Basketball Betting Strategy Guide

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The Ins and Outs of Betting on a Live Basketball Game

Basketball is the 3rd most popular sport globally, with roughly 2.2 billion followers around the globe. And for a reason. With just two hoops, a ball, and two teams of five needed to play the classic version, it’s also possible to play 3x3, 2x2, or even 1x1 using just one hoop. An amateur match can be arranged within minutes; thus, many become exposed to the game since childhood. 

No wonder betting on basketball is popular. And the recent COVID-19 pandemic gave it an extra boost, as many fans turned on to wagering while arenas remained closed for them. 

First Step to Betting on Basketball

Decide on your favorite league, the one that you understand the best. The US-Canadian NBA is the undisputed champ in terms of basketball quality, the number of stars playing there, and the hype around it. 

But there are many more to choose from around the world. Another North American-based NCAA league offers unpredictable matches between college students. On the other side of the ocean, there is also Euroleague, a continental competition where the best European teams play against each other. Countries like Russia, Spain, Turkey, Germany, Italy, and Greece also possess strong local championships. Lastly, there are more than 100 basketball leagues in other countries. And this number almost doubles if you add female basketball to the list. While many are relatively unknown, they present an abundance of opportunities for profit for punters with knowledge of local basketball. 

Of course, this does not mean you cannot engage in recreational in-game betting, wagering on random teams. But without the league and player knowledge and a strategy to follow, all of your winnings will be strictly luck-based. 

Is it Hard to Make a Fortune While Betting on Basketball Matches?

As usual, there are two opinions on the Web. The first is that “I bet over 101.5 on Toronto Raptors and almost had it when they were leading 96 to 75 with four more minutes to score the damn 6 points. But then they stopped playing and finished 99-87. It is some game of chance. Going to bet on football or hockey instead”.

Compare it with “it is the easiest sport to predict winners and losers. I make it even easier by betting halves and quarters, as well as home team underdogs and win most of the time”.

The difference between the two is in the strategy; it makes everything easier. We will share a few tips with you to start creating one of your own. 

1.Bet on Underdogs

Ridiculous, isn’t it? But only at first glance. Point 1 — you will not win big by going with the crowd. Point 2 — underdogs bite more often than the odds predict, especially on home turf.  

Take the NBA, for example. Eighty-two games in the regular season, frequent travels, four time zones. You can expect a stronger guest team to take the lead in the first two quarters. But then fatigue will take its toll. An experienced home side coach can and often will turn the game around by firing up the team through time-outs, throwing in fresh legs from the bench, and pushing the tempo. 

So evaluate at least three factors before betting on an underdog: home venue, decent substitutes available, coach capability of staging comebacks. 

2.Don’t bet on Underdogs 

No, we are not joking. Really, not every underdog is worth betting, especially when playing on away venues. But in the NBA (and any league that employs a draft system), the problem is somewhat more profound. To keep the league competitive, teams that finish low get the best draft picks to help them become stronger in the next season. 

Some weaker sides deliberately abuse this for some seasons in a row by showing much less motivation on the court than they should. The same applies to teams who had play-off expectations at the beginning of the season but lost them somewhere in the midway. 

So always check if the underdog has the motivation to fight the favorite tooth and nail. Never bet on unmotivated sides. 


It’s usually illegal to bet on both sides of the game through the same sportsbook. But who says you cannot bet in two places at the same time? 

This strategy works best with Moneyline bets. For example, you wish to bet on a game between the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat. Your bookie gives you +125/-135 (or 5\4 and 20\27, or 2.25 and 1.74). Meaning you have to wager 135 in any currency on Heat to win 100 and get 235 on your bankroll in case of success. Now look for another sportsbook, who gives something like +140/-150. If you wager 100 on Hawks here, you can win 140 and get 240 on your bankroll if Atlanta prevails. 

Now you bet 135 on Heat at your bookie and 100 on Hawks at the other one. Heat wins — you end up with 235. You have forfeited your 100 wager at the other bookie but lost nothing. Hawks win — you get 240 with five going into your profits. 

Now 5 dollars, euros, or pounds does not seem like a big win. But what if we increase the bet fivefold, tenfold? What if we bet on 5 or 10 games this way? 

However, this method has disadvantages. Bookmakers are aware of it, so they try to keep their odds as close as possible to each other. Finding the right pair takes effort, and you have to wager in the nick of time as odds may change any second. 

Also, sportsbooks enjoy losers, not those who win. So they often ban bettors with a history of constant wins or severely limit the maximum amount they can bet. Precautions — do not bet in one place all the time. Move on from one bookie to another to let your accounts “cool off.

On the other hand, when you have mastered the art of arbitrage, you can profit from any sport, be it American football, cricket, volleyball, or Formula 1

4.Understand the Difference in Rules

Suppose you wish to wager on multiple basketball leagues. In that case, you should know that the Americans play the game a bit differently. For example, a quarter lasts 12 minutes in the NBA, while in championships played by FIBA rules and set to 10. These 8 minutes make a huge impact when placing over/under bets, as NBA teams get way more opportunities to score. 

The discrepancy does not end here but continues to referees (3 in NBA, 2 in FIBA), more player to player contact, a closer 3-point line in Europe, an extra 6th foul allowed, and fouls being called differently in the States. All this affects the pace of the game, meaning you have to adapt your betting strategy. 

5.Don’t Parlay bet

Basketball is a game where you can reasonably accurately predict the outcome of a single match, but never the result of multiple games in a row. This is particularly fair for the NBA with the exhausting 82-game regular season, frequent travels, lack of motivation from the teams without play-off hopes, reliance on the presence or absence of star players. Not to mention sudden in-game injuries and surprising underperformances. 

So keep it simple, chew one game at a time until you become a basketball betting expert.

Now, these are just the basics that, together with our Betting Knowledge Base, will help you to get ready to wager on basketball and avoid some of the beginner’s mistakes. As a last piece of expert advice, we suggest getting into Twitter if you have not done this already. It is a great news source, especially about the North American teams. And a first place where you get to know about the line-ups and injuries. Sportsbooks use it for odds calculation, so you have to as well to outsmart them.