Don’t Bet Parlays! Do This Instead!

2024-25 NFL Computer Predictions and Rankings parlays instead By Josh Appelbaum (

“Parlay Patz,” a 23-year-old sports bettor from New York, was charged on Wednesday with “transmitting threats in interstate or foreign commerce” by the Justice Department. Benjamin Tucker Patz’s sports betting renown emerged over the last year for cashing in on a series of massive parlays totaling more than a half-million dollars. But now he is in deep trouble for allegedly making violent online threats to college and pro players who struck out or missed shots and caused him to lose bets. If convicted, Patz would face up to 5 years in prison.

The first and most obvious takeaway is that this kind of behavior is totally unacceptable and, worst of all, criminal. If you’ve been betting sports long enough, you know that tough losses are part of the game. Bad bets can be crushing, but that’s no excuse for threatening players who fail to come through for you in the clutch.

The second takeaway has to do with parlays themselves. Public bettors love betting parlays because they represent the ultimate get-rich-quick money grab. By combining multiple bets into one, you can quickly turn $10 into $100 or $100 into $1000. However, parlays are dangerous and considered the penny slot of sports betting: highly attractive but also a big loser for the bettor and big winner for the house. As I detail in my book The Everything Guide to Sports Betting, the average hold on an individual bet is about 5% according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. However, the average hold on a parlay is closer to 30%. This means the house makes a killing off parlays.

It’s hard enough to win one bet, so the more bets you layer on the more risk you assume. A better approach is to employ flat betting. This means betting each game individually and only risking one unit and 3% of your bankroll per play. Think of it this way: if you have a 5-team parlay and you go 4-1, you lose the entire parlay. But if you bet all five games individually and go 4-1 you win roughly three units.

If you want to bet a parlay every once in a while, all the power to you. Just don’t make it your most common form of betting. You are playing right into the sportsbook’s hands. Also, reading about “Parlay Patz” makes you think betting parlays can be a huge success. But how many losses did Patz suffer in order to cash his big hits?

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