As one of the most popular sports in the world, basketball attracts a lot of gambling activity, more so in the States than anywhere else, but it is popular in the UK too.
Due to its extremely high-scoring nature, predicting the correct score of matches is not something gamblers tend to engage in as the chances of winning a bet like this would be slim, but there are many other markets to choose from.
This is particularly true of NBA action which typically comes with a huge supply of betting options, largely because there is so much interest from punters. You will also see leagues from European countries etc. available to bet on too.
How to Bet on Basketball
Although the NBA is what most people picture when they think of basketball, it is a game played in lots of leagues all over the world. As standard, betting sites will cover a range of the largest global leagues, in addition to the NBA. This includes competitions like the EuroLeague, Spain’s Liga ACB or Turkey’s Basketbol Süper Ligi just to name a few. Many of the biggest non-NBA leagues are focused in Europe but there are some in Asia plus the WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association).
The reason for mentioning this is that the stature of the competition is important when it comes to betting. If seeking matches from relatively low-status leagues, you may find it hard to find odds on them. Additionally, the more high-profile the match, the more betting markets you are likely to find. Many betting sites will have a huge list of options for an NBA match but you will not find a selection of anywhere near the same size for a British BBL Championship game.
As for when basketball betting is available, gamblers enjoy pretty good coverage. Many (but not all) leagues enjoy two or three months off during late summer/early autumn but for the rest of the year, there is a very regular supply of action. The action is especially regular in the NBA as teams each play 82 matches during the regular season and there is potential play-off action on top of this. Taxing for the player and costly for the fans maybe, but it does mean the betting opportunities come thick and fast.
Main Bets on Basketball
We will now take you through some of the more commonly selected betting options within basketball.
They will not always be available, especially for smaller fixtures but for an NBA match for example, many betting sites will offer even more than what is mentioned below.
We will start by looking at the main markets. The big three markets for any basketball game are the match result (moneyline), handicap (spread) and total points, but many others exist. While some offer relatively short odds, others allow punters to place high-risk, high-reward bets.
- Moneyline – Moneyline is just another term for the ‘match result’ market, one where the aim is simply to pick the winner of the match. This is usually just a choice of either team as draws are not part of the sport. The three-way moneyline market does exist though, allowing you to bet on a regular time tie.
- Spread – Some of you may better know this as handicap betting. With the main spread market, one team will be given a points advantage and the other a disadvantage, in an attempt to balance out their differences. This plus/minus score is applied to the real score to determine a winner.
- Total Points – Simply how many points there will be in total in the match, over or under a specified amount.
- Alternative Spread – Still handicap betting but with various point values applied. Through this you can create both shorter and longer odds than with the regular spread bet.
- Winning Margin – Select which team you think will win the game and by what margin by selecting one of the predetermined bands, for example 10-13 points. You may be able to access both smaller and larger bands if alternate winning margin markets exist.
- Points Bands – Choose how many points there will be in a match from a range of predetermined bands, for example 141-150.
- Half Betting – Rather than betting on the whole game you can bet on a half instead. Pre-match, you will often find that only the first half is available to bet on. With this though you can bet on things like half winner, half total points, half spread and half winning margin.
- Quarter Betting – Just like above bet, only your moneyline, spread, total points (and so on) bet will relate to a quarter. Pre-match it is likely only the first quarter that will be available but others will feature during in-play betting.
- Highest Scoring Half/Quarter – Which section of the game will see the most total points scored.
So far we have focussed on match bets, which means the performance of both teams matters in terms of your wager.
You can however place a bet on a specific team or a specific player, with their performance the only thing that matters to the bet.
- Player Points – Pick a player and bet on whether or not they will achieve over/under a specified points total. Player milestone betting also exists and here you will bet on them reaching x or more points.
- Player Assists – Betting on whether a player will achieve over or under the shown amount of assists.
- Player Rebounds – A wager on whether a player will score above or below a fixed number of rebounds.
- Player Threes – A bet on how many three-pointers a selected player will hit in a match, over/under the stated number.
- Team Points – Predicting how many points one team will score during the match, again following the over/under format. You can also bet on a team’s total for a quarter or a half.
- Team to Score x Points – A bet on whether a specified team will reach x points during the match. This can also apply to their total during a half or a quarter.
Other Types of Bet
You can use any of the above markets (if offered by the betting site you use) to place a single bet pre-match.
There are multiple other ways of betting on basketball though and you can use these to mix up your betting experience.
Traditionally with betting, punters have not been able to combine markets from the same match into one multi-leg bet. Instead, the only option was to place multiple single bets. This is becoming a thing of the past though thanks to the increasing availability of bet builders. Through this mechanism, you can pick and choose various betting options from the same basketball game to create a tailored multi-leg bet. For example, you could bet on the Hornets to win, over 227.5 points and player x to score over 22.5 points. With bet builders, all your selections will need to win for you to have a winning bet.
A bet-builder is effectively just a one-game parlay/accumulator bet. Your more standard parlay/accumulator bet follows the same principle but it covers a range of matches rather than just one select game. This form of betting would allow you to, for example, bet on the Nuggets and Lakers to win and the Warriors to score over 115.5 points. As long as there is only one selection from each game, you should have no problems putting them together to form a parlay bet. It is an easy way of creating a big-odds bet but all selections have to win otherwise you’ll get nothing back.
Generally speaking, if you could bet on a basketball game pre-event, there is a very good chance you will be able to bet on it in-play. This is good news for any gambler who enjoys watching basketball as they bet on what they think will happen next, based on how the game is going. For bigger fixtures, there will usually be a wide range of live markets to choose from, regularly updated to reflect the current stage of the game. Later on in matches, for example, you should have the option to bet on fourth-quarter winner or fourth-quarter total points.
Finally, we move on to outrights, which is a bet placed on the outcome of a league/competition/award rather than a single game. For smaller basketball leagues, you are likely to find the only outright betting option is ‘league winner’. With something like the NBA though, more markets tend to be available. These include options such as regular season MVP (Most Valuable Player), to make play-offs, regular season wins (over/under) and conference winner. While many punters place these bets before the season begins, most markets will stay open throughout the year.
Important Rules for Basketball Betting
Betting sites have separate rules for each sport they offer and they can refer to these in case of any customer disputes. There is rarely anything too controversial in them, merely clarification as to how they treat certain situations.
Rules can vary between sites but there is a good degree of similarity among them.
- Overtime – Unless stated otherwise, the outcome of overtime will be used to settle full-match bets. Overtime does not typically come into consideration for any second-half or fourth-quarter bets though.
- Abandonments – If a game is abandoned, all bets not already settled will be voided.
- Postponements – If a game is delayed, bets will usually stand providing the fixture takes place within 48 hours of its original start time.
- Player Props – Should a player not participate in the match for whatever reason, any bets on them will be refunded.
- Tied Bets – Some markets can end in a tie with no winner, for example if the market is over/under 210 points and the game finishes with exactly 210 points. Providing a draw was not offered, all bets will be voided and stakes returned.
Basketball Betting Guides
It may be more popular over in the USA than anywhere else in the world, but basketball is still big business, and many other countries are seeing an increase in the sport’s popularity these days. That means that basketball betting is also on the rise, so the range and variety of markets is really starting to open up.
For anyone new to the sport, or anyone new to betting on the sport, there is much to learn, especially when betting on games on different continents where leagues and competitions all have their own little quirks and idiosyncrasies. Below you will find a number of articles that shine a light on all corners of basketball wagering, helping you to hopefully make more successful decisions when putting your money down.