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Basketball is one of the most popular sport all over the world, along with football, soccer, and baseball. It is also one of the easiest for a gambler to bet on, in the world of land-based and online sports betting. In the United States, basketball betting is done usually in NBA and NCAA college basketball games.

Point Spread Wager / Spread Betting on Basketball

The most common bet applied in basketball sports betting is the point spread wager, or the spread betting, in which any bettor can wager on each team to outscore the other team in their basketball match. However, considering that there are better teams and there are those that are not too good in terms of scoring and team play, it can also be considered that a “handicap” (in terms of game points) will be imposed on the team, considered as the favorite, which is more likely to win (based on a better team and player statistics) against the other team, considered as the underdog. The handicap is applied to make both teams equal for the purpose of betting, otherwise, more gamblers will bet on the favorite team and more likely that only a few, or no one at all, will bet on the underdog team which is expected to lose. With the point spread applied, the favorite team will “give” or “lay” points, and the underdog team will “take” or “gain” points.

To make an example, suppose that there will be a game between the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks. It would be obvious, based on the recent team standings and statistics as of the 2009-10 NBA Season, that the Celtics will won over the Knicks. In this case, the Celtics is the favorite and the Knicks is the underdog team. In order to make the odds equal, the sports betting experts might impose a 10-point spread, in which the Celtics will give 10 points and the Knicks will gain 10 points. This means that in order for Celtics bettors to win, the team must win against the Knicks with a margin of 11 points or more. However, if the Knicks will win, or lose by only 9 points or less, those who wager on the Knicks will win the bet.

If the final score would be 99-85 in favor of the Celtics, therefore the difference is 14 points, which is greater than 10, making the bettors on the Celtics win the bet. If the final score would be 99-93, also in favor of Celtics, the difference is only 6 points, which is less than 10, making the bettors on Knicks win the bet. However, if the final score would be 99-89, still in favor of the Celtics, the point margin is exactly 10 points, and it is considered as a tie, or a push. In this case, the sportsbook will return the bets, and it would be a little inconvenient for the sportsbook. To solve this, most sportsbook resolve to adding a decimal on the point spread, such as 10.5 in the example. This means that if the score would be 99-89 in favor of the Celtics, those betting on the Celtics will lose their bets because the 10 points won is still lower than 10.5, and it is impossible for any team to score a 0.5 point, thus, avoiding the possibility of a push.

Usually in basketball, a winning odd of 11:10 is applied in point spread wagers. For instance, two gamblers wager $11 each, betting on each team playing against each other. The bookie will collect a total of $22, and whoever wins between the two will only be paid $10 and will make his money totals $21 only. The extra $1 is considered as the fee for the bookie in accepting the bets.

Total (Over/Under) Bets in Basketball

Betting on basketball games is not only limited to the spread betting. Gamblers can also bet on the total score, which is commonly called the over/under bet or O/U bet, and it is also applied in most sports covered by sports betting. Experts will set a value (the over/under number), which is the predicted total of the scores of both teams playing against each other in a basketball match, and the gamblers can wager whether the total will exceed (over) or will be less (under) than the predetermined value.

In betting on the total, it is good to take into considerations the offensive and defensive statistics of both teams. The gamblers can use this information and use their insights about the basketball match. If the match is perceived to be a defensive battle, meaning that each team will have limited scores due to the tight defense of both teams, it is more likely that there will be more bets on the under. However, if the match is predicted to be of an offensive showdown, which means that both teams will have an explosive exchange of points, bets on the over will be much favored.

Taking the example basketball match between the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks for instance, sports betting experts might put a value of 188 as the over/under number, which is the estimatedly predicted combined score of both teams. Bettors on the over will win if the total score is 189 or more, and if the total score is 187 or less, bettors on the under will win. However, if the total score will be exactly 188, then it is considered as a push or a tie.

Considering the sample scores, if the final score will be 99-85, the total will be 184, which is less than the predetermined 188, and those betting on the under will win the bet. If the final score will be 99-93, the total is 192 and is greater than 188, making the bettors on the over to win the bet. If the final score is 99-89, the total is exactly 188, same as the over/under number, and thus, it is a push and the bets will be returned. To avoid a push in this bet, a decimal is added by most sportsbook to the over/under number, similar to the point spread system. In the example, the over/under number is 188.5, and the third score example (99-89) will result to a win for those betting on the under. The most common payout percentage for this bet is also 11:10 which is also similar to the point spread wagers.

Money Line Wagers in Basketball

Another sports betting option in basketball games is the money line wager, which is also applied in all sports covered by sports betting. While the formerly mentioned types of bets relies on the combination of who will win the game and the points made by the playing teams, money line bets solely relies on who will be the emerging winner in the game. However, there are odds that are applied in both teams. On the sample game, the odds may look like this:

  • Boston Celtics: -300
  • New York Knicks: +240

In this scenario, it is depicted that the Boston Celtics is the favored team, denoted by the minus (-) sign on the value, and the New York Knicks to be the underdog which is denoted by the plus sign (+). The betting odds are usually in terms of $100. This means that anyone betting on the Celtics will risk $300 in order to win $100 if the Celtics win, and those who would bet on the Knicks will wager $100 in order to win $240 if the Knicks win. However, this proportion is also applied on smaller figures, such as a $30 bet for Celtics which will gain $10 if the team wins, and a $10 bet for Knicks which will harvest $24 if the Knicks win.

Parlays and Teasers in Basketball

In sports betting, any gambler can also bet on the outcomes of 2 or more games. The betting systems stated above applies to a single basketball game. Bettors can also engage in parlay and teaser bets, which are also called exotic bets. In these bets, a gambler must correctly predict the winning team on two or more basketball matches. For example, a sequence of NBA games is as follows:

  • Toronto Raptors vs. Charlotte Bobcats
  • Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics
  • Miami Heat vs. Orlando Magic
  • Denver Nuggets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

A bettor wagers $10 that the Raptors, Celtics, Heat, and the Nuggets will emerge victorious on their matches. In order for him to win his bet, the said teams must all win the games and if any of the chosen teams loses, therefore the bet is also lost. This scenario is applied both on the parlays and teasers.

The difference between the two bets is that in teasers, the bettor can adjust the point spread to his advantage in exchange for a payout lower than his original bet if he wins the teaser bet. The most common adjustments for the point spread is usually up to 4, 4.5, and 5 points, which can be added or deducted from the original point spread. Typically, the payout percentage increases as the number of teams selected to win also increases. The most common payout percentage for point spread parlays and teasers are as follows:

  • 2 Games: 13:5
  • 3 Games: 6:1
  • 4 Games: 10:1
  • 5 Games: 20:1
  • 6 Games: 40:1

Considering the above payout table, 4 games has a payout of 10:1. If the selected teams win, the bettor’s $10 bet will win an additional $100.

Betting in parlay can also apply the payouts in the money line wager. Taking the above game schedule, for example, the money line odds can be like this:

  • Toronto Raptors (+130) vs. Charlotte Bobcats (-150)
  • Philadelphia 76ers (+900) vs. Boston Celtics (-1600)
  • Miami Heat (+400) vs. Orlando Magic (-500)
  • Denver Nuggets (-425) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (335)

If the bettor still wagers $10 on the Raptors, Celtics, Heat, and Nuggets, this time applying the money line parlay, his $10 bet will win depending on the payout percentages of the money line bets. If the Raptors wins in the first game, his bet will win an additional $13 which will be $23 including his bet. This amount will then become the bet for the second game. If the Celtics win in the second game, his $23 will win an additional $1.44, making a total of $24.44 which will be the initial bet on the third game. If the Heat wins in the third game, the initial bet will win an additional $97.76, making a total of $122.20 to be the bet for the fourth game. If the Nuggets win in the fourth game, his bet will win an additional $28.75, and thus, his original $10 bet will become $150.95, earning a $140.95 in four games (considering that the figures are rounded to the nearest hundredths on each game the initial bet wins). However, if any one of the team selected lost in its game, then the bettor automatically lose his $10 bet.

Most of the land-based sportsbooks which accepts the bets from the gamblers wagering on basketball games are located in the casinos in Nevada because sports betting is considered as illegal in the other 49 states. However, those who only had a very limited time and don’t have a chance to go to the casinos for sports betting can conveniently place their bet online, thanks the growing numbers of honest and credible online sports betting and online casino websites.

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