NBA betting 101: A beginner’s guide to wagering on basketball 

Sports betting is rapidly becoming one of America’s new favorite hobbies. Since widespread legalization got underway in 2019, more Americans than ever have access to sportsbooks and betting. It’s an exciting time for sports fans.

Football has been leading the way with sports betting in the US because betting on Fantasy Football was legal for years before sports betting was. Betting on other sports is rapidly growing in popularity and one of the sports quickly gaining ground against the NFL is basketball. 

Betting on the NBA is a great way for fans of the sport to add a little extra adventure to the games. Since there are so many games in the NBA season, there’s also plenty of time to find your footing and sharpen your betting skills.

This guide will cover all the basics and essential information that every beginner needs to know when they start wagering on basketball. 

Pick the right sportsbook 

Choosing a reputable NBA betting site might seem basic, but it’s actually the most important step. You’re going to want to find a sportsbook that offers odds on all the NBA games that you want to bet on. They should also offer a variety of different types of bets.

Another factor to consider is location. Just because a sportsbook is online doesn’t mean that it’s accessible everywhere. Each state that has legalized online sports betting has also selected which sportsbooks they want to license. Make sure that the sportsbook you want to bet with is licensed where you live to avoid any problems with placing bets or making withdrawals.

The welcome bonuses that sportsbooks offer to new customers can also play a role in determining which sportsbook you sign up with. Consider the value of the promotions to you, don’t just choose the one that has the biggest numbers or looks like the best value. For example, if a sportsbook offers three free bets but one of them has to be on the NFL and one has to be on a horse race but you aren’t interested in either of those, then you’re really only getting one free bet that’s usable. You’d be better off finding a welcome offer that appeals to you.

Welcome offers

Getting started betting on the NBA can get off to an even better start if you sign up with a sportsbook that has a great welcome offer. We briefly mentioned welcome offers above but here we’ll explain the main types in more detail so you know what to look for.

Deposit matching is the most common type of bonus and gives you more to wager with when you initially start. Free wagers are another popular welcome offer. Offering a no-risk wager for first wagers is also fairly common. This means that if your first wager doesn’t payout then your stake will be returned to you to bet with again. When online sportsbooks are associated with online casinos, the welcome offer will often include free spins on top slots.

What offers you value will depend on how you bet and what other sports or casino games you’re interested in. When looking at offers, do keep in mind that most have wagering requirements, some of which can be very difficult to fulfill.

Types of bets

Everyone knows that you can place a bet on which team you think is going to win, which is called a single moneyline bet, but fewer people are aware that there are actually a ton of different types of bets. 

Parlay bets are combination bets that are made up of several single money line bets. Every bet that makes up the parlay bet needs to be a winner for the parlay bet to pay out. For this reason, parlay bets have a very high-risk level. However, this does also mean that relatively small wagers can result in very big wins.

Over/under bets are an option for stats fans who don’t necessarily want to bet on one team winning. With over/under bets, you’re betting on the total number of points scored during a game. The bookmaker sets the number of points that they expect to be scored and then you bet on whether the total will be over or under the set number. 

Futures bets are long-term bets. These are typically placed early in the season. The two most popular futures bets are on which team will win the championship and which player will win Rookie of the Year. The earlier in the season, these bets are placed, the more likely it is that you’ll get the best odds. 

Prop bets are bets on anything that happens during the game that isn’t directly related to the outcome. Team or player prop bets include bets such as which side will score first, or which player will be the first to score a three-pointer. Novelty prop bets are also a fun option. These bets are on things like what color sneakers a player will wear or if a player will crash into the court-side seats.

Do your research

Always betting on your favorite team to win is a nice display of loyalty, but it’s not a smart betting strategy. Thoroughly researching the stats of the teams playing in each game that you’re betting on is essential to making smart bets. Don’t forget to consider elements such as travel times to away games, injury lists, and previous meetings between the two teams. 

Save live betting until you have some betting experience

Live betting is one of the hottest new betting options. Live betting, also known as in-play betting, is when you bet on games while they’re in progress. Live betting is incredibly intense and exciting because the odds are constantly changing to match the action on the court. 

For new bettors, trying to keep up with live betting can lead to rash decisions and wagering more than you’ve budgeted for. Bettors shouldn’t try live betting until they are comfortable with all the ins and outs of NBA betting and have plenty of experience with standard sports betting.

Remember the power of the home-court advantage

The home-court advantage might no longer be as much of a deciding factor as it used to be, but it still plays a role. The intense psychological impact of being surrounded by supportive fans — or of having to play on enemy territory — can’t be overlooked. This is especially true during the playoff season where the home-court advantage becomes even more influential. Bettors should consider the power of the home-court advantage when they place their bets on NBA games.

Follow the schedules

The NBA regular season is now 82 games long between mid-October to early April. This means that many teams will have weeks where they play four games in a single week. Even for elite athletes, this is an exhausting pace and injuries are more likely to happen with tired players. 

A team might look like the favorite when their overall stats are compared, but if they’re on the fourth game in a week, their odds of winning should decrease. Keep a close eye on team schedules so that you can factor exhaustion into your betting calculations.

Playoff betting

If you don’t have the time or energy to bet on the regular season, only betting on the playoffs can be a great compromise. Playoff betting is where a lot of the most intense betting action is, so you can still enjoy the entire experience in a more compressed time period. 

Playoff betting is also great for those who enjoy digging deeper into the stats for a smaller number of teams. It makes the amount of research necessary more manageable, and with the regular season over, you have 82 games worth of data for each team to pour over.

Set a betting budget

In the betting world, the amount that you have available to bet with is referred to as your bankroll. With so many games in the NBA regular season and so many different types of bets that you can place, it can be very easy to spend more than you anticipated. 

Setting your bankroll and only betting with money that you’ve already budgeted for that purpose keeps sports betting enjoyable and removes a lot of the stress that comes with losing bets. Besides setting an overall budget, it’s smart to set a limit on how much you stake on each wager. This way you can avoid the disappointment of having to stop betting before the season ends just because you’ve run through your entire bankroll too quickly. 

Of course, the hope is that every bet you make will win, and your budget won’t matter because you’ve won so much money. As much as this is hope, we all know that it’s a bit of an impossible dream. Staying grounded in reality just makes life a lot simpler. 

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