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Home » how to bet on basketball
Peter Addison
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There’s been a recent surge in interest in US sports in the UK, with American football leading the way but basketball not far behind. This has led people in the UK to ask how to bet on basketball. How do you wager on top teams such as the Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat, or on NBA legends like Lebron James, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry?

This page will explain all you need to know about how to bet on basketball games online. As well as the NBA, we will be looking how to bet on European basketball, and how to bet college basketball which is incredibly popular in the US. It will also make clear the answer to the most important question of all – where to bet on basketball in the United Kingdom.

How to Bet on Basketball Games Online

Football may be a game of two halves, but basketball is definitely a game of four quarters. Two teams of five dribble and pass up and down the court, hoping to find net and chip in with the odd three-pointer. Like all US sports there are masses of numbers involved, which means there are plenty of measurables that can be wagered upon.

The key aspect of betting in basketball is just like any other sport – betting on the winners of an individual game. Outright betting is also available but win/lose (there are no ties in basketball – well, hardly ever) betting is not your only option, as information later on in this article will reveal.

The premier basketball competition in the world is the NBA in North America. Founded in 1946, the NBA comprises 29 US teams and the Toronto Raptors. Split into conferences and divisions, each season two teams will reach the NBA finals, played in June. College basketball, run by the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA, which overseas all students athletics in the US), is also phenomenally popular in the US, with interest at its peak during ‘March Madness’, the annual knockout competition for collegiate basketball teams.

Basketball is also very popular in many countries all over the planet, with national competitions in plenty of African, Asian and European countries. In the UK the top basketball competition is the British Basketball League, or BBL for short. This comprises of nine English teams, and one from Scotland. All this basketball coverage means there is always plenty to bet on at UK online betting sites.

How to Place a Basketball Bet Online

Placing a bet online in basketball is no different to playing a bet on any other team sports, but just to avoid any chances of confusing, we’re going to place an example bet for you at one of our favourite online betting sites, bet365.

We are going for an NBA bet and are going to bet on the Cleveland Cavaliers beating the Houston Rockets. We just head to the bet365 website and find the game we are interested in. The details of this match-up can be seen below:

basketball betting

Bet365 takes a ‘betting on the spread’ approach to basketball betting. Note, this is different to the UK definition of spread betting. When you’re learning how to bet on the spread in basketball, it’s basically just handicap betting. If we were to bet on the Rockets (the underdog) three points will be added to their score. If we bet on the Cavaliers (the favourite), then three points will be subtracted from their score. We still fancy the Cavs despite the handicap, so we click on the 1.90 odds to transfer the wager to our betting slip.

basketball betting 2

We have set our stake at £5, meaning a winning bet would return £9.54. To confirm our wager, all we need to do is hit the ‘place bet’ button.

Best Basketball Betting Markets

So, you’ve now learned how to bet on the spread in basketball, but is that the only way of betting? Of course not! Basketball is a game that is high in statistics as Americans love measurable sports. Let’s go a few more of your betting on basketball options:

  • Total – a bet on the total number of points scored, over/under.
  • Money Line – the traditional way of betting in the UK, bet on the winning team.
  • Three Way Betting – a ‘bet on the spread’ bet that includes betting on the tie.
  • Main Props – these cover a lot of betting options about the game. They include the winning margin, the first team to reach 20 points, the chance of a tie at the end of regulation time and so on.
  • Team Props – props (proposition bets) that are specific to a team. For example, you could bet on the team with the highest scoring quarter, or whether a team’s final score will be odd or even.
  • Half Props – bets that pertain to a specific half – the first two quarters or the final two quarters.
  • Quarter Props – bets that pertain to a specific quarter, the first, second, third or fourth.
  • Game Props – all potential bets on a specific game.

Early Cash Out in Basketball Betting

Basketball is not a sport where early cash out is readily available. That’s because the majority of bets on basketball are about the state of the game once it has been completed. For the ‘bet on the spread’ wager, the handicap is only applied once the game is over, and that goes for the majority of basketball bets.

The only real exception is the money line bet with no spread or handicap applied. However, you may find difficulty in trying to uncover a UK betting site that allows for early cash out in basketball betting.

Use Basketball Accumulators?

Again, basketball bets are not ones that work well with accumulators. Accas do exist in American betting, although Americans are more likely to call them parlays. While it is possible to place the same kind of accas in basketball as is done in football, it is not really a popular option.

Accas or parlays in basketball work in exactly the same way as accas in any other sport. Say you backed the Nuggets at 1.50, the Cavaliers and 1.75 and the Knicks at 1.25. Your cumulative odds are 1.50 x 1.75 x 1.25 = 3.28. Therefore a £10 basketball acca bet on these three sides would return £32.80.

As basketball can be a little unpredictable, it’s best to keep your basketball accas down to three or four selections. The more legs you add to a basketball acca, the less likely it is to generate any returns.

Look for Value in Basketball Betting Odds

Finding value in basketball betting odds is difficult, but it is the only way when you’re learning how to bet on basketball and win. If you want to come up with the definitive basketball betting strategy, then finding value is the only way to help you find a successful system, no matter if you bet on college basketball, NCAA basketball, the NBA or even European basketball.

Because most basketball betting is done by betting on the spread, then it comes down to finding value in the spread as opposed to finding value in the odds. The odds for basketball are always tight, because that is the way betting works in the US.

Take the Rockets/Cavalier match-up above. The Cavaliers not only have to win the game to win the bet, they have to win by at least four points (as if they win by three, the spread ‘result’ will be a tie). The key therefore is to determine how likely this is to happen.

Unfortunately, because basketball is so measurable it is easy to base the result of the game on the past performances of sides with similar records, so finding value can be tough. This is not to say that basketball is predictable, far from it, but betting sites seldom screw up the spread – you just have to be aware when they do!

Live Basketball Betting

Although basketball games are not really suitable for cash out, they are suitable for live betting. This does not work in the same way as, say, betting on football. For example, the odds of bets such as the spread, total points and the money line constantly fluctuate. It is therefore a skill in live basketball betting to know when to pounce and place your bet. You will though have to wait until the end of the contest for your bet to be settled.

Because basketball is such a fast-paced game it would be virtually impossible for a sports betting site to offer accurate odds on live aspects of the game, such as the next team to score a three-pointer, or the next player to commit a foul. You may find a site responsive enough to offer odds on such markets, but due to the unpredictable nature of these events, most sites do not bother.

Best Basketball Betting Strategies

Of course, everyone wants to bet on basketball and win. However, because basketball is reasonably unpredictable (even the best side in the NBA will lose around a third of its regular season games) coming up with a successful basketball betting strategy is very difficult. Our experts though have done their best to come up with a couple of them.

  1. The Big Home Underdog Strategy

    One key aspect of basketball betting is that you’re usually betting on the spread, rather than a team to win. Look out for teams that are huge underdogs, but that are playing at home. Players do not like to lose in front of their home fans, and because the distances between teams in the NBA are so great, away support is minimal. Therefore a home team that has a +8 handicap is still likely to lose, but they are also likely to cover the spread.
  2. Check The Line-Ups Strategy

    The regular NBA season (for example) only runs for six months (with a short mid-season break) but teams will play 82 games during that time, which is an average of over three games per week. When you add in all the travelling, fatigue can be an issue. Even though a basketball team consists of only five players, a side’s roster will have three times that at least. Star players are rested frequently, especially when playing at home against teams with poor records. If you learn that a key man will not be taking to the court for a specific game, you can check to see if the spread has been adjusted accordingly and if not, you can take advantage.

Common Mistakes to Avoid when Betting on Basketball

Betting on basketball is difficult enough, but it can become slightly easier if you avoid a few common slip-ups. We have listed a few common errors that can be applied to both basketball betting and sports wagering as a whole.

  • Bankroll Mismanagement – only ever bet with money you can afford to lose. Do not take money from other key aspects such as mortgage payments in order to fund betting.
  • Casual Betting – casual betting is fine if you only want to bet on basketball for a bit of fun, but to bet on basketball and win you’ll need to really consider your options and do your homework.
  • NBA only – the NBA may the the glitziest basketball competition in the world, but there’s plenty more basketball to bet on! Check out ALL basketball markets if you want to taste success.
  • Emotional Betting – only ever bet rationally. If you are too emotionally-invested in a particular market, or if you are throwing money at bets in order to recover loses, you are really unlikely to win.
  • Not seeking help – the first stage of recovery for any irresponsible gambler is admitting that they have a problem. If someone says you need help, then you probably do.

Basketball Betting Terminology

Here are some important terms you are likely to encounter when you are betting on basketball, with a brief explanation of each.

Term Definition
Spread An artificial handicap that’s applied to the final result
Totals A bet on the number of points scored in the game, over or under
Money Line The odds of the two competitors winning the game
Parlay Another name for an accumulator or acca
Teaser A parlay on point spreads where bettors can adjust the spread
Push A bet that returns your exact stake when settled
Props Propositions. Specific bets on the game, a team, or a player
Futures Another term for outrights, i.e. the overall NBA winners
Favourite The team thought likely to win, also ‘chalk’
Underdog The team thought likely to lose
Juice The adjustment to odds made by betting sites so they remain profitable
Pick ’em A contest in which both sides are thought equally likely to win

Where to Place a Basketball Wager Online in the UK

All UK betting sites will accept basketball wagers. The scope of the coverage is variable though, as a few sites may only cover the NBA and NCAA. Most sites will cover global basketball though, so no matter what you want to be bet on, you will be able to at most UK sports betting websites.

If you are not sure where to start, then you can check out our list of UK betting sites.

Wrapping Up

If you want to taste ‘nothing but net’ when it comes to learning how to bet on basketball and win, then we hope that we have helped. We’ve shown you how to bet on basketball games online with an example of how to bet on the spread in basketball. We’ve also shown you how to bet on the NBA and NCAA basketball (how to bet on college basketball) and most importantly of all, where to bet on basketball.

All the best of luck in perfecting your basketball betting strategy, and we hope you ‘slam dunk’ plenty of big basketball winning bets.


What is the best basketball betting strategy?

Basketball is one of the more unpredictable US sports (not as unpredictable as baseball though) so learning how to bet on basketball and win can be tough. Do your research, explore all options and tryout any basketball betting strategy on paper first.

What is NCAA basketball?

College basketball. In the US, promising sports players work through college in their youth, before they (hopefully) go on onto the pro game. NCAA basketball is basketball at college level, and is extremely popular in the US.

How to bet on the spread in basketball?

This is the normal way of betting on basketball. The spread is an artificial handicap given to any side that you bet on. If they beat the spread, then your bet wins.

Can I bet on women's basketball?

Sure! Although overshadowed by men's basketball, women's basketball remains popular throughout the world.

Where to bet on basketball in the NBA? US sites?

No - if you are based in the UK then it is always best for your safety to bet at sites with UKGC licences. You can easily bet on NBA games at them.

Peter Addison

A vastly experienced sports betting specialist, Peter joined SafeBettingSites in 2021 as a sports editor. Peter has been focusing on the iGaming realm since 2013, and had written millions of words on all aspects of online casino play and sports betting since then. His articles have been featured in numerous high-profile online publications. When not writing, Peter can be found playing his electric guitar. He is such a talented guitarist that his next-door neighbours often join in, adding percussion by banging loudly on the walls.

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