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
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.