Teaser Betting Rules
by Trevor Whenham - 12/31/2009
Teasers aren't the first tool that most serious bettors look at to make a profit. In the right situations, though, they can be both profitable and a lot of fun. One reason why bettors don't always embrace them is the confusion over teaser betting rules. The rules are at least a little bit different at each different sportsbook, and those seemingly small differences can make a big impact on the bottom line if you aren't aware of them. Here's a look at the important teaser betting rules that you need to be aware of.
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Before we get to the nitty-gritty, we really should look at a definition of teasers. A teaser, like a parlay, is a bet on multiple games - two or more - and you must be correct in all of the games in order to cash your ticket and make a profit. They are most common in football and basketball - the sports most often bet against the spread. What makes teasers special, though, is that you get to adjust the point spread. A typical football teaser, for example, is six points. That means that you get to take six points off the spread of a favorite, and add six points to the spread of an underdog. For example, a -10 favorite would become -4 in a six-point teaser, while a +10 underdog would be +16. Now for those teaser betting rules:
Number of points - The first thing you need to be aware of is the number of points added to each game. The standard is typically six in football and 4.5 in basketball, but those can vary widely. As any sports bettor knows, even just a half point in a spread can make a big difference. You can find football teasers as low as five points and as high as 20, and basketball anywhere between four and 16. You need to know the number of points you have, and make sure that the adjusted spreads are favorable for you.
Payout - The payout in a teaser is fixed - it doesn't change based on the teams involved. Each sportsbook sets their own payouts, though, and they can vary widely. When you are making a teaser bet you need to shop around to find the best price for the number of teams you are betting. Some books generally have better teaser payouts than others, but they won't necessarily have better payouts for all of the possible teams involved. Over the long run a difference in payout can obviously make a big difference to the bottom line, so looking for the best payout is crucial.
Ties - This is the single biggest rule that you need to be aware of - how the book handles ties. There are four different ways that a book can handle it if one of your games ends exactly on the number. Some books treat a tie as a win. Others reduce the number of teams in the teaser by one - if you bet a four-team teaser and have a tie and three wins then it will pay off like a three-game teaser. Others will treat a teaser with a tie as no action - they'll return your bet - as long as you win your other bets. Finally, some books will treat a tie as a loss. Each of those is a very different situation, and can affect your return significantly. You need to be aware of what the book offers, and make sure that it fits your needs. There isn't necessarily one situation that is better than another, but you need to make sure that the potential return adequately reflects the risk you are taking.
Maximums - There are two potential issues you may need to consider here. First, the maximum amount you can bet on a teaser may to too low for you. Many books minimize their risk in teasers by making the maximum bet much lower than it is for a straight bet. Some books also put a maximum on the amount they will pay out for a teaser. That could mean that a large bet on a teaser with several teams involved which should pay out for more than the maximum will return less than the stated odds. Over the long term that's a real problem.
Different online books have different strengths when it comes to teasers. Here's a couple of sportsbooks that do well on many fronts, though:
5Dimes - 5Dimes offers a wide range of teaser options, with football teasers available from everything from five points to 20, and basketball from 4.5 to 16. They also offer two different options for ties - they can either be counted as winners, or the number of teams in the teaser can be reduced by one. The reduce option pays a little better than the win option. 5Dimes also offers prices that are competitive with most books in most situations, and better in many.
Bookmaker - Though Bookmaker offers fewer options than 5Dimes, and is less generous with ties (they treat them as no action if the rest of the bets are a win), their prices are attractive when you are involving more teams.