NFL Football Intelligence: Betting Parlay Cards

Posted: 17/08/2009 |Comments: 0 | Views: 606 |

Gambling is great fun.  It doesn't matter if our "action" is on the floor of a casino or in the chaos of your den on Football Sunday or on a frosty Monday night.  And when we win, it almost heals the pain of a loss.  
If you're accustomed to wagering on football games, or other sporting events, I'm sure you find that when you don't have a bet on a game, you might not care as much about the outcome, unless of course it's your home team or your childhood favorite.  But when you do bet, you'd like to know that you have a fighting chance of winning. That is, you'd never bet if the odds were overly stacked against you.  Would you bet $110 against the spread if you expected to win $65 instead of $100?  No chance! Yet, gamblers play parlay cards and try to beat odds that are beyond ridiculous.  I've tried to find worse bets.  I just can't.  Consider the following table of Parlay Card scenarios with corresponding wins and losses.

 Parlay         Real         Odds Bookies  Odds Bookies  Amount You Lose
  Card      Probability     Should Pay       Actually Pay          Per Dollar

  2 Team    .25000                        3                  2.6                       .100
  3 Team    .12500                        7                     6                       .125
  4 Team    .06250                      15                   10                       .313
  5 Team    .03125                      31                   20                       .344   6 Team    .01563                      63                   40                       .359
  7 Team    .00781                    127                   75                       .406
  8 Team    .00391                    255                 100                       .605
  9 Team    .00195                    511                 150                       .705
10 Team    .00098                  1023                 300                       .706
11 Team    .00049                  2047                 450                       .780
12 Team    .00024                  4095                 600                       .853
13 Team    .00012                  8191                 750                       .908
14 Team    .00006                16383                 900                       .945
15 Team    .00003                32767               1500                       .954

In the column labeled "Parlay Card," the first entry is for "2 Teams."  To win you must select two games and win them both.  One of two wins is a loss.  If the probability of winning a game is .5, then the probability of winning two games is .25 (.5 X .5).  That means on average you should win a 2 Team Parlay Card once every four times you play.  That means if you wager $1.00, you should get back $4.00 when you win, that is $3.00 plus your original bet of $1.00. The fair odds according to the table are 3 to 1, but as you can see, the odds you actually get are 2.6 to 1.  You only get back $3.60 instead of $4.00.  Basically, you lose 10% of your wager.

It gets worse! It's not my opinion, it's a fact that the probability of picking, for example, 5 winners on a 5-team parlay card is 1 in 32, or .03125.  That is, you can expect to hit 5 of 5, 1 time every 32 Parlay Cards you play.  

If you had no "vig" or "juice" to pay, that is you were making a "fair" wager, the 1 time in 32 when you win, you should receive $32 ($31.00 plus your bet of $1.00).  But those wayward sports-book proprietors and your local bar-bookie pay you only $21, more than 35% less than they should.  The biggest joke is when you hit 15 out of 15, which has a probability of 1 in 32,768, and you win a pultry $1,500 – less than 5 cents on a dollar! Give me a break. Bookies deserve a piece of the action – they have expenses, some have legal risks, while others don't balance their books adequately and essentially book the bets themselves. 

You know, state lotteries return 60 cents on a dollar by statute! Don't be a sucker.  If you play Parlay Cards, limit yourself to a 2 Team parlay.  Anything beyond this should be for tourists or people who just don't care about gambling intelligently.

Look for other articles on how to improve your chances of winning against the spread.  Visit

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