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To Parlay or Not to Parlay?
Published by Steven Miller in football betting · 29 October 2021
Tags: footballparlaysfootballbetting
Let's face it: When you throw down a couple twenties for a multi-team parlay and later watch the writer hand you back a few hundo, that's a high which becomes addictive; we want more! The problem is, we simply don't cash nearly enough of those to offset big loses in the long-term. The mathematical chances decrease with each selection added to the parlay, and it's been proven that odds always play out to spec over a large sample size; in other words, you're doomed to go down.
 
Sure, you might go on a heater and post pics of your latest parlay winners, but we all know there are many, many losing tickets on both sides of that winning streak. So why are parlays hard to consistently hit? The truth is, even single wagers on a -110 basis are hard to beat when looking at the bigger picture. Let's check out the effect odds have on your prospects of making a profit, and how value is critical if you hope to be a winning player.
 
52.38%
 
The standard used to gauge where the bar is to actually begin turning a profit in sports betting is 52.38%, which represents the house vig added in a $110 to win $100 wager scenario. Captain Obvious himself will tell you that winning more than you lose is the key, but that's easier said than done. Grinding out even 55% winners can be difficult, which is why you may personally never meet anyone who truly makes an exclusive living betting on sports. That doesn't mean profitable players aren't out there, but the vast majority of bettors simply end up donating for the entertainment experience.
 
A big part of not being profitable stems from a lack of understanding when it comes to value, and of course, parlays. The bettors I know who of — past and present — who've actually demonstrated consistent winning seasons, look at parlays as a sucker bet, and they avoid them at all costs. Yes, they're fun and give the small player a fighting chance to win a lot with a little, but the odds will crush you and your bankroll over time.
 
I know players who understand this and still parlay away. The common logic is something like, "I can put $20 on 2-4 teams and get hours of entertainment, and in the end, I might just win! I'd rather shoot my twenty on the games rather than go to a theater." It's hard to argue with that logic as I'm not trying to spend anyone's money for them, but for the sake of profit, let me toss out some knowledge that might open an eye or two.

 
Value
 
The following shows just how paramount finding value is in becoming a winning player:
 
Odds    Win %
 
     Favs
 
-110       52.38
 
-115       53.49
 
-120       54.55
 
-125       55.56
 
-130       56.52
 
-135       57.45
 
-140       58.53
 
-145       59.18
 
-150       60.00
 
-155       60.78
 
-160       61.54  
 
     Dogs
 
+110      47.62
 
+115      46.51
 
+120      45.45
 
+125      44.44
 
+130      43.48
 
+135      42.55
 
+140      41.67
 
+145      40.82
 
+150      40.00
 
+155      39.22
 
+160      38.46
 
You can see each increment increase representing a bigger favorite requires you to have a higher winning percentage (over time) just to be profitable while betting flat. Beyond the customary -110, it makes less-and-less sense to risk your cash laying those odds. If we find ourselves loving a side at say -140 — but don't want to risk the extra juice just to win the $100, the natural inclination is to consider putting that selection in a parlay. I might suggest you stop yourself there, and go into a quasi-chant of “Dog or Pass!” Always search for value, and that often means considering a dog (in a non -110 situation). You may have less net overall wagers while being diligent, but in the end, the gamblers objective should be to show a profit.
 
Strategy
 
There are a lot of good sports handicappers out there who are handicapped when it comes to profit. The main culprit separating you from your bankroll is DISCIPLINE. It's harder than ever to avoid parlays and gimmick bets with the explosion of sports betting in America. Not only do most books post shitty odds (compared to the standard set in Vegas decades ago), they offer tons of ploys to keep you depositing and playing.
 
The only successful bettors I know of all follow a similar course of strategy:
 
  • ·     Start with a designated bankroll
  • ·     Reserve a limit for each betting day
  • ·     NEVER parlay
  • ·     ALWAYS search for value
  • ·     Don't lay over -110
  • ·     Avoid 5-Star nonsense; either the selection is worth an investment or it isn't
 
Many excellent handicappers (or "sharps" as the industry likes to call them) establish their own metrics and point spreads to counter what the books are posting. Others rely on trends and long-term angles they believe will pay off over time. Most are in it for the duration, so they shoot for a winning percentage in the upper 50's percentile while often making numerous selections per day — especially on packed weekend boards. That % may seem a little low on the surface, but that's the reality of beating a sportsbook. It doesn't matter how good you pick if you bet like a fiend. Check out this

Scenario
 
Say you bet ten $100 four-team parlays (all selections -110) and lose them all (which is entirely possible). In the process of losing your grand, however, you win 25 out of the 40 picks which you included in the ten parlays. If you had bet $55 to win $50 on these 40 selections, here's the outcome:
 
·     Wagered a total of $2200 (forty $55-50 bets)
 
·     Lost $825 (on fifteen $55 wagers)
 
·     Won $1250 (on twenty-five $55-50 bets)
 
·     NET PROFIT: $425
 
Yes, you wagered more overall money, but that's where the bankroll system comes into play. If your budget dictates making these bets is within your limit — and you're a good handicapper — your chances of actually becoming a winning player increase exponentially over making multi-team parlays on a daily basis.
 
Unfortunately, variance and unavoidable swings guarantee a lot of losers mixed in with your winning selections. That's just the nature of gambling. Since the parlay leaves absolutely no margin for error, a good handicapper will often end up a loser as a result. The bottom line: There are no shortcuts in gambling; IT'S A GRIND. Bet smart and good luck!

Gridiron Gold



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