by Robert Ferringo - 10/24/2005
One of the keys to being a successful gambler is the ability to accurately calculate risk. Betting requires you to research information, consult statistics, track trends and formulate the most likely outcome. But the bottom line is that it's simply a comparative analysis of potential peril vs. potential payout.
Well, I have a confession to make. When it comes to football betting, I'm a tremendous pussy. I mean, I'm obviously not too scared because I regularly wager my mortgage on games of violence, skill and chance. But instead of the type of go-for-broke, all-or-nothing philosophy that some thrill-seekers employ, I try to take a careful risk management approach.
Enter the teaser.
A teaser is similar to a parlay in that it's a single bet that involves two or more outcomes in one wager. The difference is that in a teaser either the point spread or the total is adjusted in the bettor's favor. Each sport has it's own range, but you're shifting the line in your favor in exchange for a lower payout.
Basically, you're buying a new line. Say the Falcons are -7 and the Jaguars are +4.5. With a teaser, you can combine the games into one bet, with the Falcons -1 and the Jaguars +10.5. That's the beauty of the concept. The odds makers set the lines - at times with frightening accuracy - and then I warp that number to suit my needs.
Of course, there's a catch. Just like a parlay you have to hit each leg of the bet in order for it to be a winner. Also, the payouts on a teaser are considerably lower than a single or parlay. For instance, the two-team teaser that I mentioned in the previous paragraph would pay just 10/11 at most betting shops. A two-team teaser adjusting the line seven points normally pays just 10/13.
According to Rob Gillespie, president of Bodog, teasers comprise about 10 percent of their football handle and about five percent of their basketball handle. He says that the general opinion in the gaming industry towards teasers differs depending on whom you ask.
"(The) general attitude is tough to describe, somewhere between pleasure and pain," Gillespie said. "In the long run, they should be good for the house, but they can be horrible for any book in the short term."
Think back to some awful beats that you've taken. Games when you had the line at +2.5, and then your team lost on a last-second field goal. Well, that's the lure or "tease" of the teaser. It's like buying insurance. But like Gillespie mentioned, "It's a matter of knowing when that decreased payout is justified by the increased chance of winning."
Every gambler has their own system, and no system is wrong as long as it makes you money. By teasing, I try to minimize risk in the hopes of making consistent, incremental gains. The results have been solid, and I've more than doubled-up in each of the past three football seasons. Maybe I could've won more if I'd played it straight, but I sacrifice wild swings and big paydays for a higher rate of success.
However, I'm certain that there are some very seasoned gamblers who are cringing as they read my confession, and would steer anyone away from these types of "trick" bets. Even Gillespie isn't sure the merit of wagering principally by teasers.
"If you only look to play teasers, you probably won't have a lot of success long-term," Gillespie said. "However, sprinkling them when the opportunities present themselves can help you enjoy the games you are watching and also make your bankroll last or even grow."
If you find yourself in a dry spell, or maybe you're just looking for something different to spice up the weekend wagers, I would recommend going to your online book and checking out what their breakdowns are on teasers. There are varying payouts and reductions, so just make sure you completely understand what you're getting yourself into.
Here's a few tips I've have for anyone considering this type of bet:
1) Look for close, competitive games.
Look for teams that don't blow people out and don't get blown out. A perfect example is Washington, whose average victory is by two points and average defeat is by 4.5 points. Since they're fairly consistent, I can usually take them or their opponent (sometimes both) and hit because they play tight games.
2) Don't put the same game in more than two teasers.
You may think that a line or number is an absolute lock, but you can hit on 85 percent of your picks and still have a losing day because you over-relied on that one game.
3) Don't think that you'll eliminate bad beats.
I can't tell you how many times I've been left screaming, "I can't believe you can't cover 20 FUCKING POINTS!!!"
4) Try to play games at different times or different days.
If you hit the first two legs of a three-team teaser, and the final game is on Monday Night, you can set yourself up for a guaranteed win. If your teaser gives you the favorite at +5 and then you bet the dog on the money line, you're going to hit at least one (or even both) bets.
5) Don't be afraid to take the points.
The instinct is always to tease down to the favorite. Sometimes it's more efficient to tease that +6 up to +13 then get a favorite +1. This holds especially true for home dogs.
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.