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Understanding the Different Types of NBA Bets and Odds


Have you been looking at NBA bets and been surprised to see just how many types are listed on bookmakers? It can be overwhelming for beginners, especially if you expected to simply bet on which team is going to win.

The fact of the matter is there are many different types of NBA bets and odds – and each one is unique in its own way. It is important that you understand the more popular types, so that you can decide whether or not you want to bet on them.

Spread Bets

Generally spread bets are the most popular type of bet for NBA matches because they even the odds – so to speak. Essentially this type of bet provides a ‘handicap’ (also known as a line) to one side, and whether or not you win or lose the bet is based on the results as well as the handicap.

For example if Team A is clearly better than Team B, Team B may be given a 5 ½ point line in the spread bet. That means that if you bet on Team A it needs to win by 6 points or more to win the bet. On the other hand if you bet on Team B it can lose by 5 points or less and you’ll still win the bet.

The payout for spread bets is the same regardless of the team that you bet on. The bookmaker may change the line before the match begins however, in order to encourage more people to bet on a particular side.


If you are looking to just bet on which team will win and which team will lose, then the moneyline is the type of bet that you’re actually looking for. It will simply list the payout odds for choosing one outcome over the other.

The payout odds for moneyline NBA bets typically are listed as American odds. In other words they list the total payout that you’ll get if you were to bet $100.

For example a bet may be listed as Team A (+130), Team B (-150). That means that Team A are the favorites and if you bet $100 on them you make a $30 profit if they win, while if you bet $100 on Team B you’ll make a $50 profit if they win.


Over-under bets are an interesting way to wager on the outcome of NBA matches. Unlike other types of bets you won’t actually be choosing which team is going to win – but will be betting whether the total number of points scored in the match is above or below a certain threshold.

For example the bet may be listed as: o150 (-110), u150 (-110). That means that you can choose to bet on the total points being over or under 150, and will get a $110 payout for every $100 that you bet.

Typically the payout odds of over-under bets will not change. Instead, the bookmaker may shift the over-under line, depending on the number of bets that are placed.


Proposition bets are a special type of bet that are based on the likelihood of a particular event happening. The exact event and the odds that are offered will be entirely up to the bookmaker.

For example a bookmaker may offer a proposition bet that Player A scores over 40 points in a single game, or that Player B hits over 10 3-point shots.

At the end of the day proposition bets can be a whole lot of fun, but predicting the outcome can be a bit tricky – which is why serious bettors tend to avoid them.


When you bet on NBA matches you should first decide which type of bet you’d like to place, and look at the odds that are offered. In some cases you may even want to place several different types of bet on the same match.

Make no mistake there are other types of bets that may be available at some bookmakers as well. That being said the 4 that are listed above are definitely the most popular, and you should find them at most of the larger online bookmakers.

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