Despite their massive payout potential, parlays are incredibly risky due to their structure. However, intelligent bettors found a way to drastically lower the risk while enjoying a sizable payout with two-leg parlays.
This article will explain the appeal of 2-team parlays and how it compares with a similar wager.
Parlay Legs Explained
Every parlay consists of legs or wagers such as money lines, spreads, totals, props, and futures.
As you increase the number of legs in the parlay, the higher its payout will get. Note that the payout is not just a simple addition of one layer over the other. For example, a 2-team parlay payout can only grant you 2.6 to 1 or 13/5, while a 6-team parlay can grant you 40 to 1 or 40/1.
How can a 6-team parlay give more than ten times the payout of a 2-leg parlay? This is due to the former's risk of losing more than the latter. To see that 40 to 1 payout, all six legs of your parlay need to win. You lose if even one of these legs loses.
What Are Two-Leg Parlays
What is a two-leg parlay for a sports bettor? If we follow the basic definition, it is a parlay bet with two wagers (either a money line, total, or any bet). However, is that all there is to a two-team parlay?
EV is the value of a specific bet concerning its price and risk. This type of wager's value can be found among +EV (expected value) bets for professional bettors. To simplify it, +EV are the favorites for a match while -EV is the underdog wagers.
Let us illustrate EVs by using an NBA sports bet with the Chicago Bulls having -160 to win against Utah Jazz with a +140. Given the price, bookies are giving the bulls a 61.54% chance to win while the Jazz only has 41.67% to win. Even without converting the American odds to implied probability, casual and even new bettors see the Bulls likely winning that game. The Bulls have a +EV and are the ones professional bettors will add to their parlays.
Because +EV wagers are likely to win, the payout is simply lacking. Take the Bulls basketball bet, for example, with their -160 odds. If you win this bet with a $100 stake, you profit $62.50. What if we add this money line wager to a parlay and include another +EV bet?
To illustrate, we take the Knicks -170 odds for one of their games, which has a payout of $58.52 with a $100 stake. Let us add the Bulls and Knick odds to a parlay calculator and set a $100 stake to see their payout
If we compare it with a parlay calculator, the total profit of the two individual bets will grant you a $121.02 profit. Take note that you need to stake $200 for both wagers. On the other hand, a stake of $100 for a 2-leg parlay with these bets can grant you $158.09. Your payout for the parlay is much higher and only requires a $100 stake.
A 2-leg parlay still has the risk of loss should the Bulls or Knicks lose their game. However, you still have a good chance of winning the parlay since both are +EV wagers. Be sure to look for valued bets through same-game parlay markets to make the risk manageable.
Two-Leg Parlays vs. Three-Leg Parlays
3-leg parlays are an excellent alternative to 2-leg parlays since they have a payout of 6 to 1, which is more than twice the amount of the latter. However, these parlays have a higher risk of failing due to the extra leg.
Risks associated with three-leg parlays are still manageable when including +EV wagers on your parlay slip. Given the potential payout of this parlay and its risks, professional bettors see value in this high-risk wager.
Let us illustrate this by adding the Cavalier's odds of -170 to our previous 2-leg parlay with a $100 stake:
Without considering the sum of all three individual money line payouts, you can see that this 3-leg parlay can grant you nearly twice that of the 2-leg parlay example. The massive payout makes a 3-team parlay worth the risk of having either Chicago, New York, or Cleveland lose the game.
Two-leg parlays can boost the value of +EV money line, spread, and total wagers. Even three-leg parlays offer better value on +EV bets despite their risk.
This article was published on August 13, 2022, and last updated on November 10, 2022.