NBA Vegas Odds FAQ
How do NBA odds work?
NBA odds can be found on a particular game, a prop bet or futures bet. The odds depicted on a specific bet determine the payout for that winning bet. An example of this would be a +150 bet would net the better 1.5X that bet amount and a -300 bet would net them their original bet amount plus a third of that bet amount.
What do NBA odds mean?
NBA odds means how likely or not that a particular outcome will happen. Bets with (-) are more likely to occur than bets with (+) according to that specific sportsbook. The higher the (-) number, the more likely the event will occur, the higher the (+), the less likely.
NBA odds to win the NBA Finals.
Odds to win the NBA Finals are calculated at the conclusion of the previous NBA season and are updated as the season progresses. Teams with a better chance of winning the NBA Finals payout less than the team less likely to win the NBA Finals.
NBA odds to win the Eastern or Western Conferences.
Odds to win the Eastern or Western Conference in the NBA are similar to how the NBA Finals odds are calculated. The more likely a team is to win their conference according to a sportsbook, the less the payout compared to teams less likely to win.
NBA odds to make the playoffs.
Similar to NBA Finals and Conference Champion odds, playoff odds are calculated based on how likely a specific team is to make the playoffs. The less likely a team is to make the playoffs, the higher the odds and payout. Teams more likely to make the playoffs offer lower odds and a smaller payout.
NBA odds to win MVP.
Odds to win the MVP are calculated the same as NBA Finals, Conference Champion and playoff odds. The difference is that these odds are on a single player to win the MVP Award and not on an entire team.
What is an NBA moneyline?
An NBA moneyline determines the odds of each team winning the game outright. The team with the (-) is the favorite and the team with the (+) is the underdog. The (-) pays out less than the (+) team on an equal bet amount.
What is an NBA spread?
The spread in an NBA game determines which team is the favorite or underdog by a certain number of points. A team with a -5 is favored to win that particular game by five points. A team with +5 means they are the underdogs by five points. A favorite has to win by at least that many points while an underdog has to "cover" by at least that amount.
How to tell the favorite in an NBA game.
Whichever team has the (-) in front of their odds on the moneyline, or the (-) points in the spread is the favorite. This team is expected to win the game both outright and by the number of points in the spread. These teams pay out less money than underdogs. The larger the number, the more that particular team is favored.
What are the odds an NBA game goes to overtime?
In any given NBA season, there are 1,230 games played. There were 67 overtime games during the 2018-2019 season and 59 during the 2017-2018 season. Based on those two seasons, NBA games go to overtime approximately 5.1% of the time. That is down from 6.3% in a three-year span from 2013-2016.
What Do NBA Vegas Odds Mean?
The very first thing that every sports bettor has to learn is what the odds they are betting on means. What is the difference between (+) and (-)? What does -200 mean compared to -100? These are all common questions for beginner sports bettors and without knowing the answers to these basic questions you can't become a successful sports bettor. The term "Vegas odds" can refer to the actual odds created by Las Vegas-based sportsbooks or it can mean just a general reference to the odds of a particular game at any sportsbook.
How to Read NBA Vegas Odds
When a bettor sees a sportsbook or a betting line for the first time, the first thing they will notice is that each team in a particular matchup has either a (+) or a (-) in front of their odds. Sometimes you will even see a (-) in front of both teams. So what exactly does this mean?
In any contest, in any sport, when you see a (-) in front of a team's odds, that means that team is the favorite. The team with the (+) in front of their odds means they are the underdog. For the favorites with the (-), the larger that number is (for example, -200 is larger than -150), the more that team is favored and expected to win that particular game or match. It works the opposite of underdogs. The larger the number for the (+) teams, the more that team is expected to lose (for example, +200 is larger than +150 as well).
How Are NBA Odds Calculated?
Odds are set by specific bookmakers based on how the oddsmakers for those books see the outcome of the game to finish. The more lopsided the event is in their eyes, the more lopsided the odds and spread will be. For total bets (Over/Under) those numbers are adjusted based on how the two opponents match up and whether the oddsmakers expect high-scoring or low-scoring games.
An example would be a game between the Sacramento Kings and the Utah Jazz. If the oddsmakers expect this to be a close contest, then the odds would be closer in range. If the Kings are the favorites in what is expected to be a very close game, you would see something in the range of "Sacramento Kings -150" on the moneyline. On the opposite end, you would see something like "Utah Jazz +130". This means the Kings are favored to win the contest outright but not by much. You would have to bet $150 on the Sacramento moneyline to win $100 in profit. If you bet $100 on the Utah Jazz to win outright, you would win $130 in profit.
If a particular game is more lopsided, then you would see odds that would be further apart in range. An example here could be a game between the Toronto Raptors and the Phoenix Suns. In this example, the Raptors are the best team in the Eastern Conference and the Suns are the worst team in the Western Conference. Therefore, we would see odds that would be closer to something like "Toronto Raptors -350" and "Phoneix Suns +295". In this example, you would have to bet $350 on the Raptors to win outright on the moneyline to win $100 profit and if you bet $100 on the Suns' moneyline you would win $295 profit. Since this game is considered a lopsided advantage for Toronto, the payouts are smaller on Toronto and bigger on their opponent compared to a closer game involving Sacramento and Utah.
The point spread was created to provide a balance for both teams involved in a particular game to attract bettors to potentially back the weaker team. Sportsbooks do not want everyone betting on one side of a contest. They make their money based on the "juice" from losing bets. When a high percentage of money is on one side of a bet, and that side wins, books take a hit. Their goal is to try and make the betting split 50/50 on each outcome, therefore, the books would stand to make money regardless of the outcome (unless there is a push). Thus the creation of the point spread.
The way a point spread is determined is the oddsmakers determine their expected outcome and give the underdog a set number of points to try and cover by. The favorite must win by more than the points in the spread for the bet to win on their side and the underdogs just have to stay within that set number of points for their side to win, even if they lose the game outright. The favorite is always listed with a minus (-) sign before the point spread while the underdog is labeled with a plus (+) sign.
Using the two examples above for the moneyline segment, we can also assume what you would see on those games for the spread. Since the Kings were small favorites (-150) against the Jazz (+130), the spread on this game would be small. A potential spread in this game could be something like "Sacramento Kings -1.5" and "Utah Jazz +1.5". What this means is that the Kings would have to win by more than 1.5 points for Kings' spread bettors to win and Utah would either have to win the game or lose by just one for Jazz spread bettors to win. The spread is always the inverse number on each side for both teams. If the spread in a game is -7 for the favorite, then the underdog spread will be +7.
Using the Raptors and Suns example, the spread would be a lot more lopsided due to the moneyline odds being so lopsided and the oddsmakers expecting a big win by the Raptors. Based on the moneyline odds above for the Raptors and Suns contest, the spread would be something more like "Toronto Raptors -9" and "Phoneix Suns +9". Toronto bettors on the spread would need the Raptors to win by 10 or more points (if they win by nine the bet is a push and the bet amount is returned to the bettor). Suns' bettors would just need the Suns to lose by eight or fewer points or win the game outright for their bet to win.
The odds for spread bets are usually in the -110 range and they fluctuate a little to both sides based on the majority of the action. Assuming the odds for both spreads are -110, you would have to bet $110 to win $100 on the spread. If you bet $100 at -110 odds, you would win $91.91 because of the 10% juice.
The total (also known as the Over/Under) is the total combined points scored by both teams in a particular game. The total in an NBA game isn't based on how lopsided a matchup between two teams is as much as the spread or moneyline is. Instead, the oddsmakers look at several other factors such as offensive and defensive efficiencies of each team, how they match up against one another, and numerous other factors. So while there are also a lot of factors that go into determining the spread and moneyline of a game, they are not all directly related to how the total is determined by a sportsbook.
This means that a very high or very low total is not determined by how big or small a spread is. Nor is it determined by how close or lopsided the moneyline odds are. If a total is high in a particular NBA game, the books, of course, expect a high-scoring game. This could be due to each team being fast-paced, having good shooters, bad defense, etc. In a low-scoring total, the two teams usually consist of slower-paced teams that place good defense and may not have the best scorers on their team.
NBA Futures and Prop Bets
Futures bets are calculated differently than standard spread and moneyline bets. Futures bets are just given one simple odd for that player or team to accomplish that particular goal. There is no spread or moneyline for a futures bet.
NBA Finals, Conference Champions and Playoff Qualifiers
Betting on a futures bet like NBA Finals Champion can be done virtually year-round. From the time the previous season's Finals are over, sportsbooks across the globe are already working on putting out odds for next year's NBA Finals Champion. The same is done for Eastern and Western Conference Champions and also for teams to just qualify for the playoffs.
The odds on these types of bets aren't like the odds you see on a moneyline, spread or total. Yes, the numbers do mean the same in terms of payouts but they are calculated differently and set up differently as well.
When you look at futures bets like an NBA Finals Champion, Eastern or Western Conference Champion or playoff qualifier, the odds are calculated based on how each team's chances are of accomplishing the particular feat you are betting on. Taking the Milwaukee Bucks as an example, you might see their playoff odds before the season starts somewhere around -350. This means they Bucks are heavy favorites to make the playoffs and you would need to bet $350 on them to make $100 in profit.
A team's odds to win their conference or the NBA Finals will always payout better than the odds of just making the playoffs, as those feats are much more difficult. So if the Bucks are -350 to make the playoffs, they could be -110 to win the Eastern Conference and +250 to win the NBA Finals. As the season progresses, the odds for each team in each scenario are updated. You may find your best value on a team before the season starts or just a few games before the regular season ends.
Once you place a wager on one of these futures bets, the money is held onto by the books until those particular events are finished.
Other NBA Prop Bets
In the NBA, another type of betting that is popular is prop betting. Prop bets are bets on players or teams to accomplish specific tasks within a specified game or even season. Prop bets can feature both spread type betting, moneyline style, or even totals.
An example of a prop bet would be "Will Lebron James Score More Than 30 Points". This prop bet could be set for a specific game and the spread is essentially 30. It is also similar to an Over/Under bet. If you bet "No" (Under), then you need Lebron James to score 29 or fewer points in that game. If you bet "Yes" (Over), then you would need Lebron James to score more than 30 points in that game.
Prop bets aren't limited to just points scored or specific players. You can find prop bets about any number of stats in an NBA game that involve numerous players on either team. They can even refer to an entire team instead of an individual player. Prop bets are fun and exciting ways to give bettors other goals within a game to bet on and root for. At most sportsbooks you can find dozens of prop bets in any given NBA game.