Basketball betting guide: the most popular betting markets

Basketball betting guide: the most popular betting markets

Basketball betting guide
Autor betsonly 11 Sep 2017

This is a list of the most popular markets in basketball betting: moneyline, totals, handicap betting, highest score in a quarter...

Basketball is one of the easiest sports on which to bet., and one that offers many options to make money for the astute punter. This is not only because it is an exciting game but because it is a high-scoring sport with many possible combinations and outcomes on which you can bet.

The most popular of these options include Moneyline; Over and Unders; Handicap betting; betting on quarters or halves; first team to score X points; and highest score in a quarter. Of course you are not restricted to one of these, and can combine your wager using two or more different bets, depending on your knowledge of the game and propensity for risk.


Moneyline is the most popular form of basketball betting because it is simply choosing which side will win the game. As with any form of betting, the odds for a favourite will always be shorter than for the outsider, so there can be little return for placing money on a heavily favoured team, even if it can be regarded as a safe bet. If, however, you bet on the underdog and they win, then your pay-out can be large, depending on your stake and the odds. It should be noted for those familiar with football but new to basketball that you cannot bet on a draw. There is always a winner in a basketball match.

Overs and Unders

This is the second most popular form of basketball betting, and is also known as Totals. A total, in essence, is the combined score of the two teams who are playing in a game, either at the end of a quarter, a half, or the match itself. Bookmakers will post a number (based on factors such as form, the potency of both teams’ offense, the quality of defense etc.) and gamblers have the option of wagering if more points will be scored than the predicted total (over) or less (under). In the event that the combined score is exactly as predicted, the bet is considered a tie and no money changes hands.

Handicap betting

Handicap betting is also known as the point spread, and is a way that online bookmakers try to level the playing field between two teams by “handicapping” the favourite and promoting the underdog. The stronger one team is favoured over another on paper, the greater the handicap. For example, with two well-matched teams, the spread night be 5 points; which means that 5 points is deducted from their final score and added to that of the other team. Money is only covered if the spread is covered – in other words, the favourite would need to win by eleven points or more before a bet would be won. For teams where there is a wide disparity in ability, however, this spread can be much greater, which can increase the potential pay-out.

Betting on quarters or halves

This form of wager allows people to bet on which team will win the first, second, third or fourth quarter, or first and second half. In a close game this can be an exciting form of betting because fluctuations in play can lead to rapidly changing fortunes, and, therefore, more opportunities to wager.

First scorer to X points

In every game, the bookmakers will set odds for the first team to score a set number of points – for example, 10, 15, 20, 30 points etc. You are simply betting which team will reach that score first.

Highest scoring quarter

Again, this is a simple bet – you are choosing the quarter (or the half) of a game in which you think most points will be scored.

Apart from these bets, there is also parlay betting, which is considered to be an exotic or specialty wager. With a parlay wager you are betting on more than one game, so the odds are longer and the potential pay-out greater. However, as with any accumulator, all bets have to succeed. This means with a 3-game parlay, all 3 bets have to win. If even one of the bets loses, the whole parlay is lost.