How to Create Winning NFL Teasers

The rise of legal sports betting has spawned an overwhelming menu of betting options, and for casual bettors, having so many options can be both dizzying and treacherous. Here’s a slim chance that often makes sense on NFL Sundays.

Playing NFL combo games (bets that link multiple bets together for higher potential payouts but a lower chance of winning) is rarely a successful long-term strategy. But play NFL teasers, bets of a similar design but with a twist. they can be lucrative in the right scenarios.

In a teaser, bettors can move the point spread a fixed number of points in their favor, usually 6, 6½ or 7 points. Let’s use the 6 point variation as an example; a team favored by 7 would only need to win by more than 1 point to cover the spread (bettors are “given” an additional six points) while an underdog with 4 points would get 10. The number of legs, or bets, in the teaser bet determines the odds of the parlay, and all bets involved must win for the teaser bet to pay.

Parlays are big business for sportsbooks and a big problem for bettors

Two-team teasers typically pay odds of -120 (bettors must bet $120 to win $100) and three-team teasers typically pay +160 (bet $100 to win $160). Not all punters adhere to that payout structure, so be sure to shop around to get the best price and odds, a simple piece of advice that applies to all bets.

However, you don’t want to blindly play each and every teaser. Instead, you should focus on a strategy that has proven to be profitable over time, called teaser Wong.

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Named after Stanford Wong, the author of the book “Sharp Sports Betting,” the strategy involves using the 6-point lead to get past the key football numbers of 3 and 7. How? By focusing on underdogs who score between 1.5 and 2.5 points, the point distribution can be teased down to 7.5 and 8.5; and in favorites that give between 7½ and 8½ points, which can be reduced to 1½ to 2½.

Since 2015, such line moves have resulted in bets covering a staggering 77 percent of the time in NFL regular-season games, enough to provide value no matter how many legs you use in a teaser parlay.

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Here’s the math behind that last point, and why so many smart bettors use Wong teasers as part of their overall strategy. A generic two-team 6-point teaser pays -120, implying a 55 percent chance that the bet will pay out. Since there are two events in this case, using Wong’s teaser, those odds imply that each bet has a 74 percent chance of conversion (0.74 times 0.74 = 0.55).

Remember, Wong’s strategy involves events that they have been covering 77 percent of time since 2015, giving you an edge over the odds on every bet. In fact, if you played all of the Wong teasers available each week from 2015 to 2021, you’d gain 34.4 units.

(For various reasons, the strategy does not apply to college football betting.)

The 77 percent coverage rate is the aggregate of all the opportunities described by Wong, but perhaps he should be careful not to provoke a -8 favorite in the point spread. These covered just 64 percent of the time since 2015, significantly behind the other point spreads in this group.

The biggest challenge, however, is finding at least two games on the weekly list that you can build a Wong sneak peek into. As you can imagine, sportsbooks are well aware of how lucrative Wong teasers have been in recent years and are now acting defensively, limiting the number of such opportunities available to bettors each week.

Last year, 14 of the 17 weeks during the NFL regular season had the opportunity to implement a Wong advance; however, that is based on consensus closing lines. Not all books will offer two games with ideal spreads at the same time. And unlike straight bets, you generally want to wait until the last possible moment to place your teaser bets because that’s when the lines are most efficient. Don’t worry too much about sparking an early afternoon game with a later one. Just make sure at least one of the legs starts working sooner rather than later.

Whatever you do, for this strategy to work, don’t force it. If the opportunity isn’t there, wait for a moment when it is instead of experimenting. This strategy is specifically tailored to 6-point teasers with very specific characteristics to overcome the house take and provide a small edge. Any deviation, even by half a point, could wipe out your lead entirely.

Illustration by Lily LK for The Washington Post.

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