As a sports bettor, once you understand basic bet types like moneylines, spread bets, and parlays, you might be looking to try your hand at more exotic bets. Teaser bets fall into that category. Teasers can be enticing, allowing you to take games you like and make them even more favorable. But as we’ll discuss, we recommend using them sparingly.
So what is a teaser bet? And why shouldn’t you overuse them? Let’s dive in.
Teaser Bets, Explained
In a teaser bet, the bettor buys a specific number of points to make a point spread or total more favorable but must parlay the adjusted spread with at least one other selection. Essentially, a teaser is a parlay with adjusted point spreads.
As with parlay bets, all legs (individual games or selections) in a teaser must hit for you to win your bet. You can tease favorites or underdogs, whichever side of the point spread you favor. Teasers can include as few as two legs and as many as ten legs, depending on the sportsbook.
Teasers are widely available across sportsbooks for football and basketball but usually are not available for baseball and hockey due to the low-scoring nature of those sports. Unlike standard parlays, teasers can’t be applied across different sports because point values differ.
Each sportsbook offers different numbers on teasers, but the most universally popular teaser bet is a two-team, six-point NFL teaser. This teaser gives you six extra points on each individual leg of your teaser parlay.
In order to break even betting teasers, bettors must win each teaser leg 72.3% of the time when the odds are -110 and 74% of the time when the odds are -120. So while your odds of winning a single teaser leg are increased by the extra points in your favor, remember that you must win every leg of the teaser to win your bet.
For NFL football, bettors typically have three main teaser options: a six-point teaser, a six and a-half-point teaser, and a seven-point teaser. Some sportsbooks even offer ten-point teasers.
Usually, a six-point teaser carries -110 odds, the same as a standard bet against the spread; a 6.5-point teaser will have -120 odds, and a seven-point teaser will have -130 odds. However, these odds can vary depending on the sportsbook. At some books, a six-point teaser has -120 odds, so you want to make sure you shop for the best teaser lines.
For a teaser example, let’s take a look back at Week 14 of the 2021 NFL season:
In Week 14, the San Francisco 49ers were favored by one point (-1) against the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Tampa Bay Bucs were favored by three points (-3) against the Buffalo Bills.
If you liked the underdog in both games, you might have teased them together. An adjusted spread for these games on a six-point teaser would look like this:
|Game||Original Spread||Teaser Spread|
|49ers at Bengals||+1||+7|
|Bills at Bucs||+3||+9|
Together, a teaser bet on the two underdogs would look like this: Bills +9 & Bengals +7 (-110).
Both games ended up going to overtime, with the Bills losing 33-27 and the Bengals losing 26-23. If you had bet on the Bills and Bengals individually against the spread, you would have lost both bets. However, by teasing them and getting six points in your favor on each spread, both teams would have covered, and you would have won your teaser.
We suggest you stick to six-point teasers and mostly avoid 6.5 and 7-point teasers (with limited exceptions) because the additional half-point or point you’re buying offers diminishing returns. In most cases, the extra ten cents of vig (-120 vs -110) to get 6.5 points instead of 6 simply isn’t worth it. The same applies to 7-point teasers; at -130 odds or shorter, you’re giving up too much value.
For three-team six-point teasers, winning wagers typically receive a payout between +160 and +180. As always, the greater the risk, the greater the reward.
The most commonly available NBA teaser bets are 4-point 4.5-point, and 5-point spread adjustments. Like football, basketball teasers are available on both sides and totals.
For example, suppose you favored the Suns and the Heat in the following NBA playoff matchups from the 2021-22 season:
Pheonix Suns (-8) vs. New Orleans Pelicans
Miami Heat (-5) vs. Atlanta Hawks
You think the Suns and the Heat will win but expect these will be tight games in the fourth quarter. If you were to do a two-team 4-point teaser, it would look like this:
Suns -4 & Heat -1 (-110)
Generally, we don’t recommend basketball teasers because of the high number of possessions and point totals in the modern NBA. 25 of 30 NBA teams averaged more than 100 possessions per game in 2021. Receiving an additional four points isn’t enough to justify the risk of tying two independent contests together and needing to win both.
The same applies to NBA totals; in a basketball game with an over/under of 225 points, adding or subtracting four or five points doesn’t offer enough value to make it worth teasing.
When is a Teaser a Good Idea?
Teasers are worthwhile really under just one specific circumstance; when you move a point spread through two key numbers in NFL games.
What are key numbers?
Key numbers in point spread betting refer to the most common margins of victory in NFL games and are unique to football because of how football scoring works. The most common margins of victory in NFL games are three, six, and seven. Between 2015–2019, the margin of victory in the NFL was three in 14.43% of games and seven in nearly ten percent of games. That means roughly a quarter of NFL games are decided by three or seven points.
If an NFL teaser enables you to move through the two most important key numbers (3 and 7), it delivers enough value to be worthwhile.
Consider another teaser example to illustrate:
Suppose the Chiefs are -8 point favorites against the Raiders and the Packers are -7.5 point favorites against the Vikings. You believe that both the Chiefs and Vikings will win their respective matchups but aren’t convinced they’ll win by more than seven points, so you decide to do a six-point teaser.
|Game||Original Spread||Teaser Spread|
|Vikings at Packers||-7.5||-1.5|
|Raiders at Chiefs||-8||-2|
A six-point teaser with the Packers and the Chiefs would look like this: Packers -1.5 & Chiefs -2 (-110)
With this teaser, you move the spread through those two most important key numbers and set up a situation where – barring a one or two-point margin of victory – you win the teaser if both the Chiefs and Packers win outright.
Bettors should tease short underdogs as well to derive similar value.
Suppose you like a 2.5-point underdog. In this case, as an underdog getting less than three points against the spread, they fail to cover if they lose by a field goal. By teasing the underdog to +8.5, you again move through three and seven.
(Tip: If you like an underdog of three points or less, consider a smaller wager on the moneyline)
In these situations, teasing 7.5 to 8.5-point favorites down to -1.5 or 2.5 and 1.5 or 2.5-point underdogs up to +7.5 or 8.5, you maximize teaser value. You not only move through the two most frequent margins of victory, you also move through the third and fourth most frequent margins of victory (four and six points).
The goal of moving through key numbers is where 6.5 and 7-point teasers come into play. For example, a 6.5 or 7-point teaser allows you to move a -9 or 9.5-point favorite to under a 3-point favorite.
One note to keep in mind: if you are teasing two favorites down to near pick-em, you should check the odds for a moneyline parlay. Depending on the spreads and odds in both games, you may receive a better payout on either the teaser or moneyline parlay option for essentially the same bet.
Don’t Tease Totals
While key numbers are significant when you are betting against the spread in the NFL, totals in football are not nearly as statistically significant. According to PJ Walsh of The Action Network, from 2003-17, 41 was the most frequent number of total points scored at 3.9%, followed by 37 and 44 (3.8% each). At less than four percent of the time for each total, these numbers don’t hit frequently enough for there to be value in teasing totals.
The only scenario to consider teasing a total is a same-game teaser of a side and total together because you believe those outcomes are correlated.
For example, suppose you like the Steelers as a +2.5 point underdog and the over/under for the game is 40. The weather at kickoff is expected to be below freezing, and you expect the Steelers to play a tight, low-scoring, defense-oriented game. Lower-scoring games by definition have smaller margins of victory. The side and total are correlated in how you envision the game playing out. In such a case, you could tease the Steelers to +8.5 & Under 46.
What Happens When You Push?
Teaser rules and payouts can vary between sportsbooks. In most cases, if one leg of a teaser pushes, that leg will drop from the bet, and the odds will readjust. If you had two team six-point teaser, it becomes a one-team six-point teaser.
At some sportsbooks, only on teasers of three or more legs will they drop a push from and recalculate new odds. At sportsbooks with this rule, two-team teasers with one push result in “no action” and your initial wager amount is refunded.