Last Saturday, a pay-after-you-win internet sports handicapper promoted a "Teaser of the Year." His recommended teaser was a 7-point beauty on Rutgers/Oregon. Both teams were favored by 5.5 points, and were teased to +1 1/2. Rutgers took a bath, making the teaser a hideous loser at odds of 13-10 for most people.
As I thought about the selections and the promotion, I couldn't help but wonder what a "Teaser of the Year" might be. The easy answer is that a "Teaser of the Year" is the best teaser the handicapper will see all year. But what makes a teaser the best teaser? Defining what constitutes the best teaser, or even a good teaser, is much harder than it seems.
A Game of the Year is simply the best bet a handicapper expects to see all year. It is a game that handicaps with a high probability of covering the spread. When a single proposition, bet straight, has a high probability of winning compared to the line, it is automatically the best bet to make. The same is not true of teasers.
For the purposes of this discussion, we will ignore the fact that teasers are bad bets in general. We will make the assumption that a "Teaser of the Year" is the best building one expects to find in a slum. The problem is that, when it comes to teasers, the concept of the "best" makes little sense at all, and even if it did make sense, it is impossible for a 7-point teaser combining two 5.5-point favorites to be "the best." Based on a cost and benefit analysis, even a 6-point teaser with the same two 5.5-point favorites would be better. .
Defining the worst teaser of the year is quite simple. The worst teaser of the year is a teaser that has the highest vig, in which all teams in the teaser handicap to be the biggest losers to the teased spread that you will see all year. That is similar to the definition of the worst game of the year. Unlike the worst game of the year, however, which must always be the opposite side of the best game of the year, the best "Teaser of the Year" cannot be the opposite side of the worst teaser of the year.
Combining the teams that handicap to cover the teased line by the most points you will see all year would NOT be the best teaser of the year. Rather, it would rank as one of the worst teasers of the year, even though it might win. It would certainly rank as one of the dumbest bets of the year.
The two teams you believe will cover the spread by the most points all year are the two bets that are least likely to need to be teased to win. Combining them might qualify as the best parlay you will see all year, but not the best teaser. Why lay 13-10 on a 7-point teaser, instead of getting 13-5 in a parlay, if you fully believe, in advance, that the two selections are the least likely to need to be teased of all the bets you will see all year? Those are the worst two teams to tease all year, not the best. Teasing those two teams is like buying expensive tickets to a concert you know is free, and then calling it your best purchase of the year because you got the tickets at a big discount from the price printed on their face.
In both a parlay and a teaser you must win all games bet. A teaser is simply a parlay in which you are permitted to move the line on the teams in your favor by a designated number of points Odds vary between bookmakers, but most commonly, to bet a 2-team, 6-point teaser you must lay 11-10, and to bet a 2-team, 7-point teaser you must lay 13-10. By contrast, a 2-team parlay pays 13-5..
If you make a $100 bet on a 6-pomt teaser combining the two teams you expect to cover the original spread by the most points of any two bets all year, and you are correct in your handicap, you will earn a $91 profit. If you are wrong, and one or both of the teams lose to the original spread by more than 6 points, you will lose $100.
If you make the same bet on a 7-point teaser, and, as you predict, the two teams win big over the original spread, you will win only $77 instead of $91. All you gain by accepting a $77 win in place of a $91 win is an extra one loser becoming a winner in the very rare event that one or more of your great best bets of the year might actually lose by EXACTLY 7 points to the original spread, and the rest of your teams cover the teased spread. If you are wrong in your game prediction, and one or both of your games loses by more than 7-points from the original spread, then you will lose the exact same $100 as with the 6-point teaser.
If, instead, you bet the same two teams in a $100 parlay, and your two best bets win big as predicted, you will make a profit of $260 That's almost 3x the $91 profit on a 6-point teaser, and more than 3x the $77 profit on a 7-point teaser.
As you can see, if you are right about your two great bets, all you accomplished by betting a teaser, instead of a parlay, is to win much less money. If
you are wrong by more than 7-points on either team, then you will lose exactly
the same $100 no matter whether you bet a 6-point teaser, a 7-point teaser or a
You will gain by betting a teaser over a parlay only when you are wrong about one or both of your best bets, but you are not wrong by more than 6 points. You will gain betting a 7-point teaser, instead of a 6-point teaser, only when you are wrong by exactly 7-points on at least one of your games. If you are wrong by more than 7-points you lose the same amount with both bets, and if you wrong by less than 7-points you would have won more by betting a 6-point teaser.
Thus, the best 6-point teaser you can possibly bet is not one in which both your teams handicap to cover the original spread big time. In that case, betting a teaser makes no sense. You should bet a parlay. The best 6-point teaser you will see is one in which both teams handicap, in advance, to lose to the original spread by 0-6 points.
The best possible 7-point teaser is one in which both of your teams handicap to lose to the spread by EXACTLY 7 points.
No matter what type of teaser you bet, for the teaser to be a good bet it must contain teams you expect to lose against the spread.
Obviously, the concept of a "Teaser of the Year" makes little sense.
Next, let's examine why teasing two 5.5 point favorites can NEVER be the best teaser a handicapper will see all year. In fact, teasing such favorites is one of the worst teaser bets you can make.
When you accept the much lesser payout of a teaser over a parlay, you are paying for the numbers that the bookmaker permits you to move across when you change the line.
When you tease a 5.5-point favorite by 6 points, the line on the favorite becomes +1/2. Since the advent of overtime in college football, the +1/2 point line you get in the 6-point tease of a 5.5-point favorite is worthless. Betting a favorite at pick'em is no different from betting the same favorite at +1/2 or -1/2. With all those lines, you will only win if the favorite wins by at least one point. If the favorite loses by 1 point you will lose with all three lines. Anytime you pay to buy 6 points, and your 6-points include the pick'em, you are really getting only 5 points for your money because the game won't end in a tie.
If you tease a 5.5-point favorite by 7 points, the line on the favorite becomes +1 1/2 points. You have now gained a win if the favorite loses by 1 point, but you are still crossing the pick'em line. Thus, even though you are paying more to get 7 points, your kindly bookmaker is only giving you 6 points. The 7-point teaser will save you only if the game ends with the favorite winning by 5 or 4 or 3 or 2 or 1, or with favorite losing by 1. Count them. That's only 6 numbers. A teaser crossing pick'em is a carton of eggs with one egg broken. You wouldn't call such a carton the best dozen eggs you expect to see in the supermarket all year, would you?
Whenever you cross the pick, the bookmaker is taking you for a sucker. He could give you the full 7-points he is charging for by adding a point at the end, but he doesn't. He assumes most bettors don't know the difference.
The supposed expert, whose "Teaser of the Year" inspired this article, used not one, but TWO 5.5 point favorites as his "Teaser of the Year.". That qualifies him as a big all-day sucker, and perhaps the "Rube of the Year." It doesn't matter whether it won or lost, his "Teaser of the Year" is definitely in the running for the worst "Teaser of the Year."
RULE #1: A teaser that crosses the pick'em line in football is the worst of all teasers you can bet because you are always paying for the benefit of more numbers than you are actually getting.
Finally, let's see why even a 6-point teaser on the same two teams would better than the 7-point teaser claimed to be the "Teaser of the Year." The 7-point teaser pays you 15.4% less profit when you win than a 6-poiont teaser. In
this case, the handicapper is recommending that you give up 15.4% of your
winnings to insure against the favorite losing the game straight-up by 1
In football, not every final score is equally likely to occur. The favorite losing by 1 point is one of the least likely events in all football. The favorite loses the game by a single point just once in approximately 120 games. Even if you handicap the favorite to lose by exactly one point, it is unlikely to happen. If you are correct in your handicap, the favorite is much more likely to lose by 3 or win by 3, than to lose by one. Look at the results for the past two Saturdays, November 21, and November 14, 2009. There were 132 college games on the board.
Question: Of the 132 college football games played on the past two Saturdays, how many do you think ended with the favorite losing by one point?
Paying 15.4% of your winnings to tease a 5.5-point favorite by 7-points instead of just 6-points is like paying 15.4% of the value of your home to add flood insurance to the home-owners' policy on your house in Las Vegas. That would not exactly qualify as the best insurance purchase you will make all year.
To win laying 13-10 on a 7-point teaser you must win 56% of the teasers you bet. If you bet 120 teasers, to be a winner you must win at least 67 of them. If you bet each one as a 7-point teaser instead of a 6-point teaser, and risk $100 on each teaser, you will win just $77 instead of $91 on each of the 67 winners. Over the entire 120 teaser bets, you would win $938 less by betting 7-point teasers than if you bet the same teams as 6-point teasers. If all the teams you tease are 5.5-point
favorites, you can expect just one of your120 teasers to be saved by the
fact that you bet every teaser as a 7-pointer instead of a 6-pointer. By changing one losing teaser into a winner you will gain $177 -- the $100 loss that is cancelled plus the $77 win that replaces it.
If you think that exchanging $938 for $177 is a great money-making idea, save yourself the effort of placing the 120 bets, and send your checks and money orders for $938 to Rob Crowne, c/o Pregame.com, Las Vegas, NV. I'll wire $177 to your bank account as soon as your check clears, and I'll even pay for the wire. For faster service, you can wire your $938 directly to my bank account and receive my $177 wire back the same day. Call for details. There is no limit on this offer. Feel free to do it as often you like. .
Just for good measure, on Sunday, another handicapper at the same website recommended a 7-point teaser on the Giants -7 teased to Pick, combined with Green Bay -6.5 teased to +1/2. I guess this "expert" figured that there was an excellent chance that both the Giants and Green Bay games would end in a tie, and he wanted to make sure that he saved his clients in the event that should happen. What other reason could he have to recommend that his clients give away 15.4% of their winnings to buy that 7th point and get to the line of pick'em?
In most cases, when an advisor tells you to bet a teaser, he is really saying one of two things:
1. The teams he is giving you do not handicap to win, but rather to lose to the spread within the pointswindow created by the teaser; or more likely
2. He expects his picks to win, but his handicapping is so bad that you should pay for insurance to protect yourself from his mistakes.
If an advisor recommends you pay extra to tease to the pick line or to + or - 1/2, what he is really saying is:
1. That he has no clue what he is doing, but his handicapping is so bad he thinks a mere 6 points won't do when insuring against it; or equally likely
2. He knolws exactly what he is doing, and he has a financial interest that coincides with that of the bookmaker at which most of his clients are placing their bets.
Are you starting to understand how bookmakers pay for the fancy cars they drive?
Here are a few more rules for you:
RULE #2: No 7-point line move in college or pro American football will increase your win percentage sufficiently to make up for winning 51% less on a 2-team combination than you would if you bet a parlay.
RULE #3: There are very few 6-point line moves in college or pro American football that will increase your win percentage sufficiently to make up for getting 47% less on each 2-team teaser win than you would if you bet a parlay.
RULE #4: When combining two teams, a parlay is always a better bet than a 2-team, 7-point teaser.
RULE #5: When combining two teams, a parlay is a better bet than almost every 6-point teaser.
RULE #6: A parlay is a NOT a good bet unless correlated. It is merely a better bet than almost every teaser. An uncorrelated parlay is always a worse bet than a straight bet.
FINAL RULE: Betting parlays and teasers is a primary cause of sports-bettor losses. Despite what you may hear from the tout and bookmaking industries, as a general rule such bets should be avoided. The few circumstances that create exceptions to this rule have become very hard to find.