NBA Betting 101: Knowing the important sports-gambling terms

NBA Betting 101: Knowing the important sports-gambling terms

Here on, we’re going to be putting even more of a focus on the betting side of the NBA as it becomes more mainstream and legalized throughout the United States.

Are you intrigued about the possibility of potentially betting on the NBA once the 2021-22 regular season begins next week? Below, I will be introducing an NBA betting guide that any of our readers can use. Another valuable tool will be our daily podcast, "Nothing But Bets," which debuts on Oct. 19. 

Below, I will examine different terms for those who want to take the plunge into the NBA betting realm. Let’s take a look:


What does it mean when the Brooklyn Nets are -1 favorites over the Milwaukee Bucks on opening night? Well, that is what’s called the "point spread." It means that sports betting prognosticators analyzed the matchup from all angles and believe Brooklyn should be favored by 1 point against Milwaukee.

If you take Nets -1, it means they have to win the game by over 1 point for you to cash. For example, if the Nets beat the Bucks 113-111, you will cash. If they win by exactly 1 point, it’s called a "push." In sports betting, a push means you and the sportsbook “tied,” so to speak. If you bet the Nets -1 and they only win by that total, you don’t win any money and it’s refunded back into your account for future use.

So, when it comes to point-spread betting, you need to believe the team you’re wagering on can "cover" that total. If you bet on the underdog, for example the Bucks at +1, you have to hope Milwaukee wins outright or loses by only 1 point to get the total refunded back into your account with a push situation once more. When you see the plusses and minuses followed by how much a team is favored (or an underdog) by, that’s officially the point spread.


This is a simple one, and it’s a fun way to keep the game interesting throughout even if it’s a blowout. For example, the Los Angeles Lakers are favored by 5 points over the Golden State Warriors on opening night, but the projected total is 230.5 points combined between the two teams. It’s the sportsbook putting the decision in your hands: Do you believe the Lakers and Warriors will score over or under 230.5 points when you add each team's total score?

This strategy is a good way to make some solid amounts of cash, which almost always falls on -110 "moneyline" odds. Speaking of moneylines, let’s go over what that means right now.


This is the simplest way to bet on basketball, and sports in general. Moneyline simply means betting on a team to win or lose — no point spread or Over/Under attached.

For example, the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets open their season at the Footprint Center on Oct. 20. Phoenix is favored by 5.5 points with the O/U point total landing on 224.5. However, the moneyline odds are what we’re focusing on here since it’s a straight up, win-loss bet. The Suns’ moneyline is -255, while the Nuggets slot in with +205 odds to win outright.

For those wondering about what the minuses and plusses mean, it’s what you need to bet in order to win $100. So, for Suns -255, you would need to bet $255 on Phoenix to profit $100 in this scenario (and the favorites would obviously have to win for that to happen).

(And vice versa, looking at Nuggets +205: If you were to place $100 on Denver, you would profit $205, plus your money back, if the underdogs win. A total of $305 in winnings for you.)

Using the moneyline method is the simplest way to bet on basketball, and you’ll be hearing a lot about it everyday on "Nothing But Bets" on the Podcast Network.

Player Props

These are really fun to be involved with, because it again keeps you involved throughout the entire 48 minutes. A "player prop" simply means a player needs to hit an individual Over/Under in order for you to cash. For example, let’s say the O/U point total for Kevin Durant in a game is 26.5 and you think he'll beat that number. That means Durant needs to score 27 points in order for you to win the bet. Player props can be simple, or even in-depth where they can go across the board in statistical categories.


If you have heard about “bad beats,” it usually involves a parlay loss. A parlay is betting on multiple teams or multiple props simultaneously on a single wager slip.

Let’s say you submit a three-leg parlay on NBA opening night where you bet altogether: Nets -1, Lakers moneyline and Over 230.5 points to hit in Los Angeles vs. Golden State. This is a parlay, where everything needs to hit in order to win your bet. It can also be a simple way to boost your winnings as well. You can bet on multiple teams in the same slate of NBA games that night to simply win outright with moneylines. (Nets moneyline + Lakers moneyline, for example.)

Parlays keep it interesting, while also being riskier with multiple things needing to go your way to pull off the victory over the sportsbook. It keeps you on the edge of your seat all night while watching the NBA.


These are long-term investments where you wager to see if you can cash-out big later on in the season. Currently, Luka Doncic is the MVP favorite this season at +380 odds. If you bet on Doncic to win the award and it actually happens, you win $480 on a $100 wager. If you’re comfortable waiting awhile on bets to potentially hit, futures are a solid way to go in making some money.

It can involve not only individual players, but teams as well. The Nets are the current 2021-22 NBA championship favorites at +200 odds. If you wagered $100 on Brooklyn to bring home the Larry O’Brien trophy, it wins you back $300 in total. So, if Luka wins his first ever MVP, plus the Nets win the championship, you just profited $580 on in long-term investment betting by putting down $200 in wagers.

(For a breakdown on how we got that number: $380 won on Doncic as MVP, plus $200 won on Nets as NBA champions — each on separate $100 bets.)

Well, there you have it NBA fans. This is an easy way to remember what terms mean, and how you can maneuver the board when potentially betting on NBA action.

If you want to get in on the fun, make sure to check out "Nothing But Bets" every single day on the Podcast Network throughout the season, starting on Oct. 19!

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