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Parlays - An Introduction

According to Webster's Dictionary, "parlay" means a series of two or more bets so set up in advance that the original stake plus its winnings are risked on the successive wagers. For the readers' benefit, I emphasize risked. And hopefully by the time you have finished this article your knowledge of parlays will be enhanced.

In our estimation, the parlay is designed to heavily favour the house or bookmaker with little benefits for the

punter. With anything there are good points and bad. This logic holds true for the parlay. The parlay can be an important tool for the experienced bettor with sound information.

At times, he may have exceptional data concerning two or three teams and totals (over and unders). And it can place him in a position to get the odds in his favour and forego paying the vignes (juice, 10%), as with the straight wager. Let us consider that over 97% of all gamblers have little or no sound information prior to placing a wager. Their chances of winning a straight bet are 50-50. Since it takes 52.38% just to break even, they are in a losing proposition.

If the gamer (in this 97% bracket) wants to play a parlay of two teams, his actual chances are cut in half, giving him only one chance in four for success. The actual odds on selecting two teams in a parlay are 3-1, but most sport books in Las Vegas pay 13-5. The chart lists your actual odds of playing a parlay and winning.

Parlay       Odds          Chances of Winning    Bookies Chances
3-1          2 teams       1 chance in 4              75%
7-1          3 teams       1 chance in 8              88%
15-1         4 teams       1 chance in 16             94%
31-1         5 teams       1 chance in 32             97%
63-1         6 teams       1 chance in 64             98%
127-1        7 teams       1 chance in 128            99% 
255-1        8 teams       1 chance m 256             99.6%
511-1        9 teams       1 chance in 512            99.8% 
1023-1       10 teams      1 chance in 1024           99.9%

Although the bookie's chances are never 100% (fractionally), selecting more than three teams in a parlay is at best a perilous undertaking. And we all know what an undertaker does, don't we?

There you have it on parlays. If you are going to play these, my best closing advice is to limit the amount of teams you play to two: Try to play both the totals and the line of just one game if possible. Know the percentages against you; make sure your information is factual and sound; and never, never let greed be your motivator. The straight bet, with good information, is the only way to win consistently. If you must play the parlay, be careful.