Beginners Playbook For Betting On The NBA
So you are interested in making money investing in the nBA…. Well, I think you are making a very smart financial decision. There truly is a TON of money to be made in the NBA if you know how to find it! I want to share with you some principles that you should follow if you are new to sports betting and new to betting on the NBA.
Alright, Lets Begin:
The NBA is a unique sport in that one individual player has a huge impact on the outcome of the game. With only 5 players on the court per team, their individual skills and abilities greatly impact the outcome. That is the main reason the NBA has a lottery system for determining who gets the 1st pick the following season. This is to ensure teams don’t purposefully ‘tank the season’ in order to get the first pick in the next draft. If you draft a Michael Jordan, you will have success… Period. This is critical information as you look to analyze, invest and ultimately profit on this league.
So, WHERE do I start?!?!?!?!
You start by understanding baselines and getting your mind right for investing. The first principle you need to understand is:
We use public bias for our benefit and look for Small Market teams playing Big Market Teams
Big market teams (Big Market = Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Dallas, etc) tend to get bet on heavily by their big national fan base. Their fans bet on them even if their team is not very good…. You can be certain that Lakers, Knicks, Celtics, Heat, Mavericks and Bulls will be over bet by their fan base whether their team is good or not. Teams like the Bucks, Hawks, Bobcats and Suns tend to be under bet by their fans.
When the Sportsbook open up lines for games and you see big market teams vs small market teams, understand that the line is weighted to incorporate this fan bias. Vegas knows this bias and has built a successful business by leveraging this knowledge. For example, if the Los Angeles Lakers were playing the Milwaukee Bucks in a game today and the true line should be Lakers -2 (meaning, the Lakers should win the game by 2 points), Sportsbooks will set the line a few points off. They might open the line at Lakers -4, knowing that the public will still bet heavy on the Lakers.
This is extremely profitable for the Sportsbooks because they are using emotional biases against the public bettors and know that Laker fans will take the worst of it (even if its unknowingly) with heavy dollars. Since the Milwaukee Bucks don’t command the same type of fan interest, the betting tickets will be LA heavy and that will push the line even further away from ‘TRUE’ (TRUE = the real difference between the two teams). This holds true to the Money Line as well.
Ok… That Makes Sense… Now What?
Now that we understand that, our next principle is:
We look for opportunities where the line available is off the ‘TRUE’ line enough to warrant a play on the underdog (the Bucks in the above example).
You can find very good opportunities to make money by paying attention to big market teams vs small market teams. If the rest of the world is overlooking and betting heavy against a small market team then there is a real opportunity to profit on that team.
If you are just getting started betting on sports, this an a prime way to make money betting on the NBA.
What Else Do I Need To Know?
The NBA is VERY home court friendly. What I mean is, the team playing at home has a huge advantage over the visiting team. For some reason (not going to get into it here, will discuss in a future blog post), NBA referees tend to officiate very home friendly. Meaning, referees tend to give the benefit of the doubt on most calls to the home team. The worst officiating league out of the big 4 Professional sports (NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB) is the NBA without question. The refs have the biggest impact on the outcome and it should not be overlooked. So our next beginner principle is:
Look for opportunities where a ‘Big Market’ team is playing on the road versus a ‘Small Market’ team and the line being offered by the books is inflated.
We are essentially betting against the public (always a good strategy) and getting a home team.
Why The Money Line Is Dangerous In The NBA
The NBA is a very star driven league. This means, the league is built to favor the star players (they bring in the most dollars for the league) and they tend to play for the big market teams (the players make more money on endorsements in bigger markets). The best players tend to win as well.
I know you are asking yourself this right now: Since the big market teams tend to win more, shouldn’t I bet on them instead??? No, complete opposite.
The Sportsbooks incorporate this into the Money Line (this the wager where you are just picking who will win the game, point differential doesn’t matter). The Sportsbooks will price the Money Line against you to where taking the favorite has a long-term negative EV (Expected Value) which means you will lose money over the long-run if you bet it.
Wait, you are confusing me now….
Even though I just said the big market teams with the best players tend to win more, we don’t want to bet on them. The Money Line is very dangerous in the NBA on both sides. We know the best teams win more…. duh But, we now know that the Sportsbook price the Money Lines to make taking them unprofitable.
So do I take the Money Line on the Underdog???
The answer is also a big NO. Since the best teams tend to win, taking the Money Line for the underdog (worse team) is also unprofitable. The books will price it so it entices you to take it offering you 3, 4, even 5 times your money if they win. Let me save you the heart ache, they won’t win. The best players and best teams usually win so it makes taking Underdog Money Lines very dangerous.
So what is the best course of action?
As a beginner, your best course of action is to
Bet on Small Market Teams with inflated ‘lines’ who are playing at home versus a big market team.
Always take the points (meaning you win if your team wins or loses by less than the number of points you took). We expect the big market team to win, we just don’t expect them to cover the spread.
An Important Asterisk To Our Rules
Young and bad teams will traditionally foul a lot at the end of the games when they are losing. Coaches of young teams want to use every play as an opportunity to ‘teach’ and give their team a game situation to practice. So, if you bet on a young team (Bobcats for example) and they are playing a very experienced team like the Spurs with a line of +6.5, we have to be very careful. Although the line seems large, if the Cats are down by 6 with 12 seconds left, they are more likely to foul the Spurs and put them on the line so they can run another play. This cannot only cause you ulcers but also could cost you money.
So how do I put all this together and get started?
To start trying this on your own I would suggest you abide by the following ‘Beginner Rules” as you are learning so you can start making money right away.
- Money Management is everything, so never invest more than 1.5% of your bankroll on a given game
- NEVER take the Money Line
- NEVER take a game where the spread is under 3. +/- 3 is ok but if the line is +/- 2.5 or lower, its not for you
- ALWAYS take home teams
- Take Small Market teams at home (plus the points) when they are playing Big Market teams
- Look for Home Teams who are getting double digit points (+10 or better)
- Don’t bet against HOT teams… If a team has won 3 or more straight, I would avoid betting against them until you are more comfortable betting the NBA
- Check Lineups…. If your team is missing a main starter, AVOID betting it at all costs!
Lets Wrap This UP
It’s very exciting you want to start betting on the NBA. It is a very lucrative league if you spend some time understanding the landscape. While the above criteria will limit the number of games that you can bet on, its a safe way to get started. Once you get comfortable and start making some money, you can divert from this playbook. This is simply a way for beginners to get started and make a bit of money! If you have any questions along the way, never hesitate to hit me by email firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comment section below.