Betting Strategies for Parlays at Online Sportsbooks
Playing parlays for any sports bet is the ultimate risk/reward proposition. In order to cash in on a parlay bet, all the games included must be winners or at the very least end as a PUSH. The payout odds are enhanced for a parlay as opposed to betting each game on its own, but the degree of difficulty is dialed up with every team you add to the list.
The sweet spot for any parlay play is two to three games. The payout odds for a two-team parlay are 13 to 5 or +260. By increasing that parlay to three teams, the payout odds jump to 6 to 1 or +640. Once you go four teams or higher, the overall edge leans more and more towards the books. Anything higher than four requires much more luck than skill to cash in.
Some online bookies will offer progressive parlays that adjust the odds based on one, two or three losses within that play. The lone caveat is lower odds for a perfect ticket. For example, the payout on a four-team parlay with four correct plays is only 5 to 1, but you would still earn even money with one loss.
The three basic parings for progressive parlays offer a payout on:
- 4 to 6 teams with one loss
- 7 to 9 teams with up to two losses
- 10 to 12 teams with up to three losses
If you are still bent on playing a high number of teams in any parlay bet, this is one way to try and hedge your way to a payout. Keep in mind that a PUSH or tie normally counts as a loss in a progressive parlay bet.
Going back to a basic strategy for betting parlays, you should try and come up with three picks to string together. These should always be your best plays with a very high level of confidence. If you have even the slightest doubt in any of the three picks, take it out of the parlay and bet it straight.
Anyone who has been betting sports for any length of time already knows just how hard it is to pick the winner in three separate games. This is why the pros rarely bet parlays and, if they do, it is limited to just two plays.
When it comes to the unit play on a parlay bet, that should once again comes down to your overall level of confidence. Given the added risk/reward in any parlay bet, you will want to lower the units bet as opposed to how you normally allocate units for a straight bet.
For example, if you were going to bet three games at five units each, you might want to only bet five units on that three-team parlay. If lady luck was really on your side and you won all three of those picks, the math would work out as follows:
- 3 separate (5-unit) $500 straight bets would return $1500
- 1 (5-unit) $500 parlay bet on three teams would return $3000
If you would have hit two of the three games, it becomes a whole new scenario as follows:
- 3 separate (5-Unit) $500 straight bets with two winners returns $400
- 1 (5-unit) $500 parlay bet on three teams with one loss results in a $500 loss
Putting the allure of winning big aside, parlays can still have a place in any betting strategy. However, they should be used sparingly and only when your confidence level is sky high for every pick you group together.