NBA Basketball Teasers

When topics related to “NBA teaser betting” pop-up on forums, discussions are generally met by moderators informing basketball teasers are sucker bets. While these mods speak partial truth, the only reason most sports bettors aren’t crushing basketball teasers on a consistent basis is because they hate money, or more commonly, it’s because they lack the skills or initiative required to calculate which point-spreads are the most profitable to tease. In this article I’ll teach you how to do just that, using NBA teasers. While it’s a bit simple-math and example intensive, if you follow along I’m sure you’ll be glad you did when the profits start rolling in.

Basketball Teaser Odds

Let’s start with the most obvious. To win betting NBA teasers you’ll need to bet with the best odds available. Deciding on which odds are best isn’t exactly easy for the reason odds are not standard; every site has their own set of fixed teaser odds and some sites start at 4-point teasers, while others start at 4.5 or 5 points. The world’s largest bookmaker, Bookmaker.com starts their basketball teasers at 5-points and discount sportsbooks such as Pinnacle Sports and 5Dimes.com offer these as well. Here is quick comparison of 5-point teaser odds at eight online betting sites.

I’ll say this, teasers are tough to beat at -110 and near impossible to beat at -120 and -130. The good news is, digging a little deeper you’ll find 5Dimes.com offers 4.5 point “ties win” teaser at +101. When this teaser is applied only to point spreads where it’s possible to push (so one’s with a half point before the tease) this is the same thing as getting a 5-point teaser at +101. This is in incredible when compared to the teaser odds of other betting sites. So, for the remainder of this review all of our teasers analysis will be based on 4.5-point “ties win” teasers at +101.

Understanding the Odds

The required win rate to break even on +101 bets is 49.75%. The formula used to calculate this is “risk divided by return”. At +101 we risk $100 to win $101 so our return is $201 (stake + win) and therefore the math is 100/201=0.4975 which is a decimal for 49.75%. In a 2-team teaser this is how often both teams together must win to break even. To calculate how often each team must win individually, Google search “square root calculator” and plug in 0.4975. Here you’ll find 0.70533 x 0.70533 = 0.4975. Therefore, to win betting 2-team NBA teasers at +101 we need to make selections that when teased 4.5-points “ties win” have greater than a 70.5% chance of covering.

Which Teams to Tease

Even at 5Dimes.com industry leading teaser odds, if we randomly pick teams we’re going to lose a lot of money over the long haul. To show why: using the past 4 full seasons of data together with season to date for the 2010/11 season, on March 13, 2011 I pulled stats and determined the following.

All spreads teased 4.5 points “ties win” combined for a record of a record 8313-4127 (66.8%); the subsets are broken down below.

  • Home Favs: 2878-1523 (65.4%)
  • Home Dogs: 1231-588 (67.7%)
  • Road Favs: 1183-636 (65.0%)
  • Road Dogs: 3021-1380 (68.6%)

Obviously all of these subsets fall short of the 70.5% required break even rate on 5Dimes 2-team 4.5-point “ties win” basketball teasers.

Looking at totals, there is no help here either. Using the same data, teased unders went 3798-2422 (61.1%) and teased overs went 3732-2488 (60.0%). These stats are hideous! If you want to be a winning sports bettor, be absolutely sure to avoid teasers involving basketball totals.

As you can see there is plenty reason behind mods on forums informing basketball teasers are sucker bets, and keep in mind, this is at 5Dimes industry leading odds. To beat 2-team 5-point teasers at sites offering -110 to -130 you’d have to have each team cover 72.4% to 75.2% of the time instead of the 70.5% required for 5Dimes teasers. Now with all this said, if you realize in NBA basketball not all points off a point-spread have equal value, it’s possible to increase cover rates.

NBA Margins of Victory

Over the past 6,220 NBA games this is how often the margins of victories landed on the points between 1 and 14:

  • 1 point: 251
  • 2 points: 347
  • 3 points: 333
  • 4 points: 370
  • 5 points: 413
  • 6 points: 375
  • 7 points: 410
  • 8 points: 388
  • 9 points: 359
  • 10 points: 318
  • 11 points: 301
  • 12 points: 246
  • 13 points: 250
  • 14 points: 202

The distribution of margin of victory has clutters around certain points for reasons related to end game strategy of closely contested games. This involves intentional fouls, buzzer beaters, holding for final possessions, etc. I’ll note this is not a data-mined sample to prove a point; it’s a well-known fact that in NBA basketball 7 and 5 are the most frequent margins of victory and it’s been this way for many years.

Knowing this, there are few things we need to consider to determine which point spreads are the best to tease. First off, 5 and 7 are the most common margins of victory and the numbers surrounding them are frequent as well. Ideally we want to only select teasers that cross 5 and 7. Also considering 5Dimes offers us “ties win” we don’t want to waste half points as in this range every half point is worth a lot. With all this considered, it seems common sense the optimal teasers subsets on 5Dimes 4.5-Point “ties win” are: 1) all underdogs of exactly +2.5, +3.5 and +4.5 and 2) all favorites of exactly -7.5, -8.5 and -9.5. Using these subsets, we always cross the two most frequent margins of victory 5 and 7, and also don’t waste any half-points on spreads that can’t push; all of our teasers are the equivalent of 5-point teasers at +101 because “ties win”.

Testing out with data pulled season to date on March 13, 2011 plus the 4 previous seasons the results came to 1200-491 (71.0%). This is better than our required 70.5% break even rate.

For those interested in the subset breakdown, here goes:

  • Home Favs: 401-149 (72.9%)
  • Road Favs: 96-40 (70.6%)
  • Home Dogs: 268-114 (70.2%)

Perhaps keeping an eye on the road dogs, or dogs overall, would make sense as these fall short of the break even rate. For sure though, if there is a home favorite and you need a team to match it with, home dogs are a great option as 72.9% + 70.2% is still largely +EV when combined together.

Worth noting is, these opportunities are quite frequent. In teasers it’s a must you have another leg to match each selection with. Removing road dogs (the least profitable subset), during the 2009/10 season there were still 162 teasable games, meaning there was one or more other legs available to tease them with, and they matched the criteria of one of the remaining 3 subsets. So if you think for a minute, I just gave you 150+ profitable NBA picks per season. There are tout sites that charge thousands of dollars, don’t release nearly as many plays, and many of them are nothing more than deceptive marketers that masquerade as sharps. Considering I just passed you the rice bowl on how to crush basketball teasers, I ask one small favor in return; please sign up with one of the sportsbooks mentioned below.

5Dimes – Seeing as you’re now a sharp NBA bettor, 5Dimes is a must have account. What you’ll find here is a wide selection of highly +EV props, as well as the industry’s best NBA promotions including free bets, and sometimes triple odds on props involving nationally televised NBA games.

2BetDSI.com – If you’re going to profit off basketball teasers, you might as well do the same for football. While not competitive in basketball, 2BetDSI has awesome odds on NFL teasers. For more info see our comprehensive guide to teaser betting strategy where football is covered in depth.

Bookmaker.com – No matter what size your bankroll is now, if you manage it well, and apply the strategies covered at IntenseGambling.com eventually you’re going to outgrow you betting limits everywhere else. Bookmaker, in business since 1985, is the industry’s oldest and most trusted sportsbook. They also boast the highest limits on the net allowing $10,000 bets on NBA teasers, $20,000 bets on football teasers, and $30K to $40K wagers on most point spreads.

As a reminder, IntenseGambling.com is the only gambling portal on the net “legitimately” committed to helping recreational gamblers win. We strongly appreciate any support you give us in return, and wish you and all of our readers the best of luck this betting season.