College Football Teasers
Recently I wrote a comprehensive article on teaser betting strategy where I mentioned basic strategy is not considered profitable for college football teasers. The reason why relates to the fact college football games score more points than NFL games. The good news is, despite popular opinion to the contrary, profitable strategy does exist for college football teasers. While I'll do some review, you'll get significantly greater value from this article if you read my article on NFL teaser betting first.
Basic Strategy Explained
Basic strategy states that teasers that go from a loss to a win on both the point spreads 3&7, while also getting the best odds possible, are the best of all teasers to wager. This is based on the fact that 3&7 are the two most common margins of victory and therefore the highest value point spreads to tease. Considering bookmakers start their teasers at 6-points, and "best odds possible" is a requirement, these are the ones we want to use. With this info we can determined basic strategy is to tease underdogs +1.5 to +2.5 and favorites -7.5 to -8.5 in six point teasers.
Explained in my past article is the fact 2-team 6-point teasers at -110 require each selection to win 72.37% of the time to average break even and 3-team 6-point teasers at +180 require each selection to win 70.95% of the time to average break even. Considering that before the tease, the point spreads were 50/50 propositions, we need teasing the spread 6-points to increase the cover rate by either 72.37%-50.00%=22.37% or 70.95%-50.00%=20.95% for a teaser bet to have positive expected value.
NFL and College Teasers Compared
For NFL football it is well believed, and supported, that teasing basic strategy subsets increases their win rate by more than the minimum required break even increase of 20.95%. For college football there is noticeable difference which can be explained by looking at the following stats. Over the past 5 seasons (2007/08 to 2011/12) NFL games have been decided by exactly 3 points 14.8% of the time, exactly 7 points 9.8% of the time and in the range 3-7 points 38.8% of the time. For college football there is a huge drop off. Here over the same seasons, games were decided by exactly 3 points 9.84% of the time, by exactly 7 points 7.42% of the time and in the range 3-7 points 27.10% of the time.
Historical College Football Teaser Results
So where do we go from here? The only idea I have is to datamine, which is dangerous. To illustrate why, a year ago I had a made note that basic strategy subsets for college football had a cover rate of 348-154 (69.3%). However running the figures with a year dropped, and a new year added to get the most recent five seasons I now see the results have increased to 366-144-1 (71.76%). That's quite swing, and dealing with a small sample size we can't be sure these stats have much meaning.
The 71.76% cover rate mentioned above might also mislead bettors into thinking basic strategy college football teasers are profitable in 3-team 6-point +180 format, however this would be the first season that a five year trend suggested this to be the case. When digging further, this can be explained by the fact that over this period, before the tease, these same selections went 264-241-6 (52.38%) against the spread. This is an increase of only 19.38%. As variance irons itself out or the market moves back to efficiency, this short term trend will near certainly disappear.
Now if you don't want to take my word for it, the sharpest bettors I know all agree that blindly betting basic strategy college football teasers is -EV. However, what if we simply bet only games with a comparable over/under betting total to NFL football games? Let's say all teasers meeting the basic strategy subsets +1.5 to +2.5 and -7.5 to -8.5 with betting total 47.5 or less. If you had this idea already yourself, congratulations… you're thinking like a sharp. So to do some more dangerous dataming here are the results:
NCAAF Basic Strategy Subsets (With Betting Total of 47.5 or less)
No Tease: 62-74-1 (44.93%)
Teased 6: 108-29 (78.83%)
Although datamining is a horrible method to go about this, over the past five seasons low total basic strategy teaser subsets have been money printing machines. Keep in mind however there's some freak variance going on here and sample sizes are dangerously small. For example all basic strategy subsets went 264-241-6 (52.38%) over the past five years, when I lowered this to low scoring totals they went No Tease: 62-74-1 (44.93%). There's no logical or mathematical reason that explain this change. Therefore it's hard to take this information to the bank. However the idea to teaser low total games meeting basic strategy was logical, probably is +EV, but the exceptional results are likely well-padded by variance.
A Better Method for Favorites
If you really want to beat college football teasers a better method for the favorites is to remove vig from the moneyline. How to do so is explained in my article on handicapping the betting market. In fact, there's even a calculator for doing this included in that article. To run through this quickly let's say the point spread on a game is Ohio State -8.0 -110 / Michigan +8.0 -110. The game also has a moneyline of -310 /+280. Here we'd use the information I just linked to and calculate that the no-vig moneyline is -287.27 which has a no-vig win probability of 74.18%.
We've now determined the market is giving Ohio State a 74.18% chance of winning. However, their point spread was -8, so in our teaser selection we now have Ohio State -2. From here we need to use reverse of the strategy covered in my article on buying half points. I'll just tell you as a given, sincerely my database shows about 2.5% push rate in college football on the -1 and a 1.8% push rate on the -2. Considering half the 1.8% probability of -2 is in our opponent's line of +2 and we both push on that number we only take half credit for that probability (0.9%). So for Ohio State-2.0 we deduct 2.5%+0.9% from their 74.18% chance of winning to give them a -2 cover rate of 71.59%.
In the above example teasing Ohio State in a 3-team 6-point +180 teaser (70.95% required break even rate) is +EV, while adding them to a 2-team 6-point -110 teaser (72.37% required break even rate) is -EV. Also keep in mind many betting sites don't offer 3-team 6-point teasers any longer. However, one that does and also offers the ability to add both NFL and college teams to the same teaser is Bovada.lv. This where you'll want to use this strategy, however, when at the remove vig step, get the moneylines from www.5dimes.com, for reason I explain in my article on handicapping the market (cap the market at the sharp book but, bet that the square book). The good news is 5dimes also offers 3-team 6-pointers at +180.
There are many additional tips and warnings you'll need to know about to beat teaser betting over the haul. In the intro I encouraged you to read the article I linked to on NFL teaser betting before reading the article you just read. If you didn't do that I strongly suggest doing so now as there's a lot more valuable information likely to make your betting season more profitable contained within. With all that said I wish you the best of luck this season and beyond making +EV teaser wagers online. For more tips on football betting, refer to my article on football betting strategy.