Sports Sucker Bets

How To Avoid Sportsbetting Sucker Bets

Watching sports is often a lot more fun when there is a financial stake on the line, which is why many sports fans get involved in sports betting. No matter if you've been doing the same for years, or are brand new to sports betting, what you need to know, or might already know, is that there are multiple ways to bet on the same team and that not all of them pay the same.

In this article, we're not going to cover anything too advanced, but we are going to cover a few advanced concepts. The reason we choose to present this article, aimed first and foremost at recreational bettors, is because if we were to simply tell you that a certain bet is a sucker bet but then didn't show why, you'd be far less likely to avoid sucker bets in the future.

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What is a sucker bet?

A sucker bet (or sucker's bet) is one that is such a bad deal only a sucker would bet it. Its like Subway offering foot-long subs at $5.00 for one, or $14.00 for 2. You'd have to be a sucker to order two at a time, wouldn't you?

These are the top 4 sucker bets you're likely to come across in sportsbetting.

  1. Parlays
  2. Buying points.
  3. Teaser bets.
  4. Pleaser bets.

1) The most commonly known sucker bet: Parlays

When I was brand new to sports betting, a dozen or so years ago, I had heard numerous times that a parlay was a sucker bet. I heard it enough time to know it must be true, but I had no idea why until much later. Let me explain exactly how a parlay works.

What is a "Parlay"?

A parlay is a combination bet where all teams must win in order for the bet to win. If one team loses, only the initial stake is lost.

Most local bookies, and many online betting sites payout on parlays as follows: 2 teams: 2.6 to 1, 3 teams: 6 to 1, 4 teams: 12 to 1, 5 teams: 25 to 1, etc. Let's now look at exactly how a parlay would work if you bet the teams instead one at a time.

  • Team 1: Bet $110 to win $100, Win = $210
  • Team 2: Bet $210 to win $190.91, Win = $400.91
  • Team 3: Bet $400.91 to win $364.46, Win = $765.37
  • Team 4: Bet $765.37 to win $695.79, Win = $1,461.16

Had you bet $110 @ 12 to 1 you'd have $1,320.00 winnings, plus your $110 stake for a total balance of $1,430.00.

Why a Parlay is a sucker bet.

You see by combining these bets into a parlay, you're actually making less money than had you manually bet them. Of course the counter argument to this generally is, yes but the games are being played at the same time, so I can't manually bet them.

Well I suppose, and it's a stretch in thinking, that if you were only going to bet one parlay in your entire life this would make sense. However, if each week, or once a month, you bet parlays, then why not break it up manually doing parlays into other weeks?

The bigger issue with parlays: in the example above, you went initially from betting $110 on a game to risking in the final game $765.37. This is horrible bankroll management. Understand the paradox: parlay bets pay worse than straight bets, and also are higher variance. Its hard enough to beat games straight up at -110, but it's even harder when you're doing it via parlays.

If you do want to bet this "sucker bet", do so at Bookmaker.eu who at least pays true, or closer to true, -110 odds on parlays. Still a bad idea, but if you're going to bet them Bookmaker is the place.

Parlays Are Generally Sucker Bets

2) Buying points is generally for suckers.

The only exception to this rule that we know of is in NFL games, when the sports betting line is 7. If you buy a team +6.5 or +7 to +7.5, or a team -7.5 or -7 to -6.5 and the bookmaker allows you do do this as 15 cents or less per half point (-110 to -125 = 15 cents) then it's often either a neutral or positive expectation to purchase the half point.

In all other cases we know of, half point buys give you worse odds, as the probability of the half point helping does not justify the worse odds you are getting.

3) Teaser bets are generally sucker bets

This is true of all college football, and all basketball teasers. In fact, the average football teaser bet gives the house a 14.74% advantage (it's close to double that in basketball teasers) and this is backed by years of historical data. That same historical data shows that in straight bets against the spread at -110, the house has an advantage of 7.15% on favorite bets, and 1.69% advantage on underdogs.

If you're going to bet teasers, the worst bets on the board are the over/under bets.

To understand this, we'll explain in a way perhaps more advanced than a recreational bettor cares to process, but here is the info none the less.

Teaser bets as sucker bets example.

In football a two team six point teaser is offered at -110. To break even with -110 bets, a bettor needs to win an average of 52.38% of the time (we'll save the math, but if you run out 524 $100 wins, and 476 $110 losses, you'll see this is true).

To calculate how often we need each individual leg of a teaser to break even, we need to figure out what number times itself = .5238 (a decimal for our 52.38%). So, what we do is go to a square root calculator and enter .5238, where we see 0.723740284908 x 0.723740284908 = 52.38. Let's now round that to an even % and we need individual legs of a teaser to win 72.37% of the time for the wager to be +EV.

Here's a snap shot of long time NFL historical data taken in December 2009 to show why teasing totals is a bad idea.

  • Overs teased 6 points 2746-1267-64 for 68.4%
  • Under teased 6 points 2649-1374-54 for 65.8%

This same historical data shows randomly picked teasers bets on point spreads win only 68.8% in NFL.

Basketball teaser bets.

Thinking of betting basketball teasers? DON'T. This is a massive sucker bet.

Don't just take my word for it, The Wizard of Odds (Michael Shackleford ) has covered this in great detail on his site which shows the typical 4 point -110 two team NBA teasers has a whopping 32.29% house advantage.

As you can see, teaser bets are very good for the house, and not so good for the suckers who bet them.

Note: One exception to this rule, which applies only to NFL (not college) football, is teasing home favorites of 7.5 to 8.5, and all underdogs of 1.5 to 2.5, in 6 point teasers offered at odds the same or better than 2 team -110, 3 team +180, 4 team +300. Under these special sets of circumstances, teasers are no longer a sucker bet. In all other cases they are.

4) Pleaser bets.

The same concept we used to show why teaser bets are sucker bets applies to pleaser bets, but here it is even worse. Let's show just one common sense example:

Please two underdogs of +5.5 each to -0.5, and a bookmaker will pay you 6 to 1 if you win. A lot of people make these bets without ever seeing that both teams are +220 on the moneyline. If rather than putting them into a pleaser, you parlayed them on the moneyline, you'd get a 9.24 to 1 payout if both teams won.

I ran these odds at big spread, small spread, and all sorts of subsets. Nowhere could I find a spot where a pleaser bet was not the sucker bet of all sucker bets. Unless you want to pour away money, avoid pleasers, as you might actually have better odds playing state run pick 3 or pick 4 lottery.

Final thoughts: The best way to bet on sports as a fan is to bet straight up against the spread, while taking advantage of bonuses, such as the one Bookmaker.eu offers to all players signing up using the Bookmaker bonus code: FRESH.

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