Parlay Primer

Parlay Primer

There is no feeling quite like hitting on every part of a parlay bet you made, and seeing that handsome, plus odds total entered into your bank account. While parlays can be very lucrative, they are very elusive and can be quite difficult to hit, especially if there are more than two to three teams involved. When looking for possible sides to take with a parlay bet, there are a few different strategies to keep in mind.

Parlay Games Starting at Different Times

This is a strategy that every bettor needs to be aware of. You shouldn’t base your choices entirely off of this, but doing this can end up making you more money in the long run. Here’s what I mean. Let’s say you make a two-way parlay bet on the Tennessee Titans moneyline as well as the Minnesota Vikings moneyline. If you’re unsure what the term ‘moneyline’ means, it simply refers to that team winning their game straight up, so this parlay is on both Tennessee and Minnesota simply winning their respective games. 

If you’ll notice, however, the Tennessee game is in the early window starting at 1pm ET, while the Vikings don’t play until Monday night at 8:20pm ET. Let’s say Tennessee storms out to a big lead, and the game turns into a runaway a little bit into the fourth quarter. Since you know that the first part of your parlay is good, you can now make what’s called a ‘hedge’ bet on the second game. This refers to you basically hedging and protecting your winnings from the first bet, guaranteeing yourself a profit by having a bet on both sides of a single game. This is not to be confused with arbitrage, however, as that refers to a completely ‘risk-free’ bet made on both sides to guarantee a profit, and is another concept entirely. 

One important point to remember is that you want to try and target a plus-odds moneyline bet (Example: TEN +125, not TEN -125) for the earlier game in your parlay, while targeting a heavier favorite with the later game. This is done to ensure that you always get favorable plus-odds with your parlay as well as your hedge bet, should you need to use it. 

To properly hedge the aforementioned parlay, you would simply place a moneyline bet on Minnesota’s opponent, the Green Bay Packers. Now with this new bet in place in addition to the parlay, you earn a profit regardless of the outcome of the late-window game. If Minnesota wins, you hit on your parlay bet. If Green Bay wins, you get a plus odds payout since they were five-and-a-half point underdogs which negates your loss on the parlay bet. There are a million different ways to employ this strategy, but this is the basic concept of it.

Now, after my long-winded explanation of how that works, let’s get into the actual bets to be made for this upcoming Week 16 slate of games.

(Odds as of Friday morning at 11am ET. Odds subject to change.)

The Bet: 2-way Parlay (+223) odds (a $10 bet would win an additional $22.30)

NO at TEN, 1pm ET- TEN Moneyline (+125)

GB at MIN, 8:15pm ET- MIN Moneyline (-230)

(Hedge bet would be the GB moneyline which is at (+205))

For parlay bets, ignore the individual odds for each moneyline bet. The odds we will get for hitting on this parlay is the +223 listed at the top.

The betting market tends to overreact after a big win the previous week due to recency bias, and that is exactly what has happened with this New Orleans-Tennessee game. The Saints enjoyed a nationally-televised Monday night blowout win over the Colts, where Drew Brees broke the total NFL passing touchdowns record, passing Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the process. That game is burned into everyone’s mind, leading to an inflated line. The Saints are a much more beatable team on the road than they are at home, and Tennessee’s season is on the line. While the Saints are the better team on paper, I look for Tennessee to pull off the upset, riding Derrick Henry and their strong ground game while limiting the amount of possessions for Brees and the Saints.

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This Vikings-Packers rivalry is one of those games where the home field advantage plays a huge role in my decision making. Perhaps fittingly under Mike Zimmer’s tenure, Minnesota has been a much better team at home, playing focused, hard-nosed defense while not making very many mistakes and not beating themselves. Also, these later season divisional games tend to be lower scoring, and games with lower implied totals (46 for this game) are much more trustworthy to bet on. In fact, over the last five years, the average difference between the closing point spread and the actual margin of victory in games with implied totals of 49 or less is just about 9 points, as opposed to more than 12 points for games with implied totals of 49 and a half or more. Decreasing variance is the key concept here, and I think this game will be a defensive struggle with Minnesota coming out on top.

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The Bet: 2-way Parlay (+206) odds (a $10 bet would win an additional $20.60)

DAL at PHI, 4:25pm ET- PHI Moneyline (+120)

KC at CHI, 8:20pm ET- KC Moneyline (-255)

(Hedge bet would be the CHI moneyline which is at (+215))

This battle for the NFC East is shaping up to be a real coin-flip. Both teams have too many flaws, but somehow find themselves fighting for the division crown with their records at 7-7. With reports of a possible Dak Prescott injury coming up throughout the week, I’ll side with the home team in the elements in Philadelphia going against a team that plays half of their games indoors. This game is also another example of a market overreaction to the previous week. Dallas throttled the L.A. Rams this past Sunday, whereas Philly had to make a frenzied fourth quarter comeback to beat the lowly Washington Redskins. In both these instances, recency bias confirms that this line may be a bit inflated, offering some value.

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While it may seem counterintuitive to back such a heavy favorite on the road, the Chiefs this year have actually been a higher scoring team on the road than at home. While Chicago’s defense is vaunted and has talent at every level, this potent Kansas City offense will be one of their toughest tests of the year. The one way to beat Chicago’s defense is to run the ball, and I think Andy Reid and Mahomes lean on the rushing and the screen game to expose that weakness, and also just to keep Mahomes healthy for the postseason. Chicago’s offense has been wildly inefficient and inconsistent this year, and while the cold December elements may prevent Kansas City from covering the spread, I don’t think they’ll have any problems pulling off this win.

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The same rule applies here as with my previous bet. If Philadelphia is looking like they’ll win their matchup, a bet on the Chicago moneyline guarantees you a profit no matter the outcome of their game with Kansas City. 

May the odds be ever in your favor.

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