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BASKETBALL BETTING GUIDE

Basketball is a fast-paced, high-scoring game. Games can have huge swings in points, making the outcomes more volatile and unpredictable than other sports. With so many dynamic potential outcomes, there are lots of exciting bets to make. That means there’s also a lot to know before putting your money down. Here are some key takeaways to help you get the most out of your basketball betting.

QUICK FACTS

3 popular markets in basketball

A trophy is shown signifying the winning team.

Moneyline

A bet on which team will win.

An arrow stretching either way is shown with a plus sign on the right and a negative sign on the left, signifying the Point Spread.

Point Spread

A bet on whether one team’s score will beat or cover an assigned point handicap or margin.

Up and down arrows are shown signifying the Over/Under.

Over/Under

A bet on whether the total number of points will fall over or under an assigned total. Also known as ‘Total’ bets.

ADDITIONAL FACTS

  • Starting lineups in basketball can change minutes before the game, unlike baseball or football where teams must submit or confirm their lineups hours beforehand.
  • Point Spreads are typically set at .5 increments to avoid a ’Push’. A team with a Point Spread of -8.5 means they must win by 9 or more points to win the Point Spread.
  • North America’s major pro basketball league typically has a regular season of 82 games per team.
  • PROLINE+ features North American pro and college, and many international basketball leagues.

READING ODDS

Every choice you make when betting on basketball has associated odds which tell you which bet is more likely to win, and what the payout will be if it does. Here’s an example of a basketball Moneyline market, showing decimal odds:

MONEYLINE (MATCH)
TORONTO
2.85
BOSTON
1.44

Decimal odds are the default on PROLINE+, and the simplest for calculating payouts. A decimal figure like 1.44 or 2.85 on a betting line means you’re dealing with decimal odds. The decimal amount indicates your potential payout and whether you’re betting on the favourite or the underdog:

  • Payouts are calculated by multiplying your wager amount with the decimal odds. E.g., A winning $10 bet with odds of 1.44 pays $14.40 (including the original bet).
  • The higher number is the underdog, or the less likely outcome. A riskier bet with a higher potential reward.
  • The lower number is the favourite, or the more likely outcome. A safer bet so it provides a lower potential reward.
TIP

You can change your PROLINE+ settings at any time to fractional or American odds.

LEARN MORE ABOUT ODDS open in a new window

COMMON BASKETBALL MARKETS & BET TYPES

POINT SPREAD

A popular way to bet in basketball is with Point Spreads. It’s all about guessing whether one of the teams will score over, or within an assigned point difference or handicap (the ‘spread’). Favourites are assigned a negative (-) Point Spread, meaning they must win by at least the spread amount to win the Point Spread bet. Underdogs are assigned a positive (+) Point Spread meaning they must win the game or lose by that amount or less to win the Point Spread bet.

POINT SPREAD (MATCH)
TORONTO +5.5
1.91
BOSTON -5.5
1.91

Here’s an example of a Point Spread market. The Point Spread is the number beside the team name, in this case, 5.5:

  • Toronto is +5.5—if they lose by less than 5.5 points (or win the game), they win the Point Spread bet.
  • Boston is -5.5—if they win by more than 5.5 points, they win the Point Spread bet.

From a betting perspective, the Point Spread keeps a game competitive and interesting: an underdog team can lose the game but still win the spread. A favoured team must do more than just win and score beyond the spread. Ending the spread in 0.5 helps avoid ‘Push’ since there are no half-buckets in basketball. That being said, you may see a whole number Point Spread for basketball, in which case ties and ‘Pushes’ are possible.

Like all other markets, the green numbers represent the odds and potential payout for choosing either bet. The odds here are even since either outcome is considered just as likely to take place.

OVER/UNDER (TOTALS)

An Over/Under market is about predicting whether the total number of points scored in a game will go over or under a set total. You’ll sometimes see these called ‘Totals’.

OVER/UNDER
OVER 223.5
1.91
UNDER 223.5
1.91

In the example above, you’re betting on whether the combined total score of both teams will add up to over or under 223.5. In this example, the odds are even, meaning each outcome is as likely as the other.

Over/Under totals can be set as whole numbers, or end in a .5, to avoid a ’Push’, just like with Point Spreads.

MONEYLINES

Moneyline markets in basketball are simply about picking who will win a game: the underdog or favourite.

MONEYLINE (MATCH)
TORONTO
2.85
BOSTON
1.44

In this example, the odds tell us Toronto is the underdog and Boston is the favourite. Making a Moneyline bet is as simple as selecting whichever team you think will win outright, without spreads or totals.

Bets on the favourite payout less if they win since that is the expected outcome. Bets on the underdog can payout much more if they win, since that outcome is less likely.

OTHER COMMON MARKETS AND BET TYPES

HALVES & QUARTERS
Halves & Quarters markets are simply choosing whether you think something will happen by the end of a quarter or the half of the game. It could be a Point Spread, an Over/Under that is specific to a half or quarter, or it could be a Prop Bet which team will have the highest scoring quarter. It all revolves around different periods of play within the game.

PARLAY
A Parlay is when you have multiple selections on one betslip, and each one of them must win for the overall Parlay to win. The more selections you have in one Parlay, the less likely it is that the Parlay will win, so the bigger the payoff if it does. You can combine different markets (e.g., Point Spreads, Over/Under, and Moneylines) from different games and sports into the same Parlay bet.

Combiboost: PROLINE+ offers a bonus multiplier when you add 4 or more eligible selections to your Parlay. If you win, the Combiboost will enhance your payout rate. Learn more about Combiboost.

PROP BETS
Prop Bets or ‘props’ are a type of market for specific outcomes in a game (‘game props’) or outcomes related to a player’s performance (‘player props’). Prop Bets are sometimes made as ‘yes/no’ or ‘either/or’ decisions, and in basketball can often intersect with other betting factors like totals. Will Toronto’s total score be an odd or even number? Could Boston win by more than 20 points in a blowout? These are examples of Prop Bets.

LIVE/IN-GAME BETTING
PROLINE+ gives you the ability to bet on games as they are happening, with dynamic odds that are constantly updating in response to what happens in the game. If Toronto ends up taking a 20-point lead over Boston late in the game, the odds will likely shift to favour Toronto, giving you the chance to bet on a scenario you know is more likely but with a lower payoff.

COMMON BASKETBALL BETTING STRATEGIES

Use these strategies with caution—no sports bet is a guarantee, and even if an outcome is likely, it still might not occur. The randomness of sports keeps sports betting unpredictable.

WATCH FOR LAST MINUTE CHANGES

A sports announcer is shown delivering sports news.

Unlike other sports, basketball teams can make changes to their lineups minutes before a game starts. If Boston’s star centre comes down with a cold or gets a sudden sprain, they could be benched just before tip-off. This could make a loss more likely. Stay on top of your sports news, follow teams on social media, and know that in basketball, researching up to the last minute could bring insights.

KNOW THE SCHEDULES

Scheduling 82 games for 30 teams isn’t easy. Sometimes leagues have to reschedule games or periods of play to make up for some that were cancelled or postponed. This might mean the teams involved are forced to play more than usual, travelling long hours, and getting less rest. If you can reasonably assume a team may be exhausted based on their schedule and travel distance, their opponent could be expected to have an edge.

CONSIDER THE STATS

A basketball player is seen with stats around them.

Past performance is not a guarantee of how a team will do in the future, but there are some potentially reliable statistics that can inform who you think will win or lose. If one team has a consistently better performance in key areas like rebounding, turnovers, or 3-pointers, then it’s likely they might outperform in their next matchup. Of course, in basketball a team’s momentum can shift dramatically during a game, so use stats with caution.

SET A PERSONAL WIN LIMIT

Three trophies are shown with varying levels of payouts. Underneath each trophy is a checkbox with the middle win limit selected.

It’s no fun to be up and then lose it all. Counter it by deciding on a win limit—the point at which you plan to walk away, even if you’re up. Some players set this at double their bankroll.

COMMON BASKETBALL BETTING MISTAKES

NOT KNOWING THE LINEUPS
Imagine this: a team is on a winning streak, but tonight their star point guard is out, so they’re more likely to underperform. If that happens, a Moneyline bet against them may have been a good bet. The only way you could have taken advantage of this scenario is by knowing the lineups leading up to that game.

You can’t know for sure how players and teams will perform. Still, you can factor historical stats and game developments into your decision-making. That said, knowledge can only go so far—it may not be as powerful (or as fun) as the random chance of the game.

MISMANAGING YOUR BANKROLL
Not establishing a bankroll and planning how much you’re going to spend could result in betting more than you’d intended, which might take the fun out of things for you.

BETTING ONLY ON FAVOURITES
Basketball season features a ton of games, and it’s hard for even the best teams to maintain wins all season. Eventually, fatigue catches up with the best of them. Keep that in mind if you’re planning on betting for the favoured team, or if you often bet on your own favourite team.

TRACKING WINS AND FORGETTING LOSSES
People have a funny habit of remembering the good and forgetting the bad. Sometimes this carries through to their betting. Keep an accurate tally of how much you’ve won and lost for a truer sense of what you’re spending over time.