter of a game.


Bettors can combine bets of the same type across different games to create a parlay bet. For example, your over/under bet on multiple events can be combined into one big bet. The catch is that all bets within the parlay must win. It’s a risky move but the payout is multiplied according to its estimated odds.


Future bets have markets for long-term betting. It usually includes betting on which team will win the current tournament or how many points a team/player can score in the season. 


In-play betting, or live betting, is about wagering on short-term possibilities while watching the game live. This is often the most exciting way of basketball betting as spectators become more invested in the game. It’s a betting method best suited for super fans who know the sport and the players’ capabilities.

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