Basketball   |   December 12, 2022

How Do You Wager on Basketball Games: Understanding the Different Types of Basketball Bets

The initial step in basketball betting is determining where and how to place wagers. You can place bets in one of two ways in the United States: in-person or online. The long NBA season gives you plenty of chances to increase your bankroll. 

However, it would help if you become an expert NBA punter before you can consider yourself a sports investor. Parlay/Teaser, Moneyline, Totals, Halftime, First Quarter/First Half, Spread, and Futures are some of the wagering options discussed in our guide. Read on.

What Are the Different Types of Basketball Bets

Most basketball sports gamblers in the United States will be placing wagers on NBA or NCAA games. However, some bookmakers also accept wagers on A1 League, Euroleague, Basket Liga, Iceland Division 1, SuperLeague, and other leagues. Check out the various basketball wagers available via online sports betting.


Parlays wagers have multiple (two or more) legs (wagers) that must all hit for a bookie to pay bettors out. The odds of winning a parlay bet are far higher as the bettor has to get all bets right. A good payoff awaits you if you get all bets right. You can boost the payoff of a parlay by betting on the moneylines, spread, and totals.

A teaser bet is similar to a parlay wager, except the bookmaker awards points to boost your payout. However, this lowers your potential payout. So, if you’re betting on a 4-point teaser and the spread for the Milwaukee Bucks is -10, you’d end up with a -6 spread. Each leg of a teaser wager automatically includes a four-point spread.


The simplest basketball wagering option is the moneyline. You are placing a wager on an outright winner. A straight bet only requires the team you back to win, unlike a bet against the spread that covers a specified margin of victory. 

They don’t have to “cover” or win by a specified margin. Sportsbooks set the moneyline odds for a basketball game based on the probability of each side winning.

The odds of -250 on the Boston Celtics beating the Milwaukee Bucks would imply that the bookies consider the Celtics to be a heavy favorite in this matchup. Since the Boston Celtics are a heavy favorite, the payout on a $100 bet would require you to risk $250.


You can wager on the overall number of points tallied in a game or on how many points a team will score. Let’s see an example of betting on 226 points in a game between the Phoenix Suns and Oklahoma City Thunder. The game guarantees a score either below or above 226. 

Over/under odds on point totals are typically close to parity (-110). The same idea applies to a team-specific point total. However, in this case, you’re only betting on the over/under for one of the teams’ totals.

Halftime Lines

Most folks change the channel at halftime, but sports bettors can profit from it. Lines open during halftime are only open at that time. What happened in the first half is factored into the new spread for the second half by the oddsmakers. Consider the second half a brand-new game with a unique point spread.

First Quarter/First Half

There are four 12-minute halves in an NBA game that lasts 48 minutes. The first quarter and halftime lines are available for wagering before the start of the respective sports. One can compare these wagers to a “game within a game.” The first quarter line lets you pick the team you think will win and cover the spread after the first quarter of play. 


The spread is a wager on the outcome of a single basketball game at a sportsbook. Even if one side is a clear favorite to win, the spread can help bring the odds for both teams to near parity (often around -110). The bookie might give the favorite a point spread. Therefore, the favorite must win at least many points for the bet to pay off at the sportsbook.


Futures bets don’t pay out right but at a later date. Depending on the futures you are wagering, you may have to wait until the season is over. For instance, you can wager on the Most Valuable Player in the league. Over/under wagers on a team’s win total are also available at the start of the season. The odds of each team winning decrease as the season proceeds. The bookie takes down their betting lines when a team is out of playoff contention.