Few leagues enjoy the same amount of popularity and coverage that the NBA has at online sportsbooks. This is not at all surprising. The NBA dominates the world’s basketball scene and the 7-month long regular season ensures that all teams will have played a total of 82 games by the end, which provides ample opportunity for punters to wager on the odds of NBA events.

The NBA has been in operation for over 70 years, and it has managed to accumulate tons of fans throughout the decades. While the vast majority of them are, naturally, from the USA, international basketball lovers have also been well-acquainted with the league and its stars. Numerous sports fans worldwide tune in to watch the games when in season.

As one would expect, all of this has led to the league becoming popular among sports betting circles as well. Various markets are available at online sportsbooks, and NBA punters are practically spoilt for choice in terms of the sheer number of bet variations they can pick from.

NBA Spread Bets

Games where it is clear which team is most likely to win are nothing new to sports, especially when it comes to the NBA. It is fairly easy to run into situations where one team is very experienced and known for their sheer skill, while the other is at a disadvantage, since the players are lacking in both departments. In such a situation, most punters would feel enticed to wager on the team more likely to be the winner, and bookies have come up with various methods to prevent this and make both sides a viable bet option for punters.

One such technique is spread betting. This bet variation is also known as the handicap and is referred to as such since it basically introduces an additional difficulty, i.e. more points for the favorites to overcome. The underdogs, on the other hand, have more leeway. If you decide to wager on them, your bet can be successful even if they lose, so long as they do not lose by too many points.

A typical spread bet looks like this:

Philadelphia 76ers: -7 1.91
Chicago Bulls: +7 1.91

The number 7 is the point spread. Here, this means that if you decide to wager on the Philadelphia 76ers selection, they need to win the game by at least 8 points for you to win back your stake and make a profit. As for the Chicago Bulls, they must lose by less than 7 points for your bet to be successful if you wager on them. This is pretty much it, and this simplicity is why spread betting is popular among both novices and seasoned bettors.

There is one last thing we would like to bring your attention to, and that is the possibility of a push occurring. Pushes are not a common potential outcome when it comes to spread betting, since most bookies opt for using half points to create a point spread. The occasional exception does exist, however, and the above example is one such bet. Here, a push will occur if the teams’ score difference lands on the number of the point spread.

NBA Moneyline Bets

Moneyline bets are some of the first bets punters try out when they are still new to the hobby. As for why, wagering on the moneyline is quite straightforward since you are betting on who will win between the two teams.

Although this type of bet is fairly straightforward overall, it does have one important peculiarity. We are referring to the difference between the odds of the underdog and the favorite. If you plan to wager on the moneyline, you will find that the odds of one team tend to be far more lucrative than the latter, and you might wonder why that is.

As we emphasized previously, not all teams are created equal, especially when it comes to the NBA. Often, a game will have a team that is considered the favorite and is more likely to beat its opponent. This introduces the problem of having to tempt punters into wagering on the underdog, and, like spread betting, moneyline bets are yet another solution to this problem.

The key to solving this issue when it comes to moneyline bets is that very difference between the odds. Wagering on the favorite will typically net a smaller profit than wagering on the underdog. This, in turn, means that both options now have their pros and cons. If you bet on the supposed winner, you have a higher chance at winning, but you will not end up with a significant profit. If you go for the underdog, you are making a riskier choice, but winning will be far more lucrative.

This approach has been quite effective so far. The alternative would make betting on the favorite the only viable option, and this would be detrimental to the excitement factor of the wagering experience.

Deciding on which bet to choose is, therefore, a matter of figuring out if the lower odds are worth the safer bet on the favorite, or if the enticing potential profits might make it worth it to gamble your stake on the underdog.

NBA Futures

Continuing with the newbie-friendly wagers, futures are often one of the first bets new punters gravitate towards when they visit their first sportsbook. This long-term bet’s core aspect is that you are wagering on events that will happen far into the future. We are referring to things such as the outcome of championships, which team will be the winner at the end of an NBA season, who will be Rookie of the Year, and the like.

Futures can be very enjoyable, but they do have their disadvantages. Namely, the house edge is often quite high, and your probability of winning certain bets is often pretty low. For instance, there are many candidates for the potential winner of an entire season, and predicting which team will be victorious can be tough. Especially if you tend to place your bets prior to a season’s start.

On the flip side, you will, on many occasions, have a chance to win more than you put at stake, which is certainly worth keeping in mind. In addition, placing a future bet can make anticipating the end of a long event all the more thrilling.

At the end of the day, futures are like any other bet variation as they have their drawbacks and benefits, so as always, try them out and see if this type of bet is for you. Just remember to follow in the footsteps of experienced sports betting aficionados and check the odds at multiple sportsbooks. Some bookies will offer better odds than others, and it is especially important to find the best deals when futures are concerned.

NBA Over/Under Bets

The concept behind over/under bets, or as they are often called, totals, is simple. If you make such a bet, you are wagering on whether the combined totals of both teams’ points at the end of the match will be lower or higher than a given number. We will take a game between the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks as an example:

Over: 227.5
Under: 227.5

Here, you can bet on over if you expect the overall game score to be over 227.5, while wagering on under is the opposite and you wager that the total points will be less than 227. The formatting of over/under bets can vary from bookie to bookie, so here is another showcase of what such a bet would look like:

Detroit Pistons: over 227.5
Atlanta Hawks: under 227.5

The important thing to note here is that these are the exact same bet options as the ones we saw previously. The over and under being designated to each team is all for the sake of organization and nothing else, so do not be worried if you see such a selection on your favorite sports betting website.

NBA Live Betting

If you find yourself itching for a change of pace, live betting can be a thrilling option. In-play occurs when, as one would expect, you wager on the outcomes of a game as it is taking place, and you can not only observe the odds fluctuating, but the events that occur in real time.

Live betting can be a powerful tool as it can allow you to test your wagering skills if you are very knowledgeable about the game, are familiar with the NBA teams that are playing, and are able to analyze any other aspects that can affect the outcomes. It is also fun, which is why the in-play page is often considered the most entertaining section of a sportsbook’s website.

As for the types of bets you can try when you are wagering on a live game, moneyline bets are once again popular, as is spread betting. In addition, those who love over/under bets will not be disappointed as this is yet another popular market that is available to punters who enjoy in-play.

NBA Parlay Bets

Parlays, also known as combination bets, accumulators, or accas, are well-liked among punters. This bet variation allows you to combine multiple bets into one, and each selection’s payout is used to bet on the next selection. This means that you can win a significant potential profit for a fairly low initial stake cost.

To make things clearer, we will wager $10 on an acca bet containing the following selections:

  • Charlotte Hornets to beat Brooklyn Nets: 2.48
  • Orlando Magic to beat Phoenix Suns: 3.70
  • Indiana Pacers to beat Cleveland Cavaliers: 2.65
  • Golden State Warriors to bet Los Angeles Clippers: 1.43

The potential payout of the first bet is $24.8 ($10 stake + $14.8 profit). This payout will then be wagered on the next selection, meaning that if the Orlando Magic team wins, the result will be a payout of $91.76 ($24.8 stake + $66.96 profit). The subsequent selections will also be calculated like this, so in the end, your accumulator bet will result in a total profit of around $104, which is impressive considering you wagered only $10. It is also a notable improvement over the $62 profit you would have won with a series of single bets where the money put at stake would have been $40.

If you believe that all of this sounds too good to be true, you would be correct as there is, indeed, a catch. We are referring to your chances of failure. Accumulator bets carry a lot more risk than your average group of single bets since, for your parlay to be successful, you must hope that all of the individual legs will win. If a single selection in an acca bet is unsuccessful or a push, the entire parlay is considered a loss.

As scary as this might sound, accumulator bets are still worth it, so long as you take the higher risk into account and proceed accordingly. Make sure to stay informed regarding the teams’ performance, check multiple bookies before you settle on the odds you find best, take note of additional factors that can affect the outcome, and you will have a decent chance at succeeding.

It is also worth noting that there are two unique types of parlay bets you might come across while you wager on NBA events, the first of which are teasers. This variation is unique because it allows you to control the spread so that it is more beneficial to you, in exchange for a smaller payout to balance things out. Pleasers, on the other hand, are the exact opposite. With them, you can turn the odds in the sportsbook’s favor, but the potential payout you could get should you win will be increased.

Last but not least, keep in mind that at most sportsbooks, bets that have fewer than 4 selections are seldom referred to as accumulators. Instead, you will find them as doubles (2 legs) and trebles (3 legs).

NBA Proposition Bets

These bets involve wagering on whether something will or will not occur. The fact that they are very easy to comprehend, as well as their entertainment factor, is what makes these bets so appealing, but they can also be profitable for experienced punters. The key to becoming good at prop betting is being able to tell the difference between skilled and unskilled bets, as the former gives you a higher chance of winning compared to the latter.

Unskilled props are referred to as such because you cannot use your NBA knowledge to make an educated guess on whether your bet will be successful or not. Markets such as Coach of the Year and Rookie of the Year are examples of the unskilled props you can find at bookies, and such bets are often called fun props since they are very thrilling to place. On the other hand, these props are unsuitable for punters who wager for purposes other than entertainment, as bettors are entirely at the mercy of chance.

Skilled proposition bets are the opposite of unskilled props, seeing as you can use your wagering skills to more accurately predict what will happen. This includes being familiar with the teams involved, how well they have performed in the past, and so on. A popular type of skilled prop bet is whether a player will score over or under a certain number of points in a game. Basically, so long as you can make an educated guess on what the outcome will be, you are most likely looking at a skilled prop bet.

As you can see, both prop variations have their pros and cons, but most experts recommend you go for skilled bets. Sportsbooks do not organize props based on whether they are fun or skilled, however, and this is one of the reasons learning to differentiate between the two is important.


All in all, it is clear that there is a lot of variety to pick from if you wish to wager on NBA events. So much so, in fact, that those new to sports betting might be a bit overwhelmed. This is why it will be beneficial to novice NBA punters to stick to small stakes first, and try out various bets to see which ones they enjoy wagering on the most.

Moneyline bets, prop bets and spread bets, in particular, are very suitable for those new to NBA betting, while parlays might be more enticing to seasoned punters or newbies who are fond of riskier bets that also have the potential to be quite lucrative. No matter the bet type, remember to always be vigilant and on the lookout for competitive odds as this will help you immensely with placing lucrative bets. Thankfully, the NBA is incredibly popular at online sportsbooks so you will find that there are many opportunities to pick from.

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