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MLB Betting: Baseball Parlays

By Loot, Major League Baseball Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

In Major League Baseball, making a parlay bet presents some issues you won’t find in other team sports. A parlay is a wager where you bet multiple games on the same ticket. All of your picks must win for the parlay to be a success. If one team loses, regardless of how many teams are on the parlay, it is a loser. The upside to parlays are the attractive payouts, with the obvious downside being you must win all the games.

In other team sports, the reasons to avoid parlays are that the odds you receive are lower than the actual odds and that betting parlays falls under the category of “asking for too much.” In baseball, the latter concern is still a consideration, but the bet itself is not subject to the same “juice” as in other sports.

In football or basketball, a two-team parlay pays 2.6 to 1, a three-teamer pays 6 to 1, a four-teamer pays 10-1, and so on. In baseball, however, there is not an automatic formula upon which to rely. Games are bet on the money line, not with point spreads, so there is no payout chart to use for reference. It depends on the odds of the teams you bet. The above listed odds are standard. You can actually get better odds by betting your games at Sportbet. Simply select the Super Saver Bonus option when you signup.

While this presents the baseball bettor with some mathematical issues, it is actually better because the parlay will be a reflection of the actual odds. In football or basketball wagering, for example, a 3-team parlay pays 6-1, but with 8 different possibilities, you can see how the book is juicing you by only paying 6-1. In baseball betting, how your parlay payout is computed is free of the extra juice you pay with other team sports.

Here’s how it works. Say you are making a two-team parlay. You pick the following two teams to be on your parlay.

New York Yankees (-200)

Pittsburgh Pirates (+140)

You make a $50 parlay. Break it down like this. The $50 goes on the Yankees. If they win, that $50 becomes $75. That $75 now goes on Pittsburgh at +140. If that wins, the $75 turns into $180. In other words, you would win $130, subtracting the amount you wagered ($50). You can do it the opposite way. It doesn’t matter. Take the $50 and figure a Pittsburgh win would take that amount to $120. Take the $120 and put it on New York and that takes it to $180. Subtract the $50 wager and you see you win $130.

The odds are as true as they can be for the framework in which we are working. So that means we can’t really call people out for accepting poor value as grounds for why they shouldn’t be making parlays. The frequent basketball and football parlay player is subject to a lot of juice, but you can’t say that about baseball parlays. So why is it such a bad move?

It’s not that it’s necessarily a bad move. The best in this business have been known to supplement their bankroll with a well-timed parlay here and there. It again comes down to the parity of Major League Baseball, as many betting issues do in this sport. In a parlay, you’re asking for multiple teams to win as you predicted. Then we see the best teams clocking in at a 60% winning percentage and the worst teams good for a winning percentage of .40% and then we realize that any parlay can be asking for a lot in a league with such a high failure rate.

In basketball and football, teams can have a .800 winning percentage. There are also, especially in football, far less games--meaning you get a truer-to-form performance. With a 162-game season in a sport where no team ever achieves a true level dominance or futility, one can only be so sure about future results. In the equivalent of NFL betting, parlaying two top teams at home on the money line facing bad teams is something you could bank on with a higher level of confidence. Taking two MLB teams in the same situation is a far more iffy proposition.

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