The key to picking the right teasers

Following the Supreme Court decision to strike down the federal ban on sports betting in 2018, we’ve seen a gambling renaissance take place across America. Nearly two dozen states have voted to legalize sports betting, with more to come in the following years. Thousands of new bettors are entering the market, and the first (and most popular) sport they turn to is the NFL.

After learning the fundamentals — spreads, moneylines and totals — bettors can then move on to more complex and nuanced gambling strategies. In the NFL, this includes knowing what a “teaser” is, along with knowing when and how to employ it.

Teasers are incredibly popular with public bettors. They are similar to a parlay but also quite different. In a teaser, bettors can adjust the spread or total in their favor and get better lines on games. This is known as “teasing up” or “teasing down.”

These bets are attractive because they seem “safer” than betting the standard spread or total. Public bettors love adding more and more teams to a teaser in order to maximize their potential payout if all cover. However, the more teams you add to the teaser, the more risk you assume and the more you increase the likelihood at least one will lose.

Sharp NFL bettors target teasers also, but they are much more disciplined and selective. Pros target the two-team six-point teaser, which can be bet at roughly -110 or -120 odds. For example, say you like two favorites this weekend and both are -6.5 on the spread. You could tease both down to -0.5, which means they just have to win the game in order for your teaser to hit.

NFL picks betting Week 3
While the Patriots didn’t win or cover in Week 2, NFL bettors who teased their line were successful.AP

While public bettors look for the biggest spreads of the weekend and blindly tease down favorites, pros focus on teasing through key numbers. When teasing, the goal is to pass through as many key numbers (3, 7 and 10) as possible. Key numbers are based on the most common methods of scoring, which include the field goal and touchdown. As a result, the most common margins of victory in a football game are 3, 7 and 10. With this knowledge in mind, you always want to be on or off a key number depending on which side of the bet you prefer.

For example, say you really liked the Bucs and Patriots in a two-team, six-point teaser in Week 2. The Bucs were -8.5 against the Panthers. You could have teased them down to -2.5, which passed through the key number of 7 and 3. The Patriots were +4.5 at Seattle. You could have teased them up to +10.5, which passed through key numbers of 7 and 10. Both of these plays would have cashed as Tampa Bay beat Carolina 31-17 and New England lost to Seattle only 35-30.

When betting teasers, always shop around because different sportsbooks have different prices. One book may list a two-team, six-point teaser at -120 odds, another might be closer to -140. It’s easy to fall in love with teasers because, on the surface, you think they can’t possibly lose. But remember why they’re called a “tease.” And just like parlays, they provide a big edge to the house. If you’re going to bet them, be selective and disciplined. Focus on those that pass through multiple key numbers.

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