NFL playoff teasers could be eliminated

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Congratulations Las Vegas bettors! You absolutely crushed the sportsbooks with your NFL teaser-pleaser action in the divisional playoffs, even bigger than you have the past three seasons when books lost on them in this round. The ripple effect of the books’ consistent losses in the divisional round could see a change in the wagering menu by next playoffs.

A few Las Vegas sportsbooks may seriously consider not offering teasers during the playoffs next season after suffering losses in the high six-figure range during the divisional playoff round over the weekend. It’s a decision many book operators have pondered over the past few seasons just because teasers have been a consistent loser, but with 15 of the 16 teaser options between the four games Saturday and Sunday cashing, it’s something that has to definitely be revisited again.

The only reason sportsbooks haven’t crossed the playoff teasers off the wagering menu is because of competition throughout the city. No book wants to be the first to axe something, from a public relations standpoint, but no book likes losing in one area, either. And when a category sticks out like a sore thumb each and every year during the playoffs, it’s time to make a change. The edge has shifted to the players massively in one area, and sportsbook operators are entrusted to protect the house.

In the past three seasons of the divisional round, 6-point teaser sides had gone 19-5. Over the weekend they went 8-0, and to make things even worse the totals went 7-1. The only teaser loss of the weekend was those who took Seattle/Carolina UNDER 50 on the teaser. The other three games were all-way teaser wins. It didn’t matter what you bet on a teaser in three of the games – bettors cashed on anything they chose.

Where else is there in the casino having a proposition such as the sportsbook with teasers where there is a possibility the book could lose all options of a single offering? Pro and college basketball teasers are no big deal, nor is college football because the ratings aren’t as strong, but with the NFL it’s an entirely different story.

The NFL ratings are the most sound and true of any sport, so when getting to add 6-points and lay only -120 in a two-team teaser, it’s a great deal for the bettor. During the divisional round, those spreads are even sharper and -120 is ultra-cheap based on past results.

Perhaps the best idea for the sportsbooks, rather than cutting off teaser wagers in the playoffs, is to charge more for the two-team teaser during the playoffs. About 12 years ago we saw several sportsbooks adjust their pay charts on two-team NFL teasers just because they were consistently getting beat on them. Sharp bettors were picking the books apart by taking EVEN money on the two-team tease. The -120 price may still be a bargain in the regular season, but action may now be needed for the playoffs. Maybe -140 is the right price, or perhaps -150.

The sportbook I started working for in the early 90’s took NFL teaser wagers off the wagering menu during the playoffs. Several other books also employed the same strategy. They didn’t take them at all just because of the edge players had. A competitive imbalance forced the books to take them again and here’s where we’re at now. For bettors’ sake, that competition for your dollar is the only thing saving your playoff teasers in the future.

Over 70 percent of the losses this weekend were attributed to the teasers, but the one game that really saved the books from more losses was Saturday night with the Cardinals failing to cover 7 points at home in a thrilling 26-20 overtime win against the Packers.

“I’m not a big fan of the overtime rules. I prefer the way college does it, but the one overtime rule I do like is no extra point after a touchdown. That saved us a bunch with Arizona (risk),” said Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay.

In addition to the Packers covering, the total staying UNDER 49.5 was also big for the books and the combination helped slow any big parlay momentum heading into Sunday. However, by going into overtime, it made both sides of the total teaser a winner, which did carry huge momentum into Sunday.

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Twitter: @MicahRoberts7 Email: [email protected].

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