Parlays – A Strategic Betting Tool

Article was originally published within TSP Newsletter. I am adding it to the Articles section of the to save for future reference.

Let’s talk about PARLAYS as a betting tool!

I cannot stand when people broad stroke parlays as sucker bets anytime they are used. I was shocked that more than one person complained that I was betting a parlay this past weekend for 1 unit. My response was, “You must be new here.” While the parlay this week was only my second 1 unit parlay since March Madness (the other was Week #1 of NCAAF), the 1 unit parlay was commonplace for me last football season. In fact, while straight bet action in TSP Live last football season earned over 20 units, parlays exceeded that performance providing just over 34 units between TSP Daily and TSP Live parlays! I like parlays and I have the most success on them during football and NCAAB, so I use them! As anyone who follows me knows, I don’t do 1 unit or even 0.5 unit parlays every day in TSP Daily Briefing/TSP Live. Frankly, I usually only do one or two a week, at most…and outside football these are parlays start with 0.3 units or less. I sit back and I wait until the situation suits me…then I will fire a parlay.

Yes, I grant you that parlays are sucker bets for most gamblers. Frankly, straight bets are sucker bets for most gamblers because most gamblers suck. By definition a sucker bet is…a gambling wager in which the expected return does not reflect the odds of winning, and is significantly lower. Hell…for 95% of bettors even a single game straight bet qualifies as a sucker bet. Sorry, no offense! Draft Kings market capitalization is $24B as of today. They are not worth $24B because most people who bet with Draft Kings win money long-term (or even short term for that matter). Draft Kings is worth $24B because most people who bet with them are suckers and will lose money to them every single year…and happily do it all over again the next year. On Saturday, I liked a few games across the weekend based on different data points that interested me. I took a shot at a 1 unit four team parlay paying +9.98 to 1. My goal was to secure some numbers without tying up 1.1 units each on four straight bets, at least initially. I just wanted those teams at those current numbers for low risk. If I lost, OK, I don’t cry over -1 unit. If I won, bingo it would make for a great week! My plan worked!

I am not here to pat myself on the back. In Week #1, when I took a 1 unit two team parlay, I lost. So, I don’t just win every parlay I place, but overall parlays usually end the season as a nicely profitable adventure…not to mention they’re a lot of fun along the way. I won’t go through a long thesis on why I like parlays, I will let another article do that for you (stay tuned). Suffice it to say, parlays provide me another wagering option for implementing my overall strategy on angles I believe contain an edge in my favor. Back in late 2007, I read an article titled “How To Profit From Parlays” which someone passed along to me. If you would like to read this article too, you can download it here in PDF format from my website (CLICK HERE). Long story short, the article breaks down the mathematics and illustrates how parlays can be used for strategic wagering purposes. Essentially, if you achieve over 52.4% in your win percentage on spreads, you can flip the edge on parlays from the house to the player. So, after reading this article (late 2007) I decided to give it a try during the next football season. Only four weeks into the 2008 season I cashed a very nice parlay, and from there I was sold. Since then parlays have not let me down year over year. Even just in my time releasing parlays under “The Sharp Plays” banner, parlays have returned over +283 units for me (Record Archive). Yes, that makes parlays the best performing content I release…and it is something I am very proud of achieving. Why? I put each of the parlays together myself! Oh and people always say, if you don’t show the ticket then it didn’t happen…OK! Fortunately, I kept the printout from that September 2008 season as a reminder to this day…

Oh, and did I hedge?? Yes, but just enough to cover the cost of the parlay and pay for the next parlay if the one above lost. There’s also one benefit of being a +EV bettor with parlays…sportsbooks are much less apt to limit you. Why? Parlay bettors are initially treated as “lucky” at most books and this assessment often goes on for a long time before the book realizes your parlay action exceeds standard variance.

If you don’t like parlays, that’s your choice and that’s all good. Just please don’t tell me they are long-term losers or especially repeat that bullshit spouted off by every pundit, alleged sports betting guru, and the next self-proclaimed incredibly successful professional sports bettor. Take it from someone who actually employs the strategy, someone who has done it publicly on Twitter & the web for over the past decade, and someone who can actually do math. Yes, I am talking about me. I am not good at much in life, but sports betting math is what I do…and the numbers on parlays within my wagering do not lie. So yes, it takes effort to gain an edge over the book, you also have to bet intelligently, and most importantly you have to bet disciplined. If you can achieve those things then you too can profit long-term from parlays and flip the house edge on its head. At which point you can walk into Draft Kings like Doc Holliday and say, “I’m your huckleberry”, and take it to them!

Now I have to let you go, I am working on my next parlay for the week ahead!