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What is Buying/Selling Points in Sports Betting?

by July 6, 2019

Buying and/or selling points is perhaps the most underutilized tool at a typical bettor’s disposal. We will take a look at what buying and selling points means, when you should buy or sell points, and also introduce the parlay-like version called “teasers or pleasers.” Think of them as parlays with modified point spreads. 

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What Does Buying Points Mean?
Buying points or teasing means you are sacrificing odds (or juice) in order to obtain a more favorable spread. There is an 8.5-point spread for the 2019 Week 1 battle between the visiting Seattle Seahawks and the Cincinnati Bengals. The Seahawks are -8.5 at -120 and the Bengals +8.5 at -105. If bettor Jim believes that a spread of 8.5 points is too large for a road favorite in Week 1, he may look elsewhere to find action.

However, if he wanted to buy points, he could move the spread to -6.5 at the cost of moving the juice from -120 to -190 or -210. Moving the line to -8 may move the juice to a number around -140. Many bettors balk at the prospect of having to suffer heavy juice to move a line. Regardless, some seasoned bettors, especially those who have placed action on props or money lines may be more willing to engage in this bet type. When deciding to buy, or even sell points it is important to shop both lines and juices to avoid the line shading techniques sportsbooks typically employ.

What Does Selling Points Mean?
Selling points is very much like buying points. However, instead of sacrificing odds to receive a more favorable spread, you are sacrificing spread to receive more favorable odds or juice. Let’s take a look at the same Week 1 contest between the Seattle Seahawks (-8.5) and the Cincinnati Bengals (+8.5). Given the -105 odds on the Bengals that we discussed above, bettor Shyeim may believe that there is room to work with as far as the spread is concerned.

He believes the Bengals are a much-improved team, and that, despite the loss of Jonah Williams, they will be able to keep the game to within a touchdown. As such he decides to sell points. He can move the line to +7 at +145 or to +7.5 at +125 if he so chooses. Buying points is more popular, but selling points can be very lucrative if you are lucky enough to be able to spot lines with multiple points of value. 

When to Use
The decision regarding when to buy or sell points will typically be made when a bettor spots what they believe to be a favorable spread. This is a tool that is typically used for NFL and NBA betting. There are some common strategies that bettors employ as far as it pertains to when to buy or sell points. NFL bettors are known to look to drop home favorites posted between -7 to -9 to a more comfortable line -6.5. You will need to have accounts at multiple sportsbooks to fully maximize your returns on single-game point buying or selling.

Shopping lines and juices is imperative when deciding to go ahead with buying or selling points. Teasing over/under totals is also a popular and sometimes more lucrative proposition. The most common strategy is to tease down the totals of matchups that are expected to be high-scoring affairs. Finally, some books allow multi-sport teasers. These can be extremely profitable propositions if used wisely. 

Teasers/Pleasers
No discussion about buying or selling points would be complete without touching on their popular parlay counterpart. One of the more common methods by which bettors partake in buying or selling points is through what is called a teaser. A teaser is when you tease the points down anywhere between 4 to 6.5 points on multiple games. The minimums and points available to choose from will be dictated by the sportsbook you use. In fact, there are some books that specialize in special bet types like parlays and teasers and offer increased multipliers to attract action.

This is because teasers, like parlays, require the bettor to win their tickets at a high percentage in order to break even. Sportsbooks are betting that the average bettor will not break even over the long run. Teasing up or pleasing (selling points) is common when dealing with home or road underdogs of 1 to 2.5 points. The minimum and maximum teams allowed in a teaser can range anywhere between two to seven teams.

There is some literature that has studied teaser plays to come up with some basic strategies. This piece is a little dated, but many of the basic tenets hold true to this day. The data has been updated in subsequent editions. Line shading became even more prevalent after its first edition in 2001. 

The most common teasers offered are teasers of 6 and/or 6.5 points. Some books may allow you to only tease down. Some books will allow you to tease or please on the same ticket. The strategy this book espouses is based on some basic data that’s important to note.

NFL teams win by three points 15 percent of the time. They win by seven points 10 percent of the time. Both four and six points fall at five percent. It is also interesting to note that the team that covers the spread wins outright approximately 80 percent of the time. In a nutshell, the strategy is to tease favorites to under -3 and to tease underdogs above +7.

An article from Medium covers the win percentage a bettor must achieve to break even on teasers. It also details the return on investment from a sample of 27 years and 2,100 games. The teaser strategy is very in-depth, but if you would like to learn more, I suggest checking out this post by The Sports Geek. Teasers, like buying or selling points on single plays, require that you not only shop lines and juices, but sportsbooks as well.

Some books who engage in blatant line shading will be quick to offer increased multipliers. Juice shading is common enough that it is hard to avoid. Line shading from what are called underdog books, means it is in your best interest to find another book to lay your action at.

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Raju Byfield is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Raju, check out his archive, and follow him @FantasyContext.