NBA Teasers: Stay Far Away
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 12/08/2008
Compared to scoring in football, points in the NBA light up the scoreboard at a much-higher pace. Teams routinely combine to score much more than 200 points in games while NFL totals generally hover around the lower forties. But oddly enough, the books in Vegas seem to value points more in pro basketball when it comes to NBA teasers.
A teaser bet is a bet where the bettor takes on extra teams on a ticket but gets to move the line in their favor on both teams. In an NBA teaser a bettor has to take at least two teams and up to as many as 10. With the odds at the normal 11/10, the bettor takes two teams and normally receives 4.5 points on each side or total they take. If you were to tease the Lakers at -10 and the Raptors at +3 then your lines would be the Lakers -5.5 and the Raptors +7.5. If you wanted to tease the Lakers at -10 with the over at 208 then your lines would be the Lakers -5.5 and over 203.5. In the NFL bettors receive six points in a teaser with the same 11/10 odds.
Normal basketball teasers range from four to five points and the payouts adjust as more teams are added. For this discussion we will stick to the 4.5 point teaser, the most common of the NBA teaser. Teasers are widely considered one of the worst bets someone can make. The points do not make much of a difference and adding more teams to an equation, whether it is a parlay, teaser or a pleaser always tilts the odds into the house's favor by a considerable amount.
Through 289 games in the NBA this season, only 31 percent of the games have been decided by less than 4.5 points this season. A quarter of the way through the year and 195 games in the NBA have been decided by more than 4.5 points. That is a good indication of how little the extra points mean in an NBA game.
The average total for an NFL game is about 42 points per game. So a six-point teaser in the NFL amounts to receiving over 14 percent of the points expected to be scored in the game. In the NBA, with an average total of about 198 points per game, a 4.5-point teaser amounts to receiving only 2.27 percent of the points expected to be scored in the game. For the NBA teaser to have the same effect on the overall game as an NFL teaser the amount of points would have to be closer to seven or eight points.
Many bettors like to tease games when they are unsure of who to take. Picking up 4.5 extra points should not be a determining factor in a bettor changing their mind about a game. Also teasers should not be used to gain confidence in a game someone already likes. If you like Team A and Team B and were planning on wagering two units on them each, that is a much smarter play than teasing both Team A and Team B together and upping the wager to four units. When used in moderation teasers can give a bettor usually what they are looking for -- making a game more exciting -- while not costing them too much in the long run.
One thing that turns NBA bettors onto teasers players is a couple bad beats. Nobody wants to lose a bet on a last second meaningless three-pointer or a losing team becoming too foul happy in the waning seconds. To avoid another bad beat in the final seconds, NBA bettors may decide to tease the next few games after watching a bet lose by one or two points. The key to building a long-term strategy is to not let losses, no matter how close they are, affect your betting strategy.
Anyway you look at it teasers are a losing play in the long term and the lack of points received in an NBA teaser and all the scoring just compounds the problem.
In case of a push in an NBA teaser, only the graded plays count so a four-team teaser would become a three-team teaser. If a two-team teaser contains then a push then the whole teaser does not have action.