Expert Tips for Betting on WNBA Odds

Jason Logan's seen the WNBA evolve from a barren betting landscape to a competitive hustle. Get his inside perspective on the best ways to hunt value in the upcoming season with his WNBA betting tips.

Last Updated: May 16, 2023 3:57 PM ET
Sabrina Ionescu WNBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Mention that you’re betting on the WNBA and plenty of people scrunch up their noses and shake their heads and silently judge your life choices. But they don’t know it takes balls to bet on the WNBA.

You want to know the truth about WNBA betting?

It’s shark-infested waters with the sportsbooks fending off sharps and professional gamblers with a pointy stick in the hours after odds release. And it’s this way because of that mainstream “meh” approach to women’s pro hoops. 

Now, the WNBA is booming as an entertainment option with last season setting a high bar in terms of audience. With the increase in attention will naturally come an increase in betting action, which means a slew of new basketball bettors dipping their toes in those WNBA wagering waters.

I’ve been betting on WNBA odds for close to 20 years now and have picked up a lot of tips and tactics along the way that are exclusive to the league, and I continue to grow as a gambler as we head into the 2023 WNBA campaign. 

Here are some “How to bet WNBA” tips and angles to keep in mind so you can swim with the sharks this summer.

Look at the line moves

As mentioned, the bulk of bettors getting down on daily WNBA odds are likely bigger and more respected gamblers — not your usual NBA public-packed crowd. Those sharper folks couldn’t care less about how many people are attending games. They’re attracted to the softer odds markets in niche leagues like the WNBA. 

Oddsmakers will admit that they don’t put the same time and effort into the WNBA odds like they would cultivating high-yield offerings in the NBA, NFL, or MLB, where lines are drum-tight. There’s a larger margin of error for WNBA odds and those dedicated to “The Dub” attack any mistakes.

It’s nothing to see major line moves in the WNBA, with books respecting that early opinion and aggressively moving off those informed bets. Spreads and Over/Under totals can jump five, six, seven, or more points if sharps spot a bad number or get info on an injury or return before the bookies do.

Once you get comfortable with the teams, outcomes, and odds, you’ll start to formulate your own spreads and Over/Under numbers for WNBA matchups and won’t have to wait for movement to recognize when lines are off. Then you can jump in right away along with the wiseguys (and gals).

Honestly, if you have accounts at multiple sports betting sites and monitor the movement with the opening odds, you could be profitable just “chasing steam” and picking off shops slow to adjust their numbers (until they catch on and ban or limit you). You’ll blindly end up with solid closing line value on most games and that’s a big piece of the betting puzzle in any sport.

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Keep an ear to the ground

As mentioned above, pro bettors and sharps exploit the lack of information on niche offerings like the WNBA, and when it comes to betting basketball, injury news is a huge influence on the odds.

WNBA injury reporting has come a long way over the past decade, but even the most reliable sources seem to miss injuries here and there. 

The best way to beat the bookie to that info is to follow the beat reporters living and breathing each team and also browse the game recaps and coaches’ press conference notes for any hidden tidbits on who may be dinged up ahead of the next game. The same can be said for returnees coming back from missing time and how much they’ll impact the outcome.

Other tasty tidbits worth watching for are travel and practice schedules, as WNBA teams will play extended road trips with plenty of games packed into a short stretch of sked. That leaves little time for practices and walkthroughs, so a team fresh off time away with some practice reps in hand can have a stronger showing in their upcoming contests.

And like all sports, “coach speak” can be an excellent edge over the oddsmakers. Coaches will share any strategy shifts, lineup changes, or key practice points, giving us a hint at what to look for in that next outing. Teams will try to speed up or slow down, shoot more 3-pointers, or go with a bigger lineup to protect the paint. Then it’s up to you to connect the dots to the matchup and exploit the proper betting markets.

Player projections for props

Perhaps the one thing scarcer than a WNBA bettor is a WNBA fantasy basketball owner. However, WNBA fantasy leagues are out there, which means so are player projections. 

You may have to scout the interweb or buy a season-long subscription, but if you can get your hands on daily WNBA player models — or build your own if you have a big enough brain — you’re starting in the right place when it comes to picking off WNBA player props.

Player props are a relatively new offering for the league, with many books still skipping over odds on individual performances. The prop market is growing, and most mainstream operators will have points, rebounds, and assist Over/Under numbers available for at least the bulk of starters each game.

From there, the process is straightforward:

1. Grab as many projections as you can from reliable sources (or cook up your own from team totals/projected increase or decrease in possession percentage vs. current form).

2. Measure those against the player prop odds at available books and find the biggest discrepancies in Over and Under markets. 

3. Kick the tires on any matchup issues, lineup changes, injury news or blips in recent form that could be cause for concern. Also mind the tweaks in juice or total for those props to see if it jibes with your opinion.

4. Shop for the best positive expected value attached to those props and fire away.

Dig into Derivatives 

Remember when I said that oddsmakers don’t put the same care into WNBA odds as they do the larger volume markets? Nowhere is this more evident than derivatives, like quarter and half markets.

I will routinely see a sportsbook open a game with an 8-point spread, then chop it down to -4 for the first half and trim that to -2 for the first quarter. That’s not too far from what you’d see in other sports, but there is no consideration for individual team trends in terms of how they play the game. The derivative markets for NBA and NFL will account for those subtle tweaks. The WNBA… not so much.

The WNBA will have major differences in approach with offenses and defenses and those results will shift with home/away splits. You can often catch a slow-starting offense playing a stingy first-half defense and the 1H total will simply be half of the full-game O/U. 

I will note that not all sportsbooks offer derivative odds, or they’ll be much slower to release them, keeping an eye on the movement at those few places that are taking action on 1Qs and 1Hs before posting their own numbers. 

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