We love teasing NFL spreads, but what about NBA? Can we continue our favorite bets once football goes away and basketball rules the day?
What Is A Teaser?
A teaser is simply a multi-leg bet (like a parlay) in which each team must win for you to collect your winnings. However, unlike a parlay, you can “tease” the point spreads in your favor by 6, 6.5, or even 13 points depending on your pleasure and sportsbook of choice. If you bet an underdog at +2.5, add 6 points and your teased spread is now +8.5. Bet a favorite at -8.5 and the spread comes down to a more palatable -2.5. Teasing spreads through the key numbers of 3, 4, 6, and 7 (most common margins of victory in the NFL) are known as “Wong Teasers” and I encourage you to read more about them if you like the concept by simply googling around the web a bit.
Basketball teasers work similarly. However, instead of 6 points, they typically tease the spread only 4 or 5 points, depending on the sportsbook.
NBA Key Numbers
If key numbers are important in football, they are likely important in basketball, too. But, what are the most important numbers when it comes to NBA margin of victory?
A quick study into the past 10+ years revealed almost any number from 2 through 9 was a “key number” in the NBA. Here are the winning percentages for each number across this sample…
- 2 = 5.6%
- 3 = 5.4%
- 4 = 5.9%
- 5 = 6.6%
- 6 = 6.0%
- 7 = 6.6%
- 8 = 6.2%
- 9 = 5.8%
I have bolded the most common numbers of 5 and 7. If you push/tease your spread through the 5 and 7, either up or down, you are increasing your chances of covering that spread by as much as 19% (adding the 5, 6, and 7 together). On the face of it, this seems like a big help. But, is it enough help?
A Little Quick Math
I’m an amateur sportsbettor for sure, and I have done a lot of reading these past weeks. Here are a couple numbers you must learn if you are going to take sports gambling seriously.
1- Probabilities of payout. If your book offers you -110, you need to win roughly 52% of the time to be profitable. You find that quickly by adding your wager ($110) to the total you win back ($210) and dividing them as such… 110/210 = 52.4%. If your book offers you -120 (most 2-leg teasers), you need to win 120/220 = 54.5%.
2- How often do both your legs need to beat their spreads to pay off both legs of your teaser? Well, simply take the square root of .545 for .738… or 73.8% of the time. Each of your chosen legs needs to beat its teased spread 73.8% of the time for you to hit your 2-leg teaser 54.5% of the time and net out a profit.
That wasn’t so hard, was it? And, you thought you’d never use math after high school.
Are NBA Teasers Profitable?
So, now we can circle back to the main question: Are NBA Teasers Profitable? The answer isn’t simple. Of course they can be, but we need to be very selective in when we choose our teams.
If we look at the major categories across our 10+ year sample, we might glean some trending information.
- Home favorites covered their teased spreads 72.9% of the time.
- Road favorites covered their teased spreads 70.6% of the time.
- Home underdogs covered their teased spreads 70.2% of the time.
- Road underdogs were largely irrelevant compared to the 73.8% we need to win our teasers, as they were well under even the 70% of home dogs.
You can see it’s not promising to blindly chase a trend. Clearly, some situations get close. If you are very picky, or find a stronger trend (now that you know what to look for in the 73% winrate), you might uncover something. But, for now, we can safely assume blindly teasing NBA spreads through even the most important key numbers is just not long term profitable. Honestly, the key numbers in NBA just aren’t as strong as they are in the NFL.
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