Let’s take a look at the basic concept behind each of these two types of bets, weigh the pluses and the minus and then decide which is the best choice when planning to make an NFL wager at a leading sportsbook. Remember, an informed gambler is always in a better position to make the right play and chances are it will increase your odds of winning online.
A parlay bet (also sometimes referred to as an accumulator) is essentially a series of two or more bets that are tied together. Overall it’s recognized as one single parlay bet but in fact it’s made up of several bets that are linked together. To win on a parlay all the mini-bets must win together. If your parlay bet consists of 4 separate wagers and 3 win but 1 loses you lose the whole thing. The only way to win is to win them all. If no losses are taken but some bets tie (also called a “push”) then the payout odds are reduced accordingly.
Here’s an NFL parlay example for you to follow. Say you choose a 4-team NFL parlay and just 1 of those 4 teams doesn’t make the spread, then you would lose your entire parlay bet. If all 4 teams win you could win $800 on every $100 bet. If 1 of the 4 teams pushes but the other 3 win then you’d be playing on a 3 team parlay and the team that tied is out of the bet altogether. The reason parlay bets are so popular at the online sportsbooks is because they pay out much higher than if you were to place a number of individual bets on their own. Of course the element of risk (and ultimately loss) is higher as well since all the bets are chained together. If one loses, they all do.
A futures bet on the other hand is simply a wager placed on a sports event that will take place a long time in the future from when the bet was placed (as the name suggests). In fact several sports betting sites even offer futures on events outside the world of sports. Many online sportsbooks began posting odds on political events like the 2008 U.S. presidential election in 2006. Because the election is so far away they are offering odds right now that may change in the future as the election approaches.
In the world of NFL sportsbetting futures can sometimes be placed on pre-season events, so far in advance that the outcome is pretty hard to know for sure. Because these events take place so far down the road, oddsmakers may offer attractive odds in order to get some early betting going. As the season heats up and it becomes more obvious which NFL teams are stronger and which are weaker, the odds get shaped by statistics and other factors. Usually the odds become less attractive as the sporting event nears.
NFL future bets are attractive because the odds are usually higher early on. The sportsbook may change the odds from time to time but you are stuck with the odds that were offered at the time you placed the bet. Pre-season NFL future bets usually pay out very high and as the season progresses the odds are usually reduced. Again, bettors like futures because of the high odds payouts but the downside is the high element of risk since there are so many unknowns and uncertainties. The more time between your bet and the sports event, the more chance there is for player injuries and other factors that can seriously affect how a team plays.
Let’s look a little closer at the inner mechanics of these types of bets. When betting on future one good strategy is to estimate and compare the moneyline quote being given on the team of your choice for all the games leading up to the future game you are betting on. By estimated the cost of betting on all games leading up to the future bet you’ll also be able to calculate the price of a parlay bet on those combined games. Then, by comparing the estimated price of a parlay bet to the odds given on the future bet by the sportsbook you’ll have a pretty good indication about which is a better bet to make.
Here’s how you can calculate the parlay bet: First, if the quote is positive (marked with a +) you just need to divide the moneyline by 100 and add 1 to that. This will give you the decimal value. So, a moneyline quote of +150 is (150/100) +1 = 2.5 +1 = 3.5. In the case that the moneyline quote is marked as negative (-) add 100 and divide by the original moneyline value. So for a – 175 moneyline quote the decimal quote will work out to 275/175 = 1.5714.
Then, once you’ve calculated all the decimal quotes for all the bets you’re looking at on your favorite team simply multiply all of them together and subtract 1 from the total. This is a great and easy way to understand the parlay bet and compare it to a possible futures bet.
Parlays are attractive because they can pay out large, but the more bets you take on, the bigger the risk. Remember, one loss on the chain of parlay bets brings everything down and you lose your entire bet. Therefore small parlays say on two teams can offer very attractive odds in which a win means you can more than double your original bet. The wager may even be less risky than two separate straight bets on the same teams/games depending on the odds being offered. But as a rule of thumb, anything more than a 2 or 3 team/game parlay is risky business that may not be worth your money.
Also, keep in mind that as you add more bets to the parlay, the sportsbook will take a larger amount if vigorish which means the payout steadily becomes smaller than the risk you take as the parlay gets bigger by betting on more teams. Also, the odds are working against you in a parlay as you add more teams to the bet. A 2 team parlay offers 3-1 odds on all games actually winning.
The conclusion then between which bet is better is based on your own independent calculations after comparing the parlay and futures bets. Parlays may be attractive so long as they aren’t too large and futures may also offer a good betting option if you get in on them early enough and are willing to sweat it out until game time arrives.
By William Lewis
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