While football remains king in the United States, basketball seems to be catching up at a rapid pace. It’s also growing in terms of popularity all around the world. Beyond the games themselves, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has achieved the sort of cultural importance that we haven’t seen with most other sports in this country.
Much like European soccer, basketball fans have become fascinated with aspects of the offseason related to player movement. Basketball betting options have never been more vast, either.
The NBA is certainly the cream of the crop, but we’re seen expansion of interest in hoops in other countries like China, Germany, France, Spain and Argentina. The NBA has become an incredibly diverse league full of players from countries all over the world, which can’t really be said for the NFL (with some exceptions). The NBA has helped cultivate basketball’s popularity on a global scale in a huge way.
In 2004, the NBA became the first American pro sports league to hold a game in China when the Houston Rockets – led by Chinese superstar Yao Ming – took on the Sacramento Kings in a preseason game. The NBA saw a boon in the game’s popularity in Asia when they opened an office in Hong Kong back in 1992.
Television ratings in the United States still don’t match up with the NFL playoffs or the Super Bowl, of course. It’s tough to imagine the league ever reaching those kinds of heights domestically. Still, the NBA’s outreach and accessibility abroad is a huge part of what makes it appealing to the masses.
It’s also laden with star power. Because players don’t have to wear any helmets or hats that may obstruct their faces, star players tend to be easily recognized among the masses. Players like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Durant are some of the most-recognizable and well-known athletes on the planet.
With recognition and popularity come endorsements. According to Forbes, 32 of the 100 highest-paid athletes from the year 2016 were NBA players. Four hoopers (James, Durant, James Harden, Stephen Curry) cracked the top-10.
The NBA continues to schedule more and more games overseas. In addition to China, the league has also held contests in the United Kingdom, Mexico, France, Brazil, and Spain, among a host of other countries. Several of the games (in the U.K. and Mexico, most notably) were regular season contests, too.
Basketball has gotten so big that Total Sportek estimates it is the world’s second-most popular sport behind soccer with more than one billion followers globally.
As is the case with any sport, there is no shortage of options when it comes to betting on hoops. Unlike most sports in which the moneyline is the most popular bet, the most common type of bet with basketball is a point spread bet.
The point spread bet is a simple concept. In most cases, one team is favored and the other is the underdog. The favored team may see a line of something like -5.5. This means that you can either take that team to win by six points or more or five points or less. If the bettor takes picks the favored team at -5.5, the bet is lost if that team wins the game by five points or fewer or loses the game outright.
The implied total (over/under) is another very common basketball bet. You probably know what that is already, but if you don’t, you’re trying to guess whether the two teams in the game will combine to score a certain number of points. Let’s say the bookmaker sets the over/under at 200.5. This means that you’re betting on the two teams combining to score at least 201 points if you hit the over. If you bet on the under, the two teams must combine to score fewer than 201 points.
Most books will also offer a bettor the chance to bet on an individual team’s total. The concept is the same, except you’re just betting on one team, obviously.
It’s not as common as the point spread, but the moneyline is also an option with hoops. This is really just trying to pick a winner with odds reflecting the favorite and underdog. If Team A is favored at -150, you’d have to bet $150 on them to win back $100 if they win the game. Obviously, betting on the underdog has bigger payout potential. If Team B is the underdog at +130, you bet $100 to win $130 back, etc.
Parlays and props are also popular basketball bets. A parlay is when you bet on two or more separate outcomes from different games. All outcomes must go in your favor, otherwise the bet is lost. This is certainly riskier than just betting on a single game’s outcome, but the profit potential is greater, as well.
Props are wide-ranging and can get pretty wacky. A better can place a wager on the total number of points and rebounds a player combines to contribute in a game, for example. Let’s say the bookmaker sets the total at 41.5 for the total number of points and rebounds LeBron James will rack up in a game. That’s one prop bet. Another could be which team will score 10 points first in a game.
There are endless props in a game like basketball with so many statistics to track. Props tend to get more intricate deeper into the postseason and into the NBA Finals, as well.
As is the case with just about any American sport, Bovada seems to be the No. 1 option as far as basketball betting in the USA. BetOnline and MyBookie are two other noteworthy options. Bovada includes just about any basketball game you can find anywhere in the world. In addition to every NBA game and numerous NBA props, including player and team futures, Bovada also has odds on the WNBA, college hoops and just about every international league and competition imaginable.
As for Europeans and folks from elsewhere in the world, Betway seems to be your best option when it comes to gambling on basketball. Bet365, 5Dimes and Sportbet are a few other popular options.
These sites just offer the best array of options for those looking to get in on some basketball gambling action. Some sites don’t offer things as details as props or futures, but each of the providers listed above goes into great detail with their hoops coverage. As a bettor, you can’t really ask for more.
Betting limits will vary on a site-by-site basis based on the popularity of a given sport for that bookmaker. For example, football is king at Bovada. Less popular sports over there, such as soccer and the WNBA, come with lower maximum betting limits. However, the NBA happens to be one of its more popular entities. You may bet up to $1,000 on the spread of an NBA game, and up to $500 on moneylines, implied totals, parlays, teasers and player props. A bettor may also place up to $1,000 on a team prop.
Limits for those same bets on college hoops are capped at $500 on Bovada, as well.
BetOnline is also a super popular destination for NBA bettors. Over there, you may wager up to a whopping $10,000 on a single-game NBA spread, and up to $5,000 on the moneyline or implied total. A team total is capped at $1,000. As for college, you may bet up to $3,000 on the spread, and the limit is $1,000 for WNBA bets.
Basketball can be a tough sport to peg from a projections standpoint merely because scoring is so high, the game is played at such a fast pace and so much can turn instantly.
Betting on the underdog in hoops is certainly a sound strategy. This obviously varies on a game-by-game basis, but the value in betting on the point spread could prove to be quite profitable if you play your cards right. Let’s say the spread on a game is 10.5. That’s pretty high, but it’s not completely out of the ordinary. The team that was favored by 10.5 is cruising along, boasting a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter. They’re likely to pull their starters and finish the game using their reserves, which opens the door for the underdog to cover that spread. The underdog may not wind up winning the game, but you obviously win the bet if that team winds up losing by 10 points or less.
Teams have a habit of taking their foot off the gas when a basketball game turns into a blowout, and the backdoor cover is actually fairly common. Even though that underdog still winds up losing the game, betting on them can still be profitable on the spread. Over the last 10 years or so, teams that have been listed as underdogs on the spread by 12 or more have wound up winning the bet about 53% of the time.
Betting on the total is one of the easier bets to project when it comes to basketball. If you do enough research, it’s easy to find which teams excel in certain areas of the game. If you have a matchup between a pair of teams that score at high rates but don’t defend particularly well, then hitting the over on the total for that game would seem to be the smart play. If there’s a showdown between a pair of defensive stalwarts that don’t make it easy for opponents to put the ball through the bucket, taking the under is likely the way to go.
It’s far different from betting on something like football or soccer, but the high-scoring nature of basketball makes it one of the more dynamic sports to follow from a gambling perspective. It’s one of the more popular sports on which to place a live wager with good reason. There’s nonstop action, and books are always updating their in-game lines accordingly. There are numerous ways to get in on the action, so why wait?