Parlay bets are an intriguing proposition for many bettors. The prospect of small stakes turning into big returns is enough to entice many people into making these risky bets.
However, parlay bets are like the lottery in several ways.
First, the odds. Lotteries are known for having notoriously small odds. Texas Lotto offers odds of one in 25,827,165. Compared to normal sports bets, or other table games, these are extremely low odds with insignificant chances of winning.
While it’s fun to play the lottery, the low odds mean you shouldn’t ever really expect to win.
One reason the lottery is fun to play, despite its low chance of winning, is that it doesn’t cost a lot to play.
Texas Lotto games cost $1 each. Since people aren’t really putting a lot of money into a lottery bet, they don’t worry too much about how low the odds are.
Parlay bets are also similar. People assume since they can win $500 from a $10 parlay bet, it’s no big deal if they lose. They consider the huge payout and minimal risk and assume they must be getting a great deal.
Lastly, parlay bets are similar in the potential for payouts.
The Texas Lotto pays out 18.25 million to players who successfully pick 6 correct numbers from 54. That’s life-changing money and incentivizes players to play like lucrative payouts from parlay bets do.
An example of a huge parlay payout is an 8 team parlay. An 8 team, $10 parlay with odds ranging between +100 and +160 will payout $10,858.98 if all the teams hit.
The allure of $10 turning into $10,000 is too much for some players to resist.
It’s important to remember that the reason the payouts on parlay bets are so immense is because of the significant odds parlay bets present.
1- Associating Small Amounts with No Risk
People making parlay bets think that just because the risk is low, the bet is worth making.
Bettors will see that a parlay bet only requires a stake of $10 and think they can make as many parlay bets as they want to. Then, they’ll find themselves with a rapidly depleting bankroll when many of the bets don’t payout.
Even though the stake is low, you can lose money just as fast on parlay bets. You’re more likely to win more of the moneyline or run line bets you make than parlay bets, keeping your bankroll at a more constant level. Thanks to their long odds, parlay bets have the potential to drain your bankroll faster than other bet types.
Many people will also focus on the wrong factors when making MLB bets, and this can be even more damaging when you’re making parlay bets.
If you only focus on a pitcher’s ERA, instead of the batting average and slugging percentage of the team he’s pitching against, you’ll leave yourself vulnerable to losing parlay bets.
Adam Ottavino pitched to a 1.90 ERA out of the Yankees bullpen and was one of their more feared relievers. Even though his ERA was low, his Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) was 3.44, indicating that he got lucky quite a bit during the regular season.
FIP is much more useful at predicting how a pitcher will perform than ERA is—it eliminates the bias scorekeepers have when determining errors, and instead only focuses on the factors the pitcher can control like strikeouts and walks.
If you focus on ERA instead of FIP, you’ll be less likely to make consistently good bets. This, combined with focusing on parlay bets instead of over/under bets or run line bets, can put you in a poor position to bet on baseball.
2- Focusing on Big Payouts
Many people are drawn to parlay bets because of the big payouts. The following is an example of an MLB parlay bet with a $10 stake.
|Red Sox Money Line||+150|
|Yankees Money Line||+110||Blue Jays Money Line||+140||Twins Money Line||+160|
Parlay Payout: $ 317.60
If all 4 teams hit, you can win $317.60 with a $10 stake.
This is a great payout compared to how much money was put down, but the odds of you winning are so low that it’s hard to justify even that small amount of money.
The more games you put on a parlay bet, the more the risk increases. For a parlay bet to payout, every single team involved in it has to win.
The chances of you picking 8 teams to win are significantly lower than the chances of you picking one team and winning a moneyline bet.
If you were to make a single moneyline bet on the Twins at +160, you could take home $160 with a $100 stake. The chances of the Twins winning are a lot higher than all 4 of those teams listed above.
The Twins had one of baseball’s best lineups last year, led by Nelson Cruz.
While Cruz is getting up there in age— he’s about to enter his age 39 season— he’s continued to produce power at a high-level year in and year out.
He doesn’t play right field anymore like he used to and instead focuses on hitting from the DH position, but Cruz is still one of the most feared hitters in the league. He hit 41 home runs and 108 RBI’s for the Twin last year, helping them win the AL Central.
Making a single moneyline bet on a team like the Twins, who have a solid lineup in addition to some phenomenal young pitchers like Jose Berrios, who recently graduated to the majors, makes a lot more sense than tying up money in a risky 4-team parlay.
3- Going Over Budget
Another mistake many parlay bettors will make is going over budget.
Even though parlays involve small stakes, people find that they lose track of their bankroll quickly when making parlay bets.
If you want to make a 4 team, $10 parlay on the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, and Twins, all of them have to win for it to payout.
The risk of a parlay bet is that it’s hard to be confident that all the teams involved will be able to win that night—if just one team loses, the whole bet falls apart.
While the Twins have a great lineup, the Blue Jays lineup has been inconsistent over the last few years.
Since the departures of Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Josh Donaldson, the Blue Jays hitters haven’t been able to strike fear into opposing clubs like they used to.
In 2015, all 3 players had an OPS over .913 as they led the Blue Jays on a playoff run that ended in a gut-wrenching ALCS loss to the World Series-winning Kansas City Royals.
Those 3 players formed the backbone of the offense for 2015 and 2016. The 3 combined for 120 home runs in 2015, forming a top of the lineup that could intimidate any starting pitcher. Encarnacion was an on-base machine, reaching base by walk or hit at least 37% of the time in the ‘15 season.
In recent years, however, the Blue Jays haven’t had the same level of offensive success as they did in their glory days.
Their best hitter in 2019 was Lourdes Gurriel Jr. The young player performed admirably, hitting 20 homers over the season, but his offense was severely lacking when measured up against the former Blue Jays greats no longer with the club.
Even if the 3 other teams in your parlay: the Yankees, Red Sox, and Twins all won that night, a Blue Jays loss from a young, inexperienced offense could spell doom for your parlay bet.
Part of what makes MLB parlay bets so risky is that each team has so many factors that can lead to a loss on a given night. It’s hard enough making a regular moneyline bet on a game, but making 4 successful moneyline bets at once can be too much of a challenge.
4- Betting Parlays on Underdogs
The last mistake parlay bettors will make is getting too greedy.
Parlay bets already payout fantastically in the off-chance that you actually win one, but some people will try to take this a step too far.
Bettors are already drawn to underdogs more than favorites for many bets.
If you see a bet will payout at +150, you’ll be much more drawn to that side than a bet that pays out at -110. Many people lose lots of bets because they always bet on the underdog, instead of the team they actually think will win.
One smart way to make somewhat safe MLB parlay bets is to load up on favorites. Even though the payout won’t be as substantial, you can still win if all 4 of your favorites in a parlay bet win that night.
Do you make MLB parlay bets? Do you have any tips? Let us know what you think in the comments.