Betting on Multiple Selections
The sportsbook world offers a lot more than straight wagers on sides and totals. Betting markets and bet types expanded rapidly after sports betting was legalized decades ago in Nevada, but have increased tenfold since the proliferation of online sportsbooks at the turn of the century.
In this article, we’ll go over the most popular bet types that players can wager using multiple selections. Betting multiples is a double-edged sword. It allows bettors to increase their potential winnings but comes with a much lower winning percentage compared to straight bets.
A parlay is a wager type that requires two single bets combined into a win or lose proposition.
Bets can range anywhere between:
Side note: In European betting markets, they are known as accumulators.
The one caveat here is that if one of the selections pushes, the parlay would simply be reduced to a lower number of selections. For example, a four-team parlay with one push is reduced to a three-team parlay, and the payout is recalculated based on the reduced number of selections. The same goes for a bet that is graded no action.
Standard two-team parlay odds are +264 at most sportsbooks. This moves to +600 for three-team parlays. The sportsbooks have an edge on all parlay wagers, but their advantage is much smaller for two- and three-team parlays compared to parlays with a higher number of teams.
Because the payouts can be so large for parlays with a large number of selections, the oddsmakers offset their risk by increasing their advantage. For this reason, it’s suggested that bettors stick to parlays no higher than three teams.
Teaser bets are a close cousin to parlays and are also extremely popular in US betting markets. However, for new bettors, teasers are not as clear-cut to understand as parlays. They are similar to accumulators and parlays, except that bettors will add points to their side of the wager.
Teasers can only be wagered in sports that use a traditional point spread. So this means these markets are not avalible:
The most popular sports to bet teasers on are:
Like parlays, teasers must have a minimum of two selections but can have up to 15 at some sportsbooks. Also like parlays, all selections must win for the wager to be graded a winner.
Here’s an example of a two-team 6-point NFL parlay:
These are the odds before the teaser is applied. Here they are after we add six points to each side we’ve chosen.
A two-team teaser has lower odds than a two-team parlay but also has a higher expected win than the former. Most sportsbooks offer two-team 6-point NFL teasers at -120, but -110 is available at some shops.
Teaser odds will vary depending on the number of points added to your side or total. At some bookmakers, they offer teasers of up to 19 points. Basically, it’s up the oddsmaker how many points they wish to offer.
Borrowing again from parlays, teasers will revert to a reduced number of teams if one of the selections pushes. For instance, if one bet of your five-team teaser ends in a push, the odds will be recalculated as a four-team teaser. It’s important to be sure that your sportsbook allows pushes in teasers, as some will grade the selection a loss, therefore making the entire bet a loser.
Depending on what odds a bettor receives and the lines for the given week, teasers offer more potential profitability than parlays. Again we suggest sticking to just two- or three-team teasers, but the number of points depends on the odds available. Usually, bettors want to wager between 6–7 points on football.
Basic strategy teasers, also known as “Wong Teasers,” are one of the more popular advanced strategy teasers for NFL bettors. Since NFL games usually end by 3 or 7 points, bettors can make money by targeting favorites between -7.5 and -8.5 and underdogs between +1.5 and +2.5 while utilizing a six-point teaser.
These bets were once more profitable than they are today. Many sportsbooks have increased their teaser odds and adjusted them to stay off these key numbers due to the success of Wong Teasers.
Pleasers are a product of the Internet sports-betting revolution. They’re not available at all sportsbooks, but most do offer them for both football and basketball.
If I were to bet a two-team 6-point pleaser on:
Pleaser wagers work the same as teasers but are reversed. The bets are interchangeable with teasers, for the most part, except that, instead of adding points to a side or total, it subtracts them.
My odds for the pleaser would be Pittsburgh -13 and Seattle pk.
Because this type of bet is much harder to win than a traditional teaser, the payouts are much larger. Odds for a two-team pleaser at most sportsbooks are around +600. For three teams, most sites have odds around +1750. Like teasers, it’s important to check to see the policy on pushes when it comes to pleasers.
Pleasers aren’t profitable bets unless you grab some excellent odds. Similar to parlays and teasers, we recommend bettors stick to two- or three-team pleasers due to the bookmaker’s edge rising as the number of teams’ increases.
If-Bets and Reverses
An if-bet is similar to other multiples but has a few key differences. If-bets consist of at least two straight bets but have a clause that, if the first wager wins, then the second wager will have action and so on.
An if-bet doesn’t progress to the second wager unless the first bet wins. This bet allows bettors to place multiple wagers while limiting their risk. It also enables them to place a bet on multiple selections if they don’t have enough money in their account to wager on both games.
Generally, sportsbooks offer two types of if-bets.
- “Win Only” bets
- “Action” bets
Win Only bets
Win only if-bets rely on the first bet winning for the second bet to be placed. If the first bet is a push, then the entire bet counts as a push and will be graded as no action. The outcome of the second bet doesn’t matter.
Action if-bets will place the second wager if the first bet wins, pushes, or is graded no action. These bets are also known as reverse bets. Reverse bets simply contain two or more if-bet sequences.
If-bets and reverses aren’t utilized much by players who have a proper bankroll for the stakes they are interested in betting. Betting selections as straight bets would be the smarter decision, provided a player has adequate funds. Unless your accounts are underfunded, which they shouldn’t be, you should avoid if-bets.
A round robin bet is a way to bet multiple parlays at one time. It makes betting multiple parlays easier and allows bettors to create them quickly and easily. To bet a round robin, players need at least three bets on teams or totals.
For example, if a player likes three different NFL picks, the player might decide to bet a round robin parlay with each of these teams. The round robin bet would create three different two-team parlay bets with the amount wagered. Each parlay will have equal amounts wagered.
Round robins are useful options for bettors who want a quick way to bet parlays. If you are worried about an odds move, this is an excellent way to get money down quickly on multiple lines that you like. The odds for parlays when betting a round robin won’t change and will be the same as the listed odds for parlays at the sportsbook.
General Multiple Betting Strategy
For the most part, betting multiples isn’t an ideal strategy for sports bettors. The bookmaker’s edge on these bets is going to be higher than the standard 10% vig charged on straight bets, and the odds offered by sportsbooks, in most cases, don’t give bettors an edge.
Of course, there are situations where there may be value betting parlays and teasers. Correlated parlays aren’t accepted anywhere online, but some may find these available with local bookmakers. Basic strategy teasers offer value when it comes to betting NFL, but as mentioned above, most books have adjusted their lines to prevent these from occurring. Parlays may also provide some value when clearing free play bonuses from sportsbooks.
Bettors shouldn’t be wagering on parlays, teasers, or other multiples that are more than two or three teams if they truly care about positive expectation and long-term win rate. With that said, for some people, sports betting is about fun. Betting a 6-team parlay isn’t a crime. It’s just not +EV.