Devin Booker and Chris Paul are up 1-0 in the NBA Finals.
Devin Booker and Chris Paul are up 1-0 in the NBA Finals.@NBA on Twitter

NBA Finals: Understanding The Basics Of Betting

Tips on what to follow and a recommendation on two great plays.


Betting on the NBA can be intimidating when you’re new to it, so check out this very short guide on how you can get started. Here you’ll learn about NBA odds, common betting types, and two profitable plays, along with the three main things every bettor should keep in mind when betting.

Understanding Odds

To understand betting, you need to understand how the odds work. The best way to understand is through moneyline betting. Those are where you bet on who wins a game. Teams will have a + or a - next to their name. The - shows the favorite while the + shows the underdog.

You also use those odds to calculate how much you can win. For example, + figures like + 120 show how much you’ll win for a $100 bet. If that figure is -120, this shows how much you must wager to win $100, so you’d have to put $120 forward.

Then there are spread bets, where the bet includes how many points they win by. The favorite needs to win by a specified figure while the underdog needs to not lose by that figure. Another type of popular betting is over/under betting, or totals, where you bet that the total points scored in a game will be over or under a figure that the sportsbook predicts.

Two Great Plays

Two great and profitable players that every bettor should try to master are fading the public and middling the second half.

Fading the public is where you bet against the common sentiment going into an NBA game. When the public prefers a team, the sportsbook will place a premium on bets toward that team so they can take their pound of flesh.

Think of it this way – if everybody is making a bet, the value of that bet decreases, and the opposite is also true. This means bets against the public sentiment are more profitable . . . if you win. The public isn’t always wrong, so don’t bet against them for its own sake. Instead, ask yourself if the public is in the right, or if they’re blinded by bias or buying into the hype.

Middling the second half is where you place a bet halfway through a game. If done right, you can win by betting on both sides! You do this by betting on the favorite to win before the game, so let’s call that Team A at a -5 favorite. Then, just before the game starts, opposing Team B announces something that increases A’s odds. Team A then becomes a -10 favorite.

From here, you could bet on Team B despite their bad news. They would now be at +10. You’ll win one of the wagers anyway but, if Team A wins by 6 points, you win both bets. You could also lose both, so you should have some experience with risk before trying this play.

Things To Follow

When you’re trying to make it as a bettor, you need to pay attention to many parts of the sport so you can place informed bets. Here are three things you should follow when trying to calculate the success of your wager.

  1. Keep track of rest and injuries – These affect basketball performance, so they’ll tilt the odds of a game. They’re often announced minutes before a game but speedy bettors can still catch favorable odds before they’re adjusted.

  1. Compare lines to get the best deals – Like a thrifty store customer, you should shop around and find the most favorable lines for your planned bet. Court multiple sportsbooks so you can quickly see which lines help you out.

  1. Use data to inform your bets – If you’re taking a serious approach to betting, think like an investor and use data to help your bets. Follow market trends to see where the public is betting and consult the win-loss performances of the playing teams.

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