From the ancient chariot racing bets of Rome, to the classic tradition of wagering on beta fish fights in Taiwan, the humble bet on an event’s winner is as old and widespread as gambling itself. Your average person is likely to have placed such a bet at some point in their life, even if they did not, at the time, realize that they were making a moneyline wager. As for punters themselves, the moneyline tends to be the first bet they place when they visit an online bookmaker.

It does not get any simpler than the moneyline. You pick a winner, or you decide to take your chances on a draw bet, and that is more or less it. This straightforwardness is what makes this wager popular, regardless of how inexperienced or how seasoned a punter is.

Naturally, the same can be said about those who love to bet on NBA games. The moneyline dominates NBA event listings at online sportsbooks, and it is guaranteed that such a bet will be available no matter the game.

NBA Moneyline Bets

In sports such as soccer, there are typically three outcomes that are offered to punters, the first of which is wagering that the winner will be the favorite. The second option is placing a win bet on the underdog and hoping they will prevail. These two bets are, and always will be, an option for NBA fans as well. In games where a tie is possible, a push can occur when there is no draw bet, and the sportsbook will return everyone’s stakes.

More often than not, however, punters will also be given the chance to wager on a third option, which is the draw bet. Backing the draw means you will lose if a winner emerges at the end of a game, while both groups of bettors who had placed a win bet would lose their stakes if the event ends in a tie.

NBA sports bettors can come across all three options. Those who are already familiar with NBA basketball will be surprised to hear this and might even beg to disagree since, after all, NBA games never end in a tie. If a draw does occur, what follows are 5 minute overtime segments that will continue happening as long as it takes for a winner to be determined.

Certain sportsbooks, however, choose to provide NBA options that exclude overtime. In such cases, a draw bet is perfectly viable because anything that happens during overtime will be irrelevant to the listing in question.

The Odds of the Favorite and the Underdog

In moneyline betting, the fact that there is usually an easily discerned underdog, and a favorite, is quite significant. This can pose a problem for sportsbooks since, realistically, few would bet on the supposed loser. To deal with this problem, bookmakers give the teams different odds that reflect the difference between both teams’ expected performances.

The perceived favorites always have worse odds than the underdogs, and winning such a bet will typically net you a fairly small payout compared to the alternative. On the other hand, the odds of the underdog tend to be quite generous and tempting for punters. The easiest way to see this is by observing the American odds of an event, which are, consequently, also called moneyline odds:

Denver Nuggets: +116
Golden State Warriors: -139

First, note the plus and minus signs before each listing. The minus conveys that the team in question is considered the favorite, while its opponent is the underdog. Focusing on the Golden State Warriors, -139 means that you need to wager $139 if you hope to win $100. On the other hand, you only have to place a $100 bet on the Denver Nuggets to win $116 if they defeat the other team.

The underdog option is, in a vacuum, the more reasonable bet when it comes to the odds. Their lower chances of winning, however, make wagering on them riskier but potentially more lucrative. Therefore, punters are given a good reason to wager on the underdogs, but there is a drawback. As for the favorites, they are likely to win and thus a safer option, but the odds make betting on them more expensive. All in all, either option now has its advantages and disadvantages, so you can see how the different odds even out the playing field.

NBA Odds Movement

We have established that the odds are a great way for a sportsbook to ensure that both sides can attract punters. There are, however, cases where even the initial odds are not enough to stop groups of bettors from focusing primarily on one option. This can happen to NBA listings too, since additional information gradually becomes available to the punters as the game draws near, which can affect which team they wager on.

In such situations, the sportsbook can simply change the odds and thus encourage punters to wager on the less popular side. This is what we call the odds movement, and it is one of the most important aspects of sports betting a punter should be aware of. It means that your timing can be crucial when placing a bet, and you will often get a better deal by waiting for the right moment.

You might also find yourself in a situation where the odds were changed for the worse just as you were about to place a bet. Whether you place your stake will depend on many factors, but as a rule of thumb, consider how much value the bet has now that it has changed. If the more expensive stake is, in your option, not worth risking for the now smaller profit, and you also believe that the team’s prospects of winning also make these new odds unappealing, then refrain from making the bet.

NBA Moneyline Odds Formats

We previously covered how an NBA listing will look like if it is presented by American odds. While this odds format is certainly popular, especially in the USA, it is not the only format you will come across. Punters who reside in the West will typically run into three types of odds formats when they wager at online sportsbooks. These formats are the aforementioned US odds, the fractional odds, and the decimal odds.

NBA Moneyline Odds Formats Summary
TeamDecimal OddsFractional OddsAmerican Odds
Boston Celtics1.331/3-300
Charlotte Hornets3.505/2+250

Decimal odds are used by European, Canadian, and Australian punters. Many bettors consider them the easiest to grasp of all formats, which is all thanks to the fact that they use decimals to visualize the odds. The underdog is the team with the higher odds. To figure out your profit, multiply the odds by your stake, then take out your stake, and you are done.

As for fractional odds, they are often referred to as UK odds because of their popularity within Great Britain and Ireland. This format shows the odds with fractions, and calculating the potential profit is a breeze since you only need to multiply your wager by the odds. To make things even easier, the numerator and denominator show that if you were to bet on the Boston Celtics, you would win $3 for every $1 you wager. As for the Charlotte Hornets, you will need to wager $5 to win $2. From this, we can see that the Boston Celtics are the favorites.

Sportsbooks typically provide you with the option to choose any of these formats, so picking one is a matter of preference. Just make sure that whichever one you go with is easy for you to use.

The Vigorish

The vigorish is what ensures that the sportsbook always has the edge. If you have wagered at casinos before, this will not be new information to you, as casino games usually show what the house edge is. As for those unfamiliar with the concept, the vig, also referred to as the juice, is there for the same reason bookmakers adjust the odds according to the favorites and underdogs. It ensures that the sportsbook will always profit from the listings it covers on its website. The moneyline vigorish can vary, but typically, it will not exceed 5%.

This is one of the reasons you should always wager at multiple sportsbooks instead of sticking to just one. Between the vig and the different odds, there will always be sportsbooks that offer better and far more worthwhile wagering options for a given event. Although the vig will not always be obvious, especially in NBA games where the difference between the underdog and favorite might be large, it is still important to shop around for odds in such situations. Last but not least, remember that hunting for better odds should happen on a case-by-case basis. Just because a sportsbook has a great offering on one game does not mean all of its events are competitive.


The moneyline bet is the go-to choice of punters who are about to place their first NBA wager, which should not come as a surprise as it offers very simple options that make it a great starting point for a novice. This type of bet is also well-liked among sports betting aficionados.

When making moneyline bets, punters should be mindful of the relationship between the underdog and the favorite, and bettors should also be on the lookout for NBA listings that do not encompass overtime if they want the option to place a stake on a draw occurring. In addition, the practice of wagering at multiple sportsbooks is a great habit to develop, as it ensures that, with time, a bettor will find the best odds available.

Last but not least, picking a comfortable odds format is also an integral part of sports betting. The three most popular ones are the decimal, fractional, and US odds, and bettors will have no issue switching to their preferred odds format as most western online sportsbooks offer all as options. is a media website dedicated to sports news and reviews of the most popular sports betting sites. Here you will find comprehensive guides on where to bet on football, tennis, NBA, NFL and information about the most popular betting deposit methods.