Single Bets Are Preferred Betting Strategy vs. Parlays

The world of sports betting has transformed immensely in recent years to become a multi-billion dollar industry. Many bettors wonder if single bets are preferred vs. betting parlays.

Whatever sport you’re watching, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll see ads with some B-list celebrity or retired athlete promoting a different sportsbook.

Sports Betting Strategy – Single Bets Are Preferred By the Pros

Many of these ads are disingenuous at best. Promoting the idea that even inexperienced bettors can win plenty of money with just a bit of luck. The truth is that, while there’s some luck involved, sports betting is about strategy and research. It’s known by experienced wagerers that single bets are preferred, opposed to making parlays.

Sure, casual or inexperienced bettors think they can win big with low stakes on the odd parlay. But parlay betting generally isn’t sustainable for those looking to build their bankroll as wins. Especially in parlays involving four or more games, wins are hard to come by.

Single-game betting, or wagers on individual player or team props, are much more favorable than parlays for players with relatively large bankrolls.

Let’s take a closer look as to why that’s the case.

The Problem with Parlays

parlay betting problem

The problem with making parlay bets is also the reason why they’re so attractive with casual or inexperienced bettors. They’re fine every once in a while to make things a little more interesting, but they shouldn’t really be included in any smart betting strategy.

Let’s imagine you’ve found six bets, all with +100 odds, that you’d like to make. You include them all on the same ticket, meaning you’d need to get all six outcomes correct to win your bet. Assuming the odds are equal, you’ll have 63-to-1 odds of winning the bet. 

Now, let’s imagine you wagered $20 on that parlay. If you somehow hit with 63-to-1 odds you’ll earn a payout of $1,280.

Which is a great pay day, but highly unlikely.

Of course, even if you miss one of those six bets you’ll end up with nothing. 

Let’s take that same scenario and imagine instead you wagered $20 on the same six games but in individual bets.

With five out of six correct, you would win $200, minus your original stake of $120, for a total profit of $80. You would also still profit by getting only four outcomes correct and break even by getting three right.

This strategy makes for more consistent earnings and will keep you away from making uninformed wagers on games just to increase the size of your parlay profit.

Single Bets on the Same Games

In addition to increasing your chances at actually winning bets, making single bets on game outcomes allows you to dedicate more time to researching all relevant stats for that game. Proper due diligence for sports betting requires research into everything affecting the game’s outcome.

This includes the officiating crew (umpires), weather, starting pitchers, injuries, etc. for a baseball game.

If you’re just betting on one game, you can take plenty of time to look into these and other factors. You might do the same for a parlay. But it’ll either take too much of your free time or you’ll ignore certain factors in a rush to put the parlay together.

As well, taking heavy favorites just to add legs to a parlay is a recipe for disaster. Upsets that see -200 to -300 favorites lose happens more often than you might think.

Unit Bankroll Management: Single Bets Are Preferred

In order to maximize your winnings and mitigate potential losses, you should practice effective bankroll management. Whether for parlays or individual bets. It’s much easier to track for individual bets, however.

Bankroll management is all about how much money you can realistically afford to lose. This leads you to know how much you’re comfortable wagering on single bets. The industry standard is to wager about 5 percent of your bankroll on individual bets. So $25 if your bankroll is $500. 

You can choose to always wager $25 to keep things simple. Or you can utilize a dynamic betting system in which you increase the percentage of your bankroll bets (6 percent instead of 5) or bet additional units.

For instance, if you’re especially confident in a bet, you might choose to wager $50 (2 units) instead of $25.

There’s also a variety of different betting unit strategies that help with effective bankroll management.

The 1-3-2-6 strategy is a particularly popular method that involves wagering 1, 3, 2, and 6 units in succession, providing that you win each. If you win all four bets you start again at 1 betting unit. You also return to 1 betting unit if you lose at any point.

Categorizing Your Bets

Categorizing Your Bets

You can also categorize your bets in regard to how confident you feel about them.

This is a popular strategy among sharp bettors and betting professionals and experts who offer pick packages to consumers online.

When going through possible bets for a certain day, list the ones you like in categories based on your confidence that they’ll pay out. You could use categories like top plays, average plays, and borderline plays.

You might wager 6 or 7 percent of your bankroll on your top plays, but keep it at 5 percent for your average plays.

Borderline wagers, which should usually be underdogs, might be between 3 and 4 percent of your bankroll.

To optimize your betting performance and know when to make any changes, be sure to keep track of how successful you are with each play. You may find that your top plays haven’t been as successful as average plays. This could indicate you need to adjust your process for how you categorize your bets.

Commit to the Strategy – Single Bets Are Preferred

One of the most important things about betting on individual outcomes is committing to whatever strategy you choose.

You might run into some tough spells along the way and, yes, may need to eventually re-evaluate how you make your picks. But it’s important to know that even some of the best and most successful bettors only win about 55-60 percent of their bets. This low percentage makes sense why single bets are preferred.

Unless you have the ability to make massive bets, growing your bankroll requires a sound strategy, patience, and commitment. Stick to your strategy and make informed bets and things should eventually turn around.

And it’s totally OK to mix in a few parlays. They can be fun, but shouldn’t be a big part of your betting strategy.

About the Author
Joe Berra
Joe Berra
Sports Writer
Content Covered on SportsHub: Blog and News
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Joe takes care of the bits and pieces that sometimes slip through the cracks of the sports world. Efficiency and consistency is what makes different. JB helps keep Sports Hub’s content fresh and exciting, managing its many authors. From the New York area, Joe knew he had a knack for sports betting when his uncle was always asking him which side he was on as a young boy. His meticulous approach to the numbers formed his career path as a professional handicapper. Joe is sometimes called Jimmy Bagpipes, JB or Mr. B.