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What Is A Teaser Bet?

As sports bettors continue to flock to legal and regulated sports betting in Indiana, many users are walking away with a similar impression: Oddsmakers are very good at what they do and tough to beat.

This is especially true when it comes to point spread betting, which can be challenging for both new and experienced handicappers alike. Wouldn’t it be great if bettors could tweak the spreads a little more to their liking?

Well, you can. It’s known as teaser betting and it gives bettors the wiggle room they are seeking on point spreads.

As you would expect, there’s a trade off involved. Basically, the more you move the spread, the less of a potential return you will see on successful wagers, but sometimes that’s the cost of doing business.

How does teaser betting work and what do you need to know to use it to your advantage? You’ve come to the right place. We have the answers to those questions and more as we explore this wager type. Read on.

What is teaser betting?

A teaser bet comes into play in sports in which the point spread is a common wager. They’re most commonly used for basketball and football, both at the professional and collegiate level.

Teasers also share something in common with parlays as the bets require two or more outcomes. For a two-team point spread parlay, bettors are making their choices based on lines set by the sportsbook.

A teaser puts more control in the hands of the bettor. They can ‘tease’ the line more to their liking, which means they can move the spread on the games to one they are more comfortable with.

Teasers typically revolve around set numbers. All selections added to the slip will be adjusted by the same amount of points. Here are the numbers most commonly used for the two major teaser sports.

  • Basketball: 4, 4.5, or 5 points
  • Football: 6, 6.5, or 7 points

We’ll walk through detailed examples of how teasers work for both sports.

In all cases, teasing the line by a certain amount of points will change the potential return. For example, a two-team parlay on a standard basketball point spread in which odds on both sides are set at -110 will pay out at odds of +264. For the same bet with a 4.5-point teaser attached, the payout is typically at -110.

While teasers may offer less of a return, they also help to build in more of a safety net on multi-team wagers.

How teasers and point spreads work

To use teasers successfully, you need to have a good handle on how point spreads work.

Oddsmakers install a point spread on each basketball and football game on the docket. The purpose is to effectively level the playing field between the two sides. It can be helpful to think of the spread as an estimated margin of victory.

The point spread works in both directions, albeit in different ways. You can bet on the favorite minus the points, or place a wager on the underdog plus the points.

For the favorite to cover the spread, they must win the game by an amount greater than the points assigned. On the underdog side, they can cover by either keeping the margin closer than the spread or by winning the game outright.

Consider the following example:

  • Miami Dolphins +8.5 (-110)
  • Indianapolis Colts -8.5 (-110)

In this example, the Colts are favored by 8.5 points, so they’ll need to win by an amount greater than that to cover. A 30-20 victory for the Colts gets it done, but a closer margin of 24-21 doen’t.

For the Dolphins to cover, they would need to keep the game closer than that. If they lose, 31-17, they have failed to cover. However, if they lose a tight game, 31-28, then Miami has covered the spread.

If you decided to include this game on a teaser bet with other contests, then you would be able to shift the spread. Let’s say this is one of your three choices for the week. You like three pretty big favorites, so you decide to use a six-point teaser.

For our example game, the spread now looks like this:

  • Miami Dolphins +2.5 (-110)
  • Indianapolis Colts -2.5 (-110)

That’s a much more manageable spread. The Colts now only need to win by a field goal or more to cover. If the Dolphins keep the margin under three points — or win outright — then they will have covered the spread.

In order to win the teaser bet, each of the teams you have included on the ticket need to cover the amount teased. If one bet fails to break in your favor, then the ticket is a loser.

Teaser betting examples

Practice makes perfect when it comes to building familiarity with teaser betting. Let’s walk through some examples for the sports the bet is most commonly used in.

NFL teaser betting

For weekly NFL slates, there’s plenty of time to debate and research the spreads for upcoming games. After doing so, you zero in on three contests that look appealing.

  • Indianapolis Colts -7.5 over Cincinnati Bengals
  • New Orleans Saints -8.5 over Atlanta Falcons
  • Seattle Seahawks -9.5 over Detroit Lions

You like the favorites in all three cases, but the hefty spreads have you feeling a little skittish. Using a teaser, you could reduce the numbers to make these wagers more attractive.

For these three big favorites, you can attach a six-point teaser to reduce the lines. The end result looks like this.

  • Indianapolis Colts -1.5 over Cincinnati Bengals
  • New Orleans Saints -2.5 over Atlanta Falcons
  • Seattle Seahawks -3.5 over Detroit Lions

Those are much more manageable benchmarks for the favored teams. As opposed to winning by a touchdown or more, two of the teams need to only win by a field goal while the other has to win by a shade more for you to cover and win.

Teasers allow you to move the lines, but remember that reducing the spread also means you’ll also be looking at less of a potential return than on a standard three-team point spread parlay.

NBA teaser betting

Point spreads can be challenging, especially for a sport with a constant flow of games like the NBA. For one nightly slate, you decide the following four favorites deserve further investigation.

  • Indiana Pacers -5.5 over New York Knicks
  • Los Angeles Lakers -6.5 over San Antonio Spurs
  • Los Angeles Clippers -7.5 over Orlando Magic
  • Houston Rockets -5.5 over Golden State Warriors

Your research points you toward pulling the trigger on single-game wagers for all four of these contests on the assumption you’ll hit at least three of them. You’d like to put in a parlay to enhance the returns, but you’re not fully confident all four will cover.

Enter a 4-point teaser, which you can apply to all of the contests on the same betting slip. After doing so, you’ll be faced with lines that look like this.

  • Indiana Pacers -1.5 over New York Knicks
  • Los Angeles Lakers -2.5 over San Antonio Spurs
  • Los Angeles Clippers -3.5 over Orlando Magic
  • Houston Rockets -1.5 over Golden State Warriors

In addition to the four single wagers, you’re now taking a crack at even better returns while also bringing the spreads down by a lot. When used correctly, teasers can help you mitigate the risk on games you have on the radar.

College football teaser betting

Massive college football Saturday slates can be tough to manage. However, you have a system down which helps you zero in on the five most appealing matchups for the week. Here’s what you come up with.

  • Clemson -9.5 over NC State
  • Alabama -11.5 over Arkansas
  • Indiana -7.5 over Miami-Ohio
  • Notre Dame -10.5 over Wake Forest
  • BYU -12.5 over New Mexico State

These are all big favorites, but the mismatches are strong enough that you think you’ll at least go 3-2 and walk away with a profit. A five-team parlay would offer excellent returns, but you’re not positive all of them will cover.

A 7-point teaser may help make you more confident. After you apply it to this five-team ticket, here are the lines you’re faced with.

  • Clemson -2.5 over NC State
  • Alabama -4.5 over Arkansas
  • Indiana -0.5 over Miami-Ohio
  • Notre Dame -3.5 over Wake Forest
  • BYU -5.5 over New Mexico State

At smaller spreads for these paper mismatches, you have that much better of a chance of all covering with the use of a teaser.

College basketball teaser betting

In the run up to March Madness, the college basketball regular season goes by in a flash. Jam-packed slates are commonplace, but you manage to come up with the following six games as contests to focus on.

  • Indiana -6.5 over Illinois
  • Michigan State -7.5 over Minnesota
  • Kansas -8.5 over Kansas State
  • Texas Tech -5.5 over Iowa State
  • Duke -9.5 over Pitt
  • Virginia -6.5 over Virginia Tech

You’re confident enough to be on all of them individually with the assumption you’ll come out ahead. However, dropping all six of these teams on a parlay ticket could eat into your returns if even just one game breaks in the other direction.

A 5-point teaser can be used to move the lines on all of these games. Here’s what the new spreads look like after you add it to your slip.

  • Indiana -1.5 over Illinois
  • Michigan State -2.5 over Minnesota
  • Kansas -3.5 over Kansas State
  • Texas Tech -0.5 over Iowa State
  • Duke -4.5 over Pitt
  • Virginia -1.5 over Virginia Tech

Just like that, all of these big favorites have a bit more breathing room. If they manage to cover at the original spreads, that’ll work just fine. Teasers open the doors to additional profit opportunities, but remember they don’t remove risk entirely from the equation.

Betting odds and payouts for teasers

For your standard point spread bet at odds of -110, it’s not difficult to figure out what the potential return is. If you plug in your wager amount on the betting slip or on an online wager calculator, you’ll see that you would make a $90.90 profit.

It’s not quite as straightforward with teaser bets. There are other variables to consider, such as the number of teams involved in the wager and the amount of points teased.

Thankfully, there’s a general guide we can use for each of the key intervals which are most commonly used for teasers,  assuming the odds for all selections is at -110. Here’s how it breaks down for basketball.

4-point basketball teaser payout

  • Two team: +100
  • Three team: +180
  • Four team: +300

4.5-point basketball teaser payout

  • Two team: -110
  • Three team: +160
  • Four team: +250

5-point basketball teaser payout

  • Two team: -120
  • Three team: +150
  • Four team: +200

For football, it’s a similar story, but the amount of points most commonly teased is different. Here’s a general guide for your reference.

6-point football teaser payout

  • Two team: -110
  • Three team: +180
  • Four team: +300

6.5-point football teaser payout

  • Two team: -120
  • Three team: +160
  • Four team: +250

7-point football teaser payout

  • Two team: -130
  • Three team: +140
  • Four team: +200

As a general rule of thumb, the more games you add to the ticket, the greater the potential return. However, the points also factor into the equation. The more points used, the less of a return you’ll see for the same bet using that exact number of teams with less points.

Key takeaways on teaser betting

A teaser is a type of wager which involves point spreads and is most commonly used with basketball and football betting.

In a standard point spread bet, oddsmakers set the line, and bettors then make their choices from there. Teaser bets afford bettors the flexibility to move the spread to a level they are more comfortable with.

The wager type typically revolves around key numbers for moving the point spread. For basketball it’s 4, 4.5 or 5 points. In football the most common numbers are 6, 6.5 and 7.

A teaser can be used on bet slips which have two or more outcomes, just like a parlay. The potential returns vary depending on the number of teams included and the amount of points teased.

As a general guideline, the more points teased, the less of a return and those potential returns on teasers can be less than those of a standard point spread parlay with the same number of teams.

However, some handicappers prefer the flexibility of moving the points so they are more to their liking and are willing to make the tradeoff. At the very least, teasers are worth considering when you’re interested in a number of games but aren’t comfortable with the spreads offered at sportsbooks.