How to Read Basketball Betting Odds

The odds are an essential part of any bet. While it’s always nice when your money ends up winning, you will ultimately lose if you don’t know how to read the odds correctly. This article will teach you how to do just that – so you can properly analyze basketball odds and make the right decisions with your money.

Understand The Different Types Of Odds

There are four types of odds you will encounter when wagering on sporting events like basketball: 


Many people believe that odds are simply fractions or percentages – but this is far from true. When referring to sports betting odds, ‘over’ or ‘under’ are actually the exact same thing and are used to denote the exact same concept. What this means in practice is that you either have to win or lose, regardless of the outcome of the game.

For example, if you bet $100 on the underdogs in a basketball game and the underdogs win by two points, you would incur a loss of $50 due to the two-point margin of victory. If you’d gone with the favorites, you would’ve won $100 because they won by six points. In this case, the odds would’ve given you a 3:1 advantage in favor of the favorites.

Money Line

The money line is widely regarded as the simplest and most straightforward type of odds to decipher. Essentially, the money line gives you the opportunity to bet on the winner of the match without having to worry about the outcome of the game. The only downside is that the line only offers the simplest bet options like ‘win’ or ‘loss’, and no half-points or fractions are provided for you to work with.

Point Spread

The point spread refers to the amount by which the bettor is betting an underdog will win. For example, if you bet $100 on the underdogs in a basketball game, the point spread would be minus $100 (two teams are considered underdogs in this example). The idea behind this type of odds is to provide the bettor with more flexibility when placing their wagers. The downside is that there is more than one way to work this into a winning formula, and you have to be extremely careful when using this type of odds.

Progressive Jackpot

Progressive jackpot odds are slightly more involved than the previous three types of odds, but still rather straightforward. Essentially, with these odds, you are required to bet a certain amount – let’s say $25 – to win a certain amount of money. In this case, you would earn a 2:1 return on your investment since you have a $50 wager plus the $25 you’ve invested in the jackpot. The downside is that this type of odds requires a bit more effort to work into a winning formula than the other types mentioned thus far.


The combination refers to the number of points that will be scored by each team in the match. For example, if you bet $100 on the underdogs in a basketball game, you would be placing a $50 bet on each team to score exactly 17 points. In this case, you are not only providing the opportunity to win money, but you are also asking the bettor to score exactly 17 points for each team. If you are asking the bettor to do anything other than what is normally expected of an individual in the game, use some common sense and research before placing your wager. Just because a certain team has a great track record of winning does not mean this will necessarily be the case in the upcoming game. The combination type of odds can be difficult to successfully use, but if you do it right, you can reap the benefits for many games to come.

Beware Of The Correlations

One of the biggest mistakes newbies make when analyzing football stats is assuming that a team will inevitably perform well simply because it possesses some magical quality. For example, let’s say the Detroit Lions have the uncanny ability to score 50 points against any team they play. This may seem like a brilliant strategy, and to some extent, it is. The problem is that if you look at the stats from last season, the Lions had an average score of only 14.8 points per game. While this number may seem high compared to the league average of 17.2 points per game, it is still only 14.8 points more than the average for all thirty-two teams. Meaning, on average, the Lions actually underperformed compared to their potential. To put it simply, don’t fall into the trap of thinking a team will inevitably perform well simply because they are the ‘best’ at something. Sometimes the favorite will cover the spread, and sometimes they won’t. There’s no pattern and no rhyme to it. Always remember that any team can beat any other team any given day – it just takes some good betting knowledge and luck to realize it.