Sports Betting Strategy: Parlays: Two’s Company
Depending on who you talk to, parlays are either the best thing or the worst thing about betting on sports. Most bettors love them; you put between two and 12 bets on the same card, and if they all come true, you win a lot more money. But there are some old-school handicappers who say that parlays are too “exotic” to be taken seriously, and should only be played for entertainment.
If you’re loading up the full 12 bets on your parlay card and hoping to win the lottery, then sure, it might not be the wisest investment strategy. However, making simple 2-team parlays can help you build your bankroll – especially if you parlay the point spread (or moneyline) and the total from the same game.
Let’s use last year’s Super Bowl 50 matchup as an example. The Carolina Panthers were 6-point favorites with a total of 45. In theory, the Panthers (15-1 record during the regular season) were overvalued by the betting public; QB Cam Newton and his dances were all the rage, while Denver (12-4) was relying on defense and running to make up for broken-down QB Peyton Manning. Betting on the underdog Broncos seemed like the sharp play at the time.
Generally speaking, if the underdog is your preferred pick against the spread, the UNDER will make a good parlay companion. The fewer points that are scored in a game, the more likely the underdog will be to cash in. This relationship grows stronger as the spread gets bigger. Plus, recreational bettors tend to over-bet the OVER. Casual fans like to bet on the outcomes they want to see happen, and casual fans love offense. Factor in Denver’s NFL-best defense, and once again, the UNDER had the betting value at Super Bowl 50. Sure enough, the Broncos won 24-10.
It Takes Two
Everything makes sense in hindsight, of course. But if we go back and look at all the Super Bowls (except for the first one, which didn’t have a total), either the underdog-UNDER parlay or the favorite-OVER parlay was correct more often than not:
That’s 26 times out of 49 for either of the recommended 2-team parlays, or 53.1%. You might not always get it right when it comes to choosing between the underdog and the favorite, but at least when it comes to the Super Bowl, parlaying the appropriate total with your spread pick and cashing in at 2.645/1 has been more than profitable.
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