to Webster, the word "parlay" means "To
increase or change into something of much greater
value." In sports wagering, a parlay is a series
of bets in which the original wager plus its winnings
are risked on successive wagers. Let's say you like
three games on a particular day. You could bet all
three games individually for $100 each, and if you
won all three bets you would win $300.
But wait a minute.
The sports website will let you parlay those games-turn
the three individual wagers into a single bet-and
pay you five to one odds if all games win! Exciting,
No! We'll just get right to the point: Do not play
parlays! The lure of the odds on parlay bets is more
than most people can resist, but I will promise you
this: Parlays, and for that matter almost all of the
"exotic" bets, are what I call sucker bets.
One of the very bad character traits of most gamblers
is that they are all looking for something for nothing.
Parlays appeal to that line of thinking, because you
can wager $100 on a three-team parlay and win $500.
The reason parlays are sucker bets is simple: They
do not pay the correct odds, and even if you win the
number of parlays that you should win over the course
of a season, you will still lose money!
what I mean, consider the odds of winning consecutive
bets. To make it simple, we'll start with the premise
that on each games you have a fifty-fifty chance of
winning, so you'll have a 50 percent chance of winning
your first play. The odds drop to 25 percent, 1 in
4 (.50 x .50) on your second play, 12.5 percent or
1 in 8 (.50 x .50 x .50) on the third play, 1 in 16
(.50 x .50 x .50 x .50) on the fourth play, and so
on until the chances of hitting 10 out of 10 reach
an incredible 1,023 to 1! The correct odds of winning
three consecutive bets are 12.5 percent, or 1 to 8,
which is 7 to 1 odds against winning the third games.
A three-games parlay pays only 5 to 1, so you are
beaten before you start.
As with most
every wagering situation in the casino, you can't
beat the numbers over a long period of time. I'm giving
you the odds against winning all of the games in the
parlay because you must win every games in the parlay
to win the bet. If one or more of the games you put
in the parlay lose, you lose the wager, regardless
of the number of games you parlayed.
The rules vary
from sports website to sports website when it comes
to ties, or "pushes," but generally, in
Las Vegas, if one of the games you parlay ends in
a tie, that games is eliminated from the parlay. A
fourteam parlay would revert to a three-team parlay,
etc. And if you had only bet a two-team parlay, and
one games ended in a tie, the wager would revert back
to a straight bet on the one remaining games. Las
Vegas also offers parlays where "ties win,"
but the wagers carry lower payout odds than regular
The more games
you parlay, the larger the difference becomes between
the odds against winning and the payoff odds, until
when you get to that ten-games example I gave you,
where the true odds against winning are 1,023 to 1,
the payoff is only about 300 to 1.
The only exception
to my advice to not play parlays is on money fine
bets, where the parlays do pay odds that are much
closer to the actual odds against winning the number
of games in the parlay wager. Baseball money lines
are an excellent example of money line parlays that
are good wagers. They enable you to place wagers on
teams that are prohibitive favorites-minus 200 or
more-without risking the big loss of the money line
if the prohibitive favorite loses.
Unless you are
very experienced in sports wagering, you probably
should take advantage of some professional help in
deciding how to parlay money line bets. Calculating
the payoffs is very complicated. Most sports websites
in Las Vegas will give you the multiplication factors
used in determining payouts, but the value of parlaying
money line bets is simple: You can parlay three minus
200 favorites for a $100 wager, and even if all three
of the favorites lose, you would only lose your $100
wager. If you had bet each one of those favorites
individually at minus 200, you would have lost $600.
A $100 parlay
on three minus 200 favorites pays $337.50, so you
can see that the payout is less on a money line parlay
than on a points line parlay that pays five to one.
But your losses are limited, while allowing you to
make wagers on favorites that you could not play individually.
You also have to keep in mind that heavy favorites
win a larger percentage of their games, which increases
the likelihood of your winning your parlay. That justifies
the lower payout.
Let's look at the next most popular of the exotic
bets: It's the
you are in early position, the pot will be very small-in
the $1 to $5 spread-limit games, the bring-in is usually
just $l. You have a very strong hand and will probably
win the pot. So you want to get that pot as large
as you can. The way to do this from early position
is to limp, enticing others to call. A raise, with
the small pot, will discourage callers, which is not
what you want to do at all.
When you limp with trips, you're hoping someone else
will raise so you can backraise. With a large card
showing, your opponents won't automatically assume
you have trips if you backraise. They won't even assume
you have a pair. But such an aggressive move with
a small card showing will suggest the possibility
of trips to observant opponents and they'll certainly
put you on at least a small pair with a big kicker.
So, with small trips you might want to forego the
backraise if someone raises. Deception is always important,
but in stud, deception involving your door card can
be especially useful.