Before May 2018, we would understand which teams were favored to win by checking out the NBA Vegas odds. Today, those same Vegas sportsbooks have online sites we can bet on nationwide.
At Ballislife, we’re committed to analyzing the sport of basketball and creating guides to make your sports betting journey more profitable. Continue reading to understand everything there is to know about NBA Vegas odds.
Since online sports betting became possible in May 2018, bettors across the United States now look to online bookmakers like DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars, SI Sportsbook, Tipico, and more to see who’s favored and the underdog.
Before 2018, the only way to get this information was by looking up NBA lines from Vegas or Las Vegas betting lines for the NBA.
Las Vegas was the epicenter for sports betting, as you’d go to a sportsbook in person, or there were resources online that showed the betting odds from each top bookmaker in the city. Today, the odds from Vegas and NBA sportsbooks around the country are, more or less, the same.
Here, we’ll show you the top bet types, how to read the NBA odds, and catch you up to speed on some NBA Las Vegas odds terminology to know.
Whether looking at odds or point spreads, you’ll always find a “-” or a “+.”
With Vegas lines and odds, the “-” is assigned to the favored team and the “+” to the underdog. We’ll dive into NBA point spreads soon, but regarding odds, these lines will show how much money you can make and the implied probability.
When it comes to money, think of odds like this:
The odds with a “+” show how much you’ll win if you bet $100.
There are three main Vegas odds you need to become familiar with if you are going to embrace this form of betting.
Whenever you look at an online sportsbook or read the latest Vegas odds, you’ll see three bet types that are most prevalent—the moneyline, point spread, and totals.
The term “The Big Three” is a term used to describe three top players. In years past, this was Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett for the Celtics and Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, and LeBron James for the Miami Heat.
In sports betting, think of these bet types as just that.
|Moneyline||Bet on which team you think will win the game outright. These odds are weighted based on the strengths and weaknesses of each team.||As seen in the section above on how to read odds, the moneyline will have odds assigned to it, and you’ll wager on it.|
|Point Spread||The point spread was first used with Vegas odds in the 1940s or 1950s, but the exact date isn’t known. This number is assigned to a game to illustrate the gap in power between the teams. If the point spread is eight, then this means that the sportsbook deems the favored team eight points better than the underdog. The odds are always at or around -110 on both sides.||If a team is -4.5, they not only need to win the game but must do so by five points or more to cover. Conversely, the other team will be +4.5. They’ll cover if they win the game or, if they lose, they cannot lose by more than four points.|
|Totals||Also known as the over/under, you’ll wager on the combined number of points scored in the game. The NBA odds are always at or around -110 for both the over and under.||If a game has a line of 239.5, you’ll wager whether you think the game finishes with 240 points or more or 239 points or less.|
Futures betting markets allow you to wager on events that resolve later. These bets include betting on the winner of the NBA Finals, Western Conference, Eastern Conference, each division, and individual player awards like the MVP. Like moneyline wagers, each contestant will have odds associated with it.
In today’s sports betting, there are two types of parlays: The traditional kind you would find with Vegas odds and lines before 2018 and Same Game Parlays, which were created more recently.
The goal of a parlay is to partner multiple wagers on one betslip, get better value odds than wagering on the events separately, and those contests winning for you to receive a payout.
With a parlay, if you add three contests, you’ll need all three to win for it to succeed—this also applies to Same Game Parlays.
Whether you’re online or in Vegas, we’ll cover three types of prop bets here. Prop bets are micro-events that happen within a more significant event. In this context, events occur during the flow of an NBA game.
Before online sports betting, you could place bets on games while they were live at Las Vegas sportsbooks.
With this betting market, the odds on the moneyline, point spread, totals, props, and more, reflect what’s happening in the game.
As you’d expect, these will change rapidly, with basketball being a faster-paced sport. We’d recommend placing a bet during a timeout or commercial break as this is the longest period the odds will be stabilized for.
The juice/vig has always been looked at the same, whether at a Las Vegas sportsbook or online. You can think of this as the sportsbook’s commission on accepting wagers. It’s commonly referred to when you see odds of -110, implying you need to wager $11 to win $10. Any time you see “-” odds, any number beyond -100 is the juice.
When you hear this term in sports betting, it refers to the number of contests you’ve added to a parlay. If a parlay has three games, there are three legs.
You’ll often see point spreads like +4.5 or totals like 225.5. The hook is the added 0.5 as this ensures a game won’t tie and there will be a winner or loser.
Speaking of ties in sports betting; there’s a term for that—a push. If you bet on a team that’s -4 and they win by four, your wager will tie. In the event of a push, you’ll get your stake back.
To cover sports betting means that you’ve wagered on something where the requirements were satisfied. For example, if you bet on the Nets +6.5 and they lose 100-99, yes, they lost the game, but with the point spread, they have enough points to cover.
As you wager more, you’ll start to figure out how much you typically like to bet. You can refer to this as your "unit" when you've figured this out. It’s also around 10% of your bankroll. So, if you have $1,000 in your bankroll, your “unit” could be $100.
As mentioned, Vegas odds were referred to far more often before the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was overturned in May 2018. It was the only place to determine which teams were favored and which underdogs.
However, most popular Vegas in-person sportsbooks now have an online sportsbook. You’re getting those reliable odds no matter where you play, so long as you’re in a legal state.
As you venture into NBA betting, we recommend returning to this page to catch up on all these Vegas betting markets, the critical vocabulary, and more.
Players must be 21 years of age or older or reach the minimum age for gambling in their respective state and located in jurisdictions where online gambling is legal. Please play responsibly. Bet with your head, not over it. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, and wants help, call or visit: (a) the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey at 1-800-Gambler or www.800gambler.org; or (b) Gamblers Anonymous at 855-2-CALL-GA or www.gamblersanonymous.org.
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