Betting NFL Teasers – A Detailed Guide

A teaser is a popular type of football bet, and one that you
should definitely consider including in your overall
football betting strategy
. Teasers are similar to
parlays, in that they involve making multiple selections, but
they are not quite as straightforward. They can be based on
either point spread bets or totals bets, and the initial spreads
or total lines are moved in your favor.

We provide a brief overview of exactly how teasers
work
in this article, and plenty of strategy advice
too. We also address two major misconceptions regarding these
bets.We also have a video put together that you can watch if you don’t want to read through. Our resident sports betting expert Drew Goldfarb breaks down NFL teasers very well here:

.

Please note, what you’re about to read covers teaser
betting strategy
in great depth. Although the material
is long, we encourage you read it all if you want the best
chance of making money from this particular bet. No matter if
you’re a seasoned gambling professional, or someone just
starting out, learning the information is near certain to lead
to additional profits betting on NFL football both this season
and all future seasons to come.

Related Information

This page focuses entirely on betting
NFL teasers. We have written another article that deals with
betting college football teasers
.

Misconceptions Surrounding NFL Teasers

There are two commonly held beliefs regarding NFL teasers,
and these are as follows.

  1. They are only for experienced and knowledgeable bettors.
  2. They are always sucker bets.

Although teasers are rightly referred to as an advanced
wager, they are not so complicated that you should avoid them
unless you’re an expert. So the first statement above is simply
not true.

It’s also wrong to think that they can’t be profitable. If
you can learn how to use them correctly, and in the right
circumstances, then it’s perfectly possible to make money from
them. We’re not saying it’s easy, as it’s not, but then no
aspect of successful football betting is easy. The point is that
it’s plain wrong to just broadly label NFL teasers as sucker
bets.

What is a Teaser?

In case you’re not aware, a teaser bet is a parlay that uses
a modified point spread. You’re given a better point spread than
the board is offering, and these pay less than a parlay.

To explain, let’s say in a given week there are two games
you’re interested in betting on. The first is the Chicago Bears
against the St. Louis Rams, and the point spread looks like
this.

Bears vs Rams
Point Spread
Bears
+8.5
Rams
-8.5

You like the look of the Rams at -8.5, and the odds are -110.

The second game is the Minnesota Vikings against the Oakland
Raiders, with the point spread as follows.

Vikings vs Raiders
Point Spread
Vikings
+3.5
Raiders
-3.5

In this one you like the look of the Vikings. The odds are
again -110.

There are three ways you can bet on the two teams you like.

  1. A straight bet on each team. For each wager, you would
    have to risk $110 to win $100.
  2. Betting them together in parlay, at odds of +265. This
    would give you the potential to win $265 for every $100
    wagered, if both selections win.
  3. Betting them together in a teaser.

For the teasers, let’s say you do the industry standard
2-team 6-point teaser at -110 odds. This would cover both teams
in a single wager, with the spreads moving six points in your
favor. So you’d have the Rams at -2.5 and the Vikings at +9.5.
The odds would be -110 for the single wager covering both teams,
so you’d be risking $110 to win $100.

Basically, the teaser is the same as the parlay in that you
need both selections to win in order to win the wager. Because
the spread has been moved in your favor, though, the odds have
been reduced.

As we mentioned earlier, teasers can also be placed based on
total lines. However, for the purposes of this article we’re
concentrating on teasers based on point spreads.

Recommended Reading

This is only a very basic explanation of
how teasers work, as this article is primarily about the
strategy involved specific to football betting. We’ve also
provided a more detailed explanation of teasers
in our general
sports betting guide.

How Teasers Can Vary

For football betting, teasers are available in all different
shapes and sizes. You can choose the number of teams you want to
include, and the number of points you want to move the spread
by. The odds then vary accordingly.

For a 2-team teaser, you’ll typically find the following odds
available.

  • 6 points: -110
  • 6.5 points: -120
  • 7 points: -130

Some bookmakers and betting sites also offer 7.5-point
teasers at -140.

While the odds for 2-team teasers are somewhat standard, they
can vary more significantly when you include three teams or
more. It’s worth noting that many betting sites offer special
teasers where, rather than getting a larger payout, you keep
getting more points for each team added. For example, one site
offers the following.

  • 3-team/10-point teasers: -110
  • 4-team/13-point teasers: -120

Many other sites offer the same at much worse odds such as
-130 to -160.

Top Tip

If you plan on placing a lot of teasers, then you
should use a betting site or bookmaker that offers plenty of
options and attractive odds for this type of wager. A good place
to start is with our recommended football betting sites
.

Betting Strategy for NFL Teasers

Back in September 2006, a poker player known as Daliman
introduced the sports betting public to basic strategy for
betting NFL football teasers. The concept he brought to forums
was not new. In fact, he disclosed in his first post that he had
read about this strategy in a book published in 2001, Sharp
Sports Betting by Stanford Wong. In tribute to the author, he
called these “Wong Teasers.”

Amazingly, he introduced them to poker forums at the start of
a season where they won at an ungodly clip; and many talented
gamblers literally bankrupted sports bookies that year. It was
the height of the poker boom (UIGEA didn’t go into effect until
the season was about over) and with these running so well that
year, many people into poker started betting on sports. The name
“Wong Teasers” stuck.

We should point out that, while these are still one of the
best blind bets in NFL football, 2006 was just an amazing year.
They are not always so successful, but if you follow the
strategy advice we provide here then you can certainly make some
money from them.

Considering that the best-known writer behind the Stanford
Wong penname didn’t write the teaser chapter of Sharp Sports
Betting, and the man that did was just sharing a strategy that
had been around since at least the 1980’s, we will refer to Wong
Teasers by their original name – “Basic Strategy Teasers.”

Introduction to Basic Strategy Teasers

Now that we have covered what a teaser is, and provided some
background information on the basic strategy, let’s look at how
to use them.

The most common margins of victory in NFL football are three
points and seven points, and basic strategy is essentially based
on the following premise.

The most profitable teasers are those that fully cross 3 and
7 at the best odds possible.

To be clear, fully crossing means going from
a loss to win. Therefore, teasing -7 to -1 isn’t part of basic
strategy nor is teasing +3 to +9. This is because in these
examples, you’re going from a push to a win on one of the
required numbers, not a loss to a win, which is the key.

Why Margins of 3 & 7?

To explain why the margins of three and seven are so
important, let’s look at some past data. Although this is a
little outdated now, covering the seasons from 2007/08 to
20011/12, the principle still applies. We’ll be providing some
fresh data for more recent years soon, and it will probably be
very similar.

  • Regular season games were decided by exactly 3 points
    14.8% of the time.
  • They were decided by exactly 7 points 9.8% of the time.
  • They were decided by the range 3-7 points 38.8% of the
    time.

There are no other margins of victories that come remotely
close to these percentages.

Getting the Best Teaser Odds is Key

There are two parts to the basic strategy to be concerned
with. Fully crossing the margins of three and seven is one.
Doing so at the best odds possible is the other. When using
basic strategy, a lot of novice punters forget that the best
odds possible is as much a requirement as crossing the three and
seven.

Basic Strategy Subsets

Considering we’re required to get the best odds possible and
most online betting sites start their teaser offers as 6-point
teasers, we can now decipher the two subsets to basic strategy.

  • Subset 1: Tease all underdogs (from +1.5 to +2.5) by six points (to +7.5 to +8.5)
  • Subset 2: Tease all favorites (from -7.5 to -.8.5) by six points (to -1.5 to -2.5)

No other subset would meet the criteria for the reason that
we’re looking for the absolute best odds possible and must fully
cross the 3-7.

The final challenge to getting the best odds relates to weeks
when there are more than 2-teams with point spreads meeting
basic strategy subsets. Here we need to know how many teams give
the best odds possible. To discuss this topic further, we need
to get into teaser math.

Teaser Math: How Many Teams per Teaser?

As mentioned earlier, teasers are parlays that use modified
point-spreads. The problem with this statement is that we’re not
actually sure what odds we’re getting for each individual team.
For example, we know on a 2-team 6-point teaser at -110 we’re
getting -110 that our teams will go 2-0 against the modified
point spread. We want to analyze whether a straight bet,
standard parlay, or teaser is best though. To do this, or any
other analysis, we’re going to need to figure out a way to break
this down to odds per team.

What we do know, considering we can select any team as our
teaser selection, is that the odds must be the same for each
team. So we’re now asking what moneyline, parlayed with the same
moneyline, results in the overall odds -110. One method a novice
bettor might use to solve this problem is to try to find the
solution via trial and error. The good news is that there’s a
much easier way.

To start, we need to consider how often we need to win in
order to average breakeven. Considering the odds are -110, what
we need to know is the implied probability of -110. We can get
this figure using our odds converter. Plugging in -110 in the
American odds field, we see the implied probability is 52.38%.
This tells us if both teams win 52.38% of the time, we’ll
average breakeven over the long haul.

To figure out how often each team individually must win, the
magic trick is to change 52.38% to a decimal (0.5238) and
calculate its square root. If you’re confused how to do this, no
problem. Just Google search a square root calculator, plug it
in, and see that the answer is 0.7237, which is 72.37%.

At this point, you can go back to our odds convertor and plug
in 72.37% under implied probability. You’ll see a 2-team 6-point
teaser at -110 is a parlay where each team is priced -262.

Allow us to go ahead and run through this one more time, now
calculating the odds on a 3-team 6-point teaser at +180.

  • First we need to calculate the implied probability of
    +180
  • This is 35.71%, which we convert to a decimal of 0.3571.
  • We’re dealing with three teams, so we must calculate the
    cubed root of this decimal.
  • This is 0.7095, or 70.95%.
  • We plug this 70.95% into our odds convertor.
  • This tells us that a 3-team 6-point teaser at +180 is a
    parlay where each team is priced -244.

Notice something? Remember basic strategy dictates that fully
crossing the three and seven and getting the best odds possible
are requirements. The latter tells us that when there are three
teams that meet our subsets of underdogs +1.5 to +2.5 and
favorites -7.5 to -8.5, we’ll want to do 3-team 6-point teasers
at +180 instead of 2-team 6-point teaser at -110.

Using Historical Data

In order to best illustrate why basic strategy teasers are
often times +EV, it’s helpful to look at historical data. In the
previous section, we calculated that 2-team 6-point teasers are
parlays where each team is priced -262, and that 3-team 6-point
teasers are parlays where each team is priced -244. The implied
probability of -244 is 70.95% and of -262 is 72.37%. Now keep in
mind that implied probability is a fancy word for how often a
team must win to break even.

Moving along, we already know that for point-spreads where
both sides are priced the same (example +1.5 -110 / -1.5 -110,
not +1.5 -105 / -1.5 -115), these bets are designed to be 50/50
even money propositions. If a selection in a teaser needs to win
70.95% of the time to break even, which is the rate for 3-team
6-point teasers, then moving the spread 6-points must increase
the chances to win by 20.95%. This is because we went from a 50%
proposition to a 70.95% proposition, and the 20.95% is the
difference.

Although this isn’t the best method, to keep things simple,
let’s take a look at how all basic strategy teasers have fared
over the five seasons from 2007 until 2012.

During this time, all favorites -7.5 to -8.5 went 22-20
(52.38%) against the point spread; when teased six points, they
went 33-9 (78.57%). Also, during this time, all underdogs +1.5
to +2.5 went 49-60 (44.95%); and when teased six points, they
went 74-35 (67.89%).

You’ll notice the win rates for the favorites increased
26.19%, and for the underdogs they increased 22.94%. In a 2-team
6-point teaser at -110, we needed the increase to be 22.37%; and
in a 3-team teaser 6-point teaser +180, we needed the increase
to be 20.95%. We’ve reached that increase in both cases, which
hints at the fact that if point spreads actually were covering
at the 50/50 rate intended, these basic strategy teasers are
+EV.

The Danger of Data Mining

Basic strategy teasers have been a hot topic in betting
forums for years now. In the past, road favorites weren’t doing
well, and many bettors tried claiming they were no longer a
basic strategy subset. However, in the period following those
claims, road favorites went 11-4 (73.33%).

There was then a period when people suggested avoiding home
underdogs, due to poor results in that subset.

In fact, if you look at the discussion on teasers over the
years, there has always been one subset or another trailing
behind. This circulates every few years and is simply caused by
variance. For the same reason that all four subsets cross the
two most common margins of victory, they all should have an
equal win probability.

This means basic strategy teasers are either +EV or they are
not. There’s no “all basic strategy teasers except (insert
subset) are +EV”. This results-oriented thinking is similar to
the failed logic that says patterns appearing on roulette wheels
or a baccarat score cards are helpful in knowing the results of
the next spin or hand.

For more on the topic of basic strategy, refer to the book
Sharp Sports Betting by Stanford Wong, and then search the
sports betting sub forum of twoplustwo.com if need be. The
overall consensus of the sharpest bettors in the world is: if
you can find three NFL teams just before game time that are +1.5
to +2.5 or -7.5 to -8.5 and tease them in a 3-team 6-point
teaser at +180, then you’ll be making a +EV bet.

Teaser Bets Can Be Sucker Bets

Earlier, we touched on the fact that teasers can be used on
the over/under betting total of any game as well the point
spread. We don’t believe this is something you should do though.
To show why totals are a bad idea, let’s look at the historical
results from the same five year period as before.

Over Bets

  • Over bets went 651-606-23 (51.79%)
  • When teased by six, they went 881-382-17 (69.75%)
  • The increase is just 17.96%.

Under Bets

  • Under bets went 606-651-23 (48.21%)
  • When teased by six, they went 828-434-18 (65.51%)
  • The increase is even lower at 17.30%.

Remember, we need to increase by between 20.95% and 22.37% to
find a +EV teaser bet. Simply put, teasing totals is a bet for
suckers, unless somehow the outcome is correlated (meaning a
2-team teaser using the point spread and total of the same game
where a correlation exists. It would be a rare occasion if this
were ever +EV; and at times, the betting sites will circle the
game to indicate that it’s not allowed.).

Earlier we shared the results from a five season period
teasing underdogs +1.5 to +2.5 and favorites -7.5 to -8.5, and
showed these all increased by more than the 20.95% and 22.37%
needed to be +EV. Had we just picked at random, here is what the
results would have been.

All Home Underdogs (Regardless of Spread)

  • No Teaser: 207-213-11 (49.29%)
  • Teased +6: 291-133-7 (68.63%)
  • Increase = 19.37%

All Road Underdogs (Regardless of Spread)

  • No Teaser: 433-388-23 (52.74%)
  • Teased +6: 576-260-9 (68.90%)
  • Increase = 16.16%

All Home Favorites (Regardless of Spread)

  • No Teaser: 388-433-24 (47.26%)
  • Teased +6: 552-271-22 (67.07%)
  • Increase = 19.81%

All Road Favorites (Regardless of Spread)

  • No Teaser: 213-207-11 (50.71%)
  • Teased +6: 281-137-13 (68.04%)
  • Increase = 17.33%

As you can see, all figures fall short of our minimum at the
20.95% increase required to break even, and extremely short of
the 22.37% needed when doing 2-team teasers at -110. Also keep
in mind that these numbers are inflated as they include both
basic strategy and non-basic strategy subsets.

No matter how you slice it, non-basic strategy teasers bet at
random are very poor sucker’s bets.

Be Careful of the Line Shades

This is an important final lesson. Remember, it wasn’t long
ago that many bookies went bankrupt over basic strategy teasers
winning at an epic clip. The online betting sites fared better
than the independent locals for the reason that they were far
more aware of the risks. Many betting sites combated basic
strategy teasers by simply changing the payouts. For example,
3-team 6-point teasers were +180 for years, and nowadays only a
small handful of sites offer better than +160.

Another tactic many betting sites use today is line shades
for both the purpose of blocking +EV teasers and to trick novice
bettors into making -EV teaser bets.

When teasing the point spread is all that matters and not the
price, betting sites often post lines such as +7.5 +105 / -7.5
-125. If you understand buying half points, you’ll know that
-7.0 -110 and -7.5 -125 have about the same expected value. The
betting site is simply moving the point spread and charging the
fair price for the move. What they’re doing here is tricking
novice bettors into thinking this is a -7.5 point spread worth
teasing, when really the correct odds are +7 -110 / -7 -110.

Our Advice

Make sure you’re dealing with consensus prices.
When betting basic strategy teasers, be sure to glance at the
odds offered by several betting sites to make sure the team is
at least a consensus -7.5 favorite, or at the least a +2.5
underdog, before making your bet. For the favorites, if you see
any other site offering -7 or better, this is a no bet. For the
underdog, if you find any other site offering +3 or better, this
is a no bet UNLESS +3 is priced -130 or greater.

This means that the bookmaker with the best teaser odds is
not always the best one to use. They might be shading the lines
to make the odds worse for basic strategy players, in the hope
of trapping bettors into making –EV bets.