How To Successfully Place Profitable Parlays

Wed, Jan 4, 2023

The first step to building a profitable parlay is... don't place parlays. Seriously, if you are looking to just have fun with sports betting then sure, place as many parlays as you want. If you are looking to make serious money off of betting, then never ever place a parlay in your life again. Parlays are the number one way the sportsbooks make money as people are too enamored with the crazy large odds to realize that the sportsbooks are robbing them blind. I'm sure people have heard and know not to bet parlays but don't truly understand why they are not profitable. Being a data scientist, statistics fall under my expertise and so I will explain the math behind why you should never bet a parlay again in your life. 

To understand parlay math we must first go over the standard math on a straight bet. Most sportsbooks offer odds with 10% juice or -110 odds with spreads/totals (Which a majority of your bets should be). In order to be a profitable bettor you have to pick 52.4% correct in the long-run which most average people are not able to do while professionals pick anywhere from the 55-60% range in the long-run (If anyone promises over 60% long-run winners you should be very skeptical). Spreads are set in a way that if the game were to play out 100 times, each team would theoretically cover 50 times. In other words, each team has a 50% chance to cover in Vegas' eyes. This means because each team has a 50% to cover, our expected profit is: (1/2)*1 -1.1*(1/2) = -0.05 units. This is all theoretical as bets should be placed with the belief that the line is incorrect giving the bettor the edge however, this will be covered more in depth in a later blog. The important figure to understand is that we are expecting to lose 0.05 units for every bet we make. 

Now, we will look at the edge the house gets on a parlay. On a two team parlay (spread/total), the estimated probability of picking correctly is 25%. This is found by taking 0.5 * 0.5, which are each picks' chances of winning. The payout for this parlay is +264 meaning our expected return is now: 2.64*(1/4) - 1*(3/4) = -0.066 units. This does not seem like a lot but, when betting over and over everyday these small differences add up and make it even harder to become a profitable bettor. The unfortunate thing is that most people are not just doing a two-team parlay, they have many legs, sometimes over 10! Below is a table showing the estimated loss on parlays up to 5 legs:

1 Leg (Straight Bet)-0.05 units
2 Legs-0.066 units
3 Legs-.13 units
4 Legs-.17 units
5 Legs-.2075 units

I could continue but you get the point, NEVER DO A PARLAY AGAIN! With each leg added to the parlay the odds get worse and worse even though the payout gets larger. The odds are already cooked against us with straight bets that we can't make it harder on ourselves. It is difficult enough already! There is a reason that sportsbooks post insane parlays to their social medias. They want you to see the astronomical payouts that a random guy hits on an NFL Sunday to inspire you to do the same. Remember this is a business for the sportsbooks, if people were really profiting that much off of insane parlays, they first of all would probably get rid of parlays all together but second, they sure as hell wouldn't promote them! What they don't promote are the millions of people who lose day after day trying to hit the lottery ticket parlay of their dreams. 

In the end, their is only one true way of beating the books and this is making straight bets only and being disciplined. It is a long journey but, can be very profitable if done correctly. If you need help, feel free to reach out whether it is a question about analysis or about a specific pick. I am here to make people better gamblers and give the people some winners. Thank you for reading and good luck today!