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How to use 'Basic Strategy' when betting two-team NFL teasers

Jeff Fogle
VSiN.com

Basic strategy for playing NFL two-team teasers, plus a busy Tuesday of sports betting headlines to recap right now in VSiN City!

Sports Betting: How to use “Basic Strategy” when betting two-team NFL teasers
One of the most popular betting options for pro football is the two-team six-point teaser. You longtime bettors know what those are. If you’re new to sports betting, a two-team six-point teaser is a bet where you get to move the line SIX points in your favor on BOTH teams…but then both teams HAVE to cover those new spreads for you to win your bet. 

If you see a pair of 10-point favorites, you could move them both down to -4 in a two-teamer. But then BOTH would have to win by five points or more for you to win the bet. 

Easy, right? They’re not called “teasers” because they’re easy! They’re called “teasers” because they tease you into making poor choices. It’s harder to sweep two plays, even with six bonus points per game, then most bettors realize. In fact, those six points are almost never enough to make this a profitable approach over the long haul. And the nature of betting psychology leads too many bettors into very bad choices.

  • Most casual bettors want to bet on favorites because they feel more comfortable rooting for the superior team. Putting favorites in teasers makes these bettors feel even better! “Those 10-point favorites are going to KILL the underdogs! I can get them both at -4…LOCK CITY!” Big favorites don’t win by big margins as often as you think they do. And, as you’ve probably learned by now from listening to VSiN’s oddsmaking experts talk through the summer, the lines are often edged a bit against the general public. Sportsbooks have to defend against one-sided action. If you see a 10-point football favorite, the “true” line is probably more like -9 or -9.5…and the point spread was lifted to charge a premium for betting the favorite. That matters for teasers, because you’re not really “getting” six points with the adjustment. You’re getting 5 or 5.5 (sometimes less when you’re talking about bigger favorites). 
  • Most casual bettors like asking the “better” team to “just win the game straight up.” That means that the public LOVES taking favorites around -6 and moving them down to pick-em. “All they have to do is win the game!” Sounds easy. But this is the NFL. Do you know how often underdogs in that range spring upsets? It’s common enough to overcome the need to SWEEP both entries in a teaser. And if you’re the type that likes betting a lot of action, it can be a disaster to include that team in multiple two-team teasers. All those separate bets lose if there's an upset. We should mention there’s often a bit of price inflation in this range too. A 6-point favorite is likely to be a 5.5-point favorite at true odds. You’re not getting full value with the line adjustment.

Generally speaking, most new bettors, or recreational bettors, focus on those two losing strategies. Trying to bring all favorites down so it feels “safer” to take them…and trying to ask favorites just below a TD to win straight up because superior teams are supposed to win. If somebody who’s never bet before is excited about using teasers this weekend, it’s almost a certainty that he’ll then list for you a bunch of favorites he wants to use. “I can’t lay 10 points with that team, but I’m going to love laying 4 points with them.” 

Quants have done studies on teasers ever since they were first offered. First by hand, then by computer. The general lessons from those studies were as follows… 

  • Teasers are a losing proposition on college football sides or totals
  • Teasers are a losing proposition on NFL totals
  • Teasers are CRAZY to even try to use in college or pro basketball
  • Teasers are mostly a losing proposition on NFL team sides, with a few exceptions

The exceptions? It was realized very early on (your author learned about the approach in the mid-80s) that you COULD put the odds in your favor in the very tight window that allowed you to cross BOTH the key numbers of 3 and 7 in one fell swoop. The success rate for teaser nominees that crossed BOTH the 3 and the 7 was a moneymaker.

That means:
Taking favorites of -7.5 down to -1.5
Taking favorites of -8 down to -2
Taking favorites of -8.5 down to -2.5
Taking underdogs of plus 1.5 up to plus 7.5
Taking underdogs of plus 2 up to plus 8
Taking underdogs of plus 2.5 up to plus 8.5

If YOU only use teams that meet those parameters, and use all the possible two-teamers they could create, that would put the odds in your favor. Sharps have been using this "basic strategy" for those price ranges for decades. 

Why doesn’t -7 down to -1 work? A lot of games land right on the seven, and pushes lose (as always, check the house rules at your preferred establishment). What about -9 down to -3? Same thing with the three…you need to SWEEP both parts of your teaser to cash. The three and the seven are the most common final results in the NFL. You need to focus on options that put both within the adjustment window. 

This week, that would mean considering:

  • New England -8.5 down to -2.5 (many stores are at -9, which doesn’t qualify)
  • Buffalo -8.5 down to -2.5 (that line has also been rising)
  • Detroit plus 1.5 up to plus 7.5
  • Oakland plus 1.5 or 2 up to plus 7.5 or plus 8
  • Pittsburgh -8.5 down to -2.5 (though it’s -9 in a lot of places)

Notice the word “considering” was used. The problem with putting too much stock in teasers in WEEK 1 is that the market prices are as soft as they’ll ever be this season. There are a lot of question marks about many teams across the league. Will Kansas City catch New England with a Super Bowl hangover and play a nailbiter? Are the Jets and Browns really going to be THAT bad? Is Oakland going to fall back to earth this season? 

One of the ironies of NFL betting is that confident team side and totals bettors are attacking soft lines early in the season…then it gets more challenging for them later in the season as the lines better match on-the-field realities. But for TEASERS, the value of taking six points to put in your pocket gets stronger as the year goes on. Tighter lines add value to crossing the 3 and the 7. There will no doubt be some sharp teaser betting action this weekend. Those same sharps would be MUCH more aggressive pairing up the options and making big bets with that kind of slate two months from now. 

The next reality to deal with is that you’ve looked at that listing…and you’re thinking “Oh my god, I love the idea of taking New England and Pittsburgh at -2.5! Do I really have to bother with Detroit and Oakland as underdogs? I don’t trust dogs as much.” 

You can do whatever you want, obviously. But particularly deeper in the season, moving dogs in the plus 1.5 to plus 2.5 range up to plus 7.5 to 8.5 is a great strategy because you’re attacking vulnerable favorites (not good enough to be favored by a field goal or more) with some line inflation to boot (you’re probably getting more like 6.5 to 7 points in terms of true odds when you move the number on underdogs). If you see a solid, widely available line of -2.5 in the NFL…that means that sharps DIDN’T immediately bet the game up to -3. Fading a dis-respected favorite with a respected dog at plus 8.5 is a nice thing to have in your portfolio thanks to the power of the 3 and the 7. 

If you’re in a sportsbook, you’ll see that there are other options besides two-team, six-point teasers. You can move seven points and pay some extra juice. Three-team 10-point teasers used to be very popular with the public. The math doesn’t back any “basic strategy” beyond what we’ve discussed today with the two-teamers. (More advanced methodologies that include particular matchup dynamics might zero in on some options…but, even then, taking the team at its normal price would likely be more advantageous than using it in a teaser.) 

We wanted to lay this out for you today because it’s going to be common to hear Chris Andrews, Jimmy Vaccaro, and Vinny Magliulo discuss the impact of teasers on line moves this weekend and beyond. It’s already becoming a big story with New England, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh. Sportsbooks have to decide how to balance all the threats they face. What if heavy sharp money comes in at Kansas City plus nine? Should books drop the line to 8.5? That would just invite a zillion teaser plays this weekend that lead off with New England -2.5. 

Even if you don’t bet teasers, their impact on the overall marketplace is something you should be aware of as you monitor the 2017 NFL season. 

NHL: Westgate posts point total Over/Unders for 2017-18 season
A lot to squeeze in before we call it a day. A quick peak at the Westgate "total points" openers that went up on the board Tuesday afternoon for the NHL regular season that begins on October 4.

Metropolitan Division: Pittsburgh 104.5, Washington 103.5, Columbus 96.5, NY Rangers 95.5, New Jersey 94.5, Carolina 93.5, Philadelphia 91.5, NY Islanders 88.5

Atlantic Division: Tampa Bay 102.5, Montreal 100.5, Toronto 94.5, Boston 92.5, Ottawa 92.5, Buffalo 87.5, Florida 85.5, Detroit 78.5

Central Division: Chicago 99.5, Nashville 98.5, Dallas 98.5, Minnesota 96.5, St. Louis 95.5, Winnipeg 92.5, Colorado 69.5

Pacific Division: Anaheim 106.5, Edmonton 103.5, San Jose 96.5, Calgary 95.5, LA Kings 89.5, Arizona 74.5, Vancouver 72.5, Vegas 68.5

Potpourri: The headlines just kept coming on Tuesday! 
Here we go with some quick hitters…

  • Golden Nugget owner Tilman Fertitta will be the new owner of the Houston Rockets after his purchase from prior owner Leslie Alexander was finalized. Word is that you WON’T be able to bet Rockets games at the Golden Nugget.
  • Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension was formally upheld by the league’s appeal process. But the NFL announced that Elliott will be allowed to play Sunday vs. the New York Giants given that Elliott is seeking a temporary restraining order against the ruling. Gill Alexander posted the following prediction on twitter Tuesday evening: 

“The NFL is all in. The NFLPA is all in. Zeke loses appeal but plays the entire 2017 season. Gets suspended start of 2018. Mark it down.”

Dallas is still -4 Sunday night vs. NYG. Elliot is now a lock to play, while Odell Beckham is questionable for the G-men.

  • No word as of late Tuesday night as to where this week’s scheduled NFL game between the Tampa Bay Bucs and Miami Dolphins will be played. It definitely WON’T be played Sunday in Miami (where lifting home dog Miami from plus 2.5 to plus 8.5 would have been a great teaser nominee!). Moving it to an earlier day doesn’t seem to be on the radar any more because that could disrupt evacuation efforts. Possibilities are playing in another NFL city Sunday, or taking a bye this week and playing the game in Miami on November 19, which coincidentally was the originally scheduled bye week for both teams. 
  • The Boston Red Sox admitted to Major League Baseball that they had been stealing signs with a process involving Apple watches, as reported first by the New York Times. The article said the Red Sox were turned in by the Yankees, and that the scheme had been going on for several weeks. No word on when “several” first began. Conspiracy theorists can point to a 22-21 record entering a homestand with the Texas Rangers back on May 23. Boston started winning then, and was 54-36 the next 90 games before the trip to New York that exposed the electronic subterfuge. The Red Sox went 1-3 in New York last weekend, and haven’t impressed two games into the new Toronto series this week at Fenway Park. 

(It’s worth 90 seconds of your time to enjoy this comedic take from The Ringer.)

  • Big news in tennis. An American woman is guaranteed a spot in the US Open Finals. Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens both won quarterfinal matchups Tuesday. They will face each other in Friday’s semifinals. The other semifinalists will be determined Wednesday when Karolina Pliskova (-175) faces Coco Vandeweghe (plus 150, all lines from bookmaker.eu) and Madison Keys (-500) takes on huge underdog Kaia Kanepi (plus 400). Overnight, the Betfair exchange had the following prices to win the event: Pliskova plus 290, Williams plus 290, Keys plus 360, Stephens plus 490, Vandeweghe plus 860, Kanepi plus 5400.

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Back Thursday to preview that night's NFL opener featuring the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots hosting the Kansas City Chiefs. Time is running out to enter the Westgate NFL SuperContest handicapping challenge. A million dollar first prize is already locked in. If you're coming to Las Vegas to sign up later this week, remember to check out our sponsor FootballContest.com for proxy assistance

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