Parlays vs. Teasers, pros & cons

Most people who understand about sports and sports betting know how to make the basic straight wager. Just tell me the point spread and the total of a college football or NFL game and BOOM! I can have two wagers immediately, one on the favorite or underdog and the other on OVER or UNDER.

But within that one game, two other possible bets exist: teasers and parlays. I wrote a couple of corresponding pieces explaining why I like to bet parlays and why I like to bet teasers.

Teasers involve the ability to take at least six points for each leg of the wager. The down side is that you have to win at least two legs to win just one bet. With the way the juice is set up, you can theoretically win three of four sides, yet lose money (win a 2-team teaser, go 1-1 and lose the other one).

The good thing about teasers is that there are spots where the gambler has a proven math edge, and the bookmakers have done nothing to stop it other than disallow the bets to take place – which is not common. The ability to take a 1.5, 2 or 2.5 point underdog and tease that team up through the key numbers of 3 and 7 (to at least 7.5) is a long-term winning proposition if you can find at least two of these on any given week in the NFL.

The opposite also holds true and is much more popular. If you can take an 8.5, 8 or 7.5 point favorite and tease them down through 7 and 3, you are making a long-term winning play. Most NFL weekends will offer at least two (sometimes as many as five or six) games where you can tease “up” a small underdog and/or tease “down” a 7.5-to-8.5 point favorite. Those situations should be exploited because the player has the edge.

Parlays have some positive aspects, including the allure of some stunningly massive payouts. The more teams added to the parlay, the more risk you are taking on for one to lose. All it takes is one to lose, which is the real downside to the bet. Imagine how sick you would be if you bet a six-team parlay and go 5-1, only to not have any of the six games bet as a straight wager. Going 5-1 and losing your only bet would be enough to have me heading to the nearest bridge and seriously evaluate my life.

Still, I’ve been a parlay bettor in baseball for many years and will put in some football parlays where I can see some sort of positive correlation to an outcome. If I think the favorite is going to score many points more than what is listed for their team total, I might lay the favorite and bet the game OVER, hoping the underdog does just enough scoring to push the game OVER the total while not jeopardizing the favorite’s chances to cover the spread.

Ultimately, most of the bets I make this season will be straight plays. But there will be opportunities to play on both parlays AND teasers!