For too many years during my time as a sports betting enthusiast, I was making a crucial error whenever I took a “teaser” ticker during the NFL season. For folks who aren’t familiar with teaser bets, this clever method of wagering allows the bettor to tilt point spread and/or Over-Under totals in their own favor.
If you liked the Miami Dolphins as (-3) favorites over the New York Jets, and the Under on a total of 49 points, backing a basic 6-point teaser would work as follows. By adjusting the spread 6 points in your favor, you’d now have Miami at (+3), while your total bet would now be Under 55 points.
Just like parlays, teasers must be linked together with two more sides and all sides must win (or at least push) to cash the ticket.
#1 The Wong Strategy is Moving Line Through Two “Key” Numbers
In the rough and tumble world of football handicapping, certain point spreads are considered to be much more important than others.
Please Note: These so-called “key” numbers are 3 and 7 because the overwhelming bulk of scoring plays on the gridiron will be either field goals (3 points) or touchdowns (7 points with a successful extra point). And as you might have noticed during your own experience betting football, most final scores are indeed decided by these key numbers (21-14, 31-28, etc.).
Sharp bettors and bookmakers alike have long known the inherent value of key numbers. Bettors hunt for the margins, pouncing on (-2.5/ -6.5) favourites or (+3.5/+7.5) underdogs, knowing that the extra half-point “hook” puts them on the right side of a key number.
Experienced oddsmakers will set a big game’s line right at the key number, then move it off slightly to attract equal action on both sides. OK then, now that you know how key numbers work, let’s dive into their relevancy to teasers within the Wong Strategy construct.
According to legendary game theory analyst Stanford Wong (more on him in a minute), 6-point teasers work best when the bettor moves a line through not one but two key numbers. That is to say, you’ll want to look for point spread where a 6-point adjustment moves the line through the 3 and the 7.
Thus, when you’re eyeing a favourite, you’ll need to start with a spread of (-7.5), (-8), or (-8.5). From there, sliding the line 6 points in your favor takes you through both key numbers, as shown below:
- (-7.5) > (-7) > (-6.5) > (-6) > (-5.5) > (-5) > (-4.5) > (-4) > (-3.5) > (-3) > (-2.5) > (-2) > (-1.5)
- (-8) > (-7.5) > (-7) > (-6.5) > (-6) > (-5.5) > (-5) > (-4.5) > (4) > (-3.5) > (-3) > (-2.5) > (-2)
- (-8.5) > (-8) > (-7.5) > (-7) > (-6.5) > (-6) > (-5.5) > (-5) > (4.5) > (-4) > (-3.5) > (-3) > (-2.5)
The only opening lines on a favourite that work for Wong Strategy teasers are (-7.5), (-8) and (-8.5). When you choose to tease other spreads, such as (-6) or (-10), you simply can’t cross through both key numbers.
And according to Wong, this means the added “juice” of (-120) you pay for the privilege of a two-team, 6-point teaser just isn’t worth the trouble. Wong also uses the same guidelines for teasing dogs too, so you’ll by looking for starting spreads of (+1.5), (+2), and (+2.5) only.
From there, adding 6 points to your side moves you through the key numbers of 3 and 7.
#2 Wong Devised by a Math Whiz Who Pioneered Card Counting
Most longtime gambling fans have heard of Stanford Wong, and for a good reason…
Back in 1964: A Ph.D. student by the name of John Ferguson was immersed in the world of finance at Stanford University. Ferguson also had a penchant for blackjack, one driven by his suspicion that savvy players could gain an edge over the house.
Ferguson had devoured the first treatise on blackjack basic strategy, Edward O. Thorp’s “Beat the Dealer” (1962), and he was eager to expand on Thorp’s theories. Soon enough, Ferguson was ditching class and hitting Las Vegas casinos to try his hand at counting cards.
#3 Wong Turned His Gambling Acumen to Football Teasers in 2001
After “Professional Blackjack” made him a household name among the gambling set, Wong published a long lineup of strategy manuals running the gamut.
And in 2001, his “Sharp Sports Betting” became the first forum to explore an optimal strategy for teasers.
It was this book which first introduced bettors to the notion that cutting across both key numbers offered the highest level of expected value over the long run.
#4 So Powerful That Sportsbooks That Sportsbooks Were Forced to Worsen the Odds
In fact, the casinos were once again forced to contend with Wong’s insights. Before he taught Wong Strategy to the world, 6-point teasers using two sides were offered with a standard “vig” of (-110).
Please Note: But as the method proved to be highly effective, bookmakers responded by inflating the vig to (-120). These days, many online sportsbooks won’t even let you put together the type of sharp teasers Wong discovered.
And when they do, the bets come with strings attached, such as any side ending in a push causing the ticket to lose out altogether.
#5 Every NFL Team Sports Winning Record Part of 6-Point Teaser
According to Wong, his style of teaser betting should only be applied to the NFL – and not the college game.
This is based on a number of differences between the two sports, but Wong states that college football’s lack of parity and proliferation of double-digit point spreads are most important. Essentially, college football has too many terrible teams taking on titans laying lines like (-28), rendering Wong Strategy obsolete.
But in the NFL, on the other hand, the era of perpetual parity ensures that every team has a fighting chance on any given Sunday. Don’t take my word for it though, just check out the cover rate win/loss records for every NFL team – when included in a 6-point teaser – between 2018-2020:
|New Orleans Saints:||38-8 (.826)|
|Baltimore Ravens:||39-9 (.813)|
|Buffalo Bills:||39-9 (.813)|
|Kansas City Chiefs:||38-10 (.792)|
|Chicago Bears:||38-10 (.792)|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers:||36-11 (.766)|
|Houston Texans:||36-12 (.750)|
|Indianapolis Colts:||36-12 (.750)|
|Los Angeles Chargers:||36-12 (.750)|
|Green Bay Packers:||35-12 (.745)|
|Los Angeles Rams:||35-13 (.729)|
|Detroit Lions:||34-13 (.723)|
|Philadelphia Eagles:||34-13 (.723)|
|Seattle Seahawks:||37-11 (.771)|
|Tennessee Titans:||32-13 (.711)|
|Dallas Cowboys:||34-14 (.708)|
|Denver Broncos:||34-14, (.708)|
|Miami Dolphins:||34-14 (.708)|
|Cleveland Browns:||33-14 (.702)|
|Minnesota Vikings:||33-14 (.702)|
|Pittsburgh Steelers:||33-14 (.702)|
|Washington Football Team:||32-14 (.696)|
|New England Patriots:||33-15 (.687)|
|San Francisco 49ers:||33-15 (.687)|
|Cincinnati Bengals:||32-15 (.681)|
|New York Giants:||32-15 (.681)|
|Atlanta Falcons:||31-17 (.646)|
|Carolina Panthers:||29-16 (.644)|
|Arizona Cardinals:||30-17 (.638)|
|Las Vegas Raiders:||29-18 (.617)|
|New York Jets:||29-19 (.604)|
|Jacksonville Jaguars:||26-21 (.553)|
#6 High Over-Under Totals of 50 Points or More Aren’t Qualified
Buried in Wong’s analysis of two-team, 6-point teasers is an interesting nugget regarding Over-Under totals.
Basically: Wong advises bettors to avoid any game with a total of 50 points or higher – even when the point spread fits his stated parameters. Based on his research, Wong reveals that games tagged with 50+ point totals are inherently more unpredictable, as both teams are expected to score in bunches.
With that in mind, be sure to check out the total for any game you’re handicapping with Wong Strategy. The spreads can fit the bill, but unless the total is set at 49 points or lower, you won’t extract the same level of expected value.
#7 NFL’s schedule Doesn’t Serve Up a Ton of Wong Teaser Spots
Because bettors need a specific range of starting lines to construct a Wong Strategy teaser, you might not see very many on the slate from Sunday to Sunday.
When a “dry” week comes up: You don’t have much in the way of Wong teasers to work with, don’t panic. It can be all too tempting to simply try a two-team, 6-point teaser using non-Wong starting spreads, but you’re only doing the books a favor at that point.
Remember, the entire crux of Wong’s intrepid insights into teaser strategy stems from moving through both key numbers. Only getting through the 3 or 7, but not both, just isn’t good enough for Wong’s exacting standards.
When I first learned about the Wong Strategy for NFL teaser betting, sufficed to say it was a world-changing revelation. Before that, I was simply flying blind while constructing my weekly slate of teaser tickets.
Sometimes I’d have three or four sides linked together, and in others I wasn’t even moving through one key number, let alone both. All in all, I was just another “square” bettor who the sportsbooks feasted on all through the Fall football season.