How To Maximise Basic Teaser Strategy In NFL Betting
Always split aces. Never split tens. Seventeen and up always stands and eleven always doubles.
If you gamble, you probably know a thing or two about Basic Strategy in Blackjack. Las Vegas casinos hand out basic strategy cards in gift shops and encourage players to apply it when gambling.
Basic Strategy Teasers are different. Las Vegas Sportsbooks do not promote them nor do they encourage them. At times Sportsbooks will “cheat” by shading markets to prevent them. This is because, for more than two decades, bettors have been applying basic strategy teasers to NFL odds and making a big profit.
In 2001, John Ferguson, a renowned blackjack player, published the book “Sharp Sports Betting” under the name Stanford Wong. In one of the final chapters, Ferguson discussed Basic Strategy Teasers.
Ferguson explained that the optimal bet to make in an NFL market is a teaser which takes a team across the 3 and the 7. That means teasing a favourite of 7.5 to 9.5 points down below 3 points and teasing an underdog of 0.5 to 2.5 points up above 7 points.
This strategy takes advantage of the fixed scoring of three points (field goal) or seven points (touchdown) in football. The most common margin of victory in an NFL game is three points (15% of all games) followed by seven points (10%), six points (5%) and four points (5%). By teasing across three and seven, the bet is effectively covering more than one-third and four of the five most common margins of victory.
Ferguson provided one decade of research in his book. With seventeen additional years since publishing of results to analyse, there is a total of twenty-seven seasons with data available. In those twenty-seven years, there have been more than 2100 games which fit into basic strategy.
Break even percentages per single game are used to analyse teasers.
For a 7 point teaser to break even, bettors must win each single leg 75.1% of the time.
For a 6 1/2 point teaser to break even, bettors must win each single leg 73.8% of the time.
For a 6 point teaser to break even, bettors must win each single leg 72.3% of the time.
Here are the results of twenty-seven years (2100+) NFL games :
6 point basic strategy teasers had an ROI of 3.1% from 1,444 possible options.
6 1/2 point basic strategy teasers had an ROI of 5.6% from 432 possible options.
7 point basic strategy teasers had an ROI of -2.3% from 166 possible options.
Using Basic Strategy In Present Market Conditions
It would be easy to stop right here and bet 6 1/2 point basic strategy teasers for eternity. But, there is more than can be applied to maximise these bets.
Teasers are about efficiency. NFL markets — by nature, are very inefficient. The point spread matters just 20% of the time (meaning the team which covers the spread also wins outright 80% of games).
One of the most inefficient pricing situations in NFL markets are road favourites. The market support between the good and the bad in the NFL is very wide. Anytime there is a mismatch significant enough to warrant a road favourite of a touchdown or more; it is safe to assume the market is inflated (road favourite of 7 points or more have covered just 40% of games in the past seventeen seasons).
It is not a coincidence that teasing down road favourites of 7.5 points or more has resulted in a win just 60% when teasing six points, 69% when teasing 6 1/2 points and 72% when teasing 7 points. All three well below the combined break even percentage (73.7%) of each teaser category.
Never tease down road favourites of 7.5 points or more.
Teasers are also about accuracy. The less variance and chance of a score change in a teaser game, the better. The average NFL over/under has risen the past five years significantly, going up by nearly one field goal per game. Backing teasers with lower potential for variance is important.
Markets tend to break at the seven touchdown mark. The average difference between the closing point spread and the actual margin of victory for games with an over/under of 49 points (7 touchdowns) or less is just greater than 9 points. On games with an over/under of 49 1/2 points or more, it jumps to over 12 points, more than a field goal of difference.
Singling out spots where the total is less than seven touchdowns improves the overall win rate of all three teaser categories to 77.5%, well above the 73,7% combined break even percentage needed.
Here are five points to follow if you want to maximise your return using basic strategy.
Play only 6 or 6 1/2 point teasers in games with a total of 49 or less.
Play as close to kickoff as possible.
Tease home favourites of 7 1/2, 8, 8 1/2 or 9 points down.
Tease home underdogs of 1, 1 1/2, 2 or 2 1/2 points up.
Tease road underdogs of 1, 1/2, 2, or 2 1/2points up.
I do not often recommend using the Kelly Criterion as a staking method in sports betting because the average bettor is not consistent enough in pricing games to use Kelly responsibly. However, with basic teaser strategy, there are over twenty-seven seasons of data to use which gives more than sufficient to generate accurate expected win probabilities. This means that using Kelly is an ideal staking method to grow a bankroll.
Here is the link to a handy Kelly Calculator via Bettify.
First, enter your bankroll.
Second, enter the price your sportsbook charges for the type of teaser requested.
Third, enter the probability based on the teams put into the teaser. Home favourites (80.4%), home underdogs (77%) and road underdogs (75.1%). If you have a combination of both, take the mean percentage.
Click calculate when done, and you will get the optimal stake amount based on your bankroll to wager on the teaser.
As always, if you have any questions about what you just read, reach out to me on Twitter. I am available any time to chat and help clarify.