With the promise of a high return for a relatively small stake, Parlays are an attractive proposition to the gambler. Unfortunately, Parlay betting can often be the least profitable form of sports betting. Sportsbooks push these bets hard, and often make them the focus of promotions and offers, as in many cases they will be extremely profitable.
Fortunately, there are ways in which you can bet Parlays successfully. This article outlines why this type of bet is attractive for the books and not the bettors – then gives you tips to get the best from your own Parlay bets.
Why Sportsbooks Push Parlays
Consider an average gambler who wants to bet against the spread and decides to wager a three team Parlay. Each against the spread bet has a 50/50 chance, so the chances of all three winning are 12.5% (50% x 50% x 50%). A standard payout on a three team Parlay is 6/1 (on a normal Sportsbook with a -110 line per game).
This means that the gambler who has a $5 3 team Parlay would win $30, when in fact a 12.5% chance of winning should pay 7/1, so the bettor should receive winnings of $35. This means that the profit is only 85.7% of what it should be – the book is making a 14.3% profit on the wager. The more teams in the Parlay, the larger edge the Sportsbook makes.
With margins this large, you can see why Sportsbooks are keen to take as many Parlay bets as possible.
Betting Parlays with an Edge
The above example was based on a bettor who had no edge at all – and each outcome was a true 50/50 chance. However, what happens when the bettor does have an edge? Well, then the figures can go the other way, and the bettor can increase the edge with each subsequent leg.
Consider a bettor who can genuinely beat the spread 56% of the time. This bettor will have a much better chance of winning all three legs of the Parlay (56% x 56% x 56%) winning 17.5% of the time. Here, the punter will still receive winnings of $30 for his $5 wager, but a 17.5% winning chance should pay at odds of 4.71/1 – so he should receive winnings of just $23.57. So in this case, the bettor is receiving a whopping 27% more than he should.
This doesn’t mean that the bettor with an edge should necessarily be betting Parlays with a large amount of selections. With each subsequent selection the chances of actually picking up decreases, even though the edge is growing. If the 56% edge player were to bet a ten team Parlay, they would only win once in every 330 bets – so it is a case of weighing up the value with a realistic chance of winning.
Different Ways of Betting Parlays
Correlated Parlays are a way that the bettor can have two bets on the same game. A bettor might think that not only will a team beat the spread, but will beat it big, and therefore think there will be many points in the game. In this situation it is possible to back both a team to beat the spread and back over in the totals – effectively a two selection Parlay. Not all Sportsbooks will accept these bets, especially when you include teams that are strong favorites – however by shopping around you might be able to find a book that will accept your wager.
Round Robin Parlays are a popular form of betting – they are a convenient way of creating multiple Parlays at one time. As an example you could pick three teams, and with these three selections you have three 2-team Parlays – if all three teams win, then all three Parlays win – if two teams win, then one of your Parlays win. Essentially, this is a way of betting Parlays where you can have one leg or more actually lose without costing you everything. Many Sportsbooks will allow you to pick 3-8 teams and combine them in multiple parlays of 2-6 teams.