Betting Basics

How To Bet On Basketball: Insider’s Guide

August 22, 2023

Once the final whistle blows in the Super Bowl and another NFL season has come to an end, sports bettors can finally take a breath and count their earnings.

That is, until the first jump ball of college basketball.


With March Madness and the NBA finals and playoffs quickly approaching, you need to be as ready as the players who step on the court. In this insider’s guide, we’ll tip-off basketball betting season together—exploring how to bet on basketball, including types of bets and a few tips to help you win top dollar.

How do you bet on basketball games? Betting on the sport of basketball is very similar to betting on sports like football, hockey, and baseball.

However, for those basketball lovers who’ve been on the sports betting bench until now—worry not—we’ve got you covered. Here are the five different types of bets you can place on basketball:

Let’s start by putting up an example betting line you might see for a normal NBA game:

At first glance, that may look like an indecipherable algebra equation, but once you know how to read a betting line, it becomes a simple process that will help you find the best value in your bets.

To begin, focus on the final number in each row. This is the moneyline.

When betting the moneyline, you must choose which team you think will win. With the moneyline that’s your entire task—pick the winner and you win the bet.

However, since some teams are better than other teams, sportsbooks will adjust their payout accordingly. Teams with a “-” moneyline are the favorites. Teams with a “+” moneyline are underdogs.

In the above example, Golden State is favored to win. The -450 moneyline means that if you bet $450 on the Warriors and they win, you’ll win $100. On the other hand, the +400 for Los Angeles means that if you bet $100 on the Lakers and they win, you win $400.

Moneyline bets are straightforward winner picks, but the payouts can vary greatly. Spread bets even those payouts, but with a twist.

This time in our example, look at the first number in each row. The Warriors are -4 and the Lakers are +4. What does that mean? Let’s dive in:

Point spread betting in basketball is a great sports betting option because it’s easy to understand, and the payouts are straightforward.

Now, let’s move onto the middle column in each row (distinguished by the O and U). This is the over/under total. In this case, the over/under is 233 points.

If you think the teams’ combined scores will be more than this number, bet the over. If you think the scores will be less, bet the under. Again the parenthetical numbers show the payouts for these bets.

Think you know who’s going to win the NBA championship title? By placing a bet early, you’re making a futures bet.

Futures bets will often come with high payout odds since it’s so hard to predict what will happen. Sprinkling a little money on futures could mean a big payday at the end of a season, but your likelihood of winning is much lower than on an individual game bet.

Don’t like the potential payout of your bet? By bunching it with other bets (such as on other games or even on events in the same game) you can boost your potential payout. This type of betting is called a parlay. Just remember, the more bets you string together the less likely your parlay will hit. If even one element of your parlay loses, your whole bet loses with it.

Now that you understand the types of bets available, are there any tips you should keep in mind when it comes to betting basketball? Of course! Here are just a few that may help:

The last tip to ensure success at betting basketball is to place your bets through Tipico’s online sportsbook. At Tipico, we’ve got you covered through all the rounds of March Madness and the rest of the NBA regular season and playoffs, too. We offer spread bets, moneylines, NBA futures bets, and even live betting to cover all your basketball betting needs.

With quick, easy deposits and plenty of sports betting options, the best way to enjoy every posterizing dunk and buzzer-beater is with Tipico!


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Tipico staff contributions