Straight Bets Vs. Parlays: The Risk of Same-Game Parlays
Sportsbooks are pushing parlays and same-game parlays more and more lately. However, they come with great risks. This is why you should focus on single bets and avoid parlays if you want to be a successful bettor.
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Straight Bets vs Parlays
A straight bet is a single bet in which you can win your bet based on one single outcome. While a parlay is a wager that includes multiple bets. All data shows that a single bet is the smarter bet. The biggest indicator of this is how much the sportsbooks are pushing parlays on their platforms. They know that's where they win their money.
One reason why a straight bet can be a better bet than a parlay is that the odds of winning a straight bet are higher than winning a parlay. In a straight bet, the bettor is only making one bet on one outcome, whereas in a parlay, the bettor is making multiple bets on multiple outcomes. The more bets that are included in a parlay, the higher the risk. In a straight bet, you are only betting on one event or outcome, whereas in a parlay, you are betting on multiple events or outcomes, and all must win for your bet to pay out.
This means that the probability of winning a parlay is lower than that of a straight bet. Additionally, because a parlay involves more events, the potential payout is higher, but so is the risk. It only takes one event to lose for the entire bet to be lost in a parlay, whereas in a straight bet, you only lose what you originally bet on that event.
In summary, a straight bet can be a better bet than a parlay because the odds of winning are higher, and the risk is lower. While the potential payout of a parlay is tempting, the increased risk may not be worth it for some bettors.
Why Sportsbooks Push Parlays and Same-Game Parlays
If you go to any sportsbook you will notice that there are always promos encouraging you to bet parlays or same-game parlays. A same-game parlay is similar to a parlay, but all of your bets are consolidated into one game. They also up the ante by offering promos for "stepped up" same-game parlays which encourage you to bet up to 10 legs for bigger bonuses. This is how they get you. The rewards are so enticing, however, you are essentially throwing your money away.
It's also tough to outsmart the sportsbook. They aren't going to let you double down on the same bet to increase your winnings. What we mean by that is, let's say you bet Ronald Acuna Jr. to hit a home run, you can't also bet him to get four total bases because it's implied by the HR. So much of what you can do is limited to make your parlays even more difficult to win.
The proof is in the numbers as well. A "hold rate" is the percentage of money wagered that the house keeps after paying out winning bets. On straight bets, the house hold rate is usually around just 5%. However, for parlays, that number jumps to 15%-25%. That's a massive difference. They tempt you with massive payouts and incredible bonuses making it hard for the bettor to resist. This is by design to coax bettors to essentially give their money to the house with a small chance of success.
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What Makes Parlays and Same-Game Parlays So Risky
What makes a parlay so risky beyond the obvious? Of course, if you make more bets there are more chances to lose, but if you like five bets why not wrap them all into one? The issue is there is a lot that can go wrong and this is amplified in same-game parlays. You can make five seemingly can't-miss bets and one guy tweaks an ankle and your whole bet is shot, or there is a blowout and a guy you bet on isn't playing at the end of the game. The house is banking on this. In same-game parlays, game-script suddenly becomes a major issue as well even more so than a regular parlay. All of those risks are even more prevalent. You have to remember that Vegas knows how to set a line, so the results are generally close. With the margin of victory oftentimes being razor-thin, it gets really tough once you start piling bets together.
When You Should Place Parlays and Same-Game Parlays
This is very important because we wouldn't tell you to never do something. There is a time and place for everything. However, you have to be smart about it. You should take advantage of bonuses. If a sportsbook offers you a free bet back if you bet a parlay you should absolutely do it, but don't take the bait they are throwing out. Make your high-reward bet and if you lose don't double down. Use your free bet on a smart single bet to win some cash. They entice you with bonuses to get you hooked and that's what you must avoid to be consistently successful because high-risk betting is not sustainable.
The same goes for bonuses on stepped-up same-game parlays. When you can get a 50% bonus for a five-leg parlay and a 100% bonus for a 10-leg parlay, you shouldn't take the bait on the huge win and you should make a small bet on the five-leg parlay to make the bet realistic and still worth it financially. Don't bite and throw in 10 legs to try to win $1,000 on a five-dollar bet, it's very unlikely you win, and that's exactly what they are trying to get you to do.
Bonuses aside, if there are a few bets you absolutely love, of course, it's okay to throw some money on a parlay every now and then. Just keep your parlays to about three legs. There is no need to go crazy. The odds are not in your favor. Betting is all about getting the best odds for yourself to be successful. None of us can see the future so that's all that you can do. Bet smart, be realistic, and don't always swing for the fences. Focus on single bets as your primary source of wagering and occasionally throw some money on a modest parlay if you feel confident in it.
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