I used to bet on the point spread when I bet on NBA games, but now most of the NBA wagers I make are moneyline bets.
If you want to make money betting on the NBA, you have to look for value wherever you can find it, so you have to look at every available line. I usually bet on the moneyline because it’s a little easier to find value on the moneyline than on the point spread.
Here are six insider secrets that will help you find value on NBA moneylines.
1. Bet Late or Don’t Bet at All
The most important thing I’ve learned over the years about betting on NBA moneylines is never to make a wager until a few minutes before tipoff. In fact, now I don’t make a bet until after tipoff, using one of the sportsbooks that offer in-game betting.
I don’t think that I can stress this detail enough. You’re better off not betting on an NBA game if you have to bet it too soon. Every single bet you make is important.
If you lose $100 on a moneyline bet and average a 2% profit margin on your bets, you’re going to have to win bets on $5,000 worth of wagers to make up the loss. And any sports gambler who can average a 2% return is doing exceptionally well.
If you ignore the advice in this section, you might as well skip the rest of the advice in this post because it’s not going to help you enough to overcome this mistake.
2. Know Every Stopper in the League
Defense isn’t what most NBA fans are interested in, but you have to become a defensive expert if you want to make profitable moneyline wagers.
And you have to take a close look at every player on the list to see how well they can shut down an offensive player.
Even the best defensive player has a hard time completely shutting down the best offensive player in the NBA, but a top defender can shut down a secondary scorer. And a top defender can control a top offensive player well enough to win a game.
You also need to keep track of the overall defensive ability of each team in the NBA. Some teams control opposing offenses better than others, and some teams simply don’t play much defense. The only way to make profitable moneyline wagers is to know as much as you can about team defense.
3. The Price Is All That Matters
When you make a moneyline wager, it’s not good enough to make a good guess about which team is probably going to win. You have to closely examine the price you have to pay or the price you’re getting in comparison to your evaluations. Here are two moneylines for recent NBA games:
If you didn’t have the correct information, anytime you can get the Lakers at home and get + 250; it looks like a good bet. But the Lakers have a lot of injuries, and Phoenix is on fire, so there’s no value at all on the Lakers at + 250.
After shopping the line, I was able to place a bet on Phoenix at – 275. My evaluation shows that Phoenix wins this game at least three out of every four times.
On the other game, you can see that the game is basically a tossup according to the line. My evaluation shows that Dallas should win the game roughly 60% of the time, so Dallas at – 115 offers a small value. You need to learn how to determine the value based on your evaluations.
- If I bet $275 on Phoenix four times, I bet a total of $1,100. If they win three times, my return is $1,125, which means as long as Phoenix wins at least 75% of the time, I’m making a profit.
- On the Dallas game, if I bet on Dallas 10 times, I risk $1150. However, if they win six times or 60%, I get back $1,290, so I make a profit as long as Dallas wins 60% or more of the time.
I mentioned earlier that most NBA fans didn’t track defense, and rebounds are considered important by even fewer fans.
While total rebounding is important, offensive rebounding is more important than defensive rebounding. This is because a team that secures a high percentage of offensive rebounds doesn’t have to shoot as well as their opponent to score as many points.
You have to track rebounding, but you also have to use what you know about rebounding to make adjustments when you evaluate each specific game.
5. The Danger in Making Safe Bets
It might sound funny; most NBA bettors who lose money on moneyline wagers lose money making what they think are safe bets.
A strategy like this works fine for small profits until you lose on an upset. Then, by risking almost five to one, you have to be right almost every time you make a bet.
And if you’re not betting on value, you’re not going to make a profit over time. So instead of looking for safe bets, focus on making bets with value.
6. Profiting While Rarely Winning
Value can be found on either side of an NBA moneyline. But some gamblers focus on finding value on the plus side of moneylines, and these bettors don’t have to win half of the time or more to make a profit.
It depends on how big the price you get, but many NBA bettors who focus on the plus side of the moneyline can profit by winning 40% of their wagers.
I have to warn you that it’s easy to fall for the plus trap. You have to evaluate games and identify value based on facts.
Just because a team is getting + 250 doesn’t mean that there’s value. But if the team can win the game 33% of the time, the line does offer value. The key is evaluating the games correctly.
But the online sportsbooks are smart, and most of the time, if a team is getting + 250, it means the team isn’t going to win three out of 10 times. So your job is to figure out when a team can win enough and when a team can’t win enough times to make a bet profitable.
When you’re betting on NBA moneylines, you have to place your wagers as late as possible. You can’t afford to miss a key injury or lineup change, even if it happens at the last minute.
You also have to know who the best defensive players are in the league and how good each of them are at stopping the key player on the opposing team. While the top stars rarely get completely shut down, a true stopper can change the course of any game.
NBA handicappers often ignore rebounding, but it’s one of the best ways to find value on the moneyline. Focus on winning more than you lose over time while ignoring nothing that might help you find the best value.