What is a Teaser bet?
If you haven’t yet, read our breakdown of parlay betting before going further. Teasers share many of the same characteristics as vanilla parlays, and our other article explores parlay betting in more depth.
Teaser bets, as the name perhaps suggests, allow you to “tease” totals and point spreads to your perceived advantage. Importantly, teasers exclude moneyline bets.
Like standard parlays, all bets must hit for the teaser to remain alive; if one bet misses, the whole teaser dies with it.
- Teasers are most popular, and work best with, football – which we will focus on here. However, they are also available in basketball.
- The most common teaser is a two-team, 6-point teaser. That said, sportsbooks offer different formats such as 6.5- and 7-point structures.
- Because teasers are parlays, you can pretty much get as creative as you like regarding the number of legs, teams and points you choose to tease.
- But the most important fact to remember? The same point teaser must be applied across all legs in the parlay. Read on to see what all this means.
How Does a Teaser Bet Work?
Basic Parlay Structure
First, you need to recognise the basic parlay structure. Rules differ between sportsbooks, but a teaser combines a minimum of two Spread or Totals wagers into a single bet. Some books may require a three-bet minimum. As with parlays, each bet within a teaser is a leg, and as each leg wins, the initial stake and winnings roll over to stake the next leg.
As with a standard parlay, all legs must hit if the teaser is to pay out. Once a leg loses, the whole teaser is a bust.
Teasers only apply to Totals and Point Spreads
Teasers only apply to Totals and Point Spreads – and first you need to understand how these bets work.
As you should know by now, betting on a Totals bet means taking the Over/Under on the total number of points scored in a game. Odds on Totals are often offered at -110 on both sides, though there is wiggle room for sportsbooks to adjust these slightly.
On a Point Spread, the favorite is handicapped dependent on the extent to which they are favored. To win a spread bet, your team must “cover the spread”. For a favorite, that means winning by at least the amount of points set in the spread. An underdog only has to lose by fewer points than the spread (or win).
Here’s where teasers come into their own.
A teaser allows a bettor to adjust totals or spreads in a way that makes it favorable to their perceived outcome of events. There’s just one ingenious catch…
The adjustment made must be the same across every wager in the teaser.
Let’s say for example that you like Pittsburgh at -3 favorites in the first game, and Chicago as +7 underdogs in the second. But you’re nervous the Steelers might only win by a field goal, and that Chicago might lose by a touchdown.
If you pair these in a 6-point teaser, you get to shift the spread… And now you have the Steelers at +3 and the Bears at +13.
From here, you cover any Steelers win (and a 1- or 2-point loss), and the Bears in numerous scenarios up to a 12-point loss.
Teasers shift the odds in favor of the bettor, so have lower payouts than if you were to place each wager separately.
While Spreads and Totals bets are offered at or around -110, it’s common to price a two-game teaser around -120 to -130 (though possibly even as high as -140 or -150 in the extreme).
For illustrative purposes, this table shows how a sportsbook might choose to payout on Teasers.
Obviously, the more points you buy, the easier to cover the spread. Odds on a 7-point structure are therefore lower than on a 6-point structure. Similarly, the more legs or teams makes it harder for the parlay to hit, so the odds increase to match.
Betting Strategy for Teasers
The Importance of Sharp Markets
Teasers are most effectively deployed in sharp markets. In football, this means the NFL, where the main betting interest lies.
While a lot of focus has been on explaining how adjusting spreads works, don’t neglect the importance of Totals also.
In a sharp market, Totals can be – though by no means are always – fairly accurate. Generally, the lower the total, the better the value of teasers.
It is logical that the points you buy are more impactful in a lower-scoring game than in a free-wheeling points-fest.
Push Through Important Numbers
Named after gambling author Stanford Wong, these two-game teasers offer positive Expected Value (+EV). They revolve around the so-called “important numbers” in football – 3, 6, 7 and 10.
In football, 3 and 7 are the most common winning margins. Using teasers to move through these key numbers increases the probability of your teaser covering the spread. Look for favorites laying 7.5 through 8.5 – such as Chicago in our example above – and underdogs getting 1.5 through 2.5.
Important numbers in Totals
There are also key numbers when moving Totals up and down – 37, 41, 44, 47 and 51. The most effective teasers around those totals are dropping the points on lower numbers and taking the Over (i.e, this leaves limitless scenarios above the Over where your bet still wins, compared with raising the total and betting the Under, which caps potential scenarios at the total).
Teasing spreads through zero
Opinions differ over teasing spreads through zero. As NFL games rarely tie, teasing through zero may be a waste of a point. However, taking a short favorite to a short underdog may be successful – as we did with Pittsburgh in our example above.
“Pleasers” – aka Reverse Teasers
In a Teaser you buy points from the book. In a Reverse Teaser – charmingly, also called a Pleaser – you sell points to the book.
If buying points on a sharp market spread makes it easier to cover, it follows that selling points back makes it harder to cover.
Pleasers are notoriously hard to hit – so it’s sage advice to avoid them on sharp NFL lines.
However, they may be useful in markets that are less sharp – i.e., college NCAA football lines. With a greater scope for results to differ substantially from main lines, buying points in these games makes little to no sense. But selling them might, if you see value in the odds on offer.
Are Teaser Bets Worth It?
As usual in sports betting, the answer to this is usually “it depends”. Like any parlay, the biggest risk is that it only takes one miss to sink the whole parlay. Because of this, some feel teasers are a sucker’s bet and not worth the risk.
That said, teasers do allow you to move game lines – theoretically making it easier for you to win your bet.
This rings even truer if you keep your teasers relatively short, i.e., to only two or three games, and if you tease through important numbers to further raise your chance of collecting.
Can you bet a teaser on the NBA?
Teasers are not unique to football and are available in some other sports, including basketball.
While teasers on the NFL usually range from 6 to 10 points, teasers in the NBA are usually 4 points.
What is an open teaser?
An open teaser allows you to add new bets to an existing teaser, so long as at least one leg is still undecided (i.e., is yet to conclude) or pending (i.e., yet to happen).
Can you include all bets in a teaser?
No. While you can include all bets in a standard parlay structure, moneyline bets are excluded from teasers. A teaser works by adjusting either a point spread or an Over/Under totals bet.
This isn’t possible with moneyline odds, which pick a favorite and an underdog (and occasionally a tie, depending on the sport).
What happens if a bet is void in a teaser?
When it comes to void and pushed bets, sportsbooks will likely treat teasers the same way they do a regular parlay.
Generally speaking, if a bet in your teaser is void, a sportsbook will remove it from the parlay and adjust the odds accordingly.
For example, a six-leg teaser becomes five; a five-leg teaser becomes four, and so on.
What happens if a bet is a push in a teaser?
Pushes are treated the same as void bets. If any one of your legs results in a push, the good news is it doesn’t bust your teaser the same way a loss does. Rather, the pushed bet drops off the ladder and your parlay remains intact – just one leg shorter, as described above.
However, a push may result in a two-game teaser simply being cancelled, even if you won on the first leg. Not for the first time, our advice is to check your individual sportsbook’s rules on how these situations are dealt with.