Basketball Betting Starter Guide

If you want to make real money in sports betting, then you want to engage in basketball betting. It’s one of the biggest sports–betting wise–for a reason. The basketball season is coming up soon and I wanted to create a simple guide to understanding the basketball lines. If have never bet on basketball or have, but are slightly confused, this is the article for you. Let’s get into it.


The majority of people bet on basketball via the spread. The spread is the number of points that the team must win by or can lose by. It’s not there to predict winners and losers, but to divide betting. Here’s an example of a typical NBA line.

LA Lakers – 6

New York Knicks +6

In the NBA line above, the New York Knicks are at home and getting 6 points. If you place a wager on the Knicks, you will win if the Knicks win the game or if they lose by 6 or less. The LA Lakers are the visiting team and the favorite in our hypothetical game. If you bet on the LA Lakers, you only win if the Lakers beat the Knicks by at least 6 points.

There’s also another type of spread in basketball called the totals line. The totals line puts up a number that both teams combined will score. As a basketball bettor, you must decide if the total of all the points in the game will be under or over the number. Here’s an example of a total’s line.

LA Lakers vs. NY Knicks Over 178 (-110)

LA Lakers vs. NY Knicks Under 178 (+105)

In our example, the total for the game is 178. If you think both teams will score more than 178 points combined, you will bet the over. If not, bet the under. In the parenthesis is the money line for each selection. We’ll talk about this in the next section. The totals line is simple to grasp.

Money Line

The money line in basketball is used much less than the spreads. When you bet on the money line, you are betting a team to win outright (no spread). Sounds great right? Well, it’s not so easy. Sure, picking the winner might be, but there’s a cost. In our example above, the Lakers were a 6 point favorite. On the money line they might be listed as -400. That means you need to wager $4 for each $1 you want to win. Here’s a quick example of a game on the money line.

LA Lakers -400

NY Knicks +350

In our example, you would win $3.50 for each $1.00 bet on the Knicks provided they won the game outright. Remember this simple rule: The plus sign means the number is the amount you win for each $1.00 wagered. The minus sign is how much you must wager to win $1.00. You are now ready to tackle basketball lines. Good luck.

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