Once you get the hang of straight bets, you may be tempted by the other possible bets on the board. The most common types of these bets are teasers and parlays. Both of these bets are similar, but serve different purposes. I will talk about teasers vs. parlays, how each work and when I think each are best utilized.
For the curious and not for the faint-of-heart, teasers and parlays, also known as “accumulator” bets, are two types of bets that combine multiple bets into one single bet.
These bets are are low risk/ high reward bets. However, their chance of winning are very small and, overall, the house never gives true payout odds making these negative in value.
Both teasers and parlays are similar in that all bets combined onto a single ticket must win. That means on a 5-team parlay or teaser, every single bet must win. If just one of the 5 bets on the ticket lose, the entire ticket is graded a loser.
Parlays can include picks of a team’s point spread and moneyline bets, over/under total bets and team total bets, quarter and half-time bets and player props.
The one stipulation is that you can not combine bets that are similar outcomes. For example, I could not parlay the Golden State Warriors to win the game and also to win the 1st half since both outcomes are similar to each other. You can, however, bet on the over/under and a team of the same game. Also, for teasers, you can bet on opposite sides of the same game on the same ticket (see teaser betting strategy below).
The main difference between the two is a teaser adjusts the point spreads of your picks in your favor. In essence, the point spreads get adjusted to either give you more points to cover if you bet on an underdog or less points to cover if you bet on a favorite.
Parlays do not adjust point spreads and simply include multiple bets into one ticket.
Since adjusted point spreads are more likely to win, teasers do not pay out as much as parlays do.
Parlays are very tempting bets because of the high payout. A parlay can combine as little as two bets to as many as 10 or 12 picks. However, most sportsbooks limit the amount of a payout. For example, the book I use limits parlay payouts to $150,000.
Here is a table of parlay payouts. The table represents the payout factor to 1, so a 2 team parlay pays 2.645 to 1 or a $10 would pay out $26.45 in profit.
How to Bet Parlays
From a mathematical standpoint, parlays are not good bets because the payout is not equivalent to the odds. There is typically a very high house edge when betting parlays.
However, if you are feeling lucky and are inclined there are a few ways I would bet parlays.
- Standard Parlay –
- What it is – a parlay between 2-4 picks of the strongest plays of the day
- If you are going to bet a standard parlay, I would stick between 2-4 picks. Stick to only your most confident bets and do not get carried away. There is a tendency to take lots of favorites when picking parlays because they seem like “safer” bets. Favorites are often times bad picks because they are inflated by public perception. Not to mention, favorites payout less and have less room for error. I would avoid picking only favorites unless you are applying the heavy favorite strategy (see below).
- Large Parlay
- What it is – a parlay between 5-12 picks. It is a long shot much like playing the lottery.
- Large parlays should only be done sparingly. If you are betting every day, you can take a small, fraction of your bankroll and make a big parlay play. I wouldn’t try to do multiple large parlays espeically if the picks contradict each other. It’s bound to lead to confusion and is a waste of money. Just to give perspective, I have been betting a long time and I’d like to think I know sports pretty well. I have bet my fair share of parlays and the largest parlay I ever hit was an 8 team parlay. In the end, it is not a profitable strategy and requires a lot to go right.
- Underdog Moneyline Parlay
- What it is – a parlay between 2-4 picks. It takes moneyline bets and combines them together where only a few picks have to win for a large payout.
- What gets most parlays are not the underdog losses, but the favorites that fail to cover. Also, the most plays you include on your parlay, the more chances you have to lose. I can’t tell you how many times a parlay loses because only one of the picks fails to hit. By picking moneyline underdogs, it increases the payout while limiting the amount of picks that need to hit. The main pitfall to avoid here is talking yourself into thinking an underdog has a chance of winning when they really don’t just because you like the payout. As with all of these parlays, the pick itself is more important than the payout. More often than not the best bet to make is the one you don’t.
- Heavy Favorites Parlay
- What it is – a parlay of between 3-12 picks. It only includes heavy favorites and banks on the fact that the heavy favorites have a really strong chance of winning the game outright.
- This is the exact opposite of the underdog moneyline parlay. It is similar to a teaser in that the point spread is negligable. If the day warrants it, I may take a 5 or 6 team parlay of favorites of -500 or greater. The payout may only be slightly above even money, but, if I know my teams right, the chances of any of them losing would be very slim. This strategy is best used with college sports where teams are often greatly mismatched. At the pro level, upsets happen more frequently since even the bad teams are capable of playing well.
- Late Game Hedge Parlay
- What it is – a parlay between 2-6 picks where the last game starts after the end of the initial games
- I am also more inclined to bet a parlay if the game start times are spread out throughout the day. For example, lets say you are eyeballing a 4 team parlay featuring the Portland Trailblazers, Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers and Golden State Warriors. You notice that the Blazers, Jazz and 76ers game times all start and end before the Warriors play. Therefore, if I win my first 3 bets, I could potentially hedge my 3rd bet to reduce my risk on the 4th. Let’s say I put $10 on my 4 team parlay and it pays $120 roughly and let’s say the final bet I need to win is the Warriors -5 vs. the Celtics. At the very least, I could then bet $10 on the Celtics +5 to ensure that I won’t lose any money on my parlay. Depending upon my level of confidence, I could up that to a greater amount like $30 or $40. Even better, I could place a bet on the Celtics that has a chance of winning. I could adjust the spread to the Celtics +6.5 at something like -150. That would mean I pay lets say $30 to win $20. However, if the Celtics lost by 5 or 6 I would win both my parlay and my hedge bet! The final option would be to combine a late game hedge parlay with a teaser. I will save that explanation for a bit later on.
A teaser is just like a parlay except it adjusts the point spread in your favor. Since teasers adjust point spreads they can only be used for sports where teams score lots of points like football and basketball. It is not available for baseball, soccer or hockey.
The amount of points you get are usually between 6 and 9 for a football game and 5 and 7 for basketball games.
An example of a teaser would be as follows:
Looking at the current lines today for the upcoming NFL wild card playoff games, I see the following games and spreads I am leaning towards.
Los Angeles Chargers +3 @ Baltimore Ravens
Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans Under 48
If I were to combine these two picks into a 2-team 6 point football teaser it would look like this:
Los Angeles Chargers +9 @ Baltimore Ravens
Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans Under 54
As you can see, the point spread and the total each got increased in my favor by 6 points. However, the payout for a 2-team teaser like this is about the same as a single standard bet.
Why I Dislike Teasers
To me, teasers are betting out of fear. Not only do they give the house an edge because they do not pay accordingly, they are typically placed because you want that extra cushion to protect you.
Honestly, a lot of the time, either the teaser never even comes into play and the pick you would have made straight up would have won or the pick you lose on still loses regardless of the teaser. In other words, the teaser does not protect you.
The Only Way I Bet Teasers
There is only one strategy I use to bet pure teasers. I will call this the teaser box.
The strategy is to take two lines and create 4 teasers with each opposing side. I will illustrate with an example.
Philadelphia Eagles +6 @ Chicago Bears O/U 41
For this game, let’s say I think both the point spread and the over under lines are really accurate. In other words, I think the bears will win by about the point spread and the total of the game will be around 40.
What I do is create 4 teasers, each containing both the eagles, bears, over and under. It would look like this for 4 6-point teasers.
Teaser #1) Eagles +12 and Over 35
Teaser#2) Eagles +12 and Under 47
Teaser #3) Bears pk and Over 35
Teaser #4) Bears pk and Under 47
Now, let’s look at all the possible outcomes if I were to bet .25u on each bet.
1) Best Outcomes – Chicago wins by no more than 11 and the over under stays between 36 and 46.
2) Break Even Outcomes – Either Eagles lose by more than 12 or they win the game, but the over under stays between 36 and 46 or the over under goes below 36 or over 46, but the Bears win by no more than 11. Essentially, one side of the “box” fails and an outlier score or total happens, but the other side stays within the “box” and I simply break even.
3) Worst outcome – Essentially, a combinaiton of both an outlier score and an outlier total happen. I still don’t lose all of my bets because one side of the “box” will win, but the other 3 sides lose. I end up losing .5u.
As you can see, the best outcome is I win both bets. A common outcome is I break even and the worst I can do is lose half my bet. I like this strategy when I want action on a big game, but don’t really have a play that stands out to me. It’s good for big games when the lines are more accurate or the teams are more evenly matched. They are also good plays when both teams are not volatile and are more consistent in their scoring.
I have yet to test this method to see if it is profitable in the long run, but I would be curious to know how it could do situationally.
Obviously, it is best when betting on teasers that are even money instead of ones priced at -120. Otherwise, you won’t truly break even on the break even bets.
Other Betting Options
If you want less points, you can adjust straight bets between a half and a full point. Honestly, I never do this unless I am parlaying multiple picks, but if I were to bet higher amounts I might consider it.
You can also do the opposite of a teaser (a pleaser) where you give up points for a bigger payout. You would really only use this if you thought a favorite would blow the other team out or if a slight underdog would win handily. Again, I usually never employ this strategy because it is difficult enough to pick standard point spreads as it is.
Let me know what bets you like to make and if you have any strategies you like to employ. Also, please coment on if any of these strategies work for you. Good luck as always and May the Betting Gods Be in Your Favor!