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Teaser Betting

Teasers are a lot like dynamite. If you know how to use them correctly you can do some serious damage to a sportsbooks’ bottom line. If you don’t know how to use them, while you probably won’t lose a leg or limb, you are likely to see your bankroll suffer.

In this guide I’m going to cover this betting type in great detail. Some of the information covered here is basic math intensive; don’t let that bore or intimidate you, because after reading and understanding the information in this article you’ll be well on your way to beating these bets.

What is This Bet?

To define it simply, a teaser is a parlay wager that uses an alternate point spread.

For example, many online sportsbooks offer 2-team 6-point NFL teasers at -110. This means you can select any two NFL teams and have their point spread adjusted six points in your favor.

Let’s say, for example, the Colts are -5 and the Jets are +2. When taking these teams is a 2-team 6-point bet you end up with a parlay of Colts +1 and Jets +8 as each line is moved in your favor 6 points. The odds are -110 which means you’ll need to risk $1.10 for each dollar you want to win. In order to win your bet both teams need to cover the adjusted point spread.

For the most part, betting sites offer 2-team NFL bets at 6-point -110, 6.5 point -120 and 7-point -130 options; shopping around though you might find better odds. For 3-team wagers, the odds vary greatly; some sites offer 3-team 6-point wagers at +180 (such as Bovada) where other sites offer them for unfavorable odds such as +170 at Intertops, +160 at Bookmaker, and +150 at BetOnline.

Obviously to beat these bets you need to find the best odds available.

Understanding the Odds

A prerequisite to profitable betting is to understand the odds well enough that you can break down to individual odds per team. For example, in a 2-team 6-point bet, it’s easy to calculate that we need both teams to win 52.38% of the time in order to have an expected value of break even.

Why?

Because the formula for calculating break even rate is risk divided by return. At -110 we’re risking $1.10 to win $1.00, so if our bet wins our return is $2.10 ($1.10 risked + $1.00 win is the return). $1.10/$2.10 = 0.5238 which is the same as 52.38%. Consider this: for a 2-team bet, our outcome is dependent on the results of two separate team.

So, in order to calculate how often each team wins individually, we must simply take the square root of 0.5238 which is 0.7237 or otherwise stated as 72.37%. So what we now know is that in order to achieve the 52.38% break even win rate for both teams, we need each team individually to win 72.37% of the time.

Now let’s take the case of 3-team 6-point bets at +180.

First we calculate that $100 risked returns $280.00 ($100 stake + $180 win). Using the formula risk/return=break even we see $100/$280= 0.3571, so we know all three teams individually must cover 35.71% of the time for the bet to have an expected value of break even. To see how often each team individually must win we calculate the cubed root (3rd root) of 0.3571, which is 0.7095.

In order to achieve the 35.71% break even rate that all three teams must combine for, we need each individual team to win 70.95% of the time.

If you take look at these two examples, a 3-team 6-point teaser at +180 gives us better odds per team than a 2-team 6-point wager at -110; due to a 70.95%, as opposed to 72.37%, required break even rate. Now if we want to see exactly what we’re being offered, we could go ahead and convert these required break even rates, known as implied probabilities, to American betting odds.

The math for that is as follows:

100/(1-Decimal Odds) = American Odds

In order to calculate this we first need to convert our implied probability into decimal odds.

For the 72.37% this would calculate as 1/.7237= 1.3818 which is the decimal odds. We can now plug it into this formula as 100/(1-1.3818) and calculate this equals -262 in American odds format.

Therefore a 2-team 6-point wager at -110 is basically a two team parlay with each team priced at -262. Doing the same math for 70.95%, 1/.7095= 1.4094 decimal odds, which plugs into the formula as 100/(1-1.4094) and solves to -244 American odds.

To put this in perspective a 2-team 6-point bet at -110 is a parlay with each team priced at -262 and a 3-team 6-point wager at +180 is a parlay with each team priced at -244. Obviously there is higher expected value betting 3-team 6-point teaser at +180. Here we get the exact same six points, but we’re getting far better odds for each team.

Odds Chart

To save you doing this math for all potential options, I went ahead and ran 6-point teaser odds for several different prices you might find at online sportsbooks.

Making Selection

Now that you have a firm understanding of the odds, the question becomes which of these bets are profitable?

In the case of 6-point bets, the answer is to make selections where moving their spread 6-points increases your expected win rate by the required break even percentage.

For example going back to our teaser odds chart we see “3-team +180 = -244.2 American / 70.95% Break Even”.

As we know from our NFL betting page, come game time NFL betting lines are very close to efficient. Therefore this means if the consensus line is Patriots -2 / Jets +2 we know the Patriots likely have a very close to 50% chance of covering -2 and the Jets likely have very close to a 50% chance of covering +2.

The difference of 70.95%-50.00% is 20.95%. From here if we could somehow calculate that moving one team’s spread 6-points increased their expected cover rate by greater than 20.95% we’d know we have a profitable selection to add to a 3-team 6-point +180 teaser.

The first challenge we face is that moving the point spread 6-points at random rarely increasing a team’s win rate by 20.95%. To illustrate this I pulled data for the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 NFL regular seasons and analyzed the point spread spreads and results. My finding was that all teams teased 6 points went 1446-702 against the modified point spread, meaning the cover rate was only 67.3%. This is a far cry from the 70.95% break even rate each team requires in a 3-team 6-point +180 bet.

The conclusion here is that randomly adding teams to your bets is massive suckers move. In order to have a chance to win we’ll need to find some sort of profitable subsets.

The Key to Profitability

Betting MoneyIn the NFL Teasers chapter of a book first published in 2001, Sharp Sports Betting by Stanford Wong, the author used much the same math we’ve covered in this article, to show that given the correct odds the types of bets that fully crossed BOTH the point spreads 3 and 7 were profitable.

Fast forwarding a decade later, I looked up the most common margins of victory in recent years and found in order of most frequent the results were 3, 7, 10, 4, 6, 14, 2, 21, 17, 1, 8 and 5.

Another interesting fact was that over the past five season 24.6% of games are decided by either “exactly 3” or “exactly 7” points AND 38.1% of games are decided by “3 to 7” points (covering the full range). This far more frequent than any other set of point spreads, so it now makes logical sense that teasers that fully cross the 3 and 7 at the best odds possible, are the highest value of all.

This leads us to develop the following subsets:

Favorites -8.5 to -7.5 teased 6-points to -2.5 to -1.5
Underdogs +1.5 to +2.5 teased 6-points to +7.5 to +8.5

As you can see these bets cross both the 3 and 7 and therefore should be the highest value of all. The question remains though, while we know they are the most valuable, are they profitable?

In order to answer that question with any sort of accuracy we’d need to get quite advanced doing one of the following:

a) Scrape box scores from a major site such as NFL.com and then harvest line history from GoldSheet, Covers, SBR or any other site that stores closing lines. We’d then run calculations and make and push charts.

b) Create a predictive model, were we could simulate games over thousands of trials and see how often the added 6 points increased our win rate by 20.95% or more.

Are Basic Strategy Teasers Profitable?

Using the simplified method I suggested a moment ago, I pulled data from ATS Database and over the past five seasons found, that all underdogs +1.5 to +2.5 and all favorites -7.5 to -8.5 combined for a 67-93 record against the point spread. Meaning they’re only covering the spread 41.9% of the time. When I teased these same teams 6 points, I found the cover rate improved to 113-47 (70.6%).

That’s a whopping 28.7% increase in how frequently these subsets cover when teased 6-points.

This data is nowhere near conclusive due to sample sizing issues. However, it absolutely suggest that teasing favorites -7.5 to -8.5 and underdogs +1.5 to +2.5, is a FAR better option than betting these same teams straight against the point spread.

Now if you’re concerned that the recent results are only 70.6% when the required break even rate is 70.95%, let me suggest this: there are dozens of people making their living betting point spreads at -110, where the required break even rate is 52.38% and the markets probability is 50.00%. With a little selectiveness you have FAR LESS of a bookmaker advantage to overcome.

Of course, for those who understand market theory, this probably a moot point.

In my article on NFL betting, I covered in detail why the probability of a closing point spread covering is very close to 50%. The fact that the subsets used in basic strategy bets have only covered 41.9% of the time is attributed to either variance or market inefficiencies. If it is the later that caused this poor cover rate, expect for near certain the market will adjust and these point spreads will once again have a 50/50 probability this coming season.

In any case it is HIGHLY likely that basic strategy wagers (the ones that cross the 3 and 7 at the best possible odds) are already profitable wagers as is, and at the very least have a miniscule house edge far less than optimal strategy blackjack or craps.

A Few Points to Keep In Mind

Now that you’re well equipped with the knowledge to beat these types of sports bets, you can apply this same knowledge to beating NBA bets, college football bets, and other similar types of bets and I can confirm angles do exist to beat each.

Of course, some readers might be disappointed I don’t provide more details on them as well, but let me put it this way: If I gave everyone here the exact subsets for beating all teaser sports bets on the board the same way I did for NFL, how long do you think it would take for the bookmakers to change or shade their lines preventing these from being profitable?

Sincerely, if you’re willing to do a little homework to beat sports betting it’s in your own best interest I don’t spill the beans.

However to give you a hint, the very next website you want to visit 5Dimes. There you’ll find pleasers, teasers, monsters (up to 20-point ones) with more options than any other betting site. In fact, they have 728 different options available for the NFL. One example relevant to this article is 2-team 5 point “ties win” bet at +105.

When teasing an underdog of +2 or a favorite of -8 you’ll get better odds using this option than you will 3-team 6-point +180 bet.

For starters you only need two teams to win, therefore decreasing your variance, AND the required break even rate drops to 69.8% as opposed to 70.95%. If you’ve read and understand the information contained in the article, it should be blatantly obvious why this form of sports betting offered exclusively at 5Dimes, is a FAR better option.

I wish you the best of luck this football season.

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