Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Teasers: Looking at teaser records in a more focused way

Teasers: Looking at teaser records in a more focused way

This post won't help anybody until late July when the NFL pre-season begins when Teasers begin to look attractive again. It was on my short list of topics to write about at the end of 2005, and I'm just finishing that up right now.

6 point 2-team teasers at -110 is a bet that is available at many sportsbooks. In order for each individual bet to have a zero EV, they need a winning percentage of 72.37%. For the math - take the square root of 110/210.

110/210 = .5238
sqrt(.5238) = .7237

alternatively, take .7237 x .7237 and you see it equals .5237

So when considering the profitability of certain teaser groups, people will generally use 72.4% as the target win rate. If the sub-group has a win rate of 72.4% or more, then it can be used profitably in teasers. This is a reasonable assumption to make, but I think there is an even better way to look at how well certain sub-groups have done when teased. And that is to look at how often the extra points in the teaser (6 points in the one I am writing about now) turn a loser into a winner. That target rate needed is 22.4%, which is 72.4% minus 50%.

Here is an example:
If all NFL dogs in 2005 that are getting 1.5 points win at a rate of 68% when teased up to 7.5, does that mean teasers had a good year or a bad year? What if these same 1.5 dogs had a win rate of 80%? In my opinion, we don't actually know if they had a good or bad year because the information about how the dogs performed against the +1.5 line is not available.

Let's assume in the two scenarios, the dogs improve in the following way:

A: dogs of +1.5 go from a winning percentage of 40% up to 68% when teased up to +7.5
B: dogs of +1.5 go from a winning percentage of 60% up to 80% when teased up to +7.5

Well, in that case, I think the teasers are more valuable in Scenario A than they were in Scenario B. In Scenario A, the 6 points turned 28% of the games from losers into winners. In Scenario B, the 6 points turned only 20% of the games from losers to winners.

Yes, you will make more money in Scenario B than A if you only looked at it from a teaser perspective. But when you start looking at the wagers from a total portfolio perspective - of whether to take the dog plus the +1.5 or teasing them - and from a hedged teaser perspective, then Scenario A dominates. I'll examine both of those issues.

Taking a team at +1.5 or teased at +7.5 are similar type of bets. They have similiar types of exposure in that you are rooting for that team from the very beginning. Towards the end of the game, you could be satisfied knowing both bets are sure winners, or sad knowing that both bets are sure losers. But sometimes the outlook for the two bets diverge near the end of the game, and that's when you care about those 6 extra points. The +7.5 teaser is a DERIVATIVE of the +1.5 pointspread. That means the value of the teaser can be attributed in some part to the value of the pointspread. If I told you the team covered the +1.5 points, then you know they covered the +7.5 teaser. If I told you the team did not cover the +1.5 points, then you still think there still is a chance they covered the +7.5 teaser, but the chances are much lower - around 20% - 25% depending on how well you think that subset of teasers perform.

A method to isolate the increased winning percentage of teasers is to hedge by taking the opposite side in the pointspread. So when a dog is +1.5, and you tease them to +7.5, the hedge is to take the favorite at -1.5. By doing so, you have now isolated the teaser's profitability in terms of those extra 6 points. If you balance the hedge correctly, you can put yourself in a situation where you profit only if the score falls within the 6 points that you got from the teaser, and lose on the "wings" - meaning lose if the dog wins outright (or loses by 1) or if the favorite wins by more than 7.5. Of course we don't normally want to hedge because it is costly, but sometimes the hedge and the teaser go hand in hand. Meaning that you would not play the teaser unless you played the hedge as well. In that case, you are focusing on 22.4% as your target win rate for both bets combined, and that takes into the vig you are losing on the hedge side of the bet.

This post has not been edited and is probably convulated to the reader and not nearly as well organized as I had hoped. I apologize for that. It will take several days of re-writing, re-organizing and thinking to actually turn it into a clear piece. But since it is only for this blog at the moment, I'll keep it as is. Maybe I will redo it at a later date.

No comments: