How Do NBA Odds Work?

Most of us have seen sports odds before and understand why an NBA team is favored and the other is a dog — but let's dive into how the odds are set for each.

NBA betting has many popular options, particularly the spread, moneyline and over/under options. There are prop bets too, which allow you to wager on almost anything which can occur within an NBA regular season or playoff game. 

Vegas usually sets the standard and determines the pro basketball odds for sportsbooks across the United States. Want to know the why behind the odds you see in our NBA Bet Hub and sportsbooks America-wide?

All of the answers are here for you, right now!

How are NBA odds determined?

The function of NBA odds making isn’t to truly represent the probability of an outcome occurring. Vegas and sportsbooks actually put forth certain odds to make a profit and in the hopes of attracting bettors to both sides (either team etc). 

Ultimately oddsmakers are in cahoots with sportsbooks. They are trying to reduce the risk of sportsbooks losing big. 

That’s why books hate when a big favorite wins, because they lose heavily. NBA betting odds certainly aren’t determined on the gut feel of a sports predicting genius. 

Sports statisticians and mathematicians are heavily involved in the NBA odds you see on a sportsbook’s site and app. The X’s and O’s of basketball odds comes from examination of the wider betting market, statistics and data. 

In the case of NBA moneyline and spread bets, odds makers will look at previous matchups, form, injuries and even weather forecasts to determine the odds. It isn’t that simple of course, algorithms and other nerdy stuff go into it, but this gives you an idea. 

In other words, it’s not too different to Dimers’ predictive analytics model where 10,000 simulations of every NBA game are conducted, based on the variables above, all to give you an unrivaled edge before you make that winning play.

MORE: How to Bet on NBA Basketball Games

Why are NBA odds not real probabilities?

Like any business, sportsbooks want to make a profit. They don’t sell clothes or shoes, but they do sell odds to you, the bettor. How do they profit? Let’s look at the below.


  • Detroit Pistons @ Philadelphia 76ers
  • Philadelphia 76ers  -250 (implied probability of 71.43%)
  • Detroit Pistons +200 (implied probability = 33.33%)


For all you super nerds out there, those percentages don’t add up. Well, they do, just not to 100% — yes we had to use a calculator. The sum of the two percentages equals 104.76%. How can an NBA game have an implied probability of 104%?! 

It can’t really. The extra 4% is the profit margin this sportsbook is taking home. With such a strategy — commonly implemented across America— a book will make a profit over time.

MORE: How to Live Bet on the NBA

Favorites lose = Sportsbooks win

When there’s a big upset in the NBA, bookmakers rejoice. This is because most of the money is heavily poured on the favorite, meaning the sportsbook takes all that home. Big favorites losing is a sportsbook’s golden goose.

Now that you know where odds come from, find the best NBA odds in America with Dimers. We have exclusive promo codes for each of the biggest and most secure sportsbooks. If you’re wanting to succeed at basketball betting, check out our NBA Bet Hub.

Why do sportsbooks have similar odds?

Sports betting is going gangbusters on a global scale. Surprisingly, basketball betting is far more advanced in places like Australia, the United Kingdom and Asia, while it is just getting started in America, Vegas aside.

Due to the globalization of NBA betting it isn’t uncommon for sportsbooks to simply copy the odds of other books. This method is cost effective and they end up with the same odds without all the data and betting analytics research. 

We don’t know which books copy others but we do know how you can find the best odds for every major sport in the United States.

MORE: Best NBA Finals Betting Strategies

How to take advantage of NBA odds

Sportsbooks look to make money off your bets, and set odds in such a way to favor their interests. So, how do we fight back and win money from sports betting?

The answer is simple — take advantage of the edge.

What is the edge, you ask? 

This is where the probability of an event occurring is more likely than indicated by the sportsbook’s odds. You can identify the edge using Dimers' predictive analytics model, which will suggest when a basketball team or player has a much better chance of winning than the sportsbooks are showing. You'll find our edges in the Bet Hub and Quick Picks sections of our site.

Taking these bets gives you a better chance of being a successful gambler long-term. Of course, the higher the edge, the better. While you’re not guaranteed a W, taking picks with an edge gives you a greater chance of being profitable well into the future. This is super important when trying to become a successful NBA bettor.

For every major sports match including NBA, NFL, MLB and more, Dimers has the edge and exclusive promotional codes waiting for you.


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