Are Teasers a Good Investment in Basketball Games?

Teasers are an investment method that sports traders utilize less frequently, and while we at the ScoreMetrics Labs are certainly more focused on making standard selections against the spread, on the total, or in the moneyline of a game, we still think it’s worth at least exploring every option that’s out there for us as investors. Sometimes value can be found from unexpected places.

In this article, we’ll give you an overview of what teasers are and where to begin when evaluating teasers in an NBA context.

What are teasers?

Teasers are combination investments where you have to pick two to ten teams to win, but with a twist. The difference between a teaser and a parlay is that you’ll get to add points to the spreads of the teams you’re picking (this is called “teasing”). This advantage you’re getting naturally leads to lower payouts compared to parlays. Most often with basketball teasers, the amount of points you can add are 4, 4.5 and 5.

Let’s look at how teasers work through an example:

Say that you’ve found two NBA teams you’d like to place a teaser on tonight, and here’s what their spread looks like before teasing:

          Toronto -2

Denver -4

If you would pick these two for a 5-point teaser, they would turn into:

          Toronto +3

          Denver +1

So, essentially, teasers make it easier for you to hit your selection against the spread by buying points. But again, you’ll need to be right in all of your selections to win the teaser. And the downside for buying those points is that the odds you’ll be getting will be much lower compared to parlays.

A lot of people will tell you to stay away from teasers. But the fact that even many experienced sports bettors consider them sucker investments might just give analytical investors the chance to find an edge, since there’s not that much sharp money in the teaser market compared to other investment methods.

When do teasers work in basketball?

First of all, an investor should fully understand how the sports book they’re using sets up their teasers and what sort of odds they’re offering. For example, there are differences between bookmakers on how they handle tie or push situations in teasers. Some settle ties as losses for the investor, while others consider them wins. 

When evaluating whether you can make a profit out of teasers, it’s important to calculate your break-even points. For example, FanDuel gives -110 odds for four-point teasers with two teams. You would need to win almost 53% of your teasers to break even with those odds, and about 63% in order to achieve a 20% ROI. Consider whether or not hitting those numbers are realistic for you over the long term. 

In this example case it’s also wise to consider that you’ll be getting -110 for a normal single game investment against the spread. For these two-game teasers to make sense for you, you should be winning them at a higher rate compared to investing in single games.

It’s also important to understand that teasers with more than 2-3 selections are very profitable for sportsbooks and hard to beat consistently for investors. It’s probably a good idea to stay away from them.

So, when could it be a good time to buy some points and tease games in basketball? In the NBA, the most common margin of victory is between five and seven points. So, for starters, it might make sense to look at teasing games with tight lines in order to get to that range.

Historically, heavy road favorites have been the most profitable type of team to do teasers with. Heavy home underdogs have been valuable as well, but these are rare occurrences within a single season. Generally speaking, home favorites are probably the worst teams to tease because they’re heavily bet by the public, which affects their lines.

Having a system matters

If you decide to give teasers a go as an investment, it’s important to approach them systematically. Writing down hypotheses for potentially profitable strategies and testing them out is a good starting point for this.

It’s important to be open to all sorts of possibilities. Conventional wisdom doesn’t often lead you to great profits, so explore and test with an open mind.

To learn how to get started in creating profitable long-term sports trading systems, we’ve got you covered with John Todora’s new book – “Zero Correlation Investing – The Score Metrics Secret”. It’s currently on sale for a limited time, so go get yours now!

And don’t forget to check out all of thereports and analysis from the ScoreMetrics Labs. We’ve got you covered with new pieces on sports investing multiple times per week.

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