Sports parlay doubles as a brain 'teaser'

Oct 14, 2008 5:08 PM
Quirky rule can bail out losing bets by Kevin Stott |

It’s a quirky question that not all know the answer to in sports books in the Silver State.

How can you have a loss on a sports ticket and still get your money back? Impossible you say? Not with a two-team teaser off the board with a loss and a push on it.

Still foggy? Apparently, you’re not alone. Several astute gamblers I asked about this funky reality had no idea that the rules at most sports books declare any two-team teaser off the board with a push on it as "No Action," meaning, quite simply, that you get your money back.

A ticket writer at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino said he thought the majority of sports gamblers were unaware of this rule and that most probably just threw the tickets out thinking the loss did the ticket in.

And one wise veteran of the sports books Las Vegas – and the guy that triggered this story to be written – told a good friend of mine that "he used to pay his rent" with those thrown away two-team teaser push tickets, profiting from this mass ignorance on the part of football or basketball bettors.

In explaining the specific rule, Rio Race and Sports Book Supervisor David Dandrea tried to break it down to its basic element.

"It’s easy to remember," Dandrea said. "There’s no such thing as a one-team teaser."

So the gambler can’t and doesn’t put in a one-team teaser, but by way of a push, the bet is reduced down a notch and it becomes a "one-team teaser."

Like the majority of those asked, Dandrea said he thought most bettors just throw the tickets away, assuming it’s a loss.

"A lot of them don’t know the rules," Dandrea said.

And you can tell by the simple wording on the Rio’s "Sports Wagering Guide" that this is something that can and does happen and that the teaser player should be aware of:

A working example from Week 5 follows. A two-team, 7-point teaser off the board with the Chargers -7 and the Packers -4 ended up with a bet of the Chargers at pick ‘em and the Packers at +3 when applying the points. Although the Chargers lost outright to the Dolphins and that side of the bet was a loss, the Packers three-point loss to the Falcons (27-24) resulted in a push, thus forcing the teaser down to a one-teamer – which you can’t have – meaning no action, so you would get your money back! Seriously.

Although most people I talked to didn’t know this weird rule and thought that the majority of tickets that this rule applied to go, and will continue to go uncashed, there was the occasional sharpie who knew of the rule and the sports book operator – Boyd Gaming’s Race and Sports Book director Bob Scucci – who felt the numbers of unclaimed tickets weren’t quite that many.

"I don’t think it’s that high (the numbers of thrown away tickets)," he said. "I think it’s a small percentage. I think that most people that bet two-team teasers are pretty savvy bettors. I have a hard time believing that there’s a vast majority that throw their tickets away."

And like everyone I talked to from the other side of the counter, Scucci said that it’s best to know the rules before you put your hand in your pocket for your cash.

"There’s probably people that don‘t know the rules," he said. "The rules are clearly posted. Anybody should probably get a copy of the rules anytime they’re wagering."

"There is no one-team teaser," Scucci said. "So if you win one and push one, you get your money back. But if you win one and lose one, it still gets your (the player’s) money back whereas they probably think they lost."

So in short, don’t throw out your two-team teasers right away if the first team loses – pull for the push on the other game to get your money back. And try to know the rules of the specific casino, or offshore sports book for that matter, before you make any of your wagers.