Basketball Betting Guide - How to Bet on Basketball

As basketball grows internationally, more people have made it a key part of their sports betting strategy. While the game uses the fewest players of all major US sports, it is still one of the most exciting to bet on. If you are looking to begin basketball betting, fear not! We have created this betting guide to teach you how to bet on basketball confidently. 

Whether you want to bet on an NBA game or the NCAA Tournament, our basketball betting guide has you covered.

Basketball Rules Explained

If you are new to betting on basketball, then it's important first to understand the sport itself. The bookmakers that set basketball betting odds are experts in the field, so knowing exactly what you are betting on is crucial.

Here is a breakdown showing overall gameplay and some of the most common fouls that affect the outcome of games.

Basic Gameplay

Basketball is a bit more straightforward than sports like football, as they use the fewest players of all major sports. Each team is allowed five players on the court simultaneously, all playing on defense and offense. The goal of each team is to get the ball in their opponent's basket. You receive two points if you score from within the arc surrounding the opponent's basket. Shooting from outside the arc (also known as a three-point line) is worth three points. If a shooter is fouled while attempting to score, they receive free throws. Each free throw is an uncontested shot that is worth one point. The amount of time and how it is broken up in a basketball game varies by league. For example, the NBA plays four 12-minute quarters, while college games consist of two 20-minute halves. This difference is reflected in point spreads and totals, so understanding the time involved is important before you bet on basketball. 

The amount of time and how it is broken up in a basketball game varies by league. For example, the NBA plays four 12-minute quarters, while college games consist of two 20-minute halves. This difference is reflected in point spreads and totals, so understanding the time involved is important before you bet on basketball. 

Common Fouls

Basketball rules are enforced by a team of three referees responsible for using their judgment to make a call. Each player is allowed a certain amount of fouls in a game. Exceeding that amount results in the player being disqualified for the remainder of the contest. This is often referred to as "fouling out" and can drastically affect the outcome of any game.

Teams are also allowed a certain number of fouls each quarter or half. Once they exceed that amount, they enter "the bonus, " meaning any foul will now result in free throws for their opponent.

Here are some of the common fouls that you may see when basketball betting:

  • Traveling: This is when an offensive player is judged to have taken a step without dribbling the ball. A traveling call results in a turnover for the offense.
  • Double-Dribble: When a player stops dribbling, he is no longer allowed to move with the ball or to begin dribbling again. If they do, it is called a double-dribble, resulting in a turnover.
  • Shooting foul: If a defensive player makes contact with an offensive player in the act of shooting, it is called a shooting foul. This results in the offensive players getting free throws.
  • Floor foul: When a defender makes too much contact with an offensive player who is not shooting, it is called a foul on the floor. This means the offense maintains possession, and the shot clock resets.
  • Three seconds: This foul can be called on offense or defense. It's called when a player remains in the lane (the painted area around the court) for over three seconds. If the offense is guilty, it results in a turnover. If the defense is, it results in free throws.
  • Technical Foul: A technical is one of the most severe fouls that can be called, as it results in a free throw and possession for the opponent. It is called when a player or coach verbally abuses the refs or opponent.
  • Flagrant Foul: This is the most serious foul that can be called. It is enforced when a player intentionally harms another, resulting in two free throws and possession for the opponent. Depending on the severity of the foul, it can also lead to the offender being ejected.

Best Basketball Betting Tips

Now that you understand the basic rules and gameplay in basketball, let's look at some tips on how to bet on college and NBA games. Here are a few that we recommend using when basketball betting.

Only bet on leagues you are familiar with

Betting on teams or leagues you are unfamiliar with can put you at a major disadvantage. While basketball leagues are expanding globally, a mix of talent and style can make them look very different from NCAA college or NBA games. Betting on a league you are familiar with will give you an advantage before picking a game.

We recommend sticking to betting on college and NBA teams to give you the best chance at success. Games are broadcast nationally daily, allowing college and NBA bettors to watch and learn.

Understand your betting options

We will cover the different betting options more in-depth below, as knowing them is critical for maximizing your profits. Like other major sports, the most popular basketball betting options are point spread, point total, and moneyline.

Do your research

This could include reviewing player injuries, team news, or recent performances. We always recommend checking home and away records for each team, as homecourt is a major factor for college and NBA games.

Research is even more important when betting on NBA games with the rise of load management. This strategy has teams benching healthy stars and can alter a game outright. 

Set a budget

Basketball betting is supposed to be a fun and enjoyable experience, but that can be ruined if you play without a firm budget. This means sitting down and establishing how much you can bet in a day. While this limits your sports betting potential winnings, it also removes the risk of massive losses that could alter your life.

Single Game Bets

Betting on the winner of a single game is the easiest way to get started in basketball betting. This is called placing a moneyline bet and involves picking the team you believe will win the game outright. Every sportsbook will show the team with a number next to them that indicates the sports betting odds.

Point Spread Bets

Betting on the point spread of basketball games is the most popular option. The point spread refers to the margin of victory that a bookmaker predicts. Basketball bettors then must choose if they believe the margin will be higher or lower than that. If they believe the favorite will win by more than the point spread, they will select them. They will select that team if they believe the underdog will lose by less (or win).

Over/Under Bets

This can be one of the most exciting options for betting on basketball. Instead of picking what team will win or by how much, bettors instead bet on the game's combined score. A sportsbook will set a line for each game showing how many points they predict will be scored. Basketball bettors must choose if they believe the final score will be over or under that total.

In-Game Betting

Most sportsbooks will allow betting on basketball games already in progress. They offer basketball odds that are constantly changing based on how the game is going. All betting options above are available for in-game betting and can be broken down by each quarter or half.

Player & Team Prop Bets

Prop bets are common in every major sports league but are also the riskiest. Sportsbooks provide these for both individual players as well as teams. Prop bets could include anything from who will score the first basket to who will win the third quarter of an NBA game.
Basketball prop bets are exciting and can carry better odds than the above options. However, they are also the most unpredictable. Therefore having a deep knowledge of the players or teams involved is important before placing any prop bet.

Take Advantage of a Welcome Bonus

Now that you know how to bet on basketball, you are almost ready to start. Before you do, be sure to claim your sports welcome bonus. These bonuses often change, but they can include anything from a deposit match to bonus bet promotions. Whether you are just beginning to bet on basketball or new to our sportsbook, a welcome bonus can give you a head start.

Check out our "Promos" tab at the top of the page to find our best bet promotions.

Place Bets on Popular Basketball Events

The NBA dominates the basketball global landscape, making it the safest option when betting on the sport. There is no shortage of information on players, teams, stats, and trends to help you bet on the NBA. If you already follow the NBA, we recommend sticking with it to ensure your knowledge doesn't go to waste. 

Another popular event is the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments. Each contains the top teams in the nation battling through a single-elimination tournament to win the title. Like the NBA, the NCAA has become so popular that there is no shortage of expert coverage and opinions available.