NBASports Betting Strategy

Understanding Parlays Odds In Sports Betting

Are they a bad investment or can you win with them?

Parlays, also known as combination bets or accumulator bets, consist of selecting two or more wagering outcomes, in which the odds for the payout of the parlay increases as you include more bets. In order to win a parlay bet, all of the wagering outcomes on the parlay must win – if one wagering outcome is a loss, the entire parlay loses as a result. Parlays make more sense for the longshot payout or for someone who has a large appetite for high-risk betting options. Additionally, when it comes to parlays, all betting options are fair game – moneylines, game totals, spreads, and even player props!

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Fixed Parlay Odds

Parlays involving spreads or game totals will typically have a fixed payout since the payout for each individual spread or game total wager will range from -105 to -110. With this type of parlay, the house edge increases as you include more games in your parlay. Essentially, anything about a three-team parlay will significantly shift the advantage towards sportsbooks. However, a good weekend for a sportsbook can easily be ruined by someone who has just hit and won on a 700:1 parlay. Here’s a look at the house edge for X number of teams on a parlay:

2-team 10.00%
3-team 12.50%
4-team 31.25%
5-team 34.38%
6-team 35.94%
7-team 40.63%
8-team 41.02%
9-team 41.21%
10-team 31.54%

I’ve limited this to 10-team parlays due to the fact that most sportsbooks will not allow you to include more than 10 teams on a parlay – some sportsbooks are even stingier about this. However, it makes sense since the more teams a sportsbook allows to be included, the higher the risk that one of these parlays will hit, which could potentially put them out of business.

Moneyline Parlays

For leagues such as the NHL and MLB where the majority of bets are placed on the moneyline as opposed to the spread, payouts are not fixed. While most sportsbooks will automatically calculate the potential parlay payout for you as you include games on your bet card, let’s look at how you’d go about calculating this manually. If you wanted to include three moneyline games on your parlay, with the following payouts – 1.50, 2.00, and 2.50 – this is what the calculation would look like:

Parlay payout = 1.50 x 2.00 x 2.50 = 7.50
Simply put, you’d need to convert the odds from American to decimal and multiply the odds with each other to obtain the potential parlay payout figure.

Benefits Of Parlays

In some games, a certain team may try to keep the score low in order to win the game, or there is a huge favorite who will probably put up a lot of numbers on the board while allowing a few pity points to the underdog. In these scenarios, it might make sense to parlay the team to win outright or cover on the spread and combine this with either the over or the under on the game total.

Downsides Of Parlays

More often than not, individuals betting on parlays don’t really have a good grasp on what they’re doing. Additionally, when it comes to parlays, it only takes one loss to completely kill off your parlay. For example, if you had eight teams on your parlay for a payout of 100:1 but you’ve won seven games and only lost one game, you’d come out with nothing from this parlay. However, had you bet on each of the eight games separately, you’d be coming out with quite a hefty profit. Sometimes, the agony of losing out on a massive parlay due to the loss of a single game might not be enough to offset the winning potential.

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