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How To Bet On The NBA

Identifying and explaining NBA bet types

Shaheen Karolia, Flickr

Let's take a look at all of the ways you can get action on pro hoops.

NBA Single-Game Bet Types

Betting NBA Point Spreads

In spread bets, a team must cover the listed margin.  Negative numbers indicate the favored team. For example, if the spread is listed as Grizzlies -3.5, Memphis must win the game by at least 4 points in order to cover the spread.  Conversely, if the line is listed as Trail Blazers +3.5, Portland must lose by 3 or fewer points, or win the game outright, in order to cover the spread. If the Grizzlies were listed at -4 and won by 4 points, it would be a push.

Visit BetQL’s NBA Spreads Dashboard for more information.

Betting NBA Moneylines

When betting the moneyline, you are betting on the side to win the game, regardless of the final score or margin.  A negative moneyline denotes the favored side. A positive moneyline denotes the underdog. You may calculate your potential return before placing a moneyline bet by using the following guidelines:

Favorites: The amount of money you must bet in order to return $100 on a successful bet.  Example: Jazz -200: a $200 bet will return $100 if Utah wins.

Underdogs: The amount of money you will win if your $100 bet is successful.  Example, Heat +150: a $100 bet will return $150 if Miami wins.

Visit BetQL’s NBA Moneylines Dashboard for more information.

Betting NBA Totals (Over/Unders)

Total bets are won and lost depending on the total number of points scored by the two teams combined. An Under bet is successful when the two teams combine to score fewer than the listed number of points and an Over bet is successful when the two teams combine to score more than the listed number of points.

Example: Bucks vs. Pacers O/U 223.5

  • The Under is successful if the two teams score 223 or fewer combined points.
  • The Over is successful if the two teams score 224 or more combined points.
  • If the O/U is a whole number, the bet is a push if the two teams score exactly that amount.

Visit BetQL’s NBA Totals Dashboard for more information.

Betting Single Half Lines

Single half bets may be offered as spread, moneyline or total bets.  Single half bet definitions are identical to their full-game counterparts, with the caveat that single half bets are graded after one half of action. If the Knicks are leading the game at halftime by two or more points in the example above, they'd win the bet.

Visit BetQL’s NBA First Half Spreads Dashboard for more information.

NBA Multiple-Game Bet Types


Using parlays, you can combine multiple individual bets in order to increase your potential return.  In order for a parlay bet to be successful, each individual bet must hit. If any single component is unsuccessful, the entire parlay will be graded as a loss. This style of betting appeals to bettors who eye exponentially-larger payouts, but have much lower odds of winning. 

Example: You place the following parlay bet: Celtics -6.5 (-120) + Nets -4.5 (-112) + Bucks -8.5 (-110). If the Celtics don't win by seven or more points, the Nets don't win by five or more points and the Bucks don't win by nine or more points, you won't win the bet. To win, all three outcomes need to occur.


A teaser is a type of parlay that has a line that is more favorable to the bettor, at the cost of a lower potential payout when the bet is successful.

Example: In the example above, the sportsbook might give a three-point teaser to the favorites to make the bet more appealing and decrease their risk of a large payout. Therefore, the teaser would look like this: Celtics -3.5 + Nets -0.5 + Bucks -5.5 with the same odds. While the upside of placing that bet doesn't compare to a traditional parlay, the odds of it hitting are higher, thus creating more safety.

Other NBA Bet Types


DraftKings Sportsbook

A futures bet refers to any bet that will be settled in the future.

Examples: team accolades (championship winners, etc), player accolades (MVP, etc) and over/unders (team win totals, player statistics, etc). 

Prop Bets

A prop, or “proposition”, is a bet made regarding the occurrence or non-occurrence of a given event during a game. Sportsbooks attach moneyline odds to these bets and they can be settled before the game goes final.

Examples: a player to score more than 19.5 points (-110) or more than 29.5 points + rebounds + assists for a given player (+150).

Live Betting

Live betting takes place after the game has started and features in-game props and other bet types. This style of betting features the quickest payouts in the industry and puts bettors right in the action. 

For the latest NBA parlay, teaser, prop, future and live betting opportunities, visit BetQL’s Exclusive Sportsbook Offers Page.

About BetQL

Want to learn more about BetQL? Check out the resources below: 

  • Best Bets: Find out how our model’s star ratings can help you make the most informed spread, moneyline and O/U bets.

  • Public Data: Find out why it’s always important to know what bets are popular.

  • Sharp Data: Find out why knowing who pro bettors are backing is important.

  • Web Tutorial: Find out how to use our platform on a web browser.

Find out more about BetQL and feel free to contact our Help Center if you have any questions.