NFL Teaser Strategies For 2021

Teasers allow bettors to combo bets and move spreads in their favor. Learn how to use teasers to your advantage for +EV profits.

Shawn Wronka
Posted: Sep 10, 2021 2:53 PM ET Updated: Sep 10, 2021 2:53 PM ET Est Time: 5 min
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Copper makes a catch against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fourth quarter at Raymond James Stadium.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Have you ever looked at a sportsbook’s NFL lines and noticed something like the below?

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

And then you wondered why those lines are displayed instead of a more traditional and evenly priced option under a dropdown menu like Team B +7.5 (-110) / Team A -7.5 (-110)? 

Sure, it makes sense to see a price like that listed for key numbers, but you’ll often see it out on non-key numbers a few times across a slate. The reason for it is teaser protection on the sportsbook’s behalf.

NFL teaser strategy at a glance

•Teasers provide profit potential given that they are a fixed-odds bet

•Key traditional rules still stand today (not crossing zero, crossing key numbers, etc.)

•Totals remain to be a suboptimal way to play teasers

•The previously highly profitable Wong Teasers require some critical updates

For the uninitiated, a teaser is a combo bet (like a parlay) with fixed odds (unlike a parlay). You pick a certain number of points and a certain number of teams, and each spread is moved in your favor by the selected point amount. For example, a three-team six-point teaser with +150 odds would look something like this:

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 why teasers can be a +EV bet is that it is a fixed-odds bet. It doesn’t matter which spreads you pick for your teaser; 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 6,568 games since 1995, a whopping 13 games (0.19 percent) 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 percent of games land on three, and another 9.5 percent land on seven. Grabbing other key numbers like 10 and 14 are okay 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 percent (typically from 40-45), whereas the six-point stretch going from three through seven has a frequency of 44 percent. 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. 

But 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

But we adapt. Many bettors have made adjustments to help improve the theoretical profit of Wong Teasers to combat the increased difficulty. 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 percent 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 percent, whereas exclusively playing road teams has increased the hit rate of those legs by around 3.0-4.5 percent. This intuitively makes sense given the diminishing effect of home-field advantage and how that diminishing rate has outpaced Vegas’ pricing of home teams

So 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

Approaching teasers for the 2021 NFL season

Not every week of the NFL season will have the ability to fill these updated Wong Teasers. Since books have gone to war with Wong Teasers for a while now, the profitability is much slimmer, and we need to be extremely cautious and patient. 

However, there is an opportunity to start the 2021 season. The 49ers are -7.5 favorites against the Lions, and the Chargers are +1.5 underdogs against the Washington Football Team. Both teams are on the road, and both games have a total of 45, which is below our threshold. Fire away.

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