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  • Created On:
    09/07/2011 9:56 PM
  • Last Update:
    01/17/2019 7:25 AM

NBA Picks: Basketball Betting Theory

There are endless theories from countless forums, handicappers and books on how to beat the 4.5% hold built into the -110 juice you must lay when placing a wager with either Las Vegas or an online sportsbook.

Before we get to a simple initial approach in coming up with a way to generate selections, there are a few tools that you need to review and have open so you can reference back when mentioned below.

Live odds: You can compare opening vs current odds using this tool.

Steam (new feed pending): Everything from a late breaking injury or rumored illness can affect the line to move. Getting value on a number is very important and this information can help you beat the closing line.

Public Betting Trends: Knowing where the public is going and how the line reacts, in some instances this help (not always) discover games that are being bet by professionals.

One thing in betting the NBA we can’t stress enough is the importance of ALWAYS getting the best number possible. It is essential to always get the best number when placing a wager. If you are always laying a bad number, the ½ point losses and pushes will eventually add up and cost you tons of money in the end. For example as I write this the general line across the board is the Rockets -6.5 over the Clippers, but Sportbet has a -6.0. Why is something SO SIMPLE, SO IMPORTANT? Well, the industry average to buy a 1/2 point in basketball is -120 versus -110. But in this case, if you wanted to bet the Rockets you would only be paying -110 for that 1/2 point due to line shopping. -110 to -120 may not seem like much, but paying -110 for 1/2 points or more takes the edge away from the book on what it should be costing you as the player. To understand the importance of the “best number”,  here is a breakdown on an almost complete season of the basketball in regards to beating the closing number:

Home team +0.0: 675-668-27
Home team +1.0: 728-613-29
Home team +1.5: 702-642-26

What does the information mean? Well, in terms of betting the NBA and helping you make better picks, it means “VALUE”. The record above is the how well the home team did against the closing line. It is interesting to note that no matter what side you take with the closing number, using -110, you lose money.

Wagering on the NBA home team at $1000.00 per game: +$675,000.00 / -$734,800.00 = -$59,800.00
Wagering against the NBA home team at $1000.00 per game: -$742,500.00 / +$668,000.00 = -$74,500.00

If you go back to the opening part of this article, you will see we reference in the end the sportsbook will keep 4.5% of EVERY dollar you wager long term. Do the math on the above stats and you will see when betting the NBA, in the end you will lose 4.5-5.0% of everything you wager eventually. The amazing part of the numbers above? The end result of whether you take the home or away team, you will lose around 4.5-5.0% of every dollar wagered (take total amount of games x $1000 wagers and x by .045). Enough about the math Johnny! Get to my free NBA picks. Okay, here it is in a nutshell:  beat the closing NBA number by at least 1 or more points.  For example if the Los Angeles Lakers close at -6.0 and you bet at -5.0 or better, long term you have an edge over the bookmaker. Using the figures from above, with ZERO handicapping, just betting on the home team and getting one point better of the closing line, you end up 728-613-29 or at $1000.00 per game would net $728,000.00 in winners and $674,300.00 in losers for a total profit of +$53,700.00.  Just like a card counter in blackjack, by beating the closing NBA number you take the edge from the house and put it into your hands.

People work 40 hours a week at a job they hate to make $50k a year and all you need to do for the same income is just beat the closing number (in theory). Mind you, this is just NBA sides and does not include NBA totals (which has similar results using 2+ as a goal). What percent of winners in the NBA would you need to hit to make this kind of money just betting sides? Fifty four percent. Yes. 54%.  Not 60% or 70% like you always hear touts or uneducated bettors brag about.

Here are some tools to use and instructions on how to try and beat the closing number:

Paid Lines: Basically, you put the sharp books in the front and set up the alerts to let you know when they move and you in-turn can bet into a slow moving offshore or local.

Live Free Odds: The NBA lines offered on our site have a slight delay and will not beat most offshores on movements, but if you have an old school local, 99% of the time this free lines source is enough to beat him to the punch.

Steam (our new feed will be up soon): Injuries, illnesses, rest or any other breaking information on important players can cause the lines to move. If a starting point guard is pulled from the line up and the books have yet to react you can get down on the other team. In most cases, the public will over react to the injury and you can turn around and bet the other side once the lines moves and set yourself up for a free middle.

Now is this a guaranteed free NBA picks system for you to quit your job tomorrow? Of course not. In some cases, the NBA line will move back the other way and you can be on the wrong side of the closing number. Early movement can be bought back by wiseguys or late breaking injuries can cause you to be holding a bad line. Another downside is many offshore sportsbook frown on people betting NBA steam (beating them to the line move) and can feed you sharper lines, lower your limits of even close your account. There is no fool-proof way to always beat the closing number, so when getting your feet wet, bet with low amounts and document as much data as possible. What books tend to move first? Are there certain times of the day when more moves hit? Is a certain book solid on NBA sides, where another is the first mover on NBA totals? You can also monitor our public betting trends and work in where the public money is going to help filter out certain games. This is why someone like Vegas Runner is successful at what he does. Trying to predict movement on your own could end up costing you money, while someone like VR many times is getting your picks BEFORE the move. So say Handicapper X likes the Bulls and releases and the line is -5.0, but VR gets you the selection at -4.0. The value on beating a move ALONE is worth the price of admission many times.

In closing, this lesson is more about “understanding value” and not just “free NBA picks”. Being able to line shop, watch the market and know what numbers give you an edge can make you a better handicapper and give you an understanding of how to bet on the NBA. As mentioned, just trying to beat moves is not going to guarantee you to beat the system in place to take your money. But, and a big but, is watching how games moves and understand who tends to dictate the market is an essential part to becoming a good NBA handicapper and helping you get over the 4.5% the sportsbook is looking to earn off you long term.

If you do bet the NBA offshore, a huge perk of doing so is the generous offers they give clients. Here are some of the best sportsbook bonuses currently being offered:

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Make sure to check out our sports betting community to share handicapping information you have or just to get some free NBA picks. Also, check us out on both TWITTER and FACEBOOK to get exclusive content from the Pregame Team.


Johnny Detroit, Co-Founder and Vice-President
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Johnny Detroit has built an impressive winning record: He has been booted or had limits lowered at 9 offshore sports books, has numerous documented Top 5 finishes in both NFL and College Football and his... Read more

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