Stardust Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, now closed, introduced sports bettors to the idea of pleaser betting near a decade ago, when they created a wagering ticket called “ultimate challenge”. These tickets offered only college football spreads with a minimum selection 4-teamer paying 60-1. To win a player needed each team to cover the spread by 8 or more points, so as you can see “a pleaser bet is the opposite of a teaser bet”. While ultimate challenge tickets rarely won, around 2003, online sportsbooks began offering these bets in a friendlier 2-team six point format for NFL football; this is when the name “pleaser” was introduced.
Today, as far as I know, Tuscany Resort & Casino, just east of the strip on Flamingo, is the only sportsbook in Las Vegas still offering pleaser bets. This form of wagering is much more popular online, where it can be found at 5Dimes, BetOnline and BetJamaica. Of those sites, by far the most popular is www.5dimes.com where teasers can be mixed. Their base level pleaser uses 6 points for NFL, 7 points for college football, 5.5 points for NBA, and 6 points for college basketball. For totals the pleaser points are NFL: 6 points, NCAAF: 8 points, NBA 7 points, NCAAB: 6 points. As you’re “selling points” instead of “buying points”, you’ll see from the below chart, payouts on pleaser bets are quite high relative to stake.
5Dimes Pleaser Odds (6 points NFL Total & Spreads)
- 2-Teams: +600 “ties reduce” / +550 “ties win”
- 3-Teams +1750 “ties reduce” / +1550 “ties win”
- 4-Teams: +4800 “ties reduce” / +4100 “ties win”
- 5-Teams +10500 “ties reduce” / +13000 “ties win”
- 6-Teams: +27000 “ties reduce” / +35000 “ties win”
This is only small sample of the teasers odds at 5Dimes.com where it’s possible to please point-spreads and totals in higher point increment for a larger payout. If you’re interested in seeing the various levels spend a minute registering an account at www.5dimes.com, log-in, click sportsbook, and then click “teasers”. As a pleaser is more or less a “reverse teaser” you’ll find them grouped together with teasers in the betting menu.
Example of a Pleaser Bet
Now in case “how a pleaser bet works” is not clear to you, let me give example. The Jets are -6 and the Colts +3. If you please these spreads together in a 2-team 6-point pleaser, you have a parlay on Jets -12, Colts +3. In a pleaser you get a much a larger payout than a parlay as your selections must cover additional points.
Advanced Pleaser Betting – Understanding the Odds
As you’re probably aware, when betting point spreads at -110 you need to win 52.38% of your bets to break even over the long haul. So of course, optimal strategy is to never make a bet at -110 unless you feel it has greater than a 52.38% chance of winning. Pleasers are no different; in order to beat them understanding the odds is a prerequisite. Once we know the odds that each team is individually priced at, we can search for profitable pleaser bets.
Let’s take the case of a 2-team “ties win” pleaser paying +550. Here we know if both teams win we’re paid at +550 odds, but what we don’t know is the odds we’re actually getting on the individual teams. Considering we’re able to select the two teams at random, the odds must be the same for both. So what we’re looking for is what number when parlayed by the same number pays +550.
The math to solve the above problem is rather simple. The first thing we need to do is convert +550 to an implied probability (break even percentage). We can do this by plugging in +550 into our *odds converter* where we’ll see the answer is 15.38%. Now when doing math on percentages changing them to a decimal is required so 15.38% becomes 0.1538. With that number known, we now need to figure out what number multiplied twice equals 0.1538. Those savvy with basic math know what we’re looking for is the square root, so we can solve this by Google searching “square root calculator” and then plugging in 0.1538. The answer to this problem is: because 0.39217 x 0.39217 = 0.1538 we need each team to win greater than 39.22% of the time for a 2-teamer at +550 to be profitable.
For those interested in knowing the odds in American format, go back to our odds coveter and plug in 39.22%. Here you’ll see this solves to +155, so a 2-team pleaser is a parlay where both teams are +155. The more important thing to remember is the 39.22% break even percentage. When betting 2-team “ties win” pleasers at +550, we’ll only select teams we feel will cover the pleased spread more than 39.22% of the time.
Which Pleasers Have the Most Value?
In the above example I showed the math on 5Dimes.com 2-team “ties win” pleasers at their basic point level which is 6 points on NFL sides and totals, 5.5 points on NBA sides, and 7 points on NBA totals. While you have the math required to calculate this, to save you time as I’ve already done it, here are the break even percentages with American odds on each of their other options:
- 2-team “ties win” +550 = each team 39.22% (+155)
- 2-team “ties reduce” +600 = each team 37.79% (+164.6)
- 3-team “ties win” +1550 = each team 39.28% (+154.6)
- 3 team “ties reduce” +1750 = each team 37.82% (+164.4)
- 4-team “ties win” +4100 = each team 39.32% (+154.6)
- 4 team “ties reduce” +4800 = each team 37.80% (+164.5)
- 5 team “ties win” +10500 = each team 39.32% (+154.3)
- 5 team “ties reduce” +13000 = each team 37.68% (+165.4)
- 6 Team “ties win” +27000 = each team 39.33% (+154.3)
- 6 Team “ties reduce” +35000 = each team 37.65% (+165.6)
As you can see from the above, the odds when broken down to individual bets are about the same no matter how many teams are added. For that reason it doesn’t make a lot of sense to ever bet more than two teams in a pleaser. If you like three teams, do three separate bets of a/b, b/c and a/c, this way you’re reducing variance while still getting the same odds and expectation.
Advanced Pleaser Strategy – Analyzing Selections
The best way to find profitable pleaser bets is to use historical data. If you don’t already have access to a database that includes spreads, total, and game results for each league, these are available at atsdatabase.com. A small tip is www.bookmaker.com offers a one week free trial to ATS database for 2100 BetPoints (not difficult to earn) and during your free trial you can copy and paste all the data you need into Excel, where it is easier to work with anyways. Considering data can be used to analyze many other bets such as teasers, props, alternate lines, half point buys etc. this is likely an investment you won’t regret.
Prior to using data, the absolute most important first step is to come up with a “logical theory” to test. A good example: NBA games never tie, and from my personal reelection are also not decided by a single point very often. Considering I can burn three of the 5.5 points required to please on crossing +1, 0 and -1, small NBA underdogs might be a profitable pleaser subset. As this is an entirely “logical theory” my next step is to head to atsdatabase.com, visit the NBA section, select “last 5 years” and then copy and paste the data into an excel spreadsheet. I then delete all games with a point spread of three or greater. This leaves me with a 1212 game sample size of underdogs +2.5 or less.
Using my sample I do some simple calculations and determine over the most recent 1212 games the margins of victory for underdogs +2.5 or less were as follows:
- 2 point loss: 45 (3.71%)
- 1 point loss: 25 (2.06%)
- 1 point win: 33 (2.72%)
- 2 point win: 44 (3.63%)
- 3 point win: 34 (2.81%)
- 4 point win: 51 (4.21%)
After only glancing at these figures it would appear the most optimal point spread to please is +1.5 using a 5.5 point “ties win” pleaser. While bets on these are given a ticket that reads -4, because “ties win” it’s the same as pleasing +1.5 to -3.5. To calculate if these bets are actually profitable I go back to the break even percentage I calculated earlier of 39.22% for each team. Knowing the bookmaker has +1.5 as a 50/50 proposition, I calculate 50% less 39.22% is 10.78%. This tells me if the 5.5 extra points (ties win) reduces a team’s win probability by less than 10.78% I’ve found a profitable subset. To test out the math I add the probabilities in the above sample for +1, -1, -2 and -3 where I see 2.06% + 2.72% + 3.63% + 2.81% = 11.22%. While close, this is a losing subset as I needed those to total less than 10.78%. Testing it out further on +2 points “ties win” and “ties reduce” I find the odds come significantly worse; I’m now done with the idea that pleasing small NBA underdogs could be profitable.
An Important Lesson to Learn
If you’re wondering why I’d spend all this time covering a losing subset, it’s because there’s actually an important lesson here. Using 5 full seasons of NBA data with the date ranges 2005/06 season to 2009/10 season the following tend emerges:
NBA Basketball: 2-team 5.5-point “ties win” pleasers
- Home Dogs +1.5 & +2.5: 100-132 (43.1%)
- Road Dogs +1.5 & +2.5: 135-194 (41.0%)
Certainly I could have written a much more interesting article about how pleasing all +1.5 and +2.5 underdogs are profitable. While this is no doubt the type of thing many betting forum posters would get excited about, and it might even make IntenseGambling.com even more popular than it already is, the truth is “data-mining sports stats” is quite similar to “keeping score in baccarat”, or “looking for patterns on the roulette wheel”. Remember earlier I said “Prior to using data, the absolute most important first step is to come up with a “logical theory” to test. “ This is because when looking at data first you’re likely to uncover trends that are the result of nothing more than variance or temporary market inefficiency.
For this specific subset that appears worth pleasing, let’s look at what the results were against the spread with no please applied:
- Home Dogs +1.5 & +2.5: 128-104 (55.2%)
- Road Dogs +1.5 & +2.5: 171-158 (52.0%)
As a reminder we need a pleaser to decrease a team’s cover rate by less than 10.78%. When comparing the historical pleased results to the historical against the spread results you’ll see the decreases were 12.1% for home underdogs and 11% for road underdogs. The lesson to learn here is, no matter if you’re dealing with a pleaser or a teaser, the proper method to analyze subsets is to come up with a “logical theory”, and then test it with “push-charts”. Calculating past cover rates from ATS data first is a dangerous mistake. If you’re not familiar why, do some Google searching about “Bill the Cop Teasers” or just take my word that all you’re likely to uncover is ripples of variance or short term market inefficiencies that have already been corrected.
Are Pleasers Ever Profitable
A small handful of profitable pleasers can be found in both NCAA and NFL football using the strategy shared in this article. To give a tip, +13.5 underdogs is a good example of this. The same can’t be said about basketball. Having run all the angles on the base number of points, I’ve yet to find a scenario where basketball pleasers make mathematical sense. My conclusion: pleasers are “mostly” sucker bets, though a few profitable spots do exist. If you’re disappointed by this, I suggest reading my article on basketball teasers; these (when bet correctly) can be largely +EV.
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