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A common thread that I see on many gaming forums concerns the subject of teasers. One of the generally held misconceptions is that they are sucker bets to be avoided at all costs. I've been actively involved in bookmaking for over fifteen years and it's true that I've seen players make hundreds of thousands of dollars in teaser plays when they don't know what they're buying. Part of the problem is the industry's fault - there are no consumer reports for teasers - so with that in mind, I thought I'd share my experience of teasers.
An NFL teaser is commonly a two team parlay where your chosen team gets six extra points added in your favor to its spread. So if Dallas was +2 and Pittsburgh was -7.5, your teaser wager would be a parlay on Dallas +8 and Pittsburgh -1.5. If you are betting at -110 (betting $110 to win $100), you need to win at least 52.4% of your teasers to break even. This is the same win percentage needed for to break even on normal sides bets when you lay -110 at a traditional sports book.
Since both of your selections need to win so that you can cash your ticket, each individual teaser team needs to cover 72.5% for you to break even (72.5% X 72.5% = 52.6%). So in exchange for those six extra points in your favor, when you buy a teaser you are raising your breakeven point from 52.4% to 72.5% on that one team. If you don't win that individual leg at least 20% more with those six points, don't bother teasing - you are buying something you don't need.
A common mistake I see with teasers is teasing a total. There is no total in the NFL or College that when teased six points, raises your win rate 20%. In general, teasing any total is a bad play. Fortunately one of the best ways to play a teaser is to play a spread that when teased, moves through the key numbers of 3 and 7. Teasing Dallas from +2 to +8 or Pittsburgh from -7.5 to -1.5 are two examples.
Another tool you can use in conjunction with teasers is Pinnacle Sports' "NFL Alternate High" and "NFL Alternate Low" lines. Due to our reduced juice pricing, these potentially allow you to guarantee a profit and hedge out of your position if you win the first leg of your teaser but have perhaps had a change of heart.
For instance, if you bet $100 on Dallas +8/Pittsburgh -1.5 and Dallas had already won, you could possibly bet $50 on Pittsburgh's opponent at +1.5 +250. With these lines unique to Pinnacle Sports, you can lock in a profit after the first leg of a teaser is played. You might even find situations where you can guarantee a profit no matter what the result - even before the first game kicks off - with a little line shopping.
USC (-11.5) at Notre Dame
This game looks to be an offensive shootout with a total of 69.5, the highest on the board. USC goes into this game averaging 51.6 points per game while Notre Dame has averaged 37 points per game. Despite the Trojans prolific offense, it has had difficulties the last three weeks being down in the second half against Oregon and Arizona St. and had only a 7-pt lead over Arizona at one point in the 4th quarter last week. The Fighting Irish are coming off a bye-week following routs of Purdue (49-28) and Washington (36-17).
We opened the game at -11 and saw early favorite money that pushed the line out to -13.5. A day later, we started getting sharp money on Notre Dame as the line dropped back to -12. There is opposition at ND +12 +101 / USC -11.5 -105, which is something we love to see on what will be our largest grossing college game of the week.
Florida (+6) at LSU
While Florida and LSU have a combined record of 8-2, each team has faced extraordinary challenges this season. Gators' QB Chris Leak injured his shoulder several weeks ago en route to a 31-3 loss and has continued to struggle ever since. Four Florida receivers are also suffering from injuries -Caldwell and Cornelius didn't play last week and Jackson and Baker missed game time. Meanwhile, LSU has had its own problems. In four games, it has turned the ball over 11 times and been penalized 88.5 yards per game (versus opponents' 53.5 yards per game). Like Florida, its offense has been repeatedly bailed out by its defense.
We opened the game at +6.5 and immediately took limit bets on LSU from sharp money. We later received more action the other way as the number stabilized at +6. Despite writing an above average volume on this game, we had written four times as much on the USC-ND game at the time of writing.
Minnesota (+3) at Chicago
The Vikings have averaged over 50 yards of offense per game more than Chicago but have had a problem with self-destructing. In four games, they've thrown ten interceptions, lost five fumbles and managed a -8 turnover differential. The team that wins a turnover battle in a game wins outright 77% of the time, so it should come as no surprise that Minnesota is 1-3.
We initially opened this at +1.5. The early money was on the Bears, driving the price to +3 -111. At this point, there was opposition between two syndicates with orders going out on the Vikings +3 and an unnamed group that's already beaten us out of $1.5m this year taking Chicago. This will probably be our highest volume NFL game thanks to this dueling syndicate action.
St. Louis (+13.5) at Indianapolis
Some players handicap using trend analysis. A big favorite before 2003 was "Home dogs receiving more than seven points". This group was systematically overpriced and playing the dog covered at roughly a 60% clip. However, with the advent of the Internet and increasingly sophisticated players, the offshore books have tightened the lines.
For "big dog" system followers, Indianapolis has been a player's worst nightmare. During the past year and through the first five weeks of 2005, Indianapolis is 7-4 against the spread if favored by more than seven points. If you find a trend you like, be careful about betting it blindly.
We opened the game at -13 and were quickly driven to -13.5 by syndicate play. This is our highest grossing game in the first 48 hours since posting lines; mostly on Indianapolis. This is still early though and syndicates sometimes bet the wrong side early in the week - especially near key numbers. They do this as the market size is smaller earlier in the week and if they can drive the price to +14 or thereabouts for a minimal investment. They can then take back St. Louis later when the market can absorb $1m at a number. In such situations, syndicates would consider the initial outlay a "free play" due to the equity in the middle.