One of the most popular types of wagers that NFL sports gamblers like to bet on are teaser bets. An age old question among sports bettors is are these bets profitable and what is the best way to reduce the edge held by the sportsbooks?
What Are Teasers?
Teasers are multi-leg bets similar to parlays, but that instead allow bettors to modify or move the point spread. They are most common in both college and pro football, but can also be bet on basketball games, as well.
All the legs of the bet must win for a bettor to win their teaser. If one the legs loses the teaser is graded as a loss. Bettors must choose a minimum of two teams in their teaser bet but may choose up to 15 teams at many sportsbooks, and anything in-between. When I say teams, I mean totals as well, any side or total can be used as a leg in a teaser bet.
Let’s look at some straight bets from a typical NFL Sunday before I show how a teaser affects each number:
San Francisco 49ers -3
St. Louis Rams +6.5
Minnesota Vikings +5
Now, we’ll look at the odds offered after we add 6-point three team teaser to our selection of bets.
San Francisco 49ers +3
St. Louis Rams +12.5
Minnesota Vikings +11
As you can see the odds have moved 6 points in our favor. This 3-team teaser pays out at +165 for bettors in US odds. That means, if a bettor wagered $100 on this 3-team teaser and all his legs won, he would win $165 plus original stake of $100. But, what if one of the legs ties or pushes?
Let’s say the 49ers end up losing the game by exactly 3 points, making the San Francisco leg of the bet a push. Depending on your online sportsbook, a tie could result in the loss of the teaser or grade the wager no action. What happens then? The teaser is reduced to two teams. If the sportsbooks allows pushes to be graded as no action, the teaser will then just be reduced by one game.
For instance, if one of my bets pushes in a 4-team teaser, then the teaser becomes 3-team teaser with correct appropriate odds. Remember, this is not the case if one bet pushes and the other bet loses. Any teaser, besides a 2-team teaser is graded as a loss.
The vast majority of sportsbooks offer teasers that count pushes as a reduction in the number of teams and not as a loss. Some sportsbooks, such as 5Dimes Sportsbook offers players a wide array of choice with their teaser bets, including options for ties/pushes reducing the number of teams and a tie counting as a win, as well. Of course, the odds change slightly depending on your choice, but this is a marvellous feature which puts a lot of control in the bettor’s hands.
Almost all US-facing sportsbooks will offer sweetheart teasers, also known as monster teasers. These bets are normally 10 3-team teasers but have unique rules. I cover sweetheart teasers in depth on this page.
Below are the listed NFL teaser odds for Bovada.lv, which is probably the most popular online sportsbook for US-based online sports bettors.
|Teaser size:s||6 points:||6.5 points:||7 points:|
As you can see, the odds increase dramatically as players start to reach the higher numbers of teams. Also, if players want to buy more than six points it will cost them. Bovada’s teaser odds are around the industry standard, but US bettors can usually find better odds and certainly better options at 5Dimes.
For those that like to bet 2-team teasers, 5Dimes offers players +100 odds versus the -110 that Bovada offers. 5Dimes also allows players to go up to 15-team teasers and allows teaser options up to even 20 points. Of course, bettors will pay big if they want a 20 point teaser, and it will vastly decrease the amount they stand to win on the wager.
Why Odds Less Than Parlays?
Those that bet NFL parlays may come over to teasers and wonder why the odds are so much worse for bettors. For one, bettors are getting more points in their favor, but the other reason is that a teaser is the only bet which a sportsbook offers that can be beat from both sides, even if they receive balanced action. Let me show you what I mean.
Cincinnati Bengals +3 at Pittsburgh Steelers -3 Total: OverUnder 47
We bet several combinations of teasers:
Bengals +9 and Over 41
Bengals +9 and Under 53
Pittsburgh +3 and Under 53
Pittsburgh +3 and Over 41
If Pittsburgh wins the game by a final score of 23-20, all of the above bets win. 23-20 is a fairly common score line in the NFL, meaning that bookmakers can lose their asses when certain numbers hit for players.
However, if the books can lose big, they can also win big. This same situation may happen in reverse, but go in favor of the sportsbooks and they can scoop up the profits from teaser bettors. Also, certain types of teasers have had a lot of success over the years, especially Wong Teasers, which have forced bookies to decrease the overall teasers and have even pushed them off certain numbers.
Are Teasers Profitable?
The Wizard Of Odds did a long term study over hundreds of NFL games from 2001 to 2011 on the profitably of teasers and the sportsbook’s edge on bettors.
He analyzed common teasers of 6, 6.5 and 7 points but also looked at teasers up to 14 points. His results were rather conclusive, and he found that sportsbooks held a rather large edge on NFL teasers. Interestingly, he found that for the more commonly bet teasers of 6 or 7 points that away teams and overs were marginally better than home teams and unders.
Teasers are similar to parlays, in that the edge of the sportsbooks increases as the number of picks or teams in the teaser increases. So, if bettors want to have a chance at betting the sportsbooks with teaser bets, they better stick to 2 or 3-team teasers.
Even these odds are not great as they still give the sportsbooks an edge of 10 to 19 percent depending on your prospective sportsbook’s teaser odds. This is a significant edge, and it only gets worse from there. As the number of teams get higher, the odds get worse and worse for NFL bettors. According the decade on NFL games compiled by the Wizard of Odds, the sportsbook’s edges on teasers of 4 or more picks is anywhere largely from 17 to 55 percent and gets worse as gamblers add more bets.
This massive edge is impossible to beat, making teasers a sucker bet in many cases. Wong Teasers, as mentioned on Intense Gambling have been proven to be profitable with the appropriate odds, and I discuss this in-depth here. But, long term, teasers in most situations are not wise bet for bettors.
Tips For Betting Teasers
Though we just discussed that most teasers are not profitable for bettors, there is a reason why it is called gambling. Bettors may still want to try and hit it big by betting teasers, and even though the odds normally are not in their favor, I’ll do my best to point them in the right direction to minimize the bookie’s edge as best as possible.
Firstly, finding a sportsbook with the best odds and options is vital. Making sure that the book gives no action on 2-team teaser in which one game pushes is also crucial. If you want to bet teasers with a variety of options, such as teasers higher than 8-9 teams or sweetheart teasers, be sure to check that the book is offering these wagers before signing up. Try to formulate your own strategy for NFL teasers and use some of the tips and information written by Intense Gambling. The IntenseGambling.com page is the best NFL teaser study I’ve found online and its results seem to reveal some conclusive patterns.