Of the big four U.S. sports, the NBA remains the easiest to predict. That said, this doesn’t mean you can jump in and start turning a profit from the get-go.
Why is that? In short, this kind of predictability is a double-edged sword. Sure, being relatively accurate when handicapping a game on your own is nice. However, the bookmakers can put a wrench in your plans by adjusting their opening lines.
In other words, you must have a solid grasp of the NBA betting landscape to do well. Not sure where to start? Here are four key NBA betting tips to help you out.
1. Stay Informed
Let’s start with the obvious one: keeping track of injuries and rests.
Say you spot a betting line that seems too good to be true. You gamble on it−and lose! Why? Well, it turns out a star player on “your” team was out for the night. Not only do you lose the bet, but you feel like a fool for not checking injury updates.
If you’re not paying attention, this stuff will happen all the time. In this new “load management” climate, any star can get rested at a moment’s notice. You should also watch out for any minute restrictions or guys playing banged-up.
The main issue here is that you have to keep track of this information all the time. Many injury and rest updates don’t get reported until close to game time. Sometimes, the news will break a few minutes before tip-off.
As cumbersome as this seems, it’s also a great opportunity for serious bettors. Any time an injury gets reported, the bookies must adjust the lines. If you get in a bet before that happens, you’re likely looking at a nice profit.
2. Find the Shaded Lines
When it comes to adjusting the NBA betting lines, bookies often turn to line shading. If they anticipate a team to dominate, they’ll move the betting line toward them.
For instance, let’s say that the Bucks are riding a hot streak. The public starts betting on them heavily, which forces the bookies to inflate their lines. If the Bucks were only supposed to be a (-9) favorite, the bookies may put them at (-11) instead.
The bookies are doing that because lopsided betting could otherwise lose them a lot of money. Shading the line evens out the action. It discourages sharp betting on value, and the public takes a bigger risk to cover the bet.
In these cases, the value play is usually to bet against the shaded line. The bookies and sharp bettors both know that those few extra points are only a cover. This makes the shaded line a gift for you, so take it and keep on trucking.
The only thing to keep in mind is that you can’t plan for these cases. This play is often based on short-term perceptions, so you must know what caused the shade. For more information on how to handicap a game, check out Docsports.com.
3. Bet the Middle
“Middling” a bet can be a key part of any NBA betting strategy. This refers to staking bets on both sides of a game and potentially winning both bets.
For example, let’s assume that the Nuggets are favorites (-5) against the Knicks. You bet on the Nuggets. A few hours before tip-off, the Knicks announced they’re resting their two best players. As a result, everyone starts betting on the Nuggets.
In this situation, the bookies may respond by declaring the Nuggets a (-10) favorite. The middling opportunity lies in betting the Knicks (+10). One of your bets will pay out no matter what, and you can win both if the Nuggets win by 6-9 points.
The downside of betting the middle is that you may need both of your bets to win. If only one goes through, you may be a slight loser due to paying a vig to the house.
So, how do you get better odds of both bets paying out? Well, let’s say that you bet on the Pistons (a +3 underdog) against the Rockets. At halftime, the Pistons lead by 15 points. This gives you an 18 point cushion for your original bet.
Now, what you can do is bet on the Rockets to win the second half. If this line is (-6), you’ll win both bets if the Rockets can win the half by 7-18 points. Opportunities like that happen all the time, and the market is slow to correct them.
4. Track Your Bets
All bettors have certain strengths and weaknesses in their game. Sometimes, time zones can determine which teams you end up seeing play the most.
Tracking your bets will let you know which teams you have the most success with. This is valuable information, as it makes sure your results are consistent. If you find that you do much better with some teams, take a step back to understand why.
You can also use this newfound knowledge to specialize your bets. If you’re good at predicting the results of your favorite team, consider sticking to bets involving them. This kind of laser-focused approach can bring about more consistency.
Tracking your results by bet type is also a valid option. This involves spreads vs. money lines, straight bets vs. parlays, and full game bets vs. half bets. The point is to ensure that any patterns you bet on are making you enough money to be worth it.
More NBA Betting Tips
As you can see, basketball betting is all about doing a lot with a little. Whether you’re new to betting or an expert, the value will always lie in the margins.
The one thing you should never do is follow the public. Bookies want to make money, and the best way to do that is to force the public to pay a premium for their notions. Even if the public has the right notion, everyone betting on it makes it worthless.
Looking for more NBA betting tips? Interested in the history of NBA gambling and how it came to be a popular pastime? Keep reading our basketball-related content!