If you have a local place to bet (Delaware Park, Vegas, etc.) you might get slightly better payouts, but if you use Bovada Sportsbook then you have the convenience of doing everything online. Even if you don’t use Bovada you can get the current lines from them at any time for free (see menu at begging of this post for the links to the current lines).
So I figured I’d start with this because it’s been a pretty exciting couple of years for me. So far this season, I’ve hit a 10-team, 7 point teaser early in November for $400: Ravens/Browns (Under), Broncos/Bengals (Under), Cardinals/Packers (Under), Dolphins/Colts (Under), Lions/Jaguars (Under), Texans -4, Panthers +10.5, Vikings +11, Bucs +8, and Steelers +10.5.
Anyway, last week I hit a $50 teaser last week: Saints (+0.5), Saints/Raiders (Over 49), Patriots (-3), Colts/Patriots (Over 47), Chargers +15, Chargers/Broncos (Over 41), Steelers (+10.5), Ravens/Steelers (Under 47.5). And I hit a sweetheart teaser (betting 3 or 4 teams with extra points): Packers/Lions (Over 40), Saints/Raiders (Over 43), Texans (-2.5), Chargers/Broncos (Over 35.5). Now the sweetheart teaser only paid $8.33 on a $10 bet, but the idea was that I was covering $8 worth of other long-shot bets that I was making that week, so I ended up 33 cents on top for all of those bets, then added the $50 on top.
I like to try long-shot parlays of 8 to 12 teams. You only have to bet a few dollars, but the payouts could be anywhere from roughly $500 to $3,000. I’ve never hit one of those to be honest, but I usually cover the long-shot bets with some safer bets.
Full disclosure here: I have also lost about $100 this year too, mostly because I deviated from my own system and was trying to risk more to win more. This usually doesn’t work out much so although I’m still up $350 so far this season, I’m probably going to move back more into the system that is better for winning. Read on for more details.
Below is my system for betting football. When I follow it, I tend to win or at least break even. When I don’t follow it is when I tend to lose. The system involves placing three types of bets (6 actual bets) each week. See the details on Bet 1, Bet 2, and Bet 3 below.
You can also jump down to the bottom of this post to get the bottom-line estimates for what youc an reasonably expect to win if you follow this system. I haven’t exaggerated the numbers as you’ll see in the estimated earnings summary.
Also, below the earnings estimates, for everything. If you play this system all season you should be up about $500 bucks. If you play a little more aggressively (betting 6-pt teasers instead of 7-pt teasers) then you stand to win $600 to $1,200. These aren’t exaggerated numbers if you play smart, and you can have a lot of fun watching football while doing it. Even if you don’t know much about football, you can still follow the betting strategies (see the very end of this post); you’ll probably have to use a quick research tool to get a sense of teams with good offenses, defenses, etc. (you can see that in many places, but it’s easiest just to check out the team profiles by clicking on any team’s name at Bovada).
So anyway, here is my strategy for football betting. The idea is to place all three types of bets every week (it’s a total of 6 bets every week for low risk but high potential reward). If you don’t want the details, skip to the bottom.
If you’re at Delaware Park or in Vegas, you might have to go to the window instead of using the pre-printed cards. Sometimes you get better lines on the cards and sometimes at the window (basically the cards have the points printed so they don’t change from Thursday to Sunday, but the window changes lines by the minute).
Don’t get crazy with these because you’re most likely going to lose them, but it really makes the 1 pm games fun to watch knowing that you have a chance at a few grand. I usually hit 6-8 of the 10 picks each week, which to be honest is pretty darn good, but of course that pays zero bucks so I can’t brag much about that.
The bottom line is, put 4 bets down at $2 each for 19 weeks (18 regular season, first week of playoffs). That’s 76 bets. You’ll probably lose all 76, but that’s 76 chances to win one to three thousand dollars. It’s more fun than playing the lottery, I can tell you that. So that means you pretty much know you are going to lose $150 for the season, but no one wants to do that, so Bet 2 shows you how you can break even (or actually it gets you ahead by about $75 for the season), this way you can enjoy playing our football lottery without as much stress.
Remember, you’re making all bets (Bet 1, Bet 2, and Bet 3) each week. That’s a total of 6 bets because Bet 1 is really 4 parlay bets, Bet 2 is one sweetheart teaser, and Bet 3 is one 6-point or 7-point teaser.
You’ll have to ask your betting place if they offer this and how many they give. Bovada gives 13 points on this teaser I think for four teams…for 3 teams I’m not sure, maybe 10 points. Anyway, the payout is crap of course, but it’s really easy to hit this. Actually, you could bet like 10 sweetheart teasers at $10 a pop, and you’ll probably 7 or 8 of them, which could net you $20-$40. But that’s a lot of work for a relatively little payout, so I recommend placing just one sweetheart teaser ($10 bet) for 4 teams, teased 13 points or whatever you can get.
The reason I put down the one sweetheart teaser is because you’re so likely to hit it that it will cover your losses on the long-shot bets. Think about it, that’s like playing the lottery for free. Even if you miss your sweetheart teaser a week or two here and there, you’re going to hit it most weeks (it would be reasonable to go 14-5 over 19 weeks), assuming you’re not making consistently, ridiculously bad picks (I’ll show you some good strategies below to help you win more).
See below for 5 Football Betting Strategies to improve your chances.
So assuming you lose your 4 longshot bets and you win your sweetheart teaser at $10, you’ll either be even or maybe up 50 cents or something on a given week. This is intentional (just to get you about even as much as possible while you try to hit your long shots, because even if you hit one, you make a couple thousand dollars). So assuming you can’t hit any longshots (we usually won’t), here is how to proceed to make some cash for the season.
Last week I put $5 down on an 8 team teaser that paid $50. It’s a little safer than the $10-team teaser, and it’s cool to win $50. Obviously, you’re not going to hit this every time, but taking 7 points really ups your odds. I like mixing under-over bets along with the regular picks because it gives you more flexibility. That is, if you play 8 teams on the parlay card, you’re forced to pick some really tough games. If you mix some under-over picks in there, you can stick to the games that you know more about or feel more comfortable with. Although you won’t always hit them either of course, it really ups your odds to have the flexibility.
So anyway, when I hit the $400 teaser this year (that one was on 10 teams) and the $500 teaser last year (also on 10 teams), I think I took 7 points both times (not 6 or 6.5), and on the $400 win I did actually win one of those games by a point (Broncos/Bengals went under the teased line by the skin of my teeth!). So even though the payout isn’t as great, I still recommend that you take the 7 points because you’ll win a bit more often. If you feel super confident in the games, do the 8-team parlay and take the 6 points for the bigger payout.
So let’s say that you go through the entire NFL season (and maybe the college-football season) and you never hit a longshot, and you hit most of your sweetheart teasers. Maybe that puts you down $40 for the entire season. You’ll also probably hit about 20 to 30% of your 8-team, 7-point teasers if you’re picking well. This would work out to a really nice season for you. Here’s how the numbers would break down, based on 19 weeks of betting (18 weeks regular season, plus the first week of playoffs, when there are enough teams to bet).
0 long-shot wins on 10-team, $2 parlay bets: loss of $8/week for 18 weeks = loss of $152 for season (obviously, we’re doing this because if you hit a longshot parlay, you’re going to win a couple grand!)
14 wins and 5 losses on 4-team Sweetheart teaser (approx 13 points teased) at $10 per bet: Gain of approx $75
3 wins and 16 losses on 10-team, 7-pt teaser, $20 per bet: Gain of approximately $600
Total net gain of approximately $523 for the season.
Now if you are really skilled at picking, you can go for the 6 pt teasers. Even if you pull off 2 wins all season on the 6 point teasers, you would be up another hundred bucks (about $620), and if you hit 3 of those, you’d be up a total of about $1,100. Not a bad system and you’ll have fun all season.
Worst-case is that you hit 1 of your 7-point teasers, which would leave you breaking about even for the season (a bit on the positive side actually). Weekend football is much more enjoyable when betting against the spread because it gives you a reason to watch the teams you wouldn’t normally watch, and that gets you more excited about the sport in general.
Just remember, only bet what you are comfortable with, and have fun!
Betting Strategies for Football Against the Spread (Especially Good on Teasers)
The best way to win these is to pick the over for teams that consistently put up offense (this year, the Patriots, Broncos, Saints, Packers, and now the Bucaneers are getting some offense going as well). I mean when you tease the Patriots down to about 40 points, you know you’re hitting that one, especially if the other team can manage 10 points or so. It’s even better when the big offensive team has a crappy defense (e.g., Saints, to some extent the Giants because their secondary stinks, although their D Line is good, etc.). You figure, the Broncos are covering the regular spread on the over almost every week, so if you tease them down another 13 points it’s really close to calling it a lock.
Another good strategy is to take division-rivalry games and tease the underdog up to get big points, especially when they’re at home. Think about it, the Eagles usually play the Giants close (even last year and this year, even though the Eagles stink), the Browns somehow manage to stay with the Ravens and they usually play the Bengals close too, the Ravens and Steelers still generally goes under (except for week 1 of last year), etc. Remember earlier in the year when the Ravens only won something like 9-6 against the Chiefs? I never expected that score, but for whatever reason the Ravens struggle to put up points on the road in most weeks.
There are a lot of teams that play close division games. last week the Broncos were giving the Chargers 8 points, and you could have teased that up to 21. Now I love Peyton Manning and I’m not a Phillip Rivers fan, but the Chargers are ranking somewhere in the middle of the league in defense and offense, and they manage to stay close in most of their games. You throw in the fact that the Chargers (at least of last week) had a decent shot at catching the Broncos but it was pretty much a must-win game, and that pick was a no brainer too. They lost of course, but only by 7, meaning that they would have covered even on the regular spread, and it wasn’t even close on the teaser or sweetheart teaser.
This should actually be number 1 because it’s the most likely to hit, but I made it number 3 because you have to follow football closely to be able to do this one well. There are always a few games every week where the public’s perception of one player on a team (or their perception of how good a team “should” be when really they aren’t) skews the lines in the wrong direction. This goes to your favor if you are informed.
The Eagles are a good example. It was clear by midseason last year that they were a mess, but they kept getting favored in the spread somehow, sometimes even when they were on the road or when they were playing a clearly better team. The same thing has been true for most of this season so far.
Also, the Colts are starting to get favored because Luck gets so much press, but for most games they have actually struggled to put up points even though the offense has been doing well.
The Falcons are another good example. I still think they’re not quite as good as people think. They really should have lost that game to the Panthers this year, and they’ve held on a few times by the skin of their teeth. But the Falcons make a good team to bet against because their record is so good, they’re giving a lot of points, but they have trouble covering them. For instance, the last 5 weeks they were losses in three weeks against the spread–if you were betting against them on your 6 or 7 pt teasers, they would have won for you 4 out of 5 times, and they would have won for you 5 out of 5 on the sweetheart teaser. If you hit the Patriots, Pats, and Packers etc. on Overs on your sweetheart teasers and add one close division game (teased 13 points as well) you’re going to hit a lot of sweetheart teasers.
These are teams that will probably be good next year, but by then they won’t be getting points. They are also teams that aren’t great but they’re not as bad as people make them out to be. The Bengals are a good example (I had them as dogs and they won straight up over the Giants). The Dolphins and the Browns have been pretty good picks this year too. They have both improved with their quarterbacks, and although they aren’t great teams, they’re a step above last year and have been playing teams close for the most part.
You should always be waiting until Sunday morning to bet when you get the final word on who is really playing. This drastically changes the game in many cases. Now I’m not saying this is a lock (I have been burned plenty of times thinking that having a star out would kill the team’s chances when in fact it didn’t). But look closely. Some teams are really resistant. Look at both the Steelers and Ravens, two of the most battered up teams this year. They have great records and are in every game until the last minute, even when they lose. Now look at other teams, like the Eagles. They have a ton of talent, but what has happened to them this year? Not only are they missing their pro-bowl offensive lineman, but they are missing about two or three others. So for a line that is already pretty light in terms of weight, now they are using players that never made it off the practice squad in a few years and who haven’t really meshed with Howard Mudd’s system, and they are getting absolutely killed every game. Even Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy–a couple of really difficult people to tackle–are getting crushed on almost every play.
Anyway, the main point is that you want to look for not just the injuries to the star players, but injuries that (a) really affect the team’s overall performance, so look at the offensive and defensive line and (b) injuries that might not seem so important to the public when when you look at the particular match up of that week, it will be a big problem. So, for instance, maybe losing a solid cornerback is okay one week, but when you are missing a cornerback and/or safety against a team with a big-time receiver, then it becomes more problematic, etc. Pretty simple really but you just have to follow the sport a bit to pick these out. Just don’t get caught thinking that a star injury will always make a difference (it often doesn’t actually). Look for the most problematic injuries that affect match ups (e.g., 2 or 3 guys out on the offensive line when the other team has a good defensive line; 2 or 3 guys out in the secondary when the other team has a big pass offense).
So on your sweetheart teaser, look for teams that pretty much always put up points and bet the over (teased down 13 points or whatever you’re getting where you bet, could be 12 or 14. Bovada gives 13 on the sweetheart). You can also of course do the opposite and look for the teams that always struggle to put up points and tease the under (the Chiefs have almost been a lock on that all year, even when the other team blows them out). Pick a couple overs and a couple games where the public’s perception has skewed the line, using your 13 points as a buffer, and you will hit a ton of these sweetheart teasers. You could even just bet sweetheart teasers all year, a few each week, and you’d probably come up a few hundred bucks by the end of the season. Think about it, most of the teams hit on the 10-point teaser, and almost all of them hit (both ways) on the 13-pt teaser. The games that screw you are when there is a big upset, but that’s basically a problem on any cards.Share on: