NBA Betting Expert

What Is Handicap Betting in The NBA? Real Examples

If you’re delving into NBA betting, understanding the various ways to bet on the NBA, including handicap betting, is crucial. In this guide, we will unravel the concept of handicap betting in the NBA, answering the question, “What is handicap betting in NBA?”.

Our aim is to shed light on the mechanics of handicap betting and present alternative approaches, empowering you with the knowledge to make informed and successful NBA wagers. By the end of this journey, you will confidently be able to define handicap betting, discuss its application in the NBA, and discover effective strategies to enhance your NBA betting experience.

πŸ€ What Is Handicap Betting for the NBA?

The more information a bettor has on a particular sport or event, the better their decisions will be. So, while it is important to know the basics of basketball, like a player’s points per game (PPG) or rebounds per game (RPG), knowing each of the key terms and handicap betting, in general, are both critical.

In short, handicap betting will see the underdog – often viewed as the weaker team – in a given game given a certain advantage before the game in order to level the odds. This is known as the point spread and is one of the most popular betting types there is.

According to the sportsbook, the favourite will then be put at a particular disadvantage from a betting perspective. Handicap betting is the way that favourites and underdogs are put on a more even playing field.

Betting on the money line – that is, who will win the game – can seem straightforward, but the odds make a bet less certain. A heavy favourite, something in the -350 range, would mean getting a substantially smaller payout while putting much more at risk.

The more even the playing field, the more even the odds are. The better the odds, the better the value the bettor is provided. Handicap betting isn’t just for basketball, either. But for this purpose, let’s take a closer look at how it applies to basketball and your betting perspective.

πŸ’‘ How Does Handicap Betting Work in the NBA?

The most common way handicap betting works in basketball is through the point spread. Remember, the money line is predicting who will win the game outright. The favourite is denoted using a minus symbol, while the underdog is shown with a plus symbol.

Let’s look at a specific example; in the matchup featuring the Memphis Grizzlies and Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers are the favourite to win outright.

Their odds are -175, meaning a bettor would win $57.14 for every $100 wagered. The Grizzlies, on the other hand, are listed at +150. That same $100 bet would net $150 in winnings in the event of a Grizzlies victory. Where handicapping comes into play is in the spread. The spread is the addition of points in order to make the odds even.

In that same matchup between the Grizzlies and 76ers, the latter would be four-point favourites (or -4). That means they must win by four points or more in order to win the bet. On the flip side of that matchup is the Grizzlies at +4. As the underdog, winning is not part of the requirement for a bet on them to win.

Placing a wager on the Grizzlies at +4 means they must lose by less than four points or win outright. Should they lose by exactly four points, the bet would be a push, which for all intents and purposes, is a tie.

Handicap betting is meant to even things up in a matchup where there is a heavy favourite. The sportsbook attempts to make the odds as even as possible and draw the action away from wagers on the clear favourites.

🎟️ Are There Any Alternatives to Handicap Betting in the NBA?

On any given night, there may or may not be a matchup that is worth your time. Even handicapping the game, things don’t look quite enticing enough for you to place a wager on. What is the alternative? The good news is that there are plenty of options to wager on in any given game.

Betting on the point totals is a fun way to wager. In this kind of bet, you take a look at the over/under set by the sportsbook – 229.5 in the case of the Grizzlies/76ers matchup from earlier – and decide whether the total number of points scored will be over or under the listed total. There is nothing quite like betting the over and rooting for a flurry of points along the way.

Player props are another great alternative to traditional handicap betting. Perhaps you don’t quite feel confident about the game itself, but there are a few different players that you think will have a good night. The player prop involves that player hitting a designated total for the game.

In the Grizzlies/76ers game, you could go with any number of player props. Things like player points, rebounds, assists, and combos (points + rebounds, points + assists, points + assists + rebounds, etc.) make the action worth wagering on. And just like the over/under, you bet on whether the player in question will hit their total.

You might not be confident in the 76ers to win the game by more than four points, but you can feel good about 76ers center Joel Embiid topping the 32.5 points set by the sportsbook. Player props are gaining popularity because they offer an alternative to traditional handicapping.

🎯 What Situations Are Best For Handicapping in Basketball?

Like any other betting situation, the key is knowing when it is the most viable option. Part of the battle is not simply choosing the right team but selecting the right kind of wager for the basketball game in question.

A handicap bet is best applicable for two situations: to garner better odds or to capitalize on a potential upset situation. For instance, if you think a particular favourite is the right option but don’t care for the odds, handicapping that wager could give you better value. Better value makes your bet more worthwhile with a better potential payout.

You could also handicap in the event that you foresee an underdog surprising their opponent on that night. Whether you believe it will be a close game or they will win outright, placing a handicap bet could be the best way to take advantage of the situation. For example, instead of choosing the Grizzlies to win outright, taking them +4 is the best way to capitalize on your gut feeling.

πŸ“‹ Different Ways to Handicap in The NBA

Now that we know more about handicap betting in basketball and the alternatives to handicap betting, it is time to get more in-depth.

Straight handicap betting – point spreads – is not the only way to handicap a basketball bet. There are two different forms of basketball handicap betting: alternative handicap lines and in-play handicap lines.

Let’s take a closer look at each of them, how they work, and what they can offer.

Alternative Handicap Lines

For the more experienced bettors out there, a great way to take advantage of your knowledge is through alternative lines. Don’t like the 76ers -4 as listed above?

Most bookmakers, though not all of them, will offer alternative lines to make the NBA betting markets more enticing to bettors. Just as it sounds, the alternative handicap lines present different lines, often with bigger odds available.

For basketball, the standard line is somewhere around -7.5. However, if a team can and will win by more, somewhere around -10.5, you can take advantage of your hunch to the tune of bigger odds.

Alternative lines can go the other way as well. In the event of a heavy favourite, maybe you are confident in a victory but not at the line listed. You can then use the alternative line for a lower point spread, but the trade-off is that the odds will be lower, resulting in fewer winnings.

Utilizing alternative lines is not something to be done on a whim. It takes experience and knowledge to take advantage of this betting line. It is a great opportunity to create more value while taking advantage of a mismatch in the schedule.

In-Play Handicap Betting

Live or in-game betting has risen to prominence in recent years. The basic idea behind it is that instead of having to place your bets before the game, you can see how the action unfolds and make your wagers in the middle of the event.

In addition, odds change throughout the course of the game, making for potentially enticing moments to slap down a wager. Just like the forms mentioned earlier of handicap betting, you can take advantage of in-play lines as well.

Let’s say you feel good about a favourite before the game but not enough to place a wager. If they start slow to begin the game, the odds can become more favourable and give you the opportunity you have been looking for.

In-game betting is about placing your wager at the right time and putting yourself in the best position to win. Handicap bets can frequently change throughout the game, presenting you with the line that makes your bet make the most sense.

πŸš€ Tips For Handicap Betting in NBA Games

Any quality sports bettor will know how to handicap a line. It simply adds another element to your repertoire and makes you more versatile as a bettor.

That said, it helps to have a strong knowledge of basketball and the NBA, in particular. Using these tools correctly will help you not only identify value but also take advantage of the lines.

For beginners, the best place to start is with the favourites you think will win easily. Find some of the heavy favourites that you believe in and place your bets there first. It will at least get you acclimated with handicap betting and allow you to gain a bit more experience before you start picking underdogs and their corresponding lines.

Improved Odds

Handicap betting is also a great way to improve the odds offered versus simply betting on favourites through the money line. Instead of getting -175 odds for a 76ers win, you can get -110 if you feel strongly about them garnering a win of five points or more. It is important to note that losses will come as frequently as wins.

This is offset by having the proper betting strategy. In this instance, the strategy is to maximize the times you win by garnering better odds. You could make a bet similar to the 76ers -4 that is a loser. The caveat is that having a win will counteract the loss because your winnings will be greater.

Beware of Big Lines

The average line for an NBA game is somewhere in the -7.5 range. The risk associated with each wager is important to remember, no matter the bet. Bigger lines might indicate a clear victory but should be avoided if you are looking to handicap the matchup.

Never forget that teams do not care about point spreads. For the 76ers, a win is a win, whether it be by one or one hundred. By taking a bigger line, just know that the favourite will not push to cover when the game gets late in action. Larger lines, north of 10 points, are not all that common. Sure, blowouts happen, but they are unlikely to happen.

So unless it makes absolute sense, stay away from the bigger lines or take the underdogs to give yourself a bit more room. As always, do your homework, look for trends, and make the most educated bet possible.

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Expert's Conclusion: What Is Handicap Betting in The NBA?

NBA Betting Expert

Rowan Fisher-Shotton Sports Betting Journalist at GambleOntario

Rowan Fisher-Shotton

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Understanding what is handicap betting in NBA is absolutely essential for NBA wagering. Handicap betting, also known as point spread betting, is a key concept in the NBA betting landscape as it basically levels the playing field by giving underdogs a certain advantage and favourites a disadvantage, resulting in more balanced odds. Aside from our handpicked handicap betting tips and exploring alternative options, such as point totals and player props, the best way to make winning NBA wagers is to play the field, learn from your mistakes, and set aside a budget for how much you can afford to lose.

But with a strong understanding of what is handicap betting in NBA, you can implement your own winning strategies to maximize your chances of long-term sustained success.

❓ FAQs About Handicap Betting NBA

A handicap bet in basketball is a type of sports bet where a handicap or point spread is applied to one team to level the playing field, making the betting more competitive. A handicap is a number of points added or subtracted to the final score of the game, which determines the outcome of the bet. Our carefully curated guide above has all the answers to questions related to handicap betting.

A +1.5 handicap means the team is given a 1.5 point head start or advantage, which is added to their final score. If you bet on this team to win or cover the spread, they would need to win the game outright or lose by less than 1.5 points to have a winning bet.

A +1 handicap is good if you bet on the underdog, as it means that the team is given a 1 point head start or advantage, which is added to their final score. If the underdog team wins the game outright or loses by less than 1 point, your bet would be a winner. As always, doing some research before the game is the best way to determine whether a handicap bet is good or not for the occasion.

Handicap odds in betting refer to the odds that are offered for a particular handicap or point spread. These odds reflect the likelihood of a team winning by a certain number of points. The odds can vary depending on the teams playing and the specific handicap on offer.

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Sports Betting Journalist

Rowan Fisher-Shotton


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Rowan is a sports betting journalist with an established presence in the sports media industry through his thought-invoking coverage and commentary surrounding major leagues like the NBA, NFL, and NCAA. While Rowan specializes in NBA, NFL, and NCAA college sports coverage, he consistently follows and reports on every major sport in North America.

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