I don't know how many times I've said and written, "parlays are sucker bets." Normally, they are, but not always.
To understand why parlays are sucker bets, you first must understand the nature of a parlay. A parlay is a single bet on one proposition, and, if it wins, all the money won plus the original bet is placed on the second proposition. In essence, it's a single bet on one game with a double bet on the other.
Before bookmakers created what they call a "parlay bet," when games started at the same time, you couldn't parlay. Bookmakers cured this problem by creating the bookmaker "parlay bet." In the bookmaker "parlay bet," the bookmaker runs the parlay for you by creating the fiction that one game starts and ends before the other.
How do we know which game to pretend went off first? In any sport bet against a spread, it doesn't matter. If one team loses and one team wins, the bookmaker assumes either the loser is the first team in which case you have no bet on the winner and lose everything, or the bookmaker assumes the winner is the first team bet, in which case you have the double bet on the loser and still lose everything. The only time you win is when both teams win. But when both teams win in any sport that is bet against a spread, the bookmaker pays you off at fixed odds which are less than what a true parlay that you run yourself would pay.
"Parlay bets" from your bookmaker are sucker bets for three reasons:
First, the odds offered by most Vegas and off-shore bookmakers on two-team "parlay bets" are 13-5. The 13-5 fixed odds parlay bet has a higher built-in bookmaker edge than the vig on straight bets. As a result, you will win $5 less on a $110 parlay bet as a bookmaker "parlay bet" than you would win if you bet the same two teams and ran the $110 parlay yourself. The $5 difference may not sound like much, but it is 4.5% of the $110 you bet and 2.6% of your parlay winnings if you run a parlay on your own as two straight bets. Gifts like that keep your bookmaker driving fancy cars, and turn bettors into brokesters. Betting one parlay per day, the difference for a 57% handicapper is almost $600 per year paid in extra vig. That's about two tanks of gas nowadays, or in other words, a lot of money.
Second, a "parlay bet" adds an element of luck that shouldn't be there. Whether to make a bet on a team should be determined by whether you have an edge on the play, NOT by the luck of whether some other game wins or loses.
Third, a "parlay bet" causes bad money management. A play should become a double bet because it has twice the normal probability of winning, and it should be a no-bet whenever you have no edge on the game. With parlays, whether you have a double bet or no bet on the second game is determined by whether the first game wins, and not by the probability of winning the second game. Basing the amount you bet on factors that are irrelevant to winning is the worst imaginable money management.
So when does it make sense to parlay?
First, a parlay makes sense only when you can eliminate the extra vig of the bookmaker by running the parlay yourself. For you to do that, the second game must start after the first game is complete.
Second, a parlay makes sense only when whether your second bet is not determined by the result of the first bet. That can occur only when you control whether the second bet is made. If the first bet loses, you must still play the second bet for whatever amount it merits.
Third, a parlay only makes sense when the second bet actually has twice the win probability of the first bet. This eliminates the money management problem. If the first team wins you bet twice the amount on the second team in the parlay not because the first team won, but because the second team has twice the probability of winning.
Here are the two simple rules to follow when betting a parlay on lined teams:
RULE 1: Only combine teams separated sufficiently in time so that you can run your own parlay on them. Never make a bookmaker "parlay bet."
RULE 2: Only parlay when the probability that the second team will win is twice the probability that the first team will win.
I call a parlay that combines the two rules above a "NATURAL PARLAY."
Today, we have our Independence Weekend Fireworks Natural Parlay on two WNBA games. The first tips off in the afternoon between Imus' favorite ladies team, Ho-uston playing against Sacramento. It's rated one-star. We also have a selection going off tonight in the WNBA rated as a double 2-star play. The games are far enough apart in time for you to run your own parlay in compliance with Rule 1, and the second selection is twice as strong as the first, in compliance with Rule 2.
To get you started on your Natural Parlay, here's the first half for you as a ROB CROWNE INDEPENDENCE FREEBIE. To get the second half CLICK HERE.
This weekend we celebrate our independence from the monarchs of England, so how could we do anything but bet against the Monarchs of Sacramento? For those of you for whom such terrific reasoning just isn't enough, consider the following:
The Sacred Tomatoes beat Houston 73-66 this season playing in Sacramento, but the home to road turn around for these two is 15 points in favor of Houston playing in Texas. That gives us Houston by 8, which is exactly what we get from a handicap based on home and road numbers without considering the prior game. Houston scores more points offensively and allows fewer points defensively at home than Sacramento on the road, and Houston also rebounds better. Revenge will be sweet tonight for Imus' favorite ladies from Ho-uston. To get you started on your NATURAL DAY/NIGHT PARLAY make a 3/4 unit bet on Houston -3.
To get the bigger play to finish up your parlay tonight, CLICK HERE, for Rob Crowne's INDEPENDENCE WEEKEND FIRECRACKER WNBA play.
While you're there, take a look at the Afternoon ESPN Side and Total in Arena Football. Drinking a cold brew and watching football on T.V. is the best way I know to relax after he festivities fo the 4th.
Also CLICK HERE after 4:00 PM Eastern for my Saturday Night Arena Football and baseball selections.