Sunday, October 5, 2014

Parlay Bets are Sucker Bets


I have read for as long as I have been interested in sports betting that parlay bets are sucker bets and never bet them. But reading the Wikipedia page about them, I saw the last editor claim they are better in the long run than than straight bets. I decided to look into this myself.

Most parlay bets have odds from a 2 bet parlay (you get money if you get two bets right) to 11 bet parlay (get 11 bets correct). I have a table below with the house odds (these are not true odds, book makes money by paying slightly worse book odds).


Number of Individual Bets Odds Payout at Sportsbook Individual Bet Book Probability (Probability to Nth power) Parlay Bet Book Probability
1

0.523809524

2 2.6 to 1 0.274376417 0.277777778
3 6 to 1 0.143720981 0.142857143
4 12 to 1 0.075282418 0.076923077
5 24 to 1 0.039433648 0.04
6 48 to 1 0.02065572 0.020408163
7 92 to 1 0.010819663 0.010752688
8 176 to 1 0.005667443 0.005649718
9 337 to 1 0.00296866 0.00295858
10 645 to 1 0.001555013 0.001547988
11 1,233 to 1 0.00081453 0.000810373

Then I calculated the book probability for multiple bet individual bets and the parlays based on the odds given. Where the book probability is 1/(odds + 1) and the typical individual football odds is 100/110 for spread or over/under bets.

Looking at the table you can see that the book probability is slightly lower until you get to 9 way parlay which is such a rare win, I would never think to win it. The lower book probability is better for the better because you will win slightly more than with the parlay; though only about a 0.1% percent more. While the book probability is about the same, for parlay bets you have you have to get all the bets correct to win, whereas with individual bets you win money on all correct bets.

By this logic, parlay bets are sucker bets, if you have good probabilities like I provide you should bet individual bets.

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