The Parlay Bet in Baseball: A Hidden Gem

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Overcome the house advantage by trying the parlay bet when wagering on baseball games.

Baseball wagering is one of the most enjoyable summer activities for a sports fan. This is both because it is the only major professional sport in season during the summer months, and because it is also because it is fairly easy to pick the winner of a baseball game. Statistics show that the favored team wins 60 percent of the time in baseball.

So it it's easy to pick the winner of a baseball game then why isn't everybody winning big money by betting on baseball and, thus, putting the sportsbooks out of business? If baseball were like other sports, hitting 60 percent winners would literally make you rich. Baseball is different because there is not a point spread. Rather, baseball uses a money line. The money line is a tool used by sportsbooks to retain the house advantage when they are losing more bets than they are winning.

So how do you overcome this house edge? One method we like is the parlay bet. In some sections of Sports Betting Acumen, we have argued that the parlay is not a good bet (see football and basketball wagering). A good baseball handicapper, who can hit 63 percent of their baseball wagers, can reach an ROI of 40 percent by using the parlay bet. You will not win as many parlay bets, but you will get much better value than by just betting favorites on the money line.

Let's take a look at an example of this type of bet. Suppose there are two teams that you like this week. One of them is -$1.30 and the other is -$1.40. You have to bet a total of $2.70 to win $2.00. If one of them loses, say the $1.30, you win $.71, which in anybody's bookkeeping system, is a loss. Turn it around and say you lose the -$1.40 play. Your winner brings you $.77. Either way, you have lost money. If you lost both games, you're out the full $2.70.

Instead, let's say you parlay those same two favorites for $1.00, and they both win, you win $1.95, which is just a nickel short of what you'd win in the first example except you've put up way less money. If one of your teams loses, which is going to happen 6 times out of ten, you lose only $1.00 on each parlay bet.

In a recent year, 41 games closed at -$2.00 on the money line. Of these games, the favorite won 25 times, or 61 percent. Had you bet on these favorites, you would have lost money.

Let's see what happens when we apply our new knowledge of parlay wagering to the sample of 25 favorites winning (out of 41 plays) at -$2.00. If you bet these games $2.00 to win $1.00, you would have cashed 25 tickets at $1.00 per ticket, but you would have lost 16 times at $2.00 per ticket. That works out to $25 won, less $82 bet, equals -$57 net loss.

If you had parlayed those bets, the results would most likely be different. We say "most likely" because we have to assume some percentages. The first, and most noticeable, effect is that you only need to bet $41 instead of $82. Assuming that the percentages play out, you should win 16 of these 41 wagers. If we refer to our Parlay Payoff Chart below, we see that we should average $1.25 per win.

The bad news is that the $20 returned still results in a net loss. The good new is that you only had to wager half as much money to lose less than you would have with flat betting. With the parlay bet, you would have bet $41 and returned $20, for a net loss of $21.

The above illustrates the power of the parlay wager in baseball compared to straight betting. The chart below shows the payoff for various parlays based on the money line for each team in the parlay. Remember, our example shows how to cut your losses parlaying very heavy (-$2.00) favorites. Imagine how you can do playing less prohibitive favorites.

The secret to parlays of this nature is the value built into the wager.

  -1.10 -1.20 -1.30 -1.40 -1.50 -1.60 -1.70 -1.80 -1.90 -2.00
-1.10 2.64 2.50 2.38 2.27 2.18 2.10 2.03 1.97 1.91 1.86
-1.20 2.50 2.36 2.24 2.14 2.06 1.98 1.91 1.85 1.81 1.75
-1.30 2.38 2.24 2.13 2.03 1.95 1.88 1.81 1.75 1.70 1.65
-1.40 2.27 2.14 2.03 1.94 1.86 1.79 1.72 1.67 1.62 1.57
-1.50 2.18 2.06 1.95 1.86 1.76 1.71 1.65 1.59 1.54 1.50
-1.60 2.10 1.98 1.88 1.79 1.71 1.64 1.58 1.53 1.48 1.44
-1.70 2.03 1.91 1.81 1.72 1.65 1.58 1.52 1.47 1.42 1.38
-1.80 1.97 1.85 1.75 1.67 1.59 1.53 1.47 1.42 1.37 1.33
-1.90 1.91 1.80 1.70 1.62 1.54 1.48 1.42 1.37 1.33 1.29
-2.00 1.86 1.75 1.65 1.57 1.50 1.44 1.38 1.33 1.29 1.25

As is always the case with any betting angle or method, please understand that past results do not guarantee future winnings. In other words, there is an element of risk involved in gambling. Research your wagers carefully, then utilize this powerful betting method to maximize your return. Nothing makes baseball more enjoyable than watching your favorite team win, and hitting your favorite-based parlay wagers.

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