Teaser Bets

Teaser Betting Guide (+ Some Math)

Teaser betting is a fun way to get extra action in during the football season. For those not familiar with teasers, in this article we’re going to cover everything you need to know and more about teaser bets.

What is a "teaser" bet?

To quickly explain, a teaser is a parlay bet that uses an alternate point spread.

In football, the most common point modifications are six, six and a half, and seven points, with six points offering the best odds and being the most common format. To show an example of a teaser, let’s say this week there are two games you’re interested in betting: Jets +2.5 and the Colts -7.5, Instead of betting each game separately, you can put them into a two team six point teaser and get Jets +8.5 and Colts -1.5 together as a single bet.

Most commonly, the odds for six point teaser bets are two teams -110, three teams +180 and four teams +300. The best option for betting teasers, and we’ll explain why later in this article, is the three team +180 bet. It’s important to note that these payouts are not standardized: there are a handful of sites offering lower payouts, such as Intertops +170.

One of the best sites still offering a +180 full payout is Bookmaker.eu.

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Deciphering teaser betting options.

As we’ve already explained, a teaser bet is a parlay that uses a modified point spread, and the most popular alternative point spread used is six points. If we’re going to consider teaser strategy any further, the first thing we need to understand is the price we are actually paying for six points, as without knowing this we can’t fully understand what we’re betting.

To keep things simple, let’s first examine a two team six point teaser which is offered at -110. This is 11/10 in fraction format, 1.91 in European format, and in plain English, you’ll need to stake $1.10 for each $1.00 you’re attempting to win. To break even at -110, bets need to win 52.38% of the time.

Without use of an equation to validate, this simply run out 10,000 bets where 5238 times you win $1 for +$5238 and 4762 bets where you lose $1.1 for -$5238. The actual equation is risk divided by return equals break even. A bet risking $1.1 returns 2.1 (the 1.1 stake plus the win of 1) so the math is 1.1/2.1 = 0.5238, which converted to a percent is 52.38%.

In a teaser bet, both bets must win; if they don’t, the bet is graded a loss. To be clear, a (win + win) is graded a win, while both (loss + win ) and (loss + loss) are graded a loss. Using math, we’ve already shown that to break even in a 2 team 6 point teaser at -110, we need both teams to win together 52.38% of the time.

To figure out how much we’re actually paying for the six point move, we now figure out how often we need each individual team to win.

Working out how often we need each team to win.

To answer that question, we convert our 52.38% break even into a decimal and then ask ourselves what number times itself equals 0.5238. Lucky for us, there is a simple way to find this: just Google search “square root calculator” (here's a good one), plug in 0.5238, and we find that 0.7237 times 0.7237 is 0.5238.

This means that in a two team teaser at -110 we need each individual leg to win 72.37% of the time for a teaser to break even.

To figure out the moneyline that this represents, Google search “moneyline converter” (here's a moneyline converter I like), plug in 72.37, and see the answer is -262. So we’ve now deciphered that a two team six point teaser is a parlay bet of two teams -262. We’re paying 152 cents (from the standard -110 pricing) to get six extra points for each leg.

The same math works for other teasers. Three teams at +180. Our first step, a bet of 1 returns 2.8, take 1/2.8= 35.71%. That’s how often we need all three teams to win for the bet to break even. We now need to determine what number times itself three times equals .3571.

Here we Google search for “cubed root calculator” (cubed root calclator) to determine 0.7094633 x 0.7094633 x 0.7094633 = 0.3571. So, in a three team teaser at +180, we need each leg to win 70.95% of the time for the bet to be break even. This equates to -244, so a three team teaser at +180 is a three team parlay with each team priced -244. As you can see, three team teasers priced at +180 are a better deal than two teamers priced at -110.

After doing the math on several different teasers, this is what we’ve come up with:

  • 2 team -110 = 72.37% (-262)
  • 3 team +180 = 70.95% (-244)
  • 4 Team +300 = 70.71% (-241)
  • 5 team +450 = 71.11% (-246)
  • 6 team +600 = 72.30% (-261)

As you can see betting teasers at three teams +180 or four teams +300 offers much better odds than the two team variety. Once again, stick to sites like Bookmaker.eu where the full payout is offered. Other sites short three team teaser payouts such as Intertops +170.

Are teasers sucker bets?

The answer to this question is generally, yes; however, this is because most players don't understand basic strategy.

Blackjack strategy analogy.

In the same way that the house has a massive edge in blackjack when a player always mimics the dealer, such as hitting on 16 against a six, never splitting or doubling down, the house has the same large edge when players randomly pick teams they feel will cover the spread and then toss them into a teaser for an added pad on the spread.

In blackjack, even when basic strategy is used, the house still has an edge; but when basic strategy is used in teasers most, if not all or more, of the house’s edge is negated.

Back to the first example.

Now, we’ve spent a lot of time on math, so let’s go back to the intro example, where we had a choice between making two separate bets of Jets +2.5 -110 and the Colts -7.5, or putting them together in a teaser of +8.5 and Colts -1.5 as a single bet. In the first option, we have two -110 bets, which we’ve already established must win 52.38% of the time on average to break even.

We’ve also already determined that in our teaser bet we need both teams to win 52.38%, which individually requires each win 72.37% of the time for the bet to break even. The next sentence is important, so important that if you don’t understand it or are lost you should go back and reread this entire article to make sure this is understood:

What we need to determine is whether the six extra points increases each team’s chances of covering by 20% or greater.

If it doesn’t, we should stick to making the two individual bets; if it does, then we should skip the individual bets and put those two teams together in a teaser bet.

Make sure you understand this.

Once again, I stress that if the information in this article so far hasn’t sunk in, go back and read again. Here we’ve covered enough to give you a remarkable start towards understanding advanced teaser strategy. This strategy is a serious weapon in the arsenal of any advantage sports gambling.

Now even if you’re just a gambler looking for some low house edge bets, that’s fine just the same; at least by understanding what we’ve covered so far you’ll appreciate basic strategy so much more. Again, if you’re lost please read and reread until what we’ve covered so far sinks in.

Basic strategy teasers.

The reason most teasers range from considerable negative expectation to massive sucker bets is because most often the adjustment of the point spread does not increase each team’s chances of winning by the required break even percentage. Of a small handful of exceptions where the chances of winning are increased enough to make a teaser profitable, all are those that fall under “basic strategy”.

Basic strategy teasers apply only to NFL spreads. This is because, for reasons we'll explain later, college football and all basketball teasers are sucker bets, as are any teasers which include a total (over/under). Also crucial to basic strategy is that you're getting -110 or better on two team teasers, +180 or better on three team teasers and +300 or better on four team teasers (these odds are offered at www.bookmaker.eu). With all that said, learning basic strategy is as simple as this:

Tease home favorites of -7.5 or more down to -2.5 or better, and tease road underdogs of +2.5 or less to +7.5 or more. That is all, no other teasers fit into a basic strategy play. Now keep in mind, though, that the criteria of -110 or better (2 teams), +180 or better (3 teams) and +300 or better (4 teams) must also be met. So, let’s say the online betting site you use offers two team six point teasers at -110. Here you'll look for all underdogs of +1.5, +2 and +2.5, and you'll look for all home favorites of -7.5, -8 and -8.5.

Why do basic strategy teasers negate the house edge?

Recall several times now that we have emphasized in a two team six point teaser at -110, you need each individual team to cover the modified point spread 72.37% of the time on average for the bet to be break even.

Teasers which fall into the basic strategy category (favorites -7.5 to -8.5 and road dogs +1.5 to +2.5) have historically won at a greater than needed clip, and therefore are more profitable than betting the teams separately at -110.

To illustrate this, here is the data on how often teams covered when teased six points. This data goes through the complete 2009 season, but does not include any games from the season that started September 2010. Here is the breakdown:

  • Road Underdogs +1.5 to +2.5: 206 wins / 79 losses, for 72.3% (Past 16 years)
  • Road Underdogs +1.5 to +2.5: 54 wins / 18 losses for 75% (Past 5 years)
  • Home Favorites +1.5 to +2.5: 166 wins / 59 losses 73.8% (Past 16 years)
  • Home Favorites +1.5 to +2.5: 51 wins / 16 losses for 76.1% (Past 5 years)

The likely reason that these are so profitable historically is because the most common numbers of victory in the NFL are 3, 7, 4 and 6. When we tease using basic strategy, we're fully crossing all of these #'s, which results in a higher win rate.

Common basic strategy error.

Basic strategy teasers are a hot topic on sports betting forums right now, and many mistakenly believe that as long as the tease fully crosses the three and the seven, it is sound strategy. The historical data does not support this however. Let's look at the two subsets that meet the criteria and are not on our basic strategy play list. Here is that data again using historical results through the completion of the 2009 NFL season.

  • Home Underdogs +1.5 to +2.5: 148 wins / 60 losses for 71.2% (Past 16 years)
  • Home Underdogs +1.5 to +2.5: 40 wins / 23 losses for 63.5% (Past 5 years)
  • Road Favorites +1.5 to +2.5: 46 wins / 25 losses for 64.8% (Past 16 years)
  • Road Favorites +1.5 to +2.5: 21 wins 11 losses for 65.6% (Past 5 years)

As you can see, these #'s are not impressive. We need to win 72.4% of the time to break even and the #'s above just don't cut.

Are the any other teasers outside basic strategy which are profitable?

The short answer to that question is yes, but they are rare. Finding them won’t be easy for a recreational gambler, but here is how an advantage player might go about analyzing a non basic strategy teaser:

Let's say a certain betting site has a shaded line such as Lions +9.5 -130, where most other sites have Lions +7.5 -110. This is a game an advantage player might look at because he’s getting spotted 2 points due to the way the site chose to list the line.

To calculate the value, this bettor goes to his database of historical NFL results, then calculates how often teams that were +7.5 to +8.5 lost by 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 points. Doing this math, he might come up with 2.14%, 0.9%, 4.91%, 2.22%, 0.44%, 1.3%, 4.9% and 1.46%. Those numbers total to 18.27%. It was close, but it's not enough. He is looking for spots where the increased win rate is 20% or higher to justify a teaser bet.

While this particular example didn't work out, it provides insight as to how an advantage gambler approaches teasers.

Teaser betting evaluation.

If you’re simply a recreational player looking for some good blind bets, basic strategy teasers are a great choice. One thing to keep in mind: if you’re betting at Bookmaker.eu where three team six point teasers are offered at +180, this option will give you better odds than a two team teaser at -110.

We focused many of our examples here on two team six point teasers -110. We did this both to make it simple and because many weeks there won’t be a third leg that falls under than basic teaser model.

If you’re a serious bettor looking to make a career out of sports betting, or at least to supplement your income, the later portions of this article contain some hints on how to think outside the box when it comes to teaser betting.

Whether you’re a recreational bettor or a sharp in the making, we wish you the best of luck.

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