Every sports bet ultimately comes down to two factors: price and line. The most commonly talked-about type of bet is the traditional ‘against-the-spread’ play, where a bettor risks $11 to win $10. These are the lines that are referenced on TV broadcasts and are familiar even to non-bettors.
Of course, every bettor who comes face to face with the oddsmakers’ gift for annoyingly accurate lines – so, basically, every bettor – has watched a team kick a meaningless field goal with 43 seconds left and wished: if ONLY I’d had a couple more points!
There’s a way to get those all-important points: placing a “teaser” bet.
In sports betting, a teaser is a parlay whose lines – point spread or total – have been moved in your favor, in exchange for a smaller payout. With a teaser, you’re effectively “buying points” from the sportsbook.
A “standard” teaser nets you an extra six points per football game or four points per basketball game (though most sportsbooks offer more options). Like parlays, teasers can include more than two legs (some books allow up to 10), and – like parlays – every leg must win for you to get paid.
The most common teaser is the six-point NFL two-teamer. An example:
Say, heading into the 2021 NFL season, you were feeling pretty good about the Buccaneers and the Colts, but didn’t love their Week 1 lines:
You could package them into a six-point teaser, and turn them into:
Now, as long as the Bucs won by two, the Colts could lose by a touchdown and still get you paid!
Of course, sportsbooks aren’t in the business of giving away points for free…
A traditional parlay with two (-110) legs pays 2.6-to-one. Our 6-point two-team teaser, meanwhile, pays out like a straight wager at (-120): a winning $12 two-teamer pays out $22 – the original $12 stake, plus $10 in winnings.
How much you do stand to win on a teaser (the examples below are for football only) depends on how many extra points you want and how many games you pick:
|Teams||Points||Price||$10 Bet Pays Out|
|2||6||-120||$18.33 (original $10 stake + $8.33 in winnings)|
|3||6||+160||$26.00 (original $10 stake + $16 in winnings)|
In basketball, a 4-point 2-teamer pays out at a slightly better rate of (-110). So, this:
In specific cases.
Most teasers aren’t good value for the bettor. Like parlays, tying multiple bets together and having to win them all carries risk. Parlays at least offer juiced-up payouts as a reward. Considering how tough they still are to hit, teasers just don’t offer enough upside.
However, there is a specific NFL two-teamer, a “Wong Teaser” – named for gambling author Stanford Wong – that is worthwhile. A Wong Teaser is not just any six-point NFL two-teamer, but one that buys up “key numbers”.
In the NFL, about 30% of games end with a final margin of 3, 6, or 7 points. That makes these the most important spreads (or “key numbers”) in betting the NFL. Given this, you can set up a Wong Teaser, which is based on the idea that covering the “1-to-7” range, while securing at least two key numbers, offers positive value.
This is exactly what we did in our earlier NFL example. By bringing the Buccaneers line from (-7.5) to (-1.5), you got Bucs (-3), (-6), and (-7) points. It was the same story with the Colts (+2 to +8), just on the other side of zero.
One rule of thumb here: DO NOT TEASE THROUGH ZERO – meaning DO NOT tease a (-3) line to (+3), because you’re paying for zero – a waste of money given the rarity of NFL ties.
Also, keep in mind that this technique only works in the NFL, where games are generally close, and lines and markets are very sharp. In basketball and college football, results and lines are more volatile, so key numbers aren’t as significant – or worth paying up for. Thus the marginally better payout in the NBA teaser above.
You may be wondering: “so I can buy points… Can I sell them, too??” Yes, you can!
With a reverse teaser, or “pleaser”, you can sell points in at least two games, in exchange for a bigger payout.
Say you love the Lions (+8.5) and the Panthers (+8), and think that not only will they stay within a touchdown, but have a genuine shot at winning. You can “sell” seven points, and bet a two-team “parlay” of Lions (+1.5)/Panthers (+1), with a much more “pleasing” 6-to-1 payout.
Of course, that beefed-up payout carries risk. Identifying two games where the spread or total is at least a touchdown off is tough. If you’ve got a nose for lively underdogs, you may find some success here, but if you’re relying on reverse teasers, you’re playing with fire.
Pushes are generally treated the same way in teasers as they are in parlays: a leg that pushes drops off, and the teaser becomes smaller. If one leg of a three-teamer pushes, it’s now a two-teamer. This is also usually the case for games that are postponed, canceled, or rescheduled.
So, if you’ve got $12 to win $10 on a two-team, six-point teaser (-120), and one leg pushes, your bet becomes a one-team, six-point teaser at about -265, meaning $4.53 in winnings on that $12 bet.
MAKE SURE YOU CHECK YOUR SPORTSBOOK’S RULES ON THIS, as some sportsbooks (FanDuel, for instance) simply cancel and refund two-teamers in which one leg pushes and the other wins.