Teasers 101: What They Are and How to Maximize Their Value

by Doc's Sports

When you hear someone referring to the term “teaser,” they are referring to a different betting option that’s available to everyone but one that most people don’t know how to utilize. A teaser is similar to a parlay in that it involves two or more selections, and each selection of the bet must win in order to cash your ticket. Teasers are available in any sport that uses a point spread, but are most common in basketball and football, both at the professional and collegiate levels. 

Depending on who you ask, some say teasers are sucker bets, while others swear by them if the situation calls for it. I say, a winning bet is a winning bet regardless of what kind of bet it is. Remember, we are at the mercy of the sportsbooks and whatever lines and prices they put out, so we must find a way to beat them and get the best return on our investment. Sportsbooks are usually ruthless and leave bettors with little to no advantage. However, there is one specific betting option that allows us to sweeten the pot and give ourselves a better chance to successfully win bets.

Are Teasers Worth Playing?

Teasers are worth playing only if you find the right situation and know how to place them correctly. Since we already know that teasers offer a lower payout than straight parlays, we must find a way to maximize our value and win this selection. It’s also important to remember that a winning bet is a winning bet no matter what kind of bet it is. 

Football Teasers – NCAAF and NFL

Football teasers are the most popular teasers in the betting industry and offer bettors a slew of options. Sportsbooks usually offer teasers that allow you to shift the original line by six points, six and a half points, seven points, or sometimes even 10 points. A 10-point teaser is typically referred to as a sweetheart teaser.

As always, an example will make things easier to understand. Let’s say that on a typical NFL Sunday, you are interested in three teams – the Giants -7, the Bills -2.5 and the Dolphins +4.5. If you were to bet these teams in a three-team, six-point teaser, you would be getting each team at very different odds. A six-point teaser would result in the Giants being -1, the Bills being +3.5 and the Dolphins +10.5. On paper, each of these teams should have an easier time covering the adjusted spread. However, as we already know, the game isn’t played on paper. By adjusting the spreads, you have changed the potential payout. If you were to do a three-team parlay with these three teams, you would be getting close to 6/1 odds. Instead, most sportsbooks offer 2.5/1 odds on a three-team, six-point teaser. The risk is much lower, but so is the reward. 

However, it should be noted that the above teaser is something I DO NOT recommend doing. Much like any other betting option available to bettors, teasers are only worth playing if they are done correctly and the situation calls for it. We already know that “teasers” offer a much lower payout than straight parlays, but that’s okay because there is one situation where a “teaser” is the best option. Since football has key numbers of three, four and seven, the ability to manipulate the lines in order to beat these numbers is crucial. Instead of laying a ton of money on a -400 favorite to win outright, or -110 to cover a big -7.5-spread, a six-point teaser allows you to bring that favorite through each of the key numbers and make them a -1.5-point favorite. Since a one or two-point margin of victory is very uncommon in the NFL, the odds of the favorite winning by at least a field goal is extremely high. The same rule applies for the underdog. A +1.5-point favorite or higher can be teased up through each of the aforementioned key numbers, thus making it a potentially easier spread to cover. The biggest mistake a bettor can make when playing a “teaser” is teasing a team across zero. In reference to a six-point teaser, making a -3 favorite a +3 dog is frowned up as you are paying for six points but in reality, zero doesn’t count as a number since teams very rarely tie. 

If I was looking to play a teaser, I would try and find favorites of -7.5 to -8.5 or and tease them down through seven, four and three. Or you can find underdogs priced at +1.5 to +2.5 and tease them up through those key numbers and get them at over a touchdown.  

Basketball Teasers – NCAAB and NBA

If you are into basketball, then you may be interested in basketball teasers. They essentially work the same way as the above football example except sportsbooks offer different lines. The majority of sportsbooks will allow you to play a four-point, four-and-a-half-point teaser and a five-point teaser. You can play this option on both the point spread and total of each game. Let’s use a totals example to give you a better idea of how this works. If you like three NBA games and their totals are 202, 189 and 194.5 respectively, you could tease them to either the “over” or “under.” Here is where it gets a little tricky. A four-point teaser to the “over” would reduce the total by four points, thus making the total potentially easier to reach. If you like the “under” a four-point teaser would add four points to the total so that you now have totals of 206, 193 and 198.5, respectively. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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