Best NBA Odds in 2020

If you’re new to betting on the NBA, some of your first questions might be, what are NBA odds, and what do they mean for me? This is not surprising. Basketball odds can be mystifying for those who aren’t familiar with NBA betting or odds.

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In this guide, we will go through what NBA odds are, some popular basketball odds formats, how to understand NBA odds, the probability of match odds, and how to calculate your NBA odds payout and profit according to your sportsbooks odds.

With a little bit of research, it’s not hard to understand how NBA odds work. After reading our guide, NBA odds will make a lot more sense to you, and betting on NBA matches will be a breeze.

What are NBA Odds?

NBA odds are a numerical value that is assigned to each outcome/team in a bet. They can be used to calculate the profit and payout, and understand what outcome the bookmaker thinks is most probable. Each bookmaker will offer their own NBA odds based on their own calculations.

Odds Formats

There are a few different NBA odds formats. The format a bookmaker or bettor uses depends on the country or region they are located in. Most bookmakers will offer an option to convert NBA odds to different formats to suit their foreign clientele.

Here we will discuss three popular sports odds formats, other names they go by, and the regions/countries in which they are most popular.

Expert Tip

You can usually find the option to change the basketball odds format on a website somewhere near the change language menu.

Decimal Odds

Decimal odds are often called European odds. They are most popular in Europe, Canada, and Australia. Decimal odds are represented as a numerical value with a point (.) and a decimal value.

For Example:

Lakers vs. Knicks

Lakers odds are 1.67

Knicks odds are 2.50

X - 1.63

Fractional Odds

Fractional odds are also known as UK odds. They are most commonly used in the UK and Ireland. Fractional odds are represented as a fraction.

Like So:

Lakers vs. Knicks

Lakers odds are 4/6

Knicks odds are 3/1

X 8/13

American Odds

American odds are also called moneyline odds. They are the most popular in America. American NBA odds use a (-) for favorites and a (+) for underdogs. The numeric value is usually any three-digit number from 100 up until 1000 or more or -100 down -1000 or more.

These Are American /Moneyline Odds:

Lakers vs. Knicks

Lakers odds are -150

Knicks odds are +300

X - 160

Expert Tip

The X in the above examples stands for a draw or tie outcome. Some bets will have this option.

Understanding Odds, Lines and Payouts

We will discuss point spread NBA odds, how to spot point spread odds for basketball and NBA, point spread odds hooks, how to understand point spread odds, and what happens in the event of a tie / draw outcome with point spread odds bets.

Point Spread Odds

When looking at a point spread value, you may get confused and think it’s a decimal odds format. Decimal odds never come with a plus (+) or minus sign (-) next to them. If you see a decimal value with a (-) or a (+) next to it, then you know it is actually a point spread odds value.

Here’s an example of what point spread odds might look like:

Lakers vs. Knicks

Lakers odds are -4.5 (-110)

Knicks odds are +4.5 (-110)

Here the plus (+) sign before the point spread represents the underdogs, and the minus (-) sign represents the favorites. Now that that’s clear, what is the purpose of point spread odds? 

Well, in most matchups, the teams won’t be equally skilled. This means the bookie will attract a lot of bets in favor of the favorites or most skilled team. To attract bets on both teams, point spread odds were created. Bettors can bet on both sides but bet on the number of points each team will win or lose by instead of betting on only who the winners will be.

Points spread odds apply a certain amount of points that each team must win or lose by for the bettor to win the bet. So the Lakers will need to win and score 4.5 (actually 5) or more points than the Knicks for the bettor to win. If they don’t win by 5 points or more, then the bettor loses the bet.

Expert Tip

If point spread odds feature a point with a value less than one (0.5 - called a “hook”), then the bet can never be a push or tie because no team can score half a point. A bet can only be a draw/tie if the disparity between the final points exactly matches the point spread odds.

If a bet is a tie, the bookie will refund the bet. To avoid this, the “hook” was created.

Odds in Point Totals

The number you see in the example above next to the point spread odds (-110) represents the amount (- $110), a bettor must stake to win $100. The lower this amount, the better, though it will usually be above -110. A value of -109 or more offers a much better value bet.

These values will usually be the same for both sides, as the bookmakers want to make a profit (around $10 or more per $100 or more stake) off each bet, no matter which side wins or loses, or how many people have bet on it.

Odds in a Moneyline Bets

Moneyline bets are numerical values that show the payout of a match. Higher NBA odds represent a higher payout with a lower stake. Lower NBA odds represent a lower payout with a higher stake.

Regular moneyline NBA bets are simple. Bettors can select an outcome for the basketball match - team one wins or team two wins. If there is also an option to bet on a tie or draw outcome between the NBA teams, then this type of bet is called a three-way moneyline bet.

How different sportsbooks calculate their match odds is unique to each of them. That’s why it’s easy to find sportsbooks offering different NBA odds. moneyline odds look like this:

Sportsbook B

Lakers vs. Knicks

Lakers odds are -170

Knicks odds are +250

X -150

NBA American odds also reveal the outcome that the bookmaker believes is most or least likely to happen. Higher match odds show a bookmaker thinks an outcome is less likely, while lower match odds show a bookmaker thinks an outcome is more likely.

There are other types of betting markets as well. With moneyline bets, there are no points spreads or handicaps, just a clean, simple bet. With a moneyline bet, the odds represent the amount of money one needs to wager to win $100. We will discuss how to calculate this below.

Risky vs. Safe Bets

If we consider these two factors, we can see that bets with higher NBA American odds are risky bets and have a lower stake, a lower probability, and a higher payout. Whereas, bets with lower NBA odds are safe bets and have a higher stake, a higher probability, and a lower payout.

Setting match odds up this way keeps the NBA sportsbooks from going bankrupt by offering larger payouts for risky bets and smaller payouts for safe bets. Sportsbooks will also have a margin. This allows them to continue to make money regardless of the bets that customers win.

Expert Tip

When making a bet is to find the sportsbook offering the best NBA odds for your bet.

Understanding Probability in Odds

You can find plenty of probability calculators online. Probability is implied in the odds value, as such, there are also odds converters that will convert odds from fractional, to American, to decimal, to other odds formats, and into their implied probability percentage/value from 0.1%-100%.

Implied probability is represented as a percentage. As we mentioned before, with American odds, the plus (+) odds are for underdogs, and the minus (-) odds are for favorites. Therefore, favorites always have a higher probability percentage than underdogs. 

A value of 50% implied probability is equal to +100 or -100 odds, 1/1 fractional odds, and 2.00 decimal odds. These odds are called even because this is where the two outcomes meet.

Odds Probability Calculator

Calculating NBA odds can require a few mathematical skills. With these simple formulas and a calculator, it’s not difficult at all. If you’re a newbie, you can use the formulas until you know them off by heart.

Each of the NBA odds formats has its own formula, which cannot be used to calculate another odds format. Here we have all the formulas handy for you to familiarize yourself with along with some examples to help you understand.

Please note, when calculating probability, there will likely be more the two decimal values. For example, 44.44444444. In this instance, rounding up or down to the nearest point will give the most accurate legible figure.

Example Odds Table

Team Moneyline / American Fractional Decimal Probability
Knicks +125 5/4 2.25 44.44%
Lakers -300 1/3 1.33 75.18%

Decimal Odds

(1/ decimal NBA odds) x 100 = probability

For example:

2.25 Knicks - (1/2.25)x100 = 44.44…%

1.33 Lakers - (1/1.33)x100 = 75.18…%

Fractional Odds

NBA odds denominator / (denominator + numerator) x 100 = probability

For example:

5/4 Knicks - 4/(4+5)x100 = 44.44…%

1/3 Lakers - 3/(3+1)x100 = 75%

American/Moneyline Odds

Negative moneyline/American NBA odds / (negative moneyline/american NBA odds + 100) x 100 = probability

For example:

-300 Lakers - 300/(300+100)x100 = 75%

 

100 / (positive moneyline/american NBA odds + 100) x 100 = probability

For example:

+125 Knicks - 100/(125+100) = 44.44…%

 

So, now you know the formulas, you can easily figure out the probability of each type of odds format.

Expert Tip

Use an online calculator or converter to save you time. And remember, the probability is not the real probability of an outcome; it is the estimated/implied probability that the NBA bookie has placed on the match based on their own data and experience.

Bonus: Formulas to Calculate your Payout and Profit

Now that your calculator is out, and you’ve been practicing your math, why don’t you try out some of these formulas to figure out what your payout would be for different NBA matches?

Fractional Odds

stake x (numerator/denominator) = profit

profit + stake = payout

Decimal Odds

stake x (odds - 1) = profit

stake x odds = payout

American/Moneyline Odds

For positive (+) NBA odds:

profit = stake x (odds/100)

payout = profit + stake

 

For negative (-) NBA odds:

profit = stake / (odds/100)

payout = profit + stake

Expert Tip

Most sites and sportsbooks that you wager with will calculate your payout for you before you make a wager. These calculations simply project what you will win if you win. No bet is guaranteed, only lady luck can help you on that front.

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Sacha Kinser [email protected] SEO Content Manager US, UK, Canada, New Zealand

Sacha Kinser is the SEO Content Manager for the US, UK, Canadian, and New Zealand markets. Her skills have developed from years of experience in curating content strategies and building brand identity through multimedia content online. 


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