What is a Teaser Bet?

Published: 28/06/2011

In a typical wager, the bookmaker sets the line for a game and the bettor chooses which side to bet on. When a point spread is involved, the selection must win by a certain number of points or more if favoured or else not lose by more than a given number of points if the underdog. In all cases, it is the bookmaker that determines the line or point spread.

A teaser bet changes that paradigm. Teasers are commonly offered in football and basketball betting as two or more combined selections, similar to parlay betting or accumulators. In to win the wager, all selections must succeed. However, the big difference is that bettors are allowed to move the line or change the number of points given/taken away in any direction they like on a particular game.

As a case in point, suppose Manchester United are favoured by two goals with an over/under of 2.5. A one-point teaser would allow the bettor to move the point line down to one goal and the over/under down to 1.5. If the over is taken with the Blues and they win by two goals as forecast, both selections would be successful and the wager would win, unlike the original offer.

Obviously, increasing the betting line or spread means more of a margin of error for victory. However, there is drawback—the odds are reduced accordingly. Instead receiving true odds of 3/1 for getting both selections correct, or the typical parlay odds of 13/5, the teaser will pay only 10/11. What’s more, a single loss on any selection makes the entire bet a losing one. In effect, teaser bets require a tradeoff—decrease the risk and get a smaller reward. The more the lines or point spreads are moved, the lower the odds become. Also, where greater numbers of selections than two are involved, the tradeoff can be quite significant, as indicated by the following table used for basketball teasers of 4 or 5 points:

	# of Plays 	+/- 4 pts	+/- 5pts	Parlay Odds 	True Odds
	2	10-11	10-13	13-5	3-1
	3	9-5	7-5	6-1	7-1
	4	3-1	2-1	10-1	15-1
	5	9-2	7-2	20-1	31-1
	6	15-2	13-2	40-1	63-1

The number of points that can be added or subtracted for the point spread differs by sport. For American football, the most popular teasers are 3, 6, 6.5 and 7 points. For basketball, the most common teasers are 4, 4.5 and 5 points. Bookmakers vary in what they offer, and some will allow the purchase of additional half points or full points. Again, the cost shows up in more greatly reduced odds.

Bookmakers are quite sharp with their lines, so handicappers frequently debate the pros and cons of teaser bets. Is the flexibility necessary to win? Is the smaller payout justified? It may be necessary to think of teasers in pieces, basing wagering decisions on each part of the bet. When final outcomes are especially difficult to predict, the teaser allows for more risk tolerance. On the other hand, when results seem quite likely, parlay betting and accumulators offer the potential of higher returns.

Also, it is important to consider the bookmaker’s policy on draws for teasers. Most count ties as a loss. Some just reduce the number of selections by one for each draw. Half-point teasers eliminate this concern, but the odds will most certainly be affected by their inclusion so comparisons of payout tables are necessary.

Keep in mind that no teaser bet is a sure thing, no matter how attractive it might look. The very name “teaser” is a tip-off that fulfillment of desires may not be forthcoming. Caveat emptor—let the buyer beware.

Published on: 28/06/2011

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