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Why Parlays Are Often A Better Bet Than Futures
As the NFL divisional playoffs approach, 32 contenders have been reduced to just eight. This weekend four more teams will bite the dust, and with them, countless Super Bowl futures tickets. Though you might be feeling smug if you’re sitting on a Saints futures wager at +10,000, with New Orleans now listed at just +965 at Pinnacle Sportsbook, your nails are still in for a gnashing before you can pop the champagne.
Everyone loves a Cinderella story except a bookie, and though lightning does strike, more often than not, David won’t actually get the better of Goliath. Plus it doesn’t matter how close you get to the massive payout, if your team doesn’t go all the way, your ticket is not worth the paper it’s written on.
For those players holding a 100/1 Saints’ ticket they will reap a handsome return on a minimal investment if New Orleans hoists the Vince Lombardi Trophy. For the rest of us, there is some consolation in knowing that they probably would have received a higher payoff with a simple win parlay on Sean Payton’s side.
When books deal futures markets, they try to maintain a semblance of balanced action and attempt to limit the liability on the worst case scenario. Due to a large number of bettors playing long shots, this can often lead to grossly depressed prices on underdogs. On the positive side though, this may lead to solid value on favorites.
At Pinnacle Sports Betting, futures markets are normally priced between 110% and 135% depending upon the size of the field. This compares favorably to futures markets of greater than 200% at most traditional sportsbooks. Even though this represents excellent value on the Pinnacle Sports betting futures markets, often even these margins won’t properly reward long shot players.
Therefore, a good strategy when it gets to the playoffs is to estimate the moneyline quote of the team you like for each remaining game including the Super Bowl. After estimating the prices for the team to win through, you’ll be able to calculate the estimated parlay price. Then simply compare the projected price for the parlay, to the odds on the futures market and you’ll find whether the future or a win parlay would give you the best possible return on investment.
To calculate a parlay, first work out the decimal value for each moneyline quote. If the quote is positive ‘+’, simply divide the moneyline by 100, and add 1. For example, if the moneyline is +200 the decimal quote is (200/100) + 1 = 2.00 + 1 = 3.00
If the moneyline quote is negative ‘-’ simply add 100 to the moneyline quote and divide by the original moneyline quote. For example, if the moneyline is -135 the decimal quote is (235/135) = 1.7407
Then multiply all of the decimal quotes by each other and subtract 1 from the answer. As there are no set payoffs for tying a number of teams together in parlays for baseball, you can use this same simple formula to work out your baseball parlays as well when the boys of summer return.
By way of example, assuming the Saints win through and play the Bears in the NFC Championship Game and the Chargers in Super Bowl XLI, I would guesstimate that the line would be somewhere around Saints +4 (ML +185) versus Chicago and +7 (ML +265) against San Diego, if those games were played today. Therefore, a simple win parlay on the Saints in each game would be calculated as follows;
1.439 * 2.85 * 3.65 = 14.97 = c. 14/1 = +1397
By simply parlaying the moneyline quotes using a calculator, you’ll find that a Saints’ parlay will pay more than the available future odds of +965 on the team at the start of the playoffs. While it seems from the above example that futures bettors on New Orleans are shortchanged, this is typical of long shots in any futures market. It’s also worth noting that the win parlay odds are often higher, despite the moneyline quote on the underdog in these do or die games usually being much lower than the ML quote for the corresponding point spread during the regular season.
When a bettor holds a ‘live’ futures ticket worth a large payout, the player may want to hedge out of their position during the later stages of the playoffs by placing a large wager on an opponent. While hedging out of a position is a way to lock in a profit, keep in mind that any hedge will result in laying additional vigorish, the bookmaker's cut for taking your bet. This can be mitigated somewhat by playing at a low vig sports book like Pinnacle Sports Book, which offers players up to 60% better value on NFL sides than traditional sports books. In general though, this is another potential benefit of playing a win parlay versus a future.
With a win parlay, bettors can simply pocket some winnings from previous games and lay less on the team in an upcoming game instead of spending extra juice to hedge out of their locked position. Of course the win parlay doesn’t sound as glamorous as a high payout ticket, but at least the bettor will be getting the best available odds for their long shot.
So who are our players betting in the NFL Playoffs?
Indianapolis +4 -106 v. Baltimore
The Ravens originally opened at -3 (-115) and we saw early action, some which was sharp, for the home team. After moving the line, we received mixed buyback on Indy with two-way action after that. The sharps are clearly favoring Baltimore at this point.
Philadelphia +5 +103 v. New Orleans
We opened this game with the Saints listed as 4-point favorites and the early money on New Orleans drove the line upward. There was sporadic buyback on Philly until the line hit 5 and since then balanced action has been coming in. The sharper money is on the Saints at home and New Orleans has received nearly 1 1/2 times as many bets at this point.
Seattle +9.5 -109 v. Chicago
Chicago opened as 7.5-point home favorites and the sharps immediately jumped on the NFC’s top seed. We didn't see any major Seattle action until the line reached 9.5 and then Seahawks money continued to bring the line back to where it currently sits at Bears -9.5 (+101). Although the sharp players favor the Bears, the public favors Seattle by a ratio of 5-to-2.
New England +5 -102 v. San Diego
The Chargers opened as 6-point favorites at home versus the three-time world champion Patriots. Early money was on the Patriots, but some sharp players played San Diego giving 6. Smaller New England bets continued to come in followed by some larger volume plays on the home Chargers. This was followed by balanced action once the line hit 5. The bet count at this point favors the Patriots at a 3-to-2 margin.