Any experienced bettor knows what a parlay is, those same bettors have probably lost about 99% of those parlays despite declaring them “a lock”. For those who haven’t experienced the heartbreak of losing a parlay, let’s try to keep that streak up with some strategies for smart parlay picks.

A parlay is a single bet that combines two or more individual bets into one single wager. There is a ton of risk-reward in a parlay. The payouts are significantly larger than if you were to bet the plays separate from each other. The kicker with parlays is that all the individual bets must win for the parlay to hit 

MLB Parlay Betting: How to Calculate Parlay Winnings

The basic principle and what makes parlays enticing is that you are doubling down the profits from each bet into the next one. As stated the payouts are better because of this than if you were to bet each play individually. Parlays are the ultimate risk-reward.

So to know whether or not the risk-reward is worth it let’s talk about calculating parlay payouts.

Let’s say you wanted to place a $100 bet on a 3- team parlay. The play can be spread, money line, over/under. For this, we will use money line. The bet is Yankees -150, Rays +125, and Dodgers -120

MLB Parlay Betting

Here’s how you calculate your payout.  The first step is to pick one of the individual wagers.  Calculate what you would win on a standard bet given the amount of your wager. Then, take the amount you would receive back if that first play were to win.

Calculate your payout if you placed those winnings on one of the two remaining wagers. You continue to do this until you have included each individual wager.

Example: A $100 bet on Yankees -150 would return a $66.67 profit for a total bankroll of $166.67 (original+profit)

Next up is your Rays +125 bet. A $166.67 bet on the Rays +125 would profit $208.34.  This increases your bankroll to $375.01 ($166.97 + $208.34). 

The last team added is the Dodgers -120. A $375.01 bet on the Dodgers -120 would profit $312.51 with a final payout of $687.52.

Now let’s compare this to a standard individual bet. Here you bet $100 on each bet and add up your profit from each wager. As we already know, a $100 wager on the Yankees would net $66.67. A $100 wager on the Rays would return a profit of $125 and a $100 wager on the Dodgers -120 would net a profit of $83.33.

Your total profit if all 3 bets hit would be $275 ($66.67 + $125 + $83.33). Not only is that half the pay out than the $687.52 parlay, but you also had to risk $300 compared to just $100.

3 Smart Parlays For MLB Betting

Play #1: Betting Big Favorites

This is a value play over anything, we’ll start off with individual outlook. Let’s say you like two big favorites on any given day, since it’s just an example let’s pretend that the Red Sox and Marlins are actually good.

So the Red Sox and Marlins are both -200 that day and you bet $100 on each. If both win then you win $100, if only one wins then you’re down $50, if both lose you’re down $200 and swearing you will never bet again.

By grouping these two plays into a parlay instead of betting on each individually, you can risk less and win more. A $100 2-team parlay with the odds listed above would give you the opportunity to either win $125 or lose $100.

MLB Parlay Betting

Play #2: Riding the Top Team Wave

This is more of a long term strategy that can still profit even if it hits less than 50% of the time. When there’s 3 months left in the season, you analyze the standings and mark down the two best teams. You then parlay these two teams the rest of the season when they play on the same day. Even if both teams are -240 favorites a two teamer will return even money.

Play #3: Hedge a Strong Bet

While it is always risky to declare a favorite a “lock” this strategy plays on just that. Say you like the Dodgers at -200 instead of risking $200 to win $100 add a little boost with a hedge parlay. 

In this situation you also like the Pirates +150 and the Mets +150 on that same day. You can place two 2-team parlays.  One with the Dodgers -200 and the Pirates +150. The other with the Dodgers -200 and the Mets +150.

Each parlay would give you the potential to win $275. The best part here is that you only need one to hit to profit. If just one of the two hit, you win $275 and lose $100, leaving you a profit of $175. That’s $75 more dollars than you would have won betting $200 on the Dodgers -200.