Utilizing the Tease Aug22


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Utilizing the Tease

Written by Justin Zovas

“Teasing” the point spread in the NFL has always been an appealing wager for bettors. “You mean I can move the line in my favor? Easy money!” Yes, teasing the point spread appears attractive on paper but there is a reason sports books welcome teaser action when priced accordingly: the book is winning the majority of the time because bettors aim to tease favorites down under the assumption “Team A can’t lose.”

Take your standard six point teaser for example: If every game since 1989 was teased six points in a team’s favor, the overall ATS record would be 7728-3490-218 (68.9%). Again, teasing an individual line looks good however a teaser requires both legs to win. In order to break even in a teaser, both legs must hit at 72.4% (.724^2 = .524.) Once you take this into consideration, suddenly teasing isn’t so appealing if done incorrectly. Here are some simple steps to determine your return on investment if every game since 1989 was teased:

1. Divide the amount of wins by the total amount of games observed ( wins, losses, and pushes); 7728/11,436=.6757… This gives you the win percentage of each individual teased game.

2. Square the win percentage because both legs must win in order for a teaser to cash; .6757…^2 = .456… This gives you the success rate of the wager.

3. Based on -110 odds for a 6 pt teaser, you are winning $10 45.6% of the time and losing $11 54.4% of the time; (.45666)*(10) – [(1-.45666)*(11)] = -1.41

4. Divide your expected value by the amount you risked to find your return on investment;-1.41/11 = -12.82%

The expected value for teasers may be in the red but all hope isn’t lost for teasing NFL lines. In fact, data supports that teasing through the two “key” numbers, 3 and 7, in the NFL is an extremely profitable investment. In roughly 1 out of every 4 games, the margin of victory is either 3 or 7. Simply teasing through these two key numbers has proven to be successful 73.3% of the time since 1989. That is, teasers where two legs of a 7.5 to 8.5 favorite is teased down or a 1.5 to 2.5 or dog is teased up, hit at 53.8% (889-316-7 ATS since 1989). Below is a chart illustrating the level of success of teasers based on various parameters since 1989.

Situation Record Win % ROI
All Games 7728-3490-218 45.7 -12.82%
Favorites 3756-1728-134 44.7 -14.66%
Dogs 3845-1700-73 46.8 -4.25%
Home 3883-1726-109 46.1 -4.20%
Away 3845-1764-109 45.2 -13.71%
Through 3 & 7 889-316-7 53.8 2.71%
Home and through 3 & 7 500-152-5 57.9 10.57%

Thus, following a system teasing home teams through these key numbers has proven to return at better than 10%. Heck, find me an investment that will return at half that rate in today’s market and I’ll gladly sign up. In a time where NFL bettors are on a constant grind handicapping sides in an attempt to uncover value, here is a system based on betting just pure numbers. However, some sharp books have caught on to this advantage that teasers present and the offshores are now protecting against moving the through 3 and 7. For example, Tampa Bay is getting 2.5 points at home against Carolina in week one at most books. At 5dimes however, the Buccaneers are only +1 (+100). This way Tampa cannot be teased up through 7. Fortunately for bettors this approach is not employed at all offshore books.

Bottom line, teasers do oftentimes have a deceptively bright outlook but in a market where the book predominately does hold an edge, there are some situations where money can be made betting teasers.  Don’t believe me? Ask any bookmaker how he felt during last year’s NFL playoffs when almost every combination hit and you can turn an uplifting conversation about the business into a sobering exchange.