When To Incorporate Parlay Bets Into Your Betting Strategy
One of the first things bettors learn about sports betting strategies is that you never, ever do parlay bets, right? While it’s true that parlays tend to be a sucker’s bet and a sportsbook’s best friend, there are, in fact, times when they make sense. There’s no question that they’re a risky bet and the data shows that as parlays bring in the most . At the same time, there’s are ways to do them right where they actually make a lot of sense.
If you’ve been steering clear of parlay betting altogether, you might be missing out. Here are the times when parlays are a good play.
To Qualify For Promos
Many sportsbooks suck players into parlays by dangling incentives. If you’re smart enough to work the system, you can do just enough with parlays to qualify for the sportsbook bonuses and tip the scales in your favor. Let’s take a look at some examples:
Parlay Boost: You might come across a sportsbook like MGM or DraftKings that offers a 20% boost if you play a parlay of three legs or more. Of course, a parlay of that many legs is risky but there are times when the 20% boost makes it worth your while. Playing a parlay of three -110 sides doesn’t make a ton of sense because yes, you’re getting a boost but you’re chance of winning this triple is really low. However, if you don’t have to deal with minimum odds and can play something like a three-team, moneyline parlay in college basketball or football, then it could be worth it.
Same-Game Parlay Bets: Same-game parlays are all the rage these days but they’re nothing more than a risky proposition where your odds of winning are pretty long. And on top of that, they have a little black box of odds that we’re not always privy to where they calculate the odds that they deem fair for a correlated parlay. At any rate, these are usually worth betting if the sportsbook is going to give you a discount on them or hand them out for free. FanDuel is known for offering up a free $5 Same Game Parlay in some markets and one of your best bets of cashing this is in is to take two massive favorites and then something more reasonable to meet the qualifying odds. For example, if it’s an NFL game, maybe something like Over 19.5 Points at -2000, Josh Allen 200+ passing yards at -1000 and Over on the game. This way, you mostly just need one thing to hit as the other two are quite likely (even if not guaranteed).
Early-Late Parlay: If a sportsbook is dangling a carrot with a parlay, one way to get yourself an opportunity to hedge is to bet on games of different times. For example, let’s say DraftKings has boosted a parlay of two NBA games but one starts at 7:00 p.m. ET and the other starts at 10:30 p.m. ET. Well, if you want to take a shot with it, what you could do is bet it and if the first leg wins, then you have the opportunity to hedge the second leg. That way you’re going to capitalize on the boost to an extent but also minimize some of the risk. Here’s an example:
76ers & Warriors Both To Win
Regular Payout: -167 (-500 and -300)
$50 Max Bet
In this scenario, if you place a $50 max bet and the 76ers win the early game, then you’re sitting on a +200 bet on the Warriors. You can then hedge by betting the Warriors’ opponent at roughly +200 and lock in a $50 profit without even worrying about the late game.
Of course, there is still the chance that the first leg loses – that’s up to you to handicap – but if the times are early and later, then you at least give yourself a chance to hedge out of it and come away with some money when the first leg hits.
Football Teaser Parlays Across Key Numbers
Teasers can often be tantalizing as they allow bettors to shift the line in their favor in return for giving back some of the payday. Of course, moving the line in your favor gives the impression that you have a better chance of winning but that’s not always the case. Quite often, a team that covers a teaser would have covered the normal line, so you’re actually just getting a false sense of security and losing out on the payday. That’s one of the reasons why these bets are called teasers.
Just one week I'd love sportsbooks to tell us how many 8,9, and 10 team parlays lose at their shop instead of picking out the 1 that defies the odds as a sports betting lottery ticket
— Todd Fuhrman (@ToddFuhrman) September 20, 2021
At the same time, one of the better ways to deploy parlay betting is to tease across key numbers. Roughly speaking, about 15% of game outcomes land on three and about 15% more land on six or seven. We know that three and seven are key numbers in football, so shifting the line around these could be quite significant.
What you don’t want to do with a teaser is take a team that’s a three-point favorite and making them a three-point dog is a relatively bad decision from a value perspective. A recent study of NFL final scores returned that only about 10%-11% of games are decided by more than three, so you’re not gaining a lot of benefit from this move.
What you do want to do with a teaser is cross as many key numbers as possible. If you’re playing at seven-point teaser, shifting a team from -7 to a PICK is a smart decision because this means you crossed both seven and three. Or if you’re playing a 10-point teaser, taking a team from -12.5 to -2.5 is a solid decision because you crossed 10, seven and three.
There will be weeks in the NFL where there are several favorites right around seven to 10 points, and you’ll hear people talk about it being a ‘teaser’ week. That’s because there are enough games priced in the same neighborhood where it makes sense to play this type of parlay, to knock two or three of them down to a smaller number, and accept the risks that come with parlay betting. This another one of the sports betting strategies where parlays can make sense.
Moneyline Parlay Bets In MLB, NHL
A number of sharp bettors simply put their blinders on when favorites in baseball or hockey get above a certain price. It might be around -150, -175, -200 or slightly higher, but they simply view these bets as too risky. Why is that? Well, favorites in the NBA, NFL and college football at these numbers and higher actually hit at a reasonable clip. With baseball, there are 162 games and anything can happen regardless of who is on the mound. And in the NHL, there is so much parity these days that rarely does a favorite ever feel like a great bet at such numbers and above.
One strategy that bettors will employ to lower the risk is by playing a parlay. That might sound counterintuitive but let’s say you feel about queasy about laying -350 on Max Scherzer tonight. However, you like a couple of other games that are much more reasonably priced. What you might do is take one of those games and parlay that with Scherzer’s -350. If you bet it as a standalone, you’d probably stand to feel a sting if Scherzer didn’t deliver or his team lost because you’d have to bet more to get more. If it’s in a parlay, you’re likely to bet a lower amount.
Another option is if there are two or more of these types of favorites on the board, you can parlay them together to knock down the price. Again, there’s risk in the parlay itself but if you’re at $100 bettor and you bet $100 on two separate games at -300 and one team doesn’t deliver, you’re out $66.66. If both miss, you’re out $200. If both win, you’re up $66.66. If you decide to play a $50 parlay on the two, you would only stand to lose $50 if one or both teams don’t deliver, but collect $88.88 if the two favorites do come through. There are pros and cons, but this is another scenario where a parlay could make sense.
Correlated Parlay Bets
Everyone will always highlight that correlated parlays are the best type of parlay to play but that’s easier said than done. There was a time where bettors had an edge on the oddsmakers a little bit and they would be able to unearth these scenarios to parlay. Nowadays, there is so much news, media and reporting that’s it’s pretty rare that you’ll find a correlated parlay that the sportsbook hasn’t thought about.
A correlated parlay is where you’re making two selections that the sportsbook is paying you as individual picks but the two choices are interrelated to an extent. If one hits, the second is more likely to hit. An example would be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning and Tom Brady throwing a touchdown. Of course, Tampa Bay could lose if Brady throws a touchdown but if he does throw a touchdown, they’re more likely to win. Another example could be betting a high-scoring team to win and the game to go over. For example, if this is a classical defense-versus-offense showdown and you feel like the team with the strong offense will dictate the pace, betting the over might make sense. If the high-scoring team wins, then we’re more likely to see an over or vice-versa.
Nowadays, these types of opportunities are more available to you than ever before via same-game parlays but the payouts are minimized to account for the correlation. That being the case, there isn’t great value in them.
From time to time, though, you might stumble on an opportunity. A good example tends to be the last week of the NFL’s regular season where if Team A wins, Team B might have to win or be motivated to win. Or it might be the opposite; if Team A wins, Team B will be eliminated and care less about the game. You could parlay the moneylines as there is a correlation and the books can’t really cramp your payday as they would with a same-game parlay. However, outside of this scenario and a few other rare ones, correlated parlays are really hard to find these days.