5 Common Basketball Betting Mistakes to Avoid

Los Angeles Lakers, Money
The spring is a busy time of year for basketball bettors. College basketball season is winding down, which means the NCAA Tournament is right around the corner. March Madness is one of the most popular sports betting events of the year on an annual basis. In 2019, Americans wagered over $8.5 billion on the men’s NCAA Tournament alone.

The NBA season is also entering its stretch run, with the playoffs on the horizon. The NBA playoffs are a two-month marathon that typically come to a close with the Finals in June. Nowadays, basketball is essentially a year-round sport. You can almost always find some sort of basketball competition going on, even in the middle of the summer, when international tournaments, the WNBA and the NBA’s Summer League are in action.

Betting on basketball can be a profitable endeavor if you’re careful. Avoiding common mistakes is one of the most important things you can do if you want to embark on a successful basketball betting endeavor. Steering clear of the following landmines won’t guarantee success, but it will put you on the right track, at the very least.

The following are 5 easy mistakes to avoid when betting on basketball.

Betting With Your Heart

This rule applies to all sports. Fandom is a very real thing, and people get emotionally tied to their favorite sports teams. As a result, people can be blinded by their fandom, which can lead to some questionable decisions when it comes to betting. One thing you absolutely must do if you want to be a successful bettor is eliminate all personal biases, both positive and negative.

This means you have to disassociate from your fandom when it comes to betting. A lot of people put money on a game in order to make the stakes more interesting.

If you’re a die-hard fan of the Boston Celtics, for example, you will probably want to blindly put money behind them. Placing a successful bet on your favorite team winning is a win-win, right?

Betting with your brain instead of your heart is a winning strategy, though. Far too many bettors let their fandom decide where to put their money when it comes to betting on basketball. Frankly, the best path you can take is to bet on games that don’t happen to involve your favorite (or least-favorite) team.

Ignoring Injury Situations

Injuries play a huge role in all sports betting, and basketball is no exception. Oddsmakers are constantly keeping an eye on the news, as injury situations can change the entire complexion of a game’s odds.

Basketball injury situations tend to be somewhat fluid. In the NBA, we often don’t know whether a certain player is going to play until just moments before the game tips off. The league has tried to crack down on star players missing games for rest purposes, but teams are still engaging in questionable practices when it comes to actually revealing injury information.

Basketball Player Lying Down, Basketball Injury

Waiting to place your bets until all injury news is reported is likely the best option, if you can make it happen. If you want to take a more risky approach, you can try to take advantage of an early betting line before news officially breaks. If a star player is listed as “questionable” to play in a game with an injury, it’s a 50/50 proposition that he’ll play. That will be reflected in the odds. Placing a bet before the injury news becomes official is one way to potentially get an edge over the books.

Be cognizant of any and all injury information before placing your bets, though. Bettors that ignore such info are subjecting themselves to getting burned.

Ignoring Schedules

Basketball season is a long one. Every team in the NBA plays 82 regular season games every year, and that doesn’t include preseason or playoff action. The league has tried to ease the scheduling concerns by stretching the season out over a longer period of time, but things like travel will always complicate the schedule.

As a bettor, checking the schedule before betting is a must. Let’s say you want to bet on a game between the Pistons and Bulls. The Bulls haven’t played in 2 days, while the Pistons are set to play the second night of a back-to-back after playing the night before. Obviously, the Bulls would have an advantage from a rest perspective here. The Pistons, after playing a game the previous night, won’t be as well-rested.

This may sound minor considering professional athletes are capable of handling a rigorous schedule, but you need to take advantage of every potential edge as a bettor. Knowing whether a team is at the end of a grueling road trip or whether a team has had a number of days off really does impact the outcomes of the games.

Chasing Losses

This is another rule of thumb that applies to betting on all sports. Even the best bettors are going to endure their fair share of losses. One of the main tenets of being a successful bettor is bankroll management. One way to make your bankroll decline in a hurry, though, is to double-down and chase your losses.

Players on Basketball Court

No bettor has a 100 percent success rate. Part of what makes sports betting fun is the uncertainty. Picking your spots and identifying value in the odds is hugely important. Some bettors may have a tendency to try and make up for their lost bets by placing an ill-conceived bet on another game that they normally may not have bet on at all. These decisions can often be made in haste without taking everything into account, which is an easy way to lose money in a hurry.

Manage your bankroll smartly. Every bettor endures ebbs and flows when it comes to winnings, but having enough discipline to avoid chasing losses is key to long-term sustainability.

Overlooking Game Location

Home-court advantage is real. Just about every basketball team is going to have a better success rate on their home floor than they will on the road.

Having the support of the home crowd plus the familiarity of the home arena is no small factor.

This goes hand-in-hand with the mistake bettors make when it comes to ignoring the schedule. Let’s say the 32-10 Lakers are set to face the 22-20 Rockets in Houston. The Lakers may have the better overall record, but Houston boasts a solid home record of 18-4. The Lakers, meanwhile, are just 13-8 away from home. You may think the Lakers are the clear better betting option due to their overall record, but Houston’s track record of success on their home court should not be overlooked.


There are plenty of factors in play that you have to consider if you want to make money betting on basketball. There is no single golden rule to follow that will automatically turn you into a winning bettor, but keeping all of these aspects in mind before placing your bets will prove fruitful in the long run.

Taking these factors seriously and treating your basketball betting like a job rather than a hobby will help you inflate your bankroll over the course of the long season.