The NBA is one of the most popular leagues to bet on among West Virginians due to the sheer volume of exciting games that take place each year. Every team plays 82 regular season games and then the playoffs continue for several weeks, so there is a busy schedule to wager on. Futures betting, spread betting, props and parlays are all popular among sports fans in West Virginia and the state’s new regulated sportsbooks have worked hard to refine their basketball sections.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are currently the most popular NBA franchise in West Virginia after enjoying a golden era led by LeBron James. That saw them win four straight Eastern Conference Championships and also seize the NBA Championship in 2016, halting the great Golden State dynasty in its tracks. West Virginians supporting the Cavs have been treated to many electrifying performances over the past few years. Whether that popularity will wane now that the great man has left for LA remains to be seen, but Cleveland still has a strong team and it could continue to thrive going forwards.
Those living to the east of the state also have a lot of love for the Washington Wizards, and there is plenty of great NBA action on West Virginia’s doorstep. Its residents enjoy wagering on all the different teams across the league, and here are the key betting categories to familiarize yourself with:
This is a season-long bet on a particular outcome, such as who will win the NBA Championship, who will claim the regular season MVP award or who will win the Eastern Conference. Ahead of the 2017/18 season, the Cavs were the +300 second favorites to go on and win the NBA Finals. A plus sign in a set of odds tells you how much profit you stand to earn from a $100 wager. A $100 bet at +300 would generate a $300 profit. When your bet wins, you get your stake back, so you would be returned $400. You might see +300 rendered as 3/1 (fractional odds) or 4.00 (decimal odds).
Ahead of the 2018/19 season, Cleveland was a +40000 (400/1 or 401.00) outsider to win the NBA Finals. That means a $100 bet would earn you a massive $40,000 profit, suggesting just how unlikely the sportsbooks found that prospect to be. It shows what a huge impact James had on the team. Another popular futures bet involves predicting how many wins a particular team will gain over the course of the regular season, while you can also bet on markets like Rookie of the Year, plus the divisional winners and which division or conference will yield the overall champion. You can also name the finalists, with Golden State versus Boston the +150 (3/2 or 2.50) favorite for the 2018/19 season.
This is a simple bet on which team will win a particular game. The sportsbooks will assign a set of moneyline odds to each team, depending on the gap in quality between them, their recent head-to-head record, any injury concerns and home advantage. In a recent game that saw the Houston Rockets travel to LA to face the Lakers, Houston was the -155 (13/20 or 1.65) favorite and LA was the +135 (27/20 or 2.35) underdog. When you see a minus sign in a set of odds, it tells you how much you need to wager in order to turn a $100 profit. A $155 bet at -155 would generate a $100 profit. If you bet $20 on the Rockets at -155, you would earn a $12.90 profit, whereas a $20 bet on the Lakers at +135 would yield a $27 profit. The larger potential profit on LA shows you that it is the underdog and that it has been given a lower chance of winning the game than the Rockets.
This is the most popular way to bet on NBA games and it involves giving the supposedly stronger team a handicap. Sticking with that Houston v LA example, Houston was made the 3.5 favorite. That meant you could either back the Rockets -3.5 or the Lakers +3.5, with odds of -110 (91/100 or 1.91) on each outcome. If you backed the Rockets to cover the spread, they would need to win by four or more points. That is harder to achieve, but the potential winnings are greater than on the moneyline. If you bet on the Lakers to cover the spread, they could either win or lose by three points or fewer and your bet would be a winner. That is easier to achieve than betting on the moneyline, but your payout would not be as great. Over the course of the season, you can easily learn how strong each team in the league has been against the spread.
The sportsbooks will set a total points line and you can guess whether the cumulative score of both teams will stay under that figure or go over. In a recent game between the Toronto Raptors and the Washington Wizards, the line was set at 218.5 points and you could take -110 on over or -110 on under. Both options are always slightly less than +100 (even money) as this allows the sportsbooks to make an edge for themselves. Some go to -105 on both outcomes, but the majority offer -110. You can sometimes find alternative total points lines or spreads, and these skew the odds in different directions.
This involves honing in on a particular outcome within a game, like how many points Kevin Love will score or which team will get to 20 points first. These special betting options are called proposition bets, typically shortened to prop bets.
This allows you to combine multiple selections into one bet in order to generate far higher odds. For example, you could bet on Cleveland to beat Philadelphia, Houston to beat OKC, Miami to beat Charlotte, Washington to beat Toronto and Golden State to beat Sacramento. Instead of dividing your bankroll into five and betting on each team individually, you can roll them into one parlay. If just one team lets you down, your bet is bust, but the potential winnings will be a lot greater than if you had placed five single bets.