When it comes to betting on baseball, there are an infinite amount of approaches you can take. It all depends on what your goals are, how much time you’re planning to invest in handicapping, and really, your personality. If you’re someone that prefers a conservative, slow build, focusing too much on parlays may not be for you.
But if you’re someone who appreciates bets that don’t cost much up front while still carrying the potential to make you lots of money, you very well may enjoy them. When it comes to making parlay bets, you can get as creative as your mind allows, combining all sorts of longshot wagers, praying for a lottery-like windfall. You can also play them smart, making correlated parlays that make logical sense and hit often enough to be profitable.
In this article, we’re exploring some of the smarter parlays to make while betting on baseball. We’re looking at ways to make betting on heavy favorites profitable, how to execute a calculated risk on our underdog picks, and which combinations of bets make the most sense. The Major League Baseball season is a long one, and it provides tons of data. These are some parlay ideas to get you started; hopefully, over time, you’ll be able to continue refining and tweaking them until you’re cashing parlay cards on the regular!
What’s a Parlay Bet?
Before we go any further, it’s probably a good idea to make sure we’re on the same page with regards to defining the term “parlay bet.” A parlay is a group of two or more individual bets combined into a single wager to exponentially increase the payout. The potential returns are higher because they’re harder to win.
Every additional wager you add to your parlay card increases the possible return.
However, if any single line of the parlay loses, the entire bet is lost. So, if you’re going to pile on tons of picks, you’re far less likely to turn a profit.
Occasionally, you’ll hear all about how parlays are nothing but sucker’s bets. While that can certainly be true in some situations, the people spreading this information are usually responding to someone who doesn’t understand handicapping or value. A parlay bet can be an incredibly useful tool for the sports gambler if you know what to look for and what type of wagers to pair together.
You want individual bets that logically fit with one another. What this means is that you shouldn’t bet on the team with the ace pitcher and the pitcher’s ballpark to win, but then parlay that with the “over.” If an ace is dealing in a pitcher-friendly park, it’s much more likely that if they win, it’ll be a low-scoring affair.
You can also use these bets to slightly increase the value of betting heavy favorites.
Let’s say a team is too heavily favored for you to bet them. You’d have to risk too much money for too little reward to even make it worth it. Parlaying that pick with another favored team might be a smart way to improve the payout without drastically reducing your odds of winning.
We’ll explore more of these specific scenarios in the following sections.
Just remember, when it comes to a parlay card, it’s all or nothing. If you win every line on the ticket, you can make some serious cash. But as soon as any individual aspect of that card loses, the whole thing is worth absolutely nothing, even if you hit every other bet right on the money! Sometimes life ain’t fair.
Pairing Heavy Favorites
Like we just alluded to in the previous section, parlaying heavy favorites when betting on baseball can vastly improve a wager’s worthiness without significantly lowering the likelihood of winning.
Let’s say you’re confident in the Astros -225 and the Yankees -200. Those odds mean both of those teams are pretty heavily favored.
If we convert the odds to a percentage, which gives us the implied probability of the odds, the bookmaker is telling us the Astros have a 69% chance of winning, while the Yankees are expected to win this matchup 66.67% of the time. If you bet these games individually, you’d need to put $225 on Houston just to win $100, and $200 on the Yankees for that same return.
Betting each of these games individually, you’d need to fork out $112.50 on the Astros and $100 on New York to win back $100 in total. That’s a total of $212.50 staked just to take home one hundred dollars. Now, if you chose to parlay these two games instead, a winning $100 bet would return $116.67 in profit.
So, you see, if you’d like to play it safe and wager on teams that are highly likely to win, it’s not a terrible idea to parlay a couple of those picks together. You won’t have to risk as much of your bankroll to return a meaningful amount of money, leaving you less exposed to upsets. Isn’t it more fun to risk $100 to win $116.67 than it is to risk $212.50 to win $100?
A Favorite and Two Underdogs
In this scenario, you’re actually going to be making two different parlay bets. The first step is to identify a heavy favorite that you’re confident will win. Think of Justin Verlander on the mound, facing the Baltimore Orioles, in Houston. That team stinks; they’re not touching him this year!
Now, you look for a couple slight-to-moderate underdogs. You’re looking for odds that are in the +125 to +150 range at most. Hopefully, you’ve read our articles about what variables to look for when spotting upsets to increase your chances of selecting winning underdogs.
Okay, so once again, you’re looking at the Astros -200 as your favorite. For your two underdog picks, you see the Dodgers are +125 underdogs to the Red Sox, and the Mariners are +150 dogs to the Brewers. You’re going to make one bet with the Astros and Dodgers and a separate bet with the Astros and Mariners.
If you put $100 on each parlay, you only have to hit one to turn a profit! A 100-dollar two-team parlay with -200 and +125 odds pays out $237.50. Even if you lost the other $100, you’d still come out ahead! If the other bet wins, the return is $275. So, you only need to hit 50% of your chances with this system to make a legitimate profit over time!
+1.5 Run Line and the Under
Full disclosure, there are some sportsbooks out there that will not allow you to parlay run line bets. They do exist, specifically at the Station Casino books in Las Vegas, and you should be able to bet them with some online options as well.
This kind of bet is called a correlated parlay, and if you play them correctly, they can be extremely lucrative.
A run line bet is a type of handicap wagering or point spread betting. Betting the run line either adds 1.5 runs to the underdog’s total or takes 1.5 runs from the favored team’s final score. So, for this parlay, you’re looking to bet an underdog on the run line, and the under for the total. Preferably, the totals line will be either 7.5 or 9.5.
The reason is that many games are decided by a very slim margin. With the run line, you’re getting an extra 1.5 points for your bet that the team isn’t getting in real life. So, if the favored team enters the ninth inning ahead on the actual scoreboard, they don’t bat in the bottom of the inning; the game just ends. You’re hoping your pick loses by 1 in real life, and that eliminating an entire half an inning gives you the advantage you need to hit the under.
Think of it this way: if you’re confident enough in the underdog to believe that 1.5 points are enough to make up the difference, it stands to reason that the game will be low-scoring, hence the under. If your dog covers the spread, it’s more likely that there will be a low total score than a high one.
-1.5 Run Line and the Over
Once again, this is a correlated parlay. We just took the previous structure and flipped it on its head. This time, you’ve broken down all the data, and you’re confident that the favored team will win by more than two runs. Well, in most games that are decided by two or more scores, the contest goes over.
Between 2004 and 2015, teams that covered a two-point spread hit the over 54% of the time, which is definitely enough to make a significant return! Just like before, you’re hoping to identify totals lines that sit around the 7.5 or 9.5 mark. The reason is because 5-3 or 6-4 are likely outcomes in any mismatched baseball games. If you’ve identified a team that you’re confident will win by more than two runs, the move is to parlay that pick with the over.
Because if the home team is the favorite and giving up 1.5 runs, there’s a chance the game will end without them batting in the bottom of the ninth if they’re up just 1. It’s better not to give up that half-inning, just in case.
When working with these correlated parlays, it’s important to consider the payout. Most of these parlays pay around 3-to-1. Remember when we said that teams who win by two points or more hit the over approximately 50% of the time? Well, if you’re getting 3-to-1 payouts for every win but only winning half the time, your bankroll is going to multiply quickly! You don’t necessarily have to hit these bets at a high clip to turn a profit.
Moneyline Home Favorite and the Under
This is another parlay bet that’s going to play off the bottom of the ninth inning. For this wager, you want a team that’s favored at home. Instead of applying a run line, this time you’re betting them on the moneyline, which is a bet for them to win straight-up. There are no spreads or bells or whistles; you just want them to win.
Now, since they’re favored, this half of the bet is going to pay out less than you stake. If you made this bet alone, it’s unlikely it would even be worth your time. You’d either need to stake a ton, or you wouldn’t win enough back even to care. That’s where the parlay comes in.
Since you’re saying the home team is going to win, and you don’t care by how much, you want to pair that with the under. The reason being that most games are decided relatively close to the line set by the bookies. In this case of a home favorite, the most likely scenario is that they’re up by either one or two runs headed into the final inning. This is the scenario that occurs most frequently.
As we mentioned previously, if the home team is winning after the top of the ninth, the game is over.
Being able to eliminate an entire half-inning is significant in sports gambling. Also, it doesn’t hurt to search out variables that further correlate to the parlay. So, if the home team has their ace on the mound, that improves your chances for the under.
Just make sure that your home favorite is at least -175 or higher. You don’t want the moneyline portion of this bet to be especially trying. It’s best if you’re decently confident about that part since the under is where this bet is getting the gambling value anyway. A substantial home favorite with some cold bats and a great pitching staff is a dream come true.
Baseball is a sport that might as well have been invented for sports gamblers. It’s heavily based on data and analytics, the variables are easily isolated, and there aren’t too many factors moving simultaneously at any given time. Throw in the extremely long season and all of the opportunities to find trends and patterns that 162 games present, and you can’t get any better than baseball.
That’s why you shouldn’t be too scared to try your hand at parlay betting. In some sports, which can be ruled just as much by chaos as actual skill or statistics, some parlays may be a sucker’s bet. But used correctly in the right situations, parlay cards are a powerful tool that can drastically improve your gambling success.
People that just try to pick winners, loading up five teams on a card and hoping for the best, will most likely never get the opportunity to cash out. But a calculated handicapper that’s strategically combining heavy favorites with underdogs and other favorites and creating winning cards has a lot to gain.
Hopefully, these five baseball parlays will get you started down the beautiful road of profitable sports betting. Keep adding layers and tweaking the teams you pick in these scenarios until you find what works best for you. As long as you are smart and keep at it, the future is bright!