The most common type of bet on basketball is the straightforward point spread bet. Here is an example of what the common spread bet option looks like.
This means the Lakers are playing at the Heat (the home team is listed on the bottom) and the heat are favoured by 5. So you would give 5 points if you bet on the Heat and receive 5 points if you bet on the Lakers. You have to wager 110 to win 100 on either side, depending on what your sportsbook offers. 110 to 100, or 11 to 10, is the most commonly found charge. This is sometimes listed with the spread like this.
Lakers +5 (-110)
Heat -5 (-110)
The next most common form of the wager placed on basketball games is the money line bet. In a money line wager, you are just betting on which team will win. Here is a money line example.
This means that you can bet 100 to win 480 on the Lakers or bet 600 to win 100 on the Heat. The money line can be a way for the sharp sports gambler to find value plays. For example, there are certain teams that are almost unbeatable at home. If a team that is travelling across the country is playing at one of these dominant home teams, you have almost a sure bet. Just realize that the odds makers know this as well and will set the odds so you will be forced to wager a lot to win 100. Of course, if you are correct it doesn't matter how high the odds are.
Lakers o199.5 -110
Heat u199.5 -110
The last popular type of basketball wager is a totals bet, just like an over under bet in the NFL. Here is an example totals line.
Remember that this is the total score of both teams combined. So you can bet that the score will be over or under 199.5 and bet 110 to win 100. The 110 to win 100 does sometimes vary on these types of bets, so you may see something like -105 or -115. In the first case you have to bet 105 to win 100 and in the second you have to bet 115 to win 100.
There are a few other wagers available when considering basketball, but you should concentrate on these common ones before trying your luck at the others.
Like betting on most sporting events, developing your own basketball wagering strategies is the best chance at prolonged success. The way you build these strategies is by studying statistics and finding trends so you can predict future events. Most sports gamblers start by tracking how teams play at home and on the road. Almost all teams play better at home, but some have a more pronounced bias than others. Another thing to consider is teams that are on the 2nd or 3rd straight game playing against a team coming off a day off. You also need to look at teams that have just travelled from one coast to the other. All of these things provide a solid starting point to get an understanding of the types of things you may be able to use to your wagering advantage.
However, these are the types of things that many gamblers use. Are you willing to track more and do more number crunching in order to find a true edge? Understanding how a player's availability changes the scoring outcomes of a team and understanding the difference between the best defensive teams and the worst can be used in systems to exploit over and under lines and point totals. Anyone willing to do the work using solid mathematical concepts can gain an advantage. It is up to you to make the commitment to prosper. Just start tracking a few things and add new things as you master each area. Before you know it you will be profiting from betting on basketball games.
One area where you may be able to gain an advantage is if you have an inside connection to a smaller college basketball team. There are tons of conferences and not all of them are as popular as the SEC or Big 10. If you live in a town with a smaller school you may be able to develop contacts that can give you inside information. The online bookies don't do as well setting odds for games with these smaller schools so if you have more knowledge than they do you may be able to profit from it.