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Saturday, December 16, 2017
Article written by T.O Whenham

NBA Moneyline Parlays

If you would rather pick winners in NBA games without worrying about the point spread then you are probably a moneyline player. If you like big payouts, and you don't mind taking on a fair bit of risk, then you probably choose to play parlays. Though both types of bets are fairly common and well understood, people seem more hesitant to combine the two and play an NBA moneyline parlay. The biggest obstacle to making the bets for most people is the difficulty of understanding what the payout will be and what the risk is. Once you figure it out, though, it's really not that intimidating. More importantly, the parlays can allow you to take advantage of positions you find favorable.

Before we look at moneyline parlays we should take a quick look at regular parlays. A parlay is simply a bet that several different outcomes will happen on the same ticket. In order for you to win your bet you have to be correct in all of the games that you have bet on. Though there are situations where parlays make good sense, they are not generally a good bet. The problem is that the payouts are lower than the odds of winning should dictate. That means that a bettor that plays parlays is sacrificing a much bigger house edge than he or she should be. For example, in an eight-game parlay there are 256 possible outcomes based on each team in each game having the potential to win or lose. That means that true odds on the bet should be 255/1. The problem is that the bet typically only pays out at 150/1. When you give up that much of an edge, making a profit over the long term is almost impossible. To a lesser but still almost insurmountable extent, the same problem exists in parlays of fewer teams as well.

The problems that make parlays unattractive in straight parlays aren't necessarily as much of a problem in moneyline parlays. That is because the payouts in moneyline parlays are not fixed, but rather they are a direct multiplication of the odds of the involved events. If you are comfortable, then, with the payouts you would receive if you were to bet on each of the games individually then it stands to reason that you would be comfortable with the payout of a parlay. You're still giving up an edge, because there is an edge inherent in every moneyline, but at least you aren't sacrificing significantly more than you need to. That alone makes an NBA moneyline parlay more attractive than a point spread parlay in almost all circumstances.

Calculating the payout on a moneyline parlay seems daunting, but it isn't particularly challenging once you understand how to do it. You can find calculators online, but it makes sense to do it for yourself at first so you understand how it works. Essentially, you need to figure out a multiplier for each game. Once you have the multipliers calculated, you just multiply the multipliers for each game you want to bet together, multiply the result by the amount of your bet, and you have your payout. If the team you are betting is the favorite (has a negative moneyline) then the formula for the multiplier is (1 + (100/moneyline)), and you don't include the negative sign. If you are betting an underdog with a positive moneyline then the formula is (1+(moneyline/100)). A $100 two team parlay with a -180 favorite and a +220 underdog, then, would pay $100 * (1+(100/180)) * (1+(220/100)) = $497.78. The result of the calculation isn't your profit it also includes the original amount of your bet, so your profit would be $397.78.

One spot in which an NBA moneyline parlay can be particularly attractive is when you are dealing with underdogs. The payouts can be huge. In exchange for giving up the cushion of the point spread you can enjoy significantly higher payouts than a straight parlay. For the sake of argument, let's consider a three-team parlay where all three teams are eight point underdogs. Three team parlays generally pay about 6/1, so a $100 bet would give you a $600 profit if you were correct. It would be much harder to win the bet if you played a moneyline parlay because all three teams would not only have to win but also cover. You would win the bet less often, then, but you would be rewarded handsomely when you do win. An eight-point underdog could reasonably be +280 on the moneyline, so a $100 moneyline parlay would give you a profit of $5,387.20. If your handicapping were to give you reason to believe that the underdogs are poised to win then an underdog parlay could make perfect sense.

A moneyline parlay could also be used to extract extra value from heavy favorites. Say we have two teams playing on a night which are -400 favorites. Assuming we have handicapped the game and there is no hidden trap to fall into then we might be reasonably certain that both teams will quite likely win their games. If you had a $100 bankroll, you could bet $50 on the moneyline in each game. When the teams won you would make $12.50 in profit on each game, for a total profit of $25. If you were to parlay the two games together you would be taking more risk, but the payoff if you are right about both games would be a profit of $56.25. You could earn well over double the profit for a situation that you could perceive to be relatively low risk.

Moneyline parlays have their problems, and they obviously aren't for use in all situations, but if you get to understand them then you may find times when they are an ideal bet.
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