Basketball Betting Guide – How To Bet On Basketball

From a betting standpoint, basketball is quite similar to football and if you have the basics of football betting down, you can easily make the transition to both pro and college basketball. The basic bets are exactly the same; one of the few differences between the two sports is the number of points you lay or take with teasers and pleasers.

As with football, the most common method of betting basketball involves the point spread. Also similarly, bettors are asked to lay 11-to-10 odds.

On occasion you may see Team A -4 (-115) and Team B +4 (-105) but it seldom happens, as there are no real key numbers in basketball. A team is just as likely to win by five points as by three.


The second most popular method of wagering on basketball, a total is the predicted combined score of the two teams playing. As with the point spread, bettors lay 11-to-10 odds, risking $110 to win $100 on totals.

Money Line

The point spread and totals make up the vast majority of basketball wagers, but again, same as football, bettors have the money-line options available to them. One is the money line, a bet on the winner without the spread, using odds.

You’ll find money-line betting on the majority of college basketball games, but with the talent disparity as great as it is, many times it’ll be tough to find money lines on prohibitive favorites, especially in the early part of the season when the big conference teams are playing weaker non-conference opponents to pad their records.


Basketball bettors have their choice of the point spread or money line when betting parlays, in which all the selected teams must win their games in order for you to win your bet. Point spread parlays are paid out at fixed odds, since the point spread theoretically makes all teams a 50-50 proposition of covering the spread. Payouts vary among sportsbooks, but they’ll will resemble the following :

2 teams 13-to-5
3 teams 6-to-1
4 teams 11-to-1
5 teams 22-to-1
6 teams 40-to-1
7 teams 80-to-1
8 teams 150-to-1
9 teams 300-to-1
10 teams 600-to-1

Money-line parlays are calculated using the odds of each team in the parlay and the formula for calculating the payouts was presented in Chapter 4. Plenty of parlay calculators are online for those not wanting to do the math themselves, especially when the parlay uses a combination of point spread and money-line wagers. For payout purposes, point spread teams in your parlay are calculated as -110 favorites.

If you wanted to calculate the payout involving the Knicks -4 and the Heat -160, the first step would be to divide 1 by 1.10 and you will get a figure of .91, which becomes 1.91. Next, divide 1 by 1.60 and you get .625, which becomes 1.625. When you multiply 1.91 by 1.625 you get a total of 3.15, so a $100 parlay would return $315, out of which $100 is the return of your wager, giving you a profit of $215 on your $100 bet.


Basketball teasers work exactly the same way as football teasers, although players receive fewer points in which they can move the line. As with parlays, all teams in your teaser must win or the entire bet is declared a loss.

The typical odds for basketball teasers are as follows:

4-point Teasers:
Two teams = 10/11
Three teams = 9/5
Four teams = 3/1
Five teams = 9/2
Six teams = 15/2

4.5-point Teasers:
Two teams = 10/12
Three teams = 8/5
Four teams = 5/2
Five teams = 4/1
Six teams = 7/1

5-point Teasers:
Two teams = 10/13
Three teams = 7/5
Four teams = 2/1
Five teams = 7/2
Six teams = 13/2

Basketball teasers pay off just as they do in football: the first number listed is the amount you stand to win, while the second number is the amount you risk. A three-team 5-point basketball teaser pays off at 7/5, which means you win $7 for every $5 you wager.


Basketball pleasers follow the same principles as they do in football. You now move the point spread against the team you’re betting on in exchange for a much larger payout. The payouts between sportsbooks vary more with pleasers than traditional bets. As a general rule, bettors have to move the point spread a minimum of 5.5 point for NBA sides, 6 points for college basketball sides, and 7 points for totals. A two-team pleaser involving two NBA sides moved 5.5 will return +600, while a two-team pleaser involving two totals moved 7 points will return the same.

Most sportsbooks limit the number of teams in a pleaser to six, as a six-team pleaser consisting of a combination of 5.5-point moves in the NBA, 6-point moves in college basketball or 7-point moves in basketball totals will return 350-to-1.

First-Half and Halftime Bets

First-half lines are posted on all NBA games and the majority of college basketball games, meaning the bets are decided on the score at halftime. These bets tend to be close to half the full-game point spread and total for the NBA, although large favorites of 10 or more points are generally favored a little more than half the full-game spread.

Heavy college basketball favorites are also favored by more than half the total spread, typically a bit more so than in the NBA, but college totals are a different story, as college games are expected to have more scoring in the second half than the first. This is because college teams are more prone to foul than they are in the NBA in the final two minutes , which stops the clock and allows one team to shoot free throws. It isn’t unusual to see 15 or more points in the final minute of a relatively close college basketball game and the oddsmakers are aware of this.

A general guideline is that between 9 and 10 more points are scored in the second half of a college basketball game than in the first, so if the total on a game is 140, the first-half total will typically be between 65 and 66.

Halftime bets are made during the break, when the sportsbooks release point spreads and totals for the second half. All NBA and most of the major-conference college basketball games will have halftime lines. If the game happens to go to overtime, points scored during overtime count toward a halftime bet.