Teasers & Parlays

What people don’t tell you about when you first get into sports betting is there’s much more to it than just picking a side – the favorite or the underdog; the over or the under. In reality, there are a lot of intricacies, the game within the game, that can give you the edge and hopefully make you some money (you probably won’t but without optimism, there’s no point to any of this). Understanding some of the strategies around sports betting is critical to avoiding having to explain to your wife (or husband because we are not sexist here at JPI Sports) that your child can’t go to college because you decided to put their 529 on the Cowboys -7 against the Jets. So, to start off our lessons, I’m going to teach you about what it means to create a teaser or a parlay in betting.

What Are You Even Talking About?

That’s a very good question. Both teasers and parlays are sports betting strategies used to maximize your payout, increase your chances of winning (theoretically), or both. Let’s begin with a teaser:

A teaser is a play in which the sports better places two or more bets by adjusting the spread or game total in his/her favor in order to increase the chances of winning both plays. The better must win ALL plays in the teaser or the play loses. Here is an example:

Kansas City Chiefs (-6) @ Tennessee Titans & Baltimore Ravens (-10) @ Cincinnati Bengals

And then we TEEEEAAAASSSEEEEE  six points and it is now

Kansas City Chiefs (PK) @ Tennessee Titans & Baltimore Ravens (-4) @ Cincinnati Bengals

In this scenario, instead of playing these games individually in which the Kansas City Chiefs have to win by a touchdown and the Baltimore Ravens have to win by double digits, the Kansas City Chiefs now only have to win the game outright, and the Baltimore Ravens don’t even need to win by a touchdown. However, BOTH of these outcomes must come to fruition or you lose the play.

This kind of play can usually only be played on spreads and game totals, and you can tease as many games as you like normally.

Now that we’ve discussed teasers, let’s discuss what a parlay is.

Since you now know what a teaser is, a parlay is similar in that it combines two plays together and requiring all plays to win, but because of the difficulty of hitting multiple outcomes, the payout is much larger. Let’s look at that same example:

Kansas City Chiefs (-6) @ Tennessee Titans & Baltimore Ravens (-10) @ Cincinnati Bengals

If you were to play each one of these games separately, you would most likely face a (-110) juice – that is for every $110 you bet, you would receive $100 in return for winning.  However, if you PARLAY the two games together, then the juice now turns into (+265) – that is if you bet $100, you would receive $265 in return for winning.

Parlays are used if sports betters feel extremely confident in their picks or, more likely, their bankroll is running low and they need shoot for the moon on a single play hoping it pays out big.

So What Do I Do Now?

ALSO a great question! These plays are deliberately designed to pull betters into thinking they have a fighting chance of winning, sometimes many do using these tactics, especially teasers. However, if people always won using teasers, Vegas would be out of business, and the last time I checked, Vegas is doing just fine. If you are determined to try  teasers and parlays, here are couple of strategies to keep in mind as you do:


When playing a teaser, the best is to look for “key numbers” or better known as “football numbers.” We all know these numbers – 3, 7, and 10 (and 14 if you have an incredibly lopsided play). If you’re looking to tease, it’s good to tease through at least one of these numbers, and even better if you can tease through multiple. Looking at a couple of games this weekend, here are some plays you could think about teasing:

Arizona Cardinals +4.5

The Arizona Cardinals are 4.5 point underdogs at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. By teasing six points, you’d end up with Arizona Cardinals +10.5, which would be through both 7 and 10 and give you a nice hook.

New York Jets +2.5

The New York Jets are 2.5 point underdogs hosting the New York Giants. If you tease six points, you now hold New York Jets +8.5, which would be through 3 and 7, also with a hook.

New Orleans Saints -13

The New Orleans host the abysmal Atlanta Falcons. If you tease down, you’d pass both 10 and land right at -7. If you can find a way to tease down from 12.5 so that you’re holding New Orleans Saints -6.5, this is a much better situation.

Carolina Panthers +5.5

The Carolina Panthers visit the Green Bay Packers and are 5.5 point underdogs. Teasing six points would land you at +11.5, a great spot if you feel like the Green Bay Packers are slipping.


In general, I don’t play parlays straight up; it’s difficult enough to successfully hit one bet, so the likelihood of hitting two is just not high enough to justify risking winning nothing. However, this is a way many betters play parlays and that is what’s called the Money Line Parlay.

The Money Line Parlay allows a better to essentially just pick straight up games. They’re incredibly popular with both Sharps and Squares as it’s much easier to look at a slate of NFL games, pick 2-4 teams you know are better than their opponent, and put them all together. Of course, the more lopsided the game, the more games you have to put into your parlay in order to reduce the juice taken by the book. A strategic way to play these kinds of parlays is to pick 1-2 plays that are as incredibly lopsided as your base. So this week, if I were to play a Money Line Parlay, I would choose to include:

New Orleans Saints (-645)

Baltimore Ravens (-510)

Indianapolis Colts (-515)

Now, placing these three teams, or a combination of two of them, is going to lead to awful odds (-150 if you add all three of them), and that makes sense given how likely each one of these teams are going to win. This will give you a good foundation, and the way to improve your payout would be to add one of these plays:

Kansas City Chiefs -260

Green Bay Packers -240

Tampa Bay Buccaneers -220

Just adding Kansas City Chiefs to that three team parlay improves the odds from -150 to +130. Once again, crazy things happen (like Green Bay Packers losing outright to the Los Angeles Chargers), but ultimately if you are going to play parlays, this is the most strategic way to do so.

Is There Anything Else?

Yes, there is! I’m so glad you asked! As I said above, teasers and parlays are endearing in that they either increase your chance of winning, they increase the payout, or both, but it’s important to remember that if everyone one using these tactics, Vegas would be poor, and they are certainly not poor.

The reason I didn’t touch on game totals is because there isn’t as much of a strategy to gaining an edge – it’s mostly a gut instinct. Especially at the NFL level, where most game totals are going to land somewhere between 40-50, it’s difficult to tell just how a game is going to go from a total perspective. However, I can leave you with a few tips/tricks when it comes to determining when to tease or parlay an easier game total:

1. If it seems like a game total is too high, instead of teasing down to increase your chances of hitting the over, tease up to give you some breathing room on the under.

2. On the other hand, if it seems like a game total is too low, instead of teasing up to give yourself a cushion on the under, tease down to hit the over.

3. It’s more difficult, but you can still look at key numbers in how they translate to a game total – for example a game total of 47.5 means the game is looking like 27-20 or 30-17 or 24-23. Compare it to the spread and see if whether teasing the spread is a better option than the total.

4. Particularly high (49.5+) or particularly low (40.5) numbers as set by Vegas is a good indication as to whether they think the game is going to be fast paced and exciting or slow and dreadful. This somewhat contradicts the first two points, but in these instances it’s possible that Vegas can underestimate just how much scoring there will be or overestimate just how little scoring there will be.

Overall, these kinds of plays are just as difficult to hit as a straight up play. Take it from someone who has a stretch every year filled with teasers and special parlays because he was successful one time that ultimately these fail. Unless you feel there’s a real advantage, if you don’t like the game, just stay away.

Good luck this weekend!

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