How NBA Props Betting Works

The NBA has always been a popular sports league. Spurred on by technological advancements and social media, fans are tuning in to see high-profile players battle it out on the court. Unfortunately for sports bettors, there is a lot more going on behind the scenes that they might not be aware of.

What exactly is NBA props? Props are bets that are placed on the game. These bets may range from the total number of shots that a team will make (called Over/Under bets) to whether or not a certain player will score a certain number of points (called Scorecast bets).

Understanding The Basics

Before a sports bettor can enter the fray, they need to understand the basics. These include making sure they are properly licensed to place bets in the first place, learning the various types of bets available, and knowing how to place a bet.

Since some states in the U.S. do not allow residents to place certain types of bets, figuring out where to place these types of bets can be a little complicated. However, since 2018 sports betting options have been made available to states that have passed legislation to permit it. This has made it much easier for residents to place bets on sports events.

The Differences Between Legal And Illegal Sports Bets

There are several differences between legal and illegal sports bets. Illegal bets are those that are placed outside of the state where sports are being played. This is often done for fun and/or profit. They are typically fixed matches (i.e., the spread, over/under, and winner take all) or done during a fantasy league where points are tallied after the conclusion of the game.

On the other hand, legal bets are those that are placed in compliance with the rules and regulations set by the governing body of the sport. They can be placed in any state where sports are being played and won’t be considered illegal.

Learn more about the differences between legal and illegal sports bets here:

Legal Vs. Illegal Sports Bets

Where Do I Place My NBA Props Bet?

The first step a sports bettor needs to take is figuring out where to place their NBA props bets. There are several options readily available, but before choosing one, the bettor needs to decide whether or not they want to bet on the favorites or on the underdogs.

On occasion, a team might be so dominant that they are considered the favorite. For example, the Boston Celtics are 16-2 ATS (against the spread) this season and were 2-point favorites against the Chicago Bulls in a recent matchup. In most cases, though, teams are considered underdogs because they are pitted against a team that is considered more skilled or experienced.

Although it is not always the case, the NBA tends to be extremely competitive and every game has an UNDERDOG line. This is how most sportsbooks calculate their margin of profit or loss from each game. NBA teams have a way of finding redemption, however, as they have proven time and time again, they are never truly out of the game.

The Favorites

If you are choosing to bet on the favorites, you are essentially wagering that the team you are betting on will win. Even if you are not a traditionalist and enjoy backing a team that is already supposed to win, there is still value in betting on the favorites. As mentioned above, some teams are so dominant that they are considered a sure thing and can’t lose. In these cases, it is often said that they are an easy money grab because they will almost certainly win. Despite this, it is still a good idea to wager on them because they are the most likely to win. Naturally, this increases your chances of scoring big.

The Underdogs

Underdogs are the polar opposite of favorites. They represent teams that are considered by the odds makers to have less chance of winning. Naturally, this makes them a good investment for those who want to score big. One of the major differences between betting on the underdogs and betting on the favorites is that the underdogs are usually presented as an underdog story. The Chicago Bulls are a prime example of this. They are currently 8-13 ATS this season and were -120 favorites to win the 2018 NBA title. Most people would have placed their bets on the Boston Celtics or the Los Angeles Lakers, who were rated much higher. Although they have not been the most successful team this season, the underdogs are always a good opportunity to grab some easy money.

While the favorite is often the safer bet, don’t discount the value of the underdog. There are times when the favorites do not perform up to expectations and it is then that you should find the value in wagering on the underdogs. In the NBA, it is almost always underdogs that you will find value in wagering on. This is mostly because the odds makers have not figured out the formula for calculating the spread in the games featuring the underdogs. It is almost as if the oddsmakers are continually astounded by how competitive the NBA is and how unpredictable the results can be. If you want to score big, you should always wager on the underdogs in the NBA.

Which Type Of Bet Should I Place?

Choosing the right type of bet for your NBA props is vital. There are several different types of bets that you can make including:

  • Over/Under bets – This is where you place your wager on whether or not a team will score a specific number of points. For example, if you believe that the Los Angeles Lakers will score at least 25 points, you can place a 2.5 Over/Under bet. If you think that the Toronto Raptors will score 10 or fewer points, you can place an Under bet (10 units).
  • Scorecast bets – These are where you bet on the winning score of a specific game. For example, if you think that the Minnesota Timberwolves will beat the Miami Heat by three points, you can place a scorecast bet on Minnesota winning by three points.
  • Moneyline bets – These are where you bet on the winner of a horse race. To place such a bet, you will need to establish which horse is the favorite and which horse is the underdog. You can also place ice cream sundae bets, movie star bets, and more!

Each one of these types of bets has its perks and drawbacks. For example, Over/Under bets are easy to place but have low odds of winning. Moneyline bets on the other hand have high odds but you have to wait until the end of the game to see if you will win or lose. Finally, a Scorecast bet gives you the satisfaction of placing your bet before the game even starts but the odds of winning are relatively low.

After deciding which type of bet you want to place, you need to determine how much you want to wager. It is a good idea to look at the odds of winning for each one of the available bets and decide based on that. Naturally, this will vary depending on whether or not you are placing an in-game or pre-game bet. An in-game bet will have a higher probability of winning than a pre-game bet.

For example, if you are backing the underdogs in an NBA game between the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls, you will want to wager at least 10 units, as the odds of the underdogs winning are 1 in 5 (20%). If you are choosing to bet Over/Under on the Los Angeles Lakers in a game against the Milwaukee Bucks, you will want to wager at least double that amount, as the odds of the Lakers winning are only 1 in 8 (12.5%). In the case of a pre-game bet, the probability of winning is much lower, as there is a good chance that the game will end in a tie.

How Do I Calculate My Margin?

The last thing a sports bettor wants to do is lose money. Luckily for them, the NBA has provided an easy way to calculate their margin. This is how most sportsbooks determine their daily loss/gain from each game and it is calculated by:

(1) adding up all of the money that you have bet on the OVER portion of games;

(2) adding up all of the money that you have bet on the UNDER portion of games;

(3) multiplying the sum from (1) by two; and

(4) subtracting the sum from (2) from the sum from (1).