Parlay cards

Sports betting expert and author stanford wong on parlay cards

Sharp Sports Betting is a tool for those interested in winning money at sports betting. The book explains the most common sports bets, what all the numbers mean, and the mathematics behind the numbers.

Prospective sports bettors should know the basic principles of sports betting. You should not be betting without this fundamental knowledge.

Parlay Cards

Parlay cards are not the same thing as off-the-board parlays. On parlay cards, the bettor chooses from only those selections listed on the cards. Those selections may or may not be listed on the board as being available for straight bets.

Ties on parlay cards are handled according to the fine print on the parlay card. “Ties lose” is most common. Some cards specify that ties win. Payoffs are made according to the schedule listed on the card.

The advantages of betting parlay cards are sometimes you can bet better numbers than are shown on the board, and sometimes you can bet things that are not shown on the board, such as points scored by particular players. For several years I have been visiting Las Vegas just prior to the Super Bowl, and one of the things I have enjoyed doing is walking from sportsbook to sportsbook evaluating parlay cards and prop sheets.

One reason to bet a parlay card is if you can make correlated selections. (Correlation is covered later in this series of articles.) Another reason to bet a parlay card is if you can find enough bets that you would love to make individually if they were listed on the board.

Correlation Example

An interesting card I found in Reno allowed me to select either team for first field goal, shortest field goal, or longest field goal. That was an obvious correlation situation, because the first field goal could turn out to be the shortest or the longest. I made two parlay bets:

  1. Dallas to kick first, shortest, and longest field goal.
  2. Pittsburgh to kick first, shortest, and longest field goal.

The result: Dallas kicked the first field goal, and also had shortest and longest until the fourth quarter. Then Pittsburgh, behind two scores at 20-7, kicked a long field goal that left it still two scores behind. So both my parlays lost.

Example of Good Selections

As an example of bets that might make a parlay card worthwhile, here are three items I once selected on a parlay card at the Rio in Las Vegas. I was able to combine Baltimore most penalty yards, Baltimore to kick the first field goal, and the total to go under 34 in a parlay paying 6 for 1.

During the season, Baltimore had suffered considerably more penalty yards than had the Giants. Baltimore had been averaging 2.2 field goals per game, compared to 1.2 for the Giants. The shakiest selection of the three was total to go under 34, but the total all over town was 32 or 32.5 so under 34 looked worthwhile.

Baltimore kicked the first field goal, and had 70 penalty yards to 27 for the Giants. But the final score was Baltimore 34, New York Giants 7, so the under 34 was a loser.

Disadvantages of Parlay Cards

The disadvantage of betting parlay cards is the payoff schedule: usually it is horrible. You might, for example, see a parlay card with a payoff schedule indicating that all the numbers are “for 1” instead of “to 1.” For 1 means the listed price includes the bet that is returned to you. For example, “6 for 1” is the same thing as “5 to 1.”

Summary of Parlay Cards

In general, parlay cards are for suckers. But they are fun, and if you search hard enough you will find some good ones.

This is part of an occasional series of articles.

Excerpted with permission from Sharp Sports Betting by Stanford Wong, edited for this format.


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