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Advanced Basketball Betting Strategy

One of the most exciting things about betting on basketball is there are an endless number of ways you can build a profitable betting strategy. While in theory, a perfect system exists to identify value, pick winners, and make money, we highly doubt it’s been discovered yet.

This means that the road is open for you to use your expertise to try and find that optimal strategy to make some serious cash.

Because there are so many different ways to approach identifying value and picking winning bets, it can be challenging to offer strategy tips that work across the board. It’s very possible that some of these tips work extremely well with your systems or that they aren’t a good fit.

For that reason, we recommend using and interpreting these advanced tips in one of two ways. One, you can use these tips and strategies literally and plug them directly into your system to pick winners.

For a lot of these tips, they’re gold in that sense. They will directly help you to start making better picks and identifying bets that you have to take advantage of.

The second way to effectively use these tips is to use them to help shape your way of thinking. We’re not trying to sound like philosophical kooks or anything here, but this is seriously important.

A lot of bettors that are new to sports betting and basketball betting aren’t sure how their mind should be working. They need to see examples of how a seasoned sports bettor looks at games and tries to find value and make picks.

This is also beneficial for people that have been betting for a while. Sometimes you need a fresh way of looking at things or new ideas to spark new trains of thought.

Whether you choose option one, option two, or a mixture of both, these tips and strategies should help you to take your basketball betting to the next level. If you haven’t read our Basic Basketball Betting Guide first, we do recommend you take a few minutes to glance at that to make sure you have those fundamentals nailed down.

This guide does build off of the “Basic Basketball Betting Guide” and assumes a full understanding of everything listed there.

For the rest of you or those that just rejoined us after checking out that guide, let’s dive into some of the more advanced strategies and tips for basketball betting.

Always Look for Value First

Being a successful basketball bettor is NOT about mainly about picking winners. It’s a bit shocking how many seasoned bettors still do not understand this concept.

You can have a winning record of bets and still be losing money. The secret to success in betting basketball is finding value and maximizing your bets when the value is the highest.

As this may be a lot for you to unpack, we’re going to walk you through it step by step. The first thing you need to realize is that a person’s win/loss record with their betting picks does NOT tell you whether or not that person is making money betting on basketball. Let’s look at a simplified example to show you what we mean.

BasketballWinning Betting Records Mean Nothing

We have two basketball bettors that each placed five different bets for $100 each. To make things easier, let’s name our bettors Tom and Jerry. Here are their records on those five bets.

  • Tom – 3 wins and 2 losses
  • Jerry – 2 wins and 3 losses
Who is the profitable sports bettor?

If you answered Tom or Jerry, you are incorrect and are going to get a ton of value out of reading this section. The problem is that we need more information to know the answer to our question.

The part of the equation that you are missing is that the sportsbooks do not pay out the same amount on each bet. If the team or player that you bet on is an underdog, you are going to get paid out better than even money on your bet. If the team is a favorite, you are going to be paid out worse than even money on your bet.

You see, it’s fairly easy to pick winners in games that are lopsided and the sportsbook knows that.

If you don’t fully understand how this works, this moneyline bet guide is a MUST READ!


As an FYI:

We will be assuming that you understand everything in that guide including how these bets are paid out and the movement of lines/what causes them to move. We HIGHLY implore that you take a few minutes and at least scan it to make sure you understand this.

Let’s look at their records a bit closer with the odds they got on each bet.

Tom’s Bets

Chicago Bulls to win-160Win$62.50
Cleveland Cavaliers to win-250Win$40.00
Detroit Pistons to win-225Loss($100.00)
Indiana Pacers to win-110Loss($100.00)
Milwaukee Bucks to win-200Win$50.00
Total Profit = – $47.50

Jerry’s Bets

Dallas Mavericks to win+200Loss($100.00)
Houston Rockets to win+175Win$175.00
Memphis Grizzlies to win-110Loss($100.00)
New Orleans Pelicans to win+210Win$210.00
San Antonio Spurs to win+150Loss($100.00)
Total Profit = $85.00

  • Tom has a WINNING record but LOST $47.50.
  • Jerry has a LOSING record but WON $85.00.
Does this mean that you should only bet underdogs?
Of course, it doesn’t.

What we’re trying to get you to start understanding is that it’s about much more than just picking the winner of the game or bet you are making.

Don’t get us wrong, picking the correct winner is much better than picking the loser, but you need to be looking for what we’re going to talk about next – value.

BasketballWhy Value is So Important

The sportsbook is going to aim to offer the exact amount they think that a bet is “worth” minus the small percentage for their juice or house rake.

As we all know though from reading the moneyline guide referenced above, the lines move based on how the betting public bets or can sometimes be released as lines that we feel are different than what is actually going to happen.

When we find a bet that is paying out MORE than we think it should, this is what we call value. For example, let’s say the Dallas Mavericks are a +200 underdog in a game meaning they are expected to lose 2 out of every 3 times they play this game. This is an implied probability of 33.33%. This just means that they should win this game about 33.33% of the time.

Let’s say we think that is wrong though. Let’s say we think that they stand about a 40% chance of winning this game. Converting that implied probability to betting odds we see that we think we should be only getting paid at +150 for this bet.

This means that if we bet $100, we think it is “fair” that the sportsbook pays us $150 on a correct bet.

BUT!!! The sportsbook is actually willing to pay us $200 on this bet if we are correct. That’s $50 in free money. This is called value.

BasketballThe Importance of Thinking Long Term

Now, you may notice that we still think the Mavericks are going to lose the game. We still think there is a 60% chance that they are going to lose the game. So you may be asking yourself why on Earth you would ever want to bet on them?

The reason is that if you make a bet that you win 40% of the time but are paid at a higher rate than you deserve for that bet, you will make money in the long run. You see sports betting and basketball betting are not about making one or two bets a year and calling it a day. They are about a long term strategy that produces a consistent profit.

Let’s say we make ten $100 bets that the sportsbook thinks we will win 33.33% of the time (paid at +200), but we think we will win at 40%. Let’s also assume that the sportsbook was wrong and we were correct, so we win 4 out of the 10.

Game 1Lose+200($100)
Game 2Lose+200($100)
Game 3Lose+200($100)
Game 4Lose+200($100)
Game 5Lose+200($100)
Game 6Lose+200($100)
Game 7Win+200$200
Game 8Win+200$200
Game 9Win+200$200
Game 10Win+200$200
Total Profit = $200

We bet on 10 games that we expected to lose and still came out a profitable winner! Why? Because we found value and placed the correct bets.

BasketballA Few Important Caveats

Now, there are a few additions to this that you need to be aware of so you don’t take this too far or make some unnecessary mistakes.

  • Obviously, you aren’t able to bet on the same game 10 times in a row like in our oversimplified example. This is just to represent you finding value in multiple different games over and over again. As long as you continually find value in games and bet them, this same outcome will happen over the long run.
  • Remember that this is a long run strategy. Even in our oversimplified example, we lost six games in a row. If you are consistently betting underdogs, you WILL lose more games than you win, but you should come out a profitable winner.
  • You can find value in favorites as well. If the sportsbook thinks or the odds depict that the team is less of a favorite than you think they are, then there is value there as well. If a team is -200 and you think they should be -200, there is literally no value in you making that bet. You should effectively break even and make $0 except with some added risk.
  • However, let’s say that the sportsbook has a team listed as a -200 favorite (66.67% favorite), but you think they are much closer to a 75% favorite (which should pay out at -300). If you make a $100 bet, you think that it’s fair that you get paid out $33.33 in profit. The sportsbook, though, is paying out this bet at a profit of $50. That difference there is the value you are looking for.
  • Make sure the risk is worth the reward. Let’s say the Mavericks are playing against a high school basketball team and are -2500 favorites. This means that a $100 bet will get you $4 in profit. Let’s say that you know that the high school team’s star player is hurt and that the Mavericks should be more like a -3000 favorite which should pay out $3.33 in profit.
Have you found value here?

Should you bet this? It’s up to you. Some sports bettors will hammer any and all edges they find. Personally, we wouldn’t touch this bet. The likelihood of the high school team winning is so incredibly low, and the value is only around $0.67. In our book, congrats on finding the value but this bet just isn’t worth the risk.

Remember, the same goes for underdogs too. Don’t get caught up in the idea that if you bet $100 on a team that’s +3000, you’ll make $3,000. This can blind people easily especially when looking for value and building a profitable strategy.

Understand and Look for Line Movement

This tip goes directly hand in hand with our above strategy of looking for value. Frankly, all tips should go hand in hand with picking value, or they really aren’t worth their weight.

When you are looking for value, you should be looking to figure out
what you think the correct odds should be on any given bet.

For example, let’s say the Mavericks are playing against the Rockets and through your system, you figure that the Mavericks are underdogs and should be paying out at around +200. You look at the sportsbook (and several sportsbooks because you’re line shopping like a smart bettor) and the best line you see is +200, exactly what you think it should be at.

Being the smart bettor that you are, you don’t place this bet as there is no value. But, over the course of the days leading up to the game, the news and Sportscenter begin talking about how amazing the Rockets are and how they are going to crush the Mavericks. As the betting public always does, they react to these analysts and start putting down a lot of bets on the Rockets.

This causes the sportsbooks to adjust their lines accordingly, and now the Mavericks are listed at +220. Now, you take this bet. The point here is that lines are always moving and a lot of times not for the right reasons. You need to know at what point you are happy to bet with the value you are receiving.

Remember, lines can move further in one direction or can even move back in the other direction. Figuring out when to place your bet is a bit of an art form that you will have to figure out based on where you are betting.

Using our above example, let’s say you decide that you don’t want to take the bet until it gets to +220. You think there is value as soon as it his +201 but you don’t think it’s enough value until it hits +220. A few things can happen…

  • The odds may never move that far, and you then won’t get a bet in. This is completely fine as you should stick to your plans.
  • The odds may start moving there, but other bettors may jump on it sooner at say +210 which will stop it from going to +220 and shift it back in the other direction.
  • The odds may hit +220 and then continue moving further in your favor, but you would be locked into your bet at +220.

As you can see, knowing when to pounce on a line is an art form and is going to take some practice. You may end up missing out on some good value bets, but that’s ok. There is no need to place a bad bet because you lose zero dollars when you don’t make a bet.

For the last scenario, you can always place a second bet if the line continues to move in your favor. You could place a bet at +220, and then if it moves significantly further, you could place another bet at like +240 or something like that.

You would then have two bets, one at +220 and one at +240. This protects you in case the line hits +220 and then jumps back in the other direction.

The takeaway here is that just because a bet doesn’t look good when you first check does not mean that you should not keep an eye on the lines. It’s very common for lines to move quite a bit and bets that have no value turn into value bets.

Remember, though, if a line starts tumbling one direction or the other, you need to make sure it is not because of a piece of information you don’t have.

For example:

If a team’s star player gets hurt, the line is going to change drastically, and if you are unaware of that, you could make a very dumb bet.

Be Aware of the Lineups

While this is a simple tip, it’s one that is messed up frequently especially by seasoned bettors who might be betting a lot of games.

You need to take a minute and check the lineups for the teams involved before you place your bet. If you go to bet on the Warriors because they’re strangely huge underdogs in a game, it might be because Steph Curry is injured or sitting the game out.

Players get hurt or miss games all the time especially during the regular season. You need to take a few seconds and just double check that no one important is out of the lineup before you place your bet. Failure to do this is nothing but laziness and can and will cost you a lot of money off your bottom line.

Harness the Power of the Team Egos

Basketball players are human believe it or not. And just like us regular humans, they hate to lose and be embarrassed. Frankly, they might hate it more than us “regular” people do since it’s usually happening to them on such a big stage.

For that reason, there are a few things that you should take into account when determining the likelihood of teams to win a game.

BasketballThe Power of Big Home Underdogs

The only thing a team despises more than losing is losing at home in front of all their fans, friends, and families. Because of this, teams tend to do better at home when they are big home underdogs (10 or more points). Will they win? Usually not that often, but they are more likely to cover the spread.

This happens for a few reasons. One, the team does not want to get blown out and embarrassed at home. Their egos will push them to continue trying to make the game close even when they are fairly sure they are going to lose.

Also, the road team blowing them out is more likely to sit and rest stars and put in second stringers as they couldn’t care less about covering the spread. All they care is that they lock up the win and get as much experience and playing time in for their younger players as well if possible.

BasketballRoad Favorites After a Big Blowout

Another popular tip amongst seasoned basketball bettors is to bet road favorites that were blown out in their last game (15 or more points). Statistical studies have shown that over the past 10 years these teams covered the spread 60%+ of the time.

What’s the thought process here?

Well, if the stats aren’t enough to show you the merit of taking a look at this, you can look at the mentality of the team. They’re coming off of an embarrassing loss and will be looking for redemption.

The fact they are listed as a road favorite means that the oddsmakers are confident the team has the skills and ability to get the job done despite what happened in their last game.

Putting It All Together

Basketball betting comes down one simple formula. You need to assess what you think the likelihood of a team to win a bet is and then convert that implied probability into betting odds. Compare those betting odds to those offered by the sportsbook and look for value.

When you see value, you bet it.

The real challenge will come in figuring what you think the likelihood a team will win a game or a particular bet. This is where you will dive into your stats and come up with your system for determining this prediction.

Remember, anyone can pick a game winner a large chunk of the time, but this does not mean you will be profitable.

It all comes down to being able to find value and capitalize on it.
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