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No Longer A Tease by Jeremy Martin
Sharp players have learned the art of betting NFL two-team teasers, and Las Vegas books have taken notice.
Professional handicapper Russ Culver once called teasers "sucker bets." This was several years ago, when you could walk up to just about any sports book in Las Vegas and bet a two-team, six-point teaser on the NFL. But times have changed. Sharp players have learned how to play teasers to gain an advantage over the house as the NFL numbers have become more solid over the years. As a result, the glory days for teaser players are gone, it would seem, for good in Las Vegas. There are only several sportsbooks in Southern Nevada that will even offer two-team NFL teasers. And there are even fewer that will give the 11/10 odds on six-pointers that used to be commonplace.
"Six points in the NFL 20 years ago, I don't think is the same value as six points in the NFL today," said Bob Scucci, race & sportsbook manager for the Stardust, who doesn't offer two-team, six-point NFL teasers. "With how sophisticated (bookmakers) have (become), the line is pretty close to what it should be. Now you are moving the line six points off that number, and there's just so much more value than there was years ago. I think some people have picked up on that."
Las Vegas professional sports bettor Fred Worth is one of those people. He bets 50 percent two-team, six-point teasers and 50 percent sides during the NFL season. A regular top-20 finisher in some of the most popular football contests in Las Vegas, the long time Southern Nevada resident has found NFL teasers to be a winning proposition - in certain situations.
"I think there's only a few ways to use them," said Worth. "You tease 6 to 8-point favorites down to a 'pick'em or minus 2, or you tease 1 ½ or 2-point underdogs up to over a touchdown. You can also tease an 8 or 9-point underdog up to over two touchdowns. If you can get an underdog up to 14 ½ or 15, then they just have to play a reasonable game and not get slaughtered. (In those situations) you are using the points the best way possible. Some people like to tease through zero. They may take a 2 ½ point favorite and tease them through zero to plus 3 ½. I don't like to go through zero, but that's just me."
In some cases, Worth opts for a 6 ½ or 7-point teaser if he needs the extra points to get him in the area he needs to be. But he prefers to stay away from the extra points when at all possible, because of the heavy juice Las Vegas charges on teasers.
"I guess if you are going offshore, where the juice is better, if you need that extra point you are not paying terrible juice for it," he continued. "The way I look at it is: they must not be a bad bet if all these places (in Las Vegas) don't want to take them. But then again, (the casinos) are scared of everything, so it's kind of hard to judge."
Certain Las Vegas books have kept two-team, six-point teasers on the board as a marketing device designed to drum up business. Coast Resorts is one of the few that still offers 11/10 odds. According to Bert Osborne, director of sportsbook operations, he has kept the two-team NFL teaser around because so many other books have taken it off the board. The business and recognition gained from offering NFL teasers, he said, outweighs the risk.
Offshore books have become the current playground for teaser fanatics. Players can get 11/10 odds at most of these operations and some, such as CanBet, even go as far as to offer even money on two-team, six-point NFL teasers. Although most sports bettors are Internet savvy, some had never used the World Wide Web until the Las Vegas books began to back off of the NFL teasers. Worth, who usually bets teasers at the Gold Coast, got his first computer for the sole purpose of being able to shop the offshore books for different numbers and to play with bettor-friendly juice on teasers.
Although Rob Gillespie, president of BoDog Sportsbook & Casino, welcomes most teaser action, he said it can get downright frightening at times when smart players maneuver the numbers to those sensitive pointspread areas.
"If every game landed on the spread and 'total,' every teaser is going to be a winner," said Gillespie, who offers 11/10 odds on two-team, six-point NFL teasers at his offshore book. "So there's Monday Night Football games where there's huge teaser action and we come in the next day and every teaser has been a winner. That will never happen with sides, money line (bets), parlays or 'totals,' but it does sometimes with teasers. In the long run we do better on teasers, but in the short term there's more fluctuation in the risk and there's no way to lay off action. So there certainly has to be opportunities for players to take advantage. If there wasn't, there wouldn't be any action (on teasers)."
Terrible's Hotel/Casino is another Las Vegas book that does not offer two-team NFL teasers. Doug Beil, race and sportsbook manager, said that, in the two years he has been in charge, the book has never offered them.
"We are not a place that takes in a huge amount of handle," he added. "We are still a fairly small operation. Unless you have a big amount of handle to overcome it, over time it's pretty much a losing proposition. It's a difficult thing because the NFL numbers are tight and two-team teasers are tough to beat."
Even though he offers increased juice at 12/10 for two-team, 6-point NFL teasers, Robert Terch, sportsbook manager at Casino MonteLago states that teaser business doesn't scare him at all.
"In the past, I know at all the other places I have worked, that we have always done well on (teasers)," he said. "I would have to say no one ever made a living betting them where I was at. You don't see many of the sharp bettors playing them. That's always one way I could tell if they were professional or not."
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