Basketball Betting Rules

college basketball betting

You might be asking yourself, “Basketball betting rules, what are you talking about?” I know it sounds like a strange topic in our NBA betting guide, and it probably is for some, but I get asked this question quite a bit and see it posted a lot in the sports betting forums.

To be honest though, there’s really no one way to explain basketball betting rules because they can differ depending on what sportsbook your at. Your online sportsbook may have a different set of rules than your brick and mortar sportsbook in Las Vegas.

What’s most important though, is that you know what they are before actually placing a bet because, trust me, you don’t want to learn the hard way. In general though, the basketball betting rules on straight wagers should be the same at any sportsbook. You can win, lose, or push depending on the final score and what team you bet…simple enough.

Straight Wagers

The rules of straight wagers are pretty easy to understand so I won’t go to far into them. The results of betting on the side or total is that you’ll win, lose or push (as I just said).

There are rare occurrences when a bet gets canceled, so I’ll list some general rules of what happens in this circumstance. Typically if the bet is canceled, your wager amount will be returned to you. Again, each sportsbook can have it’s own general basketball betting rules but they’re very similar across the board

Exotic Wagers (not including props)

Where it can be confusing is when you get into exotic bets like props, teasers, parlays, reverse parlays…etc (for props, see next section). Each sportsbook may have different payouts for teasers and parlays…again, that’s why it’s very important to know the rules before ever placing a bet.

If you know me by now, for the most part I stay away from parlays and teasers unless the sportsbook is offering better than normal odds or I can find bets that have some sort of correlation…meaning if one bet wins, there’s a good chance the other one will as well.

The most important things to know when placing a teaser or parlay is knowing how the sportsbook will payout if a game pushes or if a game gets canceled. Each book can handle it differently so it’s important to know how they handle these situations.

Prop Bets

When it comes to props though, things can be tricky too. You absolutely must read and understand the prop wager you’re placing because how the question is worded can totally change the bet.

We’ve all made the mistake before (at least I have) in thinking the prop bet says one thing but in reality it’s asking another. The wording on prop bets can be a little tricky at times so it’s very important to ask if you’re not sure.

Great value and +EV can be found in basketball props if you put in the time to research. This is exactly why you’ll notice that prop bets will have reduced limits. Again, it all comes down to understanding the basketball betting rules of the sportsbook.

General Basketball Betting Rules (always check each sportsbook because rules can differ)

Here is a list of basketball betting rules taken directly from one of our recommended sportsbooks, BookMaker. As I said though, they can vary from book to book but this will at least give you some general reference.

Official Game Times

Bets are considered official after 43 minutes of play (NBA) or 35 minutes of play (NCAA). If the official time of play is not conducted, a bet on the team is treated as no action, and a parlay bet will be reduced accordingly. Game must be played on scheduled date and site.

Team Totals and Special Spreads

The game must be completed up to 5 minutes of normal duration.

Player Props

All players must take the court and play for action. Results are based on the official stats from the game.

Basketball Betting – Straight Bet

This wager is made when you choose a team and the point spread. The cost of the wager is 10/11 or $110 to win $100.

Toronto Raptors +6
Chicago Bulls -6

If the straight bet is on the Bulls -6 then the Bulls must win by more than 6 points to win the game.
If the game lands on 6 pts. then the game is a “push” and will result in “no action”.
If the straight bet is on the Raptors +6 then the Raptors cannot lose by more than 6 points for the wager to win.

Basketball Betting – Totals (Over/Under)

This is a wager on the combined scores (total) of a game. That being over or under the posted line. The cost of the wager is 10/11.

Dallas Mavericks
Indiana Pacers

If you place a wager for UNDER 178, the combined total score of both teams must fall UNDER 178 pts.
If you place a wager for OVER 178, the combined total score of both teams must go OVER 178 pts.
If the combined total score falls on 178 pts. the wager is a “PUSH” and there is “NO ACTION”.
Overtime counts for wagers placed for the game and for the 2nd half.
Overtime does not count for 4th quarter wagers.

Basketball Betting – Money Line

With this type of bet you wager which team is going to win, disregarding the point spread.

Orlando Magic -280
Houston Rockets +240

If you wager on Orlando -280 you lay $280 to win $100.
If you wager on Houston +240 you lay $100 to win $240.

Basketball Betting – Parlay

This play is a selection of teams in no particular order, in one play. All teams must win by the pointspread margin. The more amount of teams, the greater the payoff.

2 team parlay for $100
Portland Trail Blazers +4
San Antonio Spurs -10

The payout in a 2 team parlay is 2.64 this means you are risking $100 to win $264. In case of a tie or no action the parlay will revert to the lower level payoff, except in a 2 team parlay where a tie reverts to a straight bet laying the original amount at risk.

Basketball Betting – Teaser

This is a bet in which 2 to 7 teams are selected together in one wager with an adjusted point spread. In a teaser you can add points to the sides or mix both sides and totals adding or subtracting to the totals. If one selection loses, the teaser is considered a loss.

2 team teaser 5pts for $100
Lakers +4+5 pts = the teased line is now +9
Knicks -3+5 pts = the teased line is now +2

The payout in a 2 team teaser for 5 pts. is 10/11 In this case you will lay $110 to win $100.

Somewhere within the basketball betting rules, the sportsbook will list payouts for teasers and parlays as well. Most books are pretty similar, but some do offer better payouts than others so it’s important to know this before placing a teaser or parlay bet.


As I’ve already stated here more than enough times, just read and understand the basketball betting rules of any sportsbooks where you’ll be placing wagers. You’ll become much more educated and it’ll probably save you some money over time.

This definitely isn’t the most exciting chapter of the NBA Betting Guide, but I at least wanted to go over the rules briefly.

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