Basketball Betting Guide
The game of basketball is synonymous with the National Basketball Association (NBA) – the world’s premier basketball league for teams in North America and Canada. Read our dedicated page for a complete guide to the NBA, and feel free to browse our NBA picks section for the best basketball betting tips. This guide will give you a more global overview of the sport, which continues to grow in popularity across Europe, Asia, and the rest of the world. We’ve also picked out the best bookmakers for betting on basketball below.
Best Basketball Betting Sportsbooks
There are various types of bets and markets available to fans of basketball, and games across the world tend to follow the same 2-way betting format as the North American game. Any overtime is included in the bet (unless otherwise stated), and the most common betting markets are the spread, totals, and the moneyline:
Spread: The spread is similar to an Asian Handicap, in that one team will be given a points ‘headstart’ and the other a points ‘deficit’. This allows bookmakers to level the playing field between the two teams and offer roughly even odds.
Let’s look at an example from the EuroLeague where Real Madrid are playing CSKA Moscow. The spread and the odds are displayed as follows:
CSKA Moscow -3.5
Real Madrid +3.5 1.91
In this instance, CSKA Moscow must win by four points or more to cover the -3.5 spread. By contrast, as far as the betting market is concerned, Real Madrid have an additional +3.5 points added to their score at the end of the game. Therefore, if Real Madrid only loses by 2 points, the bet is a winner.
Total: The totals market is a simple bet on how many points will be scored in the match between the two teams combined. Your sportsbook will set a points line, and you can bet that the total will be over or under that line. European punters will be well-versed in this kind of over/under bet.
The total line and odds for the same match are expressed as follows:
Under 168.5 1.91
Moneyline: The moneyline is another 2-way market, which asks you to predict the winner of the match. This is a simple home or away selection.
The moneyline odds for CSKA Moscow versus Real Madrid are:
Real Madrid 2.50
As you can see, CSKA are the favorites to win the match, while the odds on Real Madrid are higher as that team is the underdog. If you fancy an upset it can pay handsomely to bet on the moneyline, but if you think the favorite will win it is often best to bet on the spread and hope they win comfortably, in order to increase the odds.
Basketball Betting Markets and Strategies
Beyond the typical markets, many bookmakers offer a variety of different betting opportunities, including the above three markets for the first and second halves, and for each of the four quarters. Other exotic and prop bets include:
- Alternative game totals: This is effectively the same bet as total betting listed above but the bookmakers offer different lines so that punters have a choice of larger odds. If you think there will be a high-scoring game, for example, you might find very juicy odds on over 200 points.
- Double result: The double result give you the chance to select which team will be winning at halftime and at fulltime. This is a good way to boost the odds of a selection but it does come with greater risk attached. For the bet to win, you have to correctly predict the result of both halves of the match.
- Winning margin: As stated, this is a bet on the winning margin of your selected team. Your chosen side must win for the bet to land and you generally have options to back a winning margin of 1-2 points, 3-6 points, 7-9 points, and so on, up to 21+ points. There are some huge odds in this market, but clearly, the risks of losing are far higher.
After those extra markets, bookies also offer other exotic bets such as the alternative points spread, the race to 20 points, the team with the highest-scoring quarter, and odd or even points totals. In addition, most sportsbooks offer futures, or long-term, markets whereby you can back a team to win the league, or championship outright.
Major Basketball Leagues and Tournaments
The NBA attracts most basketball betting attention. It is by far the most famous league in the world and its stars are some of the best-paid athletes out there. However, there is also a big following of the sports in almost every corner of the globe, and most countries have their own leagues – of various standing. In Europe, the EuroLeague is the premier club competition, while the Americas League is considered the most important basketball club championship in South America. Asia has a long history of basketball, and the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) is widely considered the next best league in the world after the NBA. Below are some of the best tournaments and competitions worldwide for basketball betting, although this is by no means an exhaustive list:
- NBA: The NBA is the premier basketball league in the world. Originally founded in New York in 1946 as the Basketball Association of America (BAA), it adopted the name of National Basketball Associaton after merging with its competitor, the National Basketball League (NBL), in 1949. You can find a wealth of information in our NBA section.
- PBA: The next most popular league in the world is the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). It’s the second-longest running basketball league after the NBA and was established in 1975. The history of the sport in the Philippines dates back much further than that after it was introduced (along with baseball) by American teachers through the YMCA and school system.
- EuroLeague: Also known as the Turkish Airline EuroLeague for sponsorship reasons, the EuroLeague was inaugurated in the year 2000. It is a European-wide professional basketball league for top-tier club sides throughout the continent. Real Madrid is the most successful side in the history of the competition, with nine titles to their name.
- Basketball Champions League: The BCL is an annual basketball club competition organized by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) for club sides which excel in their national leagues. However, the tournament has been the source of controversy as FIBA and EuroLeague basketball wrestle for control of top-level European competitions.
- FIBA Basketball World Cup: The basketball World Cup is considered the pinnacle of international basketball, alongside the Olympics. It has been running, in one format or another, since 1950 and is the flagship event of FIBA. The most recent winner of the World Cup is the USA, which is also the most successful nation with five titles to its name. The tournament is held once every four years.
- EuroBasket: Also known as the European Basketball Championship, is held every two years for national sides in Europe. Slovenia won its first title in 2017, but historically, the competition was dominated by the former Soviet Union which won the crown 14 times.
Basketball Betting Tips
Such is the popularity of basketball, there are matches being played on a daily basis throughout the world. Betting on basketball is thus big business and that puts us punters in a good position as sportsbooks compete for our bets. Most bookmakers offer sign-up bonuses or welcome promotions for new customers and these are always worth taking advantage of to bag yourself a free bet. Other things to look out for when betting on basketball are the bookies with the best odds and the biggest range of markets. Take a look through our strategy section to find tips and advice on maximizing your profits and minimizing your losses.
If you’ve started betting on basketball it is almost certainly because you enjoy watching the game. You can use this to your advantage to beat the bookies. If you are up to speed on the teams and players that are in form or any other factors that might affect a result, you should have an edge over the sportsbook and can find generous odds if the layers aren’t paying attention. Finally, be sure to stick to a disciplined betting bank and enjoy betting on basketball!