Betting Lines Explained

Betting Lines ExplainedThere are many betting options for every NBA game. This page is meant to help you know about and understand the various betting options you will find NBA odds for.

All of the betting lines explained below – moneylines, point spreads, totals, prop bets and futures bets – are used with NBA betting and contain an example that reflects a betting line in real life.


With moneyline wagers you are betting on the outright winner of the game without taking the point spread into consideration.  There are still favourites and underdogs, but instead of this being expressed by a point spread, the teams are given different odds to win the game.

For example, if the Clippers were playing the Lakers, the Clippers would likely be the underdog, which means you would win a greater amount of money by betting on the Clippers than the Lakers.  The Clippers odds may be something like +220 in American odds format or 3.20 in decimal format.  This means that if you bet $100 on the Clippers, in this situation you would win $220 and receive a $320 payout if they won.  The Lakers odds would be something like -260 or 1.39. This means you would have to bet $260 on the Lakers to win $100, or if you bet $100 on the Lakers you would win $39.

Point Spreads

Point spreads are the handicap that the sports book gives to the underdog.  Instead of just winning, the favourite must win by more than the point spread, or the underdog must lose by less than the spread to win the wager.  Let us explain in more detail: continuing with the example above, the spread would give the Clippers a handicap.  For this example, we’ll say the handicap is 8 points.  Therefore, this is how the NBA line would look:

  • LA Clippers +8
  • LA Lakers -8

This means, if you wager on the Clippers you are betting that they will either lose by less than 8 points or win the game.  If you wager on the Lakers then you are betting that they will win by more than 8 points.  The standard line for both of these bets would be -110 or 1.91.  If the Lakers win by exactly 8 points then the bet is a “push” and your wager is refunded.

Over/Under (Totals)

With total bets you are wagering on the total number of points to be scored in a game.  There will be an over/under number and you decide whether you think the total of both teams scores will be over or under that number.  An over/under amount may be something like 210 for a game.  If you believe that more than 210 points will be score you would wager on the over.

Prop Bets

Prop bets are huge in basketball because there are so many things to bet on in a basketball game.  A prop bet is a single wager on something that is not directly related to the outcome of the game.  Some typical basketball prop bets include race to 20 points, lines for every quarter, over/unders on players or teams points, rebounds, assists, steals, and much more.

Futures Bets

Futures are wagers on outcomes that will happen in the future.  For example, the most common NBA future bet throughout the season would be betting on the team you think will win the NBA championship.  The odds will vary throughout the season, but you will always be able to place a wager on the team you feel has the best chance of success.

Learn more about NBA betting lines at our sister site.