NFL Teasers: How to Use Updated Wong Teasers in 2023

Oct 4, 2023 • 10:00 ET • 5 min read
Najee Harris Pittsburgh Steelers NFL
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Have you ever checked out a sportsbook’s NFL betting lines and noticed something like this?

Team Spread Odds
Team B +9.0 -125
Team A -9.0 +105

You may have wondered why these lines are displayed with such odd juice discrepancies instead of to a more evenly-priced option like Team B +7.5 (-110) / Team A -7.5 (-110), which you can typically find tucked within a dropdown menu. It might make sense to see a price like that listed for key numbers like three and seven, but you’ll often see it on non-key numbers a few times across a slate.

The reason for this is teaser protection on the sportsbook’s behalf.

Teasers are bets that can be valuable if used correctly — in fact, using teasers made using the logic presented in this article went 5-1 in 2021 and 8-2 in 2022. This guide will explain basic strategies you should use in 2023 when playing teasers to help maximize your profit potential.

Modern NFL teaser strategy at a glance

For the uninitiated, a teaser is a combo bet (like a parlay) with fixed odds (unlike a parlay). You pick a set number of points and a certain number of teams, and each spread is moved in your favor by the selected point amount. 

However, you are required to pick from the spreads that are displayed on the default screen, and this is why books throw out non-key numbers with lopsided juice. In short, they don't want to give you a -7 spread that you can use a six-point teaser on to bring to -1. Instead, they want you to take the -9 spread and land on -3, giving them extra points of cushion.

Nevertheless, below is an example of what a three-team, six-point teaser with +150 odds would look like:

Team A -8.5 now Team A -2.5
Team B +1.5 now Team B +7.5
Team C +4.5 now Team C +10.5
Risk $100 to win $150

Profit proposition

The reason teasers can be a +EV bet is that it is a fixed-odds bet. That means it doesn’t matter which spreads you pick for your teaser or what the original juice was on each of those spreads. The payout odds are always the same. And since not all point spreads are created equal due to the frequency that games end on football’s key numbers, we can use the fixed odds in our favor to make +EV wagers.

So, what do those +EV teasers look like?

Well, for one, it is essential to know your book’s teaser rules. The most crucial distinction is the handling of pushes:

  • Some books count pushes as losses.
  • Some count pushes as pushes.
  • Some offer you different odds for either.

Secondly — and this is the golden rule of teasers — NEVER cross zero

In the 7,339 games since 1995, a whopping 17 games (0.23%) have ended in a tie. So, by going from -1 to +1 (or vice versa), you are fundamentally gaining just one point but paying two points to do so. 

So what should we be targeting?

Try to cross two key numbers, and aim to go across three and seven, in particular, because they are the two most important key numbers in football. Around 15% of games land on three, and another 9.5% land on seven. Grabbing other key numbers like 10 and 14 are OK but not the best for maximizing probability. 

So what does that look like? 

Using the example spreads from before:

  • Team A -8.5 now Team A -2.5 (crosses -7 and -3)
  • Team B +1.5 now Team B +7.5 (crosses +3 and +7)
  • Team C +4.5 now Team C +10.5 (crosses +7 and +10)

Teasers with NFL totals

But what about totals? Quite simply, it is wise to avoid teasing NFL totals because any point stretch of totals will never come close in cumulative frequency to an equal point stretch in spreads that includes three and seven. 

For example, the highest six-point cumulative frequency in totals is about 19% (typically from 40-45), whereas the six-point stretch going from three through seven has a frequency of 44%. By playing a total in this example, you are reducing your cumulative frequency by 2.3x.

The one thing totals can help us with when it comes to teasers is helping us get the most out of the type of spreads we pick. Lower totals fundamentally imply that each point in that game is harder to come by. So intuitively, each point we’re gaining on a low total game spread adds to our frequency sum. 

However, this low-total idea isn’t an original one, which brings us to the holy grail of teasers.

The Wong Teaser

In his book Sharp Sports Betting, Stanford Wong outlined a teaser strategy that would aptly be named and referred to in the industry as the “Wong Teaser.” The gist of it is:

  • Play a two-team, six-point teaser
  • Only play favorites of -7.5 to -8.5 and underdogs from +1.5 to +2.5

Wong Teasers provided high profits for over a decade. They were so profitable that Stanford Wong arguably changed the way books offer their lines and how they price and grade wagers.

You can look at any sportsbook today and see his influence:

  • Prices of two-team teasers have become shorter
  • Many books now grade any teaser with a push leg in it as a loss
  • Books deliberately try to stay out of the -7.5 to -8.5 and +1.5 to +2.5 ranges

Therefore, we adapt. Many bettors have made adjustments to help improve the theoretical profit of Wong Teasers to combat the increased difficulty caused by books' adjustments over the years. Some have proven to show some promise, such as limiting it to spreads from games with totals of 49 or lower (which adds about 1.0% to the hit rate of each individual leg). Others have suggested limiting it to just home teams for both favorites and underdogs. 

However, my data has shown that restricting teaser legs to home teams has reduced the hit rate of those legs by 2-3%, whereas exclusively playing road teams has increased the hit rate of those legs by around 3.0-4.5%. This intuitively makes sense given the diminishing effect of home-field advantage and how that diminishing rate has outpaced Vegas’ pricing of home teams. 

To review, my suggested updated Wong Teaser strategy moving forward would be the following:

  • Play two-team, six-point teasers (look for -110 odds)
  • Only play favorites of -7.5 to -8.5 and underdogs from +1.5 to +2.5
  • Only play games with totals of 49 or less
  • Only play road teams

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