These days it seems every sport betting forum on the net is buzzing about “Wong Teasers” and “Teaser Betting Strategy”. I’ll be honest, as someone who’s made a steady profit each year since 1999 betting teasers, I wasn’t thrilled when “teaser strategy” became the betting forum topic. Rewinding to almost a decade ago, soon after Stanford Wong released the book Sharp Sports Betting, Las Vegas sportsbooks started losing money on teasers. Today its nearly impossible to find a +EV bet in Las Vegas as far as teasers are concerned. Thankfully, online there are still plenty of options, but how long might that last?
Even though I’m still reluctant, considering the cat is out of the bag so to speak, I’ve decided to write this comprehensive article about teaser betting to clear a few things up, and contribute. Here I’ll break everything down to as simple as possible, and not only show you which teaser bets are profitable, but help you understand why they are profitable. After reading this article, you’ll be well equipped to bet teasers with the odds in your favor.
For those not familiar with teasers, I’ll start with intro material. I encourage experienced bettors to simply skim the first few sections.
What is a Teaser Bet?
In layman terms, a teaser is a parlay bet that uses modified point spreads. In football, the most common modification is six points. So let’s say this week there are three bets you like: Jets -7.5, Raiders +1.5, and Bills +5.5. Rather than betting these straight or in a parlay, you could make a three team six point teaser bet of Jets -1.5, Raiders +7.5, Bills +11.5. To win the bet, you’ll need all three teams to cover. At most online betting sites, a winning three teamer pays 1.8 to 1.
Standard Teaser Odds
Teaser odds vary from site to site. When betting six point football teasers, you want to find 2 teams -110 or better, 3 teams +180 or better, 4 teams +300 or better. You can find these odds at www.Bovada.lv.
5Dimes.eu is worth mentioning as well, as they have industry leading odds with 2 team six point teasers at +100. The catch however is 5Dimes often shades lines in such a way that it is hard to find good value teasing. What I mean by this is that if every site has Jets -8.5 / Redskins +8.5, 5Dimes might have the line listed as Jets -9.5 +105 / Redskins +9.5 -125. The pricing +105, -125 etc. has no relevance to teasers, because you can tease either side six points and get the same payout as when both sides are -110. The reason 5Dimes lists the line this way is teasing +8.5 to +15.5, doesn’t have as much value as teasing -8.5 to -2.5 for reasons we’ll cover later in this article. When you get deeper into advanced teaser strategy, 5Dimes is a great out to have; but as a beginner, just know that +100 on two team six point teasers can be deceiving.
Another way teaser odds can be deceiving: Take the example of BetMania who offers +100 on 2-team 6-points teasers. This is not a company I’m well familiar with but a quick scan of the web I found Sports Betting Sites gives them a C+ rating which is not very good. This brings me to my final point; many of the less than reputable bookmakers offer the largest payouts. You need to be wise to this scam as a sportsbook can publish any payout rate they wish with no risk if they have no intention of paying winners. Being well familiar with this topic I can tell you, the most reputable betting sites that also offer favourable teaser odds are www.Bovada.lv and 5Dimes.
Teaser Rules for Pushes
The rules for pushes are generally the same at each site. If a leg in a teaser pushes while any other leg is a loss, the teaser bet is graded a loss. A push and all wins reduce the same as they would in a parlay. For example, a three team teaser with the results: push/win/win is paid as a two team teaser. In the case where there are no losses, but only a single win, bets are refunded (example: 2 Teamer with push/win = no action and bets are refunded).
An Intro to Advanced Teaser Strategy
As we mentioned, a teaser bet is a parlay using a modified point spread. In order to analyze teasers strategically, we need to break the bet down to the point where we understand what odds we are paying per leg. If this is at all confusing, don’t worry, it should make sense momentarily.
Let’s start with 2 team 6 point (-110) teasers. As you might already know, to break even at -110 you need to win 52.38% of your bets. The formula used to calculate this is risk divided by return, where return equals stake plus win. For example, a bettor risks $110 to win $100, the return is $210, so the math here is $110 risk/$210 return=0.5238 which is 52.38%. This is how often “both” legs of a teaser must win for the bet to be break even. In order to do any sort of statistical analysis of teasers, we need to ask ourselves “how often must each leg individually win to achieve a 52.38% win rate?” To calculate this, what we need to know is what number times itself equals 0.5238. Using a square root calculator, we find 0.7237 x 0.7237 = 0.5238. This means that each individual leg must win 72.37% of the time on average for the teaser bet to have neutral (break even) expectation. To keep from getting math intensive, I’ll simplify things and tell you to Google search “Moneyline Converter”, plug in 72.37%, and see in American odds format that this equates to a moneyline of -262.
We’ve now deciphered a two team six point teaser at -110. What we have is a two team parlay at -262 per team. The bookmaker sold us six points and charged us 152 cents (from the standard -110) for those points.
This same math can be used on other teasers as well. To run through one more example, we’ll look at a three team teaser at +180. A bet at these odds is $100 to win $180, so a winning bet returns $280 (our $100 stake plus $180 win). Using the break even formula of risk divided by return, we get 100/280=0.35714. This teaser has three teams, so we need to know which number times itself three times equals 0.35714. Here we use a cube root calculator to determine that the answer is 0.7095 x 0.7095 x 0.7095. So in a three team six point teaser, each leg must win 70.95% of the time to break even. We plug that into a moneyline converter and get -244.
We’ve now deciphered that a three team six point teaser at +180 is a three team parlay at -244 per team. The bookmaker sold us six points and charged us 134 cents (from the standard -110) for those points.
After running this math on several options, I get the following odds for how often individual legs must win for the given teaser to break even:
2 team -110 = 72.37% / 2 team +100 = 70.71% / 2 team -105 = 71.57%
3 team +180 = 70.95%
4 Team +300 = 70.71%
5 team +450 71.11% / 5 team +500=69.88%
6 team +600 = 72.30% / 6 team +700 = 70.71%
The four to six team options have a higher variance, and it’s not often we’ll find that many teams in a given week worth teasing. So, in comparing the other options, you can see that 3 teamers at +180 offers us the best value, unless we can find a site offering 2 teamers at +100.
2014 Update: I can’t find a sportsbooks offering 3 team teasers at +180 anymore. The best I found was +165 at 5Dimes.eu. I worked out the math using the formula above for 3 team teasers at +165 and each leg would need to hit 72.26% of the time to break even.
The Golden Key to Teaser Betting
We now know that when betting three team teasers at +180, we need each team to win 70.95% of the time. To determine if it was better to bet straight against the spread or in a teaser, let’s compare. If we bet straight at a reduced juice sportsbook such at 5dimes, we’d pay -105. To calculate our required break even rate at -105, we use the risk divided by return formula again. A $105 bet returns $205 (our $105 stake plus $100 win), so the math is 105/205=0.5122, which is 51.22%. The difference between the 70.95% break even rate in a teaser and the 51.22% betting straight with reduced juice is 19.73%.
Now, if you’re a savvy bettor familiar with teasers, a light bulb might have just turned on in your head. If not, don’t worry, you’re likely overwhelmed and need more time to adjust. To determine if a teaser is a better option than a straight bet, we need to know if those six additional points increases the win probability by 19.73% or not.
The truth of the matter is that most teasers are sucker bets, because very few times will six points increase your win probability by 19.73%. To do this, you need to cross key numbers. In the NFL, the most common margins of victory in order are 3, 7, 10, 6, 14, 4, 1, 17, 13 and 2. This is why basic strategy teasers have historically been +EV.
Basic Strategy Teasers:
In Stanford Wong’s book Sharp Sports Betting, first published in 2001, the idea of “basic strategy teasers” was first put into print. Wong uses push charts to illustrate that teasing +1.5 to +2.5 underdogs and -7.5 to -8.5 favorites is profitable when given the right teaser odds. Notice in both of these teaser options that when moving the spread six points, you’re capturing a win on what would have been a loss: four of the six most common margins of victory including the top two (3, 7, 6 and 4). While it’s now nine years outdated from the time the chapter of Sharp Sports Betting was written, these teaser legs were winning at greater than the required 70.95% clip.
So how have bettors following basic strategy faired in recent years?
Today is November 19, 2010. I specify that date so you know the sample size I am working with. Since the Start of the 2006 NFL season Week 1, to as recent as the Thursday night game of the 2010 NFL season Week 11, legs included in basic strategy teasers have gone 101-45 (69.17%). Unfortunately, that means blindly following all “Wong Teasers” has not been profitable. The good news is that a modified basic strategy has been profitable.
Breaking down the teaser results into four subsets here are the results:
Home Dogs +1.5 to +2.5 Teased to +7.5 to +8.5
Road Dogs +1.5 to +2.5 Teased to +7.5 to +8.5
Home Favorites -7.5 to -8.5 Teased to -1.5 to -2.5
Road Favorites -7.5 to -8.5 Teased to -1.5 to -2.5
If you were to simply stick to road dogs and home favorites, you’d be well over the required break even win rate. Now, this does have sample size issues, and some criticize this as “data mining”, but to be blunt: I don’t care and am no longer including the home dogs in a teaser. There has been a trend in the NFL for quite some time now: teams play more aggressively on the road than they do at home. At home, they are often running down and managing the clock, where on the road they’re looking to get up an additional possession. This applies to certain teams and coaches more than others, but it is food for thought for your analysis/handicapping when deciding which teams to put in a teaser.
Teasers that cross the three and seven should logically remain the most profitable ones. However, back in 2004 or 2005 a poster named “Bill the Cop” prophetically introduced us to “non basic strategy teasers”. This is a rather odd term, because you might think it means any teaser that does not fit the basic strategy model, but, nope, it means underdogs +4.5 to +5.5.
Since the start of the 2006 season through the completions of 2010 NFL season Week 10, all underdogs +4.5 to +5.5 teased six points have gone 88-32 for 73.33%. Keep in mind, this isn’t data mining. This subset was back tested as profitable in 2005, I discovered it in 2006. I have tracked and monitored it since, and it has been a winner.
A quick note is that recently home underdogs +4.5 to +5.5 have not been doing well in teasers. The road dogs +4.5 to +5.5 have been dominant going 68-17 (80.00%) since 2006.
A Teaser Betting Tip Beyond Conventional Wisdom
Sports forums are filled with useless information. There is a common belief that teasers that cross the zero are the worst teasers. If you hear someone say this, don’t correct them; profit, instead, while the opportunity exists. 5Dimes offers two team six point “ties win” teasers at -105, and 6.5 point “ties win” teasers at -115. Teasing strong -3 road favorites to +3 “ties win”, and strong -3.5 road favorites to +3 “ties win”, can make sense. The first example is 64-24 (72.73%) since 2006, and it is good enough for a blind bet. The second option comes down to this: if it’s good enough to bet straight, it is likely better to tease if you have a leg to match it with.
College Football Teasers
The same math we shared earlier in this article applies also to college football teasers. For a three team teaser at +180 to be a better option than a straight bet at -105, the added points need to increase the legs win probability by 19.73%. The tips we shared in this article regarding “basic strategy teasers”, “Bill the cop teasers”, “crossing the zero with double threes”, etc, do not apply to college football. In fact, it is rare in college football that six points will ever increase the win rate by 19.73%, even when crossing the 3 and 7. The few exceptions to this are games with low totals.
I’ll admit I’m not an expert on basketball betting. My limited opinion and analysis is that there are far less profitable basketball teasers than NFL ones. Most betting sites start at 4 points, some at 4.5 points for teasers of 2 teams at -110, 3 teams at +180, and 4 teams at +300. Here is a rough push chart for points in NBA basketball:
|1: 2.27%2: 4.03%3: 3.83%4: 3.48%5: 4.37%6: 4:16%7: 4.11%||8: 4.2%9: 4.76: 4.16: 3.87: 3.51+ the data continues to tail downward.|
As another industry secret that many wouldn’t share: On weeks where I find only a single NFL leg worth betting, I then turn to Bookmaker.eu. Bookmaker offers teasers where football and basketball can be mixed and starts the base at 5 points for basketball, where the football base is 6 points. This is far better than the standard odds. To capture the value of that one football teaser leg, I’ll combine it with an NBA teaser leg where I can cross as many of the most valuable points in NBA as possible (Points 4-10). Keep in mind that Bookmaker only offers +160 on three teamers, so this strategy is only relevant to two team mixed teasers at -110 (5 point NBA, 6 point NFL).
A Few Final Words About Teasers
When making blind teaser bets using “basic strategy”, “Bill the Cop Teasers” my -3 to +3 ties win, or when doing your own analysis that involves “capping the market”, wait until 30 minutes before game time to make your bets. In this time frame, the NFL betting lines represent the largest and most successful professional gamblers opinion of the games true probability. To understand why, read our article on the current betting market. Our final word of advice is to manage your bankroll well. Teasers seem to come in streaks where they win 7 or 8 weeks in a row, and the bettors get over confident. Then there is one horrible week where everything loses. In 2010, that was week 8; it was near a clean sweep for most. Don’t get over confident, bet reasonable, build yet also protect your bankroll, and you can make a lot of money betting teasers.