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    College Football Teasers, a sucker’s bet?

    Updated: April 29th, 2011
  • College Football Teasers, worth the price or a sucker’s bet?
    by JJBeatz of www.collegefootball breakdown.com

    Teaser, the name alone says tread lightly. However, most bettors can’t resist a try especially on a week where confidence in their picks is low. Avid game watchers are quite familiar with how easy and quickly points can be scored in a College Football game. Special Team blunders, excessive turnovers, the passion of the crowd, the psyche of sub 23 year old players, all can lead to great volatility. But yet, many bettors see 6 or 10 points as “free money.” “How can this team not cover with 6 or 10 points,” barks the bettor. I think at the heart of the “tease” is that bettors seem to look past the need to win all parts of the bet to win. They judge the risk of each game independently of each other and not all parts of the teaser together. Common sense might tell you that when Sportsbooks are constantly advertising that they have “The Best Teaser Odds, “the bet must be poorly priced for the bettor. The teaser seems akin to the “new” casino game which almost always has odds which are worse for the bettor compared to the classics like blackjack or craps. But before we dismiss the Teaser as a sucker’s bet, let’s analyze how 2 Team and 3 Team Teasers faired last year verse the expectations created by the Sport Book’s Odds.
    The most common teaser bets in College Football Wagering are the 2-team 6 pointer and the 3-team 10 pointer. The typical payout for these bets is 10-11 meaning that a bettor must risk 110 to get 210. For a 2-team 6 Point Teaser to win a bettor must select teams that cover the point spread when 6 points is added to their final score. At -110 to get 210, the percentage that a bettor must win in order to Break Even is 52.381% (110/210). Since the teaser bet requires multiple winning selections, to determine the break even percentage verse the Book’s odds, the number of winning percentages must have a product of .52381. For example, for a 2 Teamer that is paying off 210 for risking 110, the required break even or correctly priced winning percentage is the square root of .52381 or 72.3747%. Each game must win at 72.3747% to have an expected result of breaking even. If 3 Teams are required to win, then we must take the cube root of .52381 which is .806104 meaning that 80.61% of the selections must win.
    Now that we have laid down the expected break even winning percentages, let’s analyze the results from last year to determine if the SportsBooks are either ripping bettors off or presenting a reasonably fair line. According to the records of www.collegefootballbreakdown.com, there were 718 lined FBS College Football Games in the 2010 season including Bowl Games. To determine the average winning percentage of the Teasers we must look at both sides of each game. Therefore, there were 1436 teaser sides during the 2010 season. The results are below.
    Lined Sides 1436
    10 Point Teaser Side Wins 1045
    10 Point Teaser Side Losses 351
    10 Point Teaser Side Pushes 40

    The winning percentage of a 10 Point Teaser side for the 2010 season was 74.85% ((1045/(1436-40)

    6 Point Teaser Side Wins 910
    6 Point Teaser Side Losses 486
    6 Point Teaser Side Pushes 40

    The winning percentage of a 6 Point Teaser side for the 2010 season was 65.18% ((910/(1436-40)

    Therefore, the required break even win percentage of 72.3747% for a 2 Teamer was much greater than the actual 2010 win percentage of 65.18%. At 65.18%, the true odds should be 1.35 to 1, arrived at by (1/(.6518^2)-1. But with the bookmakers, all you get is 10-11. That’s a huge premium especially when you consider that a bookmaker pays 10-11 on straight team bets that have true odds of 50/50 or 1 to 1. The 3 Team 10 pointer is actually more conveniently priced for the bookmaker. Instead of getting closer to the truer odds of 1.384 to 1, the bookmaker still only paid 10-11. There is no doubt, that in 2010, on average, the 2 team or 3 team College Football Teaser was a SUCKER BET. No wonder why certain websites can advertise a little better rate at times to lure players. They have plenty of room to spare and still have the odds greatly in their favor.
    Without doing the statistics, I assume that NFL scores normally have a lower variance or standard deviation from the point spread as compared to College Football Games That means that when books are paying 10-11 on these type of teasers, they are offering a more value to the teaser bettor. Bookmakers have been able to pass along the same teaser payoffs from the NFL to College Football Games. I guess they assume that ignorant bettors think football is football and that this payout rate is all they deserve.
    To answer the Headline’s question, without question, a College Football Teaser based off data from 718 games from the 2010 season was clearly a sucker’s bet. Since the sample was quite large, I suspect that it will continue to be a sucker’s bet at these payouts going forward. If you are looking to have a long term career in handicapping or would prefer to enjoy the college football betting season without giving up too much vig, then stay away from the 2 and 3 Team Teasers or demand a bettor payout from your Sportsbook.

    JJBeatz, College Football Handicapper

  • JJBeatz


    John "JJBeatz" Jacobson is a handicapping analyst who covers the Big Ten, Sun Belt, MAC, Big East, Big 12 and Conference USA for www.collegefootballbreakdown.com. His nickname, "JJBeatz" was given to him by colleagues on Wall Street for his ability to make them money betting college football. JJBeatz is short for JJ beats the spread.

    John's passion for the sport of college football began when he played his first parlay card in elementary school. His fascination with making informative predictions allowed for a smooth transition into equity analysis and trading on Wall Street. As John often says, "Similar skills, such as money management, an analytical mind, hard work, an attention to detail, and perseverance, are needed in both trading and sports betting." JJ continues to work on his craft and loves to make people money.

    E-mail JJBeatz: jjbeatz@collegefootballbreakdown.com.

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