Basketball Handicap Betting Explained

Basketball is a sport where favourites are usually offered on extremely low betting odds that are not worth your while. The handicap market has emerged to sort this exact problem out. It is a virtual advantage (or disadvantage) that helps balance the scales between contenders. For example, if Team A is the favourite to win at 1.70 odds, a +2,5 point advantage on Team B can increase these odds to 1.95. So, for your bet to be successful, Team A must win by three or more points. In our basketball handicap betting explained guide, we analyse how spreads eliminate the perceived strength differential between two contenders and why it can be a profitable option. Our experts break down the handicap types for quarters, halves and games, pointing out the best available strategies.

Bookies with the most basketball handicap betting markets

We have extensively reviewed all leading bookmakers, so we recommend the market’s top ones to start wagering on. Our list includes bookies with the most competitive basketball handicap betting odds in various fractions and alternatives. You can also find numerous in-play options available at the most valuable prices.

What does handicap mean in basketball betting

Basketball CourtBefore calculating any possible game outcome, you should consider the given handicap for each team. All bookies offer two types, fractional and integer. For the sake of simplicity, let’s scan both options using enlightening examples of what does handicap mean in basketball betting.

Fractional Handicap: Here, you can either win or lose because it’s divisible by 0,5, and all final scores in basketball are integer sums. So, fractional handicaps belong to 2-way markets with no possible refunds. For example, if Team B has a +2,5 point advantage and Team A wins 100-97, spread bets on Team B lose.

Integer Handicap: This one is a 3-way market where the possible return of a bet exists. If we take into account the example above turning to a +3.0 points handicap on Team B, if Team A wins 100-97, the final bet’s result will be a tie. In that case, backing Team A to win would mean betting on a 4+ victory; suppose they win by 2, your wager would be lost.

What is a home -8,5 handicap in basketball

Basketball HoopIf you bet on a home -8,5 handicap in basketball, there are two possible outcomes for your wager. If the home team wins by 9+ points, your bet wins, while your bet loses if the home team wins by 8 points or less or suffers a defeat.

How to explain the basketball handicap 5,5 meaning

Basketball HoopIn a Euroleague basketball game between Real Madrid and Barcelona, bookmakers may offer a 5,5 handicap, including overtime. There are two possibilities after the end of the game: 1) Real Madrid to win by at least six points (i.e., -5,5) or Barcelona to lose by no more than five points (i.e., +5,5).

What is a 6,5 spread in basketball betting

Basketball HoopFor basketball spread betting, bookies each time set a number of points that the favourite must overcome. On the other hand, the underdog must win or lose by less than that, to beat the spread. Suppose the number of points is set at 6,5; the favourite must win by 6 or more to have a winning bet, while the underdog must win or lose by 6 or less. Let’s look at these two bets from the NBA game between the Golden State Warriors vs. the Boston Celtics, explaining the 6,5 spread in basketball betting.

  • Warriors (+6,5) @ 1.95 odds.
  • Celtics (-6,5) @ 1.75 odds.

If the Celtics make a 100-95 win, all bets on their spread will be lost because they started with -6,5 points. So, bookmakers subtract that number from the final score, and the game’s outcome goes in the Warriors’ favour. On the contrary, if they win with a 104-95 score, the adjusted spread will be covered from that 9-point victory.

How to place a handicap away +7,5

Basketball HoopThe +7,5 away handicap in basketball means to back the away team in a game to not lose by more than eight points. If the visitors win or lose by up to seven points, you will have returns; your wager will be lost when the away team faces an 8-point defeat (or more).

How to Bet on Quarter & Alternative Handicaps

basketball iconBasketball handicap betting markets need to shop around bookies more than any other wagering type. Even a slightly different line can offer you better value or cause damage. So, it’s necessary to look for the best options out there. Let’s examine the best ones on quarters, half-times, pre-match and in-play.


basketballThe handicap in basketball betting regarding quarters, demands deep knowledge of the sport because results in each 10-minute or 12-minute quarter (depending on the league) can always be different without an immediate effect on the final score. The spreads are smaller than the ones on halves or on the entire game, a factor that increases risk. Let’s look at the main 8,5 handicap for the WNBA game between the Las Vegas Aces vs. the Washington Mystics. The odds on the home favourite are 1.90 to cover it while standing at 1.84 for the visitor team to defend it. You can see the smaller, below the range 1st quarter handicaps and realise the difficulty level of predicting how each team will start the game.

Quarter Basketball Handicaps


basketballTaking the Aces vs. Mystics example above, we observe that the half-time handicap is 4,5 points at 1.83 odds for both outcomes. It’s necessary to understand why this is happening to properly assess the market. Bookies offer minor lines, especially on the 1st and 2nd quarters, because stronger teams are more often frustrated early in their games than late. Furthermore, some undervalued underdogs accomplish outstanding records in halves, being really competitive. The first-half basketball handicap betting is often exploited even by experienced bettors who find value in backing underdogs, yet not through the entire game.

Alternative lines

basketballAfter gaining some experience, you can search and make use of alternative lines in basketball spread betting. These can offer you better odds if you risk higher ones or bring you safety if you bet on a lower spread. Following an example from the Illawarra Hawks vs. the Hills Hornets game for the Australian NBL1 East Women’s league, you can see underneath the range of available options and adjust your strategy. The odds list is handy when comparing prices for the same outcome for each side; for instance, the pick on the Illawarra Hawks to cover -5,5 points is 2.78, while for the underdog, the Hills Hornets, it’s 3.89.

Alternative Basketball Handicaps

In-play basketball handicap betting

basketballIt’s one of the most challenging parts because bettors have to make quick decisions when the game is going. Lines tend to change rapidly, so you must predict what will happen in the next minutes or quarter if you decide to bet in-play and beat the odds’ changes. For in-play basketball handicap betting, follow these hints before adding any picks to your betslip.

  • Check for bookmakers with the highest in-play prices and lines.
  • Trust a bookie with a short bet acceptance.
  • Watch the game you have decided to bet on.
  • Follow a team’s momentum.
  • Bet on favourites at half-time when they chase the score, and higher odds are offered.

Best Basketball Handicap Betting Advice

The nature and structure of handicapping give bettors the chance to pick either side, favourites or underdogs, without losing the value of their bets. We aim to tell you everything about it, so after the basketball handicap betting explained section, it’s time to advise you on how to turn a profit when you bet on point spreads.

Prefer half-point handicaps: If you want to avoid a push situation, avoid 3-way handicaps on an integer number of points. Half-points (e.g., +5,5) have no pushes because the favourite or the underdog will always cover them.

Examine alternative handicaps: Keep in mind that a different handicap in the same basketball game automatically translates into distinct probabilities and odds. Prices on favourites, for example, go higher as soon as they are increased with even the slightest handicap. So, hunting for alternative lines can undoubtedly offer you better odds.

Οbserve moving lines: Lines, such as odds, can be affected by several parameters like sudden news of an injured contender or public betting. So, in some cases, it seems preferable to wait and decide to beat the closing line number, thus making a more accurate prediction.

Do extensive research: Homework is necessary to become a sharp bettor. You must count on teams’ current form, receive info about probable injuries, read stats, search their schedules and analyse motivation factors.

Evaluate home-court advantage: If you back home teams, you must certainly be informed about parameters like probable absences or if the visitor team had less time to rest. The most important factor regards home-court efficiency; suppose the teams you back have won over 70% of their games this season. It seems a profitable option to cover their handicaps in their upcoming home games.

How to build a profitable basketball spread betting strategy

basketball iconFor basketball bettors, handicap lines are the most popular market, even compared to moneylines. The explanation is quite simple, and it’s because of the higher odds they can find. We identify two strategies that can work for a high number of games during a basketball season, based on favourites and underdogs. So, just get a glimpse at the info below and decide how to use a handicap in basketball betting.

Enhancing moneyline odds on favourites

basketball ballEven if a minor or heavy favourite exists in a basketball game, you will get higher odds using a spread line than when backing them on the moneyline. That happens because it’s harder for a favourite to cover a spread than, for instance, reaching a one-point win. Taking the Lyon-Villeurbanne vs. Monaco example for the French Pro A, the moneyline odds for the home team are 1.65. If you believe they can cover the 3,5 points handicap, you will get a better price at 1.95 odds. So, backing favourites with minor lines might be profitable at basketball spread betting if the stronger team reaches a comfortable win.

Betting on underdogs against the spread

basketball ballATS betting is prevalent, especially when a game has an undervalued underdog. Basketball spread betting is determined to level the playing field between opponents; therefore, many bettors prefer to back a dark horse with a low winning potential against the spread at shorter odds than chasing unrealistic moneyline prices. They consider that the underdog team can protect the given line, especially when it’s higher than 10,5 points. Let’s break down an example from the WNBA where the Seattle Storm, at 1.20 odds, is the heavy favourite to win against the Los Angeles Sharks. The visitor team pays 5.00 to make an upset, having low chances of achieving it. However, the +10,5 handicap seems high, and the 1.85 odds on the underdogs is a more profitable option.

Which are the top bookies for basketball handicap betting

Following our recommended bookmakers, you can explore the best basketball handicap betting markets with the most alternative lines. Furthermore, these betting sites cover a broad range of domestic and continental leagues, like the NBA and the Euroleague, but also national tournaments from Europe, Asia and Australia, offering the highest odds for all markets.

Q: What is a push in basketball handicap betting?

When you place a bet on an integer handicap, like -10, and the team you have backed takes a 10-point victory, a handicap tie occurs. This condition is known as a push, and your bet will be made void. In that case, there’s a refund from your bookie, so you receive back your initial stake.

Q: Which league is the most popular for basketball spread betting?

There are exceptional basketball leagues worldwide, where bettors never run out of options. They have hundreds of markets to choose from and a wide array of lines to bet on. The NBA and the NCAA from North America, the Euroleague from Europe and the Chinese CBA are all elite leagues, extremely popular among bettors.

Q: How can I place a basketball handicap bet, including overtime?

Handicap in basketball betting applies on probable overtime, which counts for all wagers except any related markets on quarters and halves. Bettors should check any specific overtime rules with their bookies, as they should do before placing any basketball bet, not just on handicaps. Frequently, in OT, favourites strengthen their game, so if you have backed an underdog against the handicap, that factor can cause you to lose the bet.

Q: Where can I find daily basketball handicap betting predictions?

Before placing your bet, you should deeply analyse odds, statistics and the latest news for the basketball game you want to wager on. However, if you want some help, our specialists release reliable betting predictions for all markets and handicaps every day, so you can check out their success ratio and start following them.

Q: Are alternative basketball betting lines worth it?

Finding a handicap line and odds that make sense and secure value is critical for wagering on basketball. After researching the game you want to bet on, a smart decision is to check all the alternative handicaps offered by bookies. Prices change for each one, so you can adjust the odds depending on the amount of profit you want.

Q: What is an away -8,5 handicap in basketball?

In this case, the visitor team should win by 9 points or more to cover the handicap. Suppose you bet the away -8,5 handicap in basketball games; your wagers will secure returns only under the condition above. On the flip side, if the away team wins by 8 points or less or suffers a defeat, your bet will be lost.

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