How to read NBA odds

The Basics
5 Min
reading odds

So, you want to bet on the NBA? Welcome aboard! Betting on basketball games can be as entertaining as the sport itself. When seeing some of the contract extensions NBA stars sign, it’s nice to find some extra cash in our own pockets, too.

Like anything else worth doing, betting is done best when you start with the basics. That’s why we at Bet Basics are here to help. Deciphering sportsbooks can feel like taking a math test you didn’t study for or missing a day of foreign language class, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.

How To Read NBA Odds

By and large, betting on the NBA will mean you encounter American odds at every turn. It seems funky at first, but American odds are actually very simple.

Take an average NBA game, for example. The Utah Jazz are visiting the Cleveland Cavaliers. The moneyline, or odds a team wins the game, has the Jazz at +200 via PointsBet and the Cavaliers are at -220 on Caesars.

With American odds, the favorite is denoted with a (-) next to their line, and the line tells you how much money you would need to wager in order to win $100. Here, $220 on Cleveland would win $100 if they were to win. On the other hand, the underdog (+) tells you how much money you would win from an $100 bet. Thus, a $100 wager on the Jazz could land you $200 in profit.

While this is most prominent with moneylines, American odds are found all across sportsbooks. In an against the spread bet, say the Toronto Raptors at the Philadelphia 76ers, BetMGM has Philly favored by 7.5 (shown as -7.5) with -105 odds. That means they must win by eight or more points, and a $100 would payout $195.24, almost doubling your money.

The logic extends to NBA player props and futures, too. Via DraftKings, Giannis Antetokounmpo has +165 odds to record less than 0.5 blocks against the New Orleans Pelicans. This is denoted by selecting “under 0.5 blocks”. If you think he will block once or more during the game, go with "over 0.5 blocks". Further, a successful $100 wager would win $165 in profit. Caesars’ +1000 odds on Nikola Jokic to win MVP follows the same pattern, $1000 in profit on a $100 bet.

Additional Bet Basics Resources

If you used the Bet Basics betting calculator like I did, you’d see implied probability listed, along with fractional odds and decimal odds. Implied probability is the chance of a bet hitting, given its odds. A wager with -110 odds has an implied probability of 52.38%. Fractional odds is simply the profit one would win divided by the bet amount, in this case 10/11. Decimal odds, on the other hand, show the line as the payout (bet amount + profit) divided by the bet amount. Here, that is 1.91. Some sportsbooks allow you to choose freely between how their odds are represented.

Moreover, all of the odds used in this guide were taken from the player and team betting cards we offer at Bet Basics. Here, the best odds are shown first, so you can save the time of comparing lines across sportsbooks and make yourself more money. If you defaulted to, say, DraftKings’ +800 odds for Jokic to win MVP, and it came to fruition, you’d be leaving $200 on the table for a $100 bet.

When signing up for a FREE Bet Basics membership, you keep all of those aforementioned perks, including the guides, articles, cards, calculators, and accessibility features that enhance your betting experience. In doing so, you gain access to unique tips for every bet, including relevant trends and projections that give you personalized recommendations. You’ll also be privy to additional bonuses, competitions, and opportunities to sync your betting accounts to one site, safely and securely.

Starting out as a bettor can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Allow us at Bet Basics to be your one-stop shop for all things betting and make your time gambling a slam dunk.

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