Baseball Parlay Strategies
Posted by Jimmy Boyd
It’s no secret that the amateur bettor loves to play parlays, as they get drawn in by the huge payouts for such a small wager. However, most experts will tell you that parlays are typically not a wise investment. While I agree that parlays are not a good bet in football or basketball, there is some value in betting parlays in baseball.
You might be asking why are baseball parlays better than football or basketball parlays. The main reason is that in football and basketball you are typically placing parlays on the spread, where as in baseball you are mostly betting money lines. As a result, it ends up becoming a much different wager. There are fixed odds in football and basketball parlays, where the payouts are going to be the same for the number of teams in the wager. A 3-team parlay is going to payout 6 to 1 every time. The reason for this is because when you bet on the spread of a football or basketball game, you are typically dealing with -110 odds whether you bet the favorite or the underdog. It doesn’t work like that in baseball. Two different 3-team parlays can have drastically different payouts depending on which three teams you bet on.
Those of you that aren’t familiar with betting on baseball and more importantly the money line, here’s a quick recap. Money Line wagers are simply bets on who you think are going to win the game. For the most part, oddsmakers will determine the money lines for a particular game based on the pitching matchup. For example, say “Team A” has their ace on the mound going up against the No. 5 starter from “Team B”. You will most likely see “Team A” listed somewhere around -180 and “Team B” listed at +160 (these odds can vary depending on the strength of the pitchers, public perception of a team, home/away, recent results). If you were to bet on the favorite, which in this case is “Team A”, you would need to risk $180 to win $100. On the other hand, you would only need to risk $100 to win $160 on the under, “Team B.”
Now that you have a better understanding of how betting on money lines work, let’s take a closer look at how baseball parlays payouts are determined. Lets say you wanted to place $100 a 3-team baseball parlay on the Yankees -150, Cubs +125 and the Dodgers -120. While you need all three to win, each bet is done individually and rolled over to the next game. First you would take your $100 wager on the Yankees -150. If that were to win, you would win $66.67 increasing your total to $166.97. That $166.67 would then be bet on the Cubs +125. If you were to win, you would profit $208.34, increasing your bankroll to $375.01. You would then take the $375.01 on the Dodgers -120. if that were to win, you would profit $312.51 and end up cashing out a ticket of $687.52. The amount you profited on the third and final game is the amount you would profit on your wager. It doesn’t matter which order you do the parlay. You could have done the Cubs, Dodgers and Yankees in that order and the outcome would be the same. There are several sports betting odds calculators on the internet that can figure out the payouts for you.
The question you might have right now, is when is it a good idea to parlay your baseball bets. Here’s a look at some strategies that I have came across over the years.
Combining Big Favorites:
This is probably the most simple and widely popular parlay in baseball. With this system you are basically combining two or more heavy favorites into one bet. Let’s say you liked the Red Sox -200 and the Rangers -200 on a given day. You decided to bet $100 on each game. $100 wager on -200 money line would profit you $50. If both bets won you win $100. If one loses and the other wins you are down $50, both lose and you are down $200. By parlaying these two plays instead of betting on each individually, you can risk less and win more. A $100 2-team parlay with the odds listed above would give you the opportunity to either win $125 or lose $100.
Money Line/Total Combo:
This is basically a strategy of taking advantage of knowledge you already acquired when figuring out who you liked on the money line. A lot experts who find an edge on a team also have a strong opinion on whether the game will be a pitchers duel or offensive explosion. Combining the money line and the over/under in the same game into a 2-team parlay is a popular strategy.
I have also noticed a lot of experts who will look to take the OVER in a game where they like the road team on the money line and the UNDER in a game where they like the home team. If you like the road team to win, you are expecting them to be winning late, which will ensure the home team bats in the bottom of the 9th, giving you three more outs to potentially add to the total. On the other hand, if you like the home team to win, you are expecting to see an entire half-inning not played, as the home team wouldn’t bat in the bottom of the 9th if they were ahead. I don’t recommend using this on a regular basis, but its worth looking at. The strength of this system has a lot to do with the the bullpens of the two teams involved.
Leveraging One Strong Favorite With Two Underdogs:
This strategy is used when you have a big favorite who you are positive they are going to win. Say you like the Nationals -200 with Stephen Strasburg on the mound. Instead of risking $200 to win $100, you can increase your returns with a little extra risk. Say you also like the Pirates +150 and the Mets +150 on that same day. You can place two 2-team parlays. One with the Nationals -200 and the Pirates +150 and the other with the Nationals -200 and the Mets +150. Each parlay would give you the potential to win $275. If just one of the two parlays hit, you would win $275 and lose $100, leaving you a profit of $175. That’s $75 more dollars than you would have won betting $200 on the Nationals -200.