If you’re just a casual sports bettor looking to have some fun then there is likely no better way to lose your money quickly than by betting on the NBA. That’s partly because the league is just generally hard to bet on, and partly because casual bettors are inclined to make some predictable but ill-advised decisions when it comes to betting on the league. Here are six of the biggest mistakes that casual sports bettors make when wagering on the NBA:
Being star struck – More than any other major league the NBA is all about their stars. They market based on the big names, and many of them are on a first name basis. When a guy like Kobe, Lebron, or Melo is playing a team without a big star then the betting public will jump on the side of that big name without giving any consideration at all to any of the factors that really matter – how the teams are playing, how they match up, where and when the game is, and so on. Oddsmakers know that this is what is likely to happen, and they are ready for it, setting the lines appropriately.
Always assuming fireworks – When you see the highlights on ESPN they show the big dunks, fancy passes, and clutch shots. They don’t show the methodical defense, excellent game-planning, or anything else that is a part of a lot of games. As a result, a lot of casual NBA bettors are strongly inclined to assume that teams – especially those with good players – will be able to pile up the points like crazy. That means that they bet the over blindly in a lot of cases. The truth, of course, is that while teams sometimes pile up points there are a lot of reasons why they won’t on any given night – strong opposing defense, bad matchups, or even lackadaisical play are all examples. Betting the over without thinking about it is a trap that casual bettors always fall into, and it can really be costly in this league.
Assuming teams and players will always play their best – In a perfect world every NBA player and every team would play at full effort every night. This is, of course, far from a perfect world. Efforts in the league can be wildly inconsistent depending on any number of factors – how often a team has been playing, who they are playing, what games are on the horizon, how the team is doing in the standings, how much playing time a player is getting, the health of the team, and so on. Tracking motivation is a big part of NBA success, but casual bettors give that very little regard.
Assuming the league is easier to bet on than it is – Make no mistake about it – the NBA is very hard to handicap and bet on. It’s probably the hardest league there is in North America to make a long term profit on – especially on the point spread. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t bet on the league – lots of people do it very successfully. It just means that if you are going to bet on it, and you want to make some money, you had better have your act together and you better go in with your eyes open. Making bets on a whim isn’t going to be successful in any league, but that’s especially true in the NBA.
Ignoring underdogs – The biggest opportunities in the NBA often come on underdogs. That’s true on the point spread, and it is especially true on the moneyline. The basketball league doesn’t draw nearly as much public money as the NFL, but there is still a fair bit, and that reliably and predictably goes on the bigger names and the more successful teams. Good teams win a lot in the league, but they don’t win all the time. If you can spot the times when they aren’t likely to perform their best then you can be paid off handsomely. It’s a lot easier making money betting against the Celtics on the moneyline occasionally than it is trying to make money betting on them on the moneyline, and the same is certainly true for a large number of teams in the league – those that are rarely underdogs, and which the public has high expectations for.
Worrying too much about schedule – More than any of the other major leagues NBA players are used to strange schedules. They could play three games in four days one week, and then have four days off the next week. There are often long road trips as well. As a general rule the public worries about the potential impact of these scheduling quirks more than they need to. Hockey players are bothered by odd scheduling much more than basketball players are. Keep that in mind when wagering on the NBA.