As legal sports betting expands in the U.S. and competition heats up, online sports betting apps are getting creative as they try to stand out above the rest. Sometimes it’s in the form of “good karma” gestures and bad beat refunds. Other sportsbooks offer unique ways to multiply your winnings (and losses!) in the form of sports betting promotions.
But a recent trend sweeping across the industry is sportsbooks eschewing the long-held practice of rejecting same game parlays from customers. Now, instead of blocking same game parlays, or as one company calls them, “one-game parlays” sportsbooks are marketing the ability to bet them and are throwing them smack dab on the home page.
What Is a “Same-Game” Parlay?
A same-game, single-game, or one-game parlay, the vernacular doesn’t matter — they’re names for a parlay consisting of correlated wagers. Bettors can use these parlays to string together multiple markets/props from the same game, often in pursuit of large payouts.
By correlated wagers, we mean two or more wagers which are related in such a way that the likelihood of one of the wagers/legs winning is increased or decreased by the outcome of the other leg(s).
For example, if Penn State is a 24-point favorite against Indiana in a college football game, and the game total (or Over/under) is 49, the odds of the game going Over is more likely if Penn State wins by more than 24.
A more obvious correlation example is the relationship between the score of a football game and player performance. If you think the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will combine for more than 56 points, then you probably expect Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady to post big numbers. If you like the Under on the point total, then you’re right to assume that the two quarterbacks are more likely to underperform relative to the implied projections of their respective player props.
Of course, hitting one leg isn’t sufficient for the other leg to hit. There are and will be cases where a player throws well over the yardage prop but his team doesn’t reach the end zone enough to cash the Over on the total, and vice-versa.
If you’re looking for resources to help you craft SGPs that are more tightly correlated and tested through simulation, check out the ParlayIQ tool at Scores and Odds to help craft SGPs with PlusEV legs. (More information on that tool here.)
Notable Same Game Parlay Wins
Now that we know what a Same Game Parlay is, let’s look at some impressive parlay wins, beginning with Cal Spears, CEO of our partner company, RotoGrinders. His $1000 (!!) six-leg same-game parlay got quite a bit of attention on social media, mostly because of the life-changing $266,566 payout. At odds of 266/1, this is a once-in-a-lifetime win. Cal had a lot of fun with his good fortune, appearing in an ESPN.com interview and donating a sizable chunk of his win to local Nashville non-profits.
Oh my goodness I just hit the SGP of my life. On Thanksgiving no less. Going to put a chunk of this towards good causes, but first a little celebration! pic.twitter.com/LvIleLSQVJ
— Cal Spears (@CalSpears) November 26, 2021
Same game parlays can be as few as two segments, or legs, but they can also get as high as 15 legs. Of course, the more legs, the higher the odds, the tougher it is to win. This person went all-in on a 12-leg same game NBA parlay, winning over 20 grand on a $100 bet. All of his or her picks were on the over, so he or she was really excited that the game ended up with 252 total points after the Bulls defeated the Hornets, 133-119.
An 𝙄𝙉𝙎𝘼𝙉𝙀 #SameGameParlay hit tonight 🤯
$100 ➡️ $21K
(via IG / jake_mills86) pic.twitter.com/FycIpUoI46
— FanDuel Sportsbook (@FDSportsbook) November 30, 2021
You get the idea. Same game parlays are a good way to make a high-risk, high-reward bet on a single game. If you have a theory about how the game will turn out, a same game parlay can be a strategic play to earn a huge payday. For example, the above bettor clearly expected the Bulls-Hornet game to be high-scoring. It was, so the bet cashed. If you do your homework and bet within your means, a same game parlay can be a fun and potentially lucrative way to enjoy a game.
Where Can I Bet Same Game Parlays?
|FanDuel||Same Game Parlay||Hands down the best platform|
|DraftKings||Same Game Parlay (SGParlay)||Doesn't show prices for individual markets|
|BetMGM||One-Game Parlay||Doesn't show prices for individual markets; kind of clunky|
|PointsBet||Same Game Parlay||Pretty good but would like to see more actual yardage props instead of bands such as 50+ or 75+ yards|
|Barstool||Parlay+||Does show individual market pricing|
|Unibet||Same Game Combo||Doesn't show individual market pricing|
|BetRivers/SugarHouse||Same Game Parlay||Doesn't show individual market pricing|
|TwinSpires/BetAmerica||Same Game Combo||Does show individual market pricing|
Though they aren’t available everywhere, more and more online sportsbooks are offering same game parlays, but because of trademark agreements and other factors, the same game parlay goes by different names at different sportsbooks.
The first to offer them was FanDuel Sportsbook, and their format/design remains superior, from a pricing and transparency perspective to ease of sort/combining different markets. Everyone else is playing catchup.
Among the earliest to jump into the pool with FanDuel were BetMGM (calling it “One Game Parlays“) and PointsBet Sportsbook (“Single Game Parlay”).
Recognizing too that bettors really, really like same-game parlays, especially for standalone broadcasts, and that the sportsbook hold percentage is very high with this kind longshot wagering (such are parlays in general especially for recreational bettors).
DraftKings joined the ballgame in time for the 2021-2022 football seasons, also calling it same-game parlays or stylized “SGParlays.”
Also ahead of the 2021-2022 NFL season, sports betting software supplier/risk-manager Kambi Sports, which powers Barstool Sportsbook, BetRivers/PlaySugarHouse, TwinSpires, and Unibet (and previously DraftKings), added “Game Parlays,” “Same Game Combo,” or Parlay+ to the menu of offerings that we expect all these sportsbook partners will implement.
Others sportsbooks will join the fray then their technology gurus/developers can nail down the backend.
More on Same Game Parlays
As you can see in the table above, there’s some differences between the books on how the markets, odds, and pricing is displayed.
DraftKings only recently added the functionality, and there’s room for improvement, although DK is certainly not alone. Unlike FanDuel, several of the sportsbooks, once you enter the SGP interface, do not show pricing for the individual props/sides/totals.
Rather, only once you select the prop will the odds for the full parlay recalculate. You could reverse-engineer the pricing applied (i.e., -120 or +225) for that individual element of the parlay, but that’s a chore and it should be more transparent like, you know, as on FanDuel or a couple of the Kambi-powered books.
Take a look:
One other area that needs attention: once you SGP is in the betslip at DraftKings, you can’t “X” out or remove an individual element. You can adjust the selections prior to adding the SGP to the betslip, but not once it reaches the slip. Not a huge inconvenience, but that added functionality would be nice.
Also: BetMGM Sportsbook. We don’t know what the heck is going on here, but when you go to one-game parlays, it opens a separate module that’s clunky and prone to freezing. Also, no pricing displayed for individual markets. It’s good they have something but there’s a lot of room for improvemtn.
Some parlay history
Previously, same game parlays or correlated wagers have largely been restricted in most places where sports betting takes place. Knowing these parlays presented potential edges for bettors, oddsmakers regularly turned down these parlays at the counter.
That all changed recently, but bettors might not be finding the kind of edge they hoped.
Sure, sportsbooks now allow and advertise correlated parlays, but it’s not out of generosity. Oddsmakers minimize the edge of same game parlays by reducing odds of the parlay payout. Take a look at the consensus payouts of normal, uncorrelated parlays:
- 2-Team Parlay: 2.6-to-1
- 3-Team Parlay: 6-to-1
- 4-Team Parlay: 10-to-1
- 5-Team Parlay: 20-to-1
By betting 1 unit on three games with traditional vig or juice (-110), you can win a max of 2.73 units if you hit all three games. However, if you’re feeling a bit riskier, you can turn each bet into a leg of a three-game parlay, which will payout 6 units if all three picks hit. Remember, though, that you need all of the legs of your parlay to win or else you lose your entire wager.
It’s not hard to see why parlays are attractive to sports bettors. The odds may be stacked against the bettor, but who doesn’t like to dream of a big payout? Especially in a standalone game where someone would rather risk $10 to win $1,000, than $11 to win $10 on a standard -110 bet on the side.
As you can see by the payout of a 2-team parlay, though less apparent than it is in a straight wager, the vig (or “juice”) is still included and a bit heftier. Let’s look a bit closer.
- Game 1: Team A covers or Team B covers
- Game 2: Team A covers or Team B covers
Possible outcomes: 1A2A; 1A2B; 1B2B; 1B2A
There are four possible outcomes, meaning the true odds would be 3-to-1, yet sportsbooks only pay out 2.6-to-1 the wager. So a $100 wager on a two-game parlay nets $260 profit if both legs win. If sportsbooks used the true odds, bettors would net $300, making the vigorish 6.67%, a 2.13% increase from the 4.54% charged on straight wagers. That might seem minuscule but it adds up over the long haul.
Now, with some same-game parlays, sportsbooks make sure to maintain their edge by shortening the parlay payout even further. And in some cases, sportsbooks will adjust the total and/or spread to a slightly unfavorable number, e.g., Under 52 points instead of Under 54, or -7.5 instead of -6.5.
Rather than assuming the house is giving them an attractive money-making opportunity with +EV (also read: What is EV? Expected Value Explained), bettors should pay close attention to both the payouts and lines in same-game parlays if they want to maximize their expected value.
Tips for Betting Same Game Parlays
The edge might not be there, but let’s face it: it’s very difficult to find edges in sports betting. Sports betting markets, especially those for the NFL and NBA, are very efficient. Most of us are betting recreationally, for fun and entertainment. Same game parlays provide precisely that, but there are still a few things to consider in order to optimize your chances at large same game parlay payout.
Paint a Plausible Narrative for the Game: NFL example
It’s Sunday night, there’s one game left and you a hunch there will be plenty of points scored, so you’re on the Over. How do you think the Over gets there?
Both of the same game parlays pictured below paint a story for their respective games.
In the first image, the bettor is betting Over 26.5 First Half Points and Houston Texans moneyline. By adding Deshaun Watson Over 302.5 passing yards, the bettor knows that if there are a lot of points scored, it will likely be through the air via the Texans quarterback. If Watson is passing for a lot of yards, to whom is he throwing? To make the payout even larger, the bettor adds legs that make sense, such as the Over on props for Watson’s pass-catchers, wide receivers Brandin Cooks & and Will Fuller, and tight end Jordan Akins.
We see a similar story in the second image, but legs and props from both teams, the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots, are included. Let’s go through this example, leg-by-leg, starting with the alternate spread and total.
Bills Alternate Spread (-9.5): By stretching the spread an extra 2.5 points (from -7 to -9.5), it’s clear the bettor believes the Bills will blow out the Patriots. The bettor also increases his payout by taking the alternate spread.
Alternate Total – Over (44.5): With an original point total of 46.5, here the bettor takes an alternate total by shortening his odds and the total number of points the teams must combine to go Over. Additionally, the Over and Bills -9.5 are both correlated.
Anytime Touchdown Scorer – Diggs, Davis & Moss: If the Bills cover and the game combines for more than 44.5 points, the Bills will have to score multiple touchdowns. In fact, we can use the alternate spread (Bills -9.5) and alternate total (44.5) to find out the implied point total for both teams. Use this formula:
Point Total / 2
Spread / 2
Favorite Implied Team Total = (Point Total / 2) + (Spread / 2)
Underdog Implied Team Total = (Point Total / 2) – (Spread / 2)
By plugging the alternate point total and spread into this formula, we get:
Bills’ Implied Team Total: 22.35 + 4.75 = 27
Patriots’ Implied Team Total: 22.5 – 4.75 = 17.5
With an implied team total of 27 points, the Bills need to score at least three touchdowns to reach their implied point total. The bettor picks three different Bills players to do just that.
Zach Moss Over 44.5 Rushing Yards: If the Bills win by double digits, they’ll likely lead most of the game. The more a team is ahead by, the more they run the ball and try to control the clock.
Zach Moss Under 6.5 Receiving Yards: If the Bills are ahead and running the ball, then running back Zach Moss is less likely to be used in the passing game.
Cam Newton Under 40.5 Rushing Yards: If the Patriots are playing from behind, Cam Newton is more likely to pass the ball than to spend clock running the ball.
James White Over 21.5 Receiving Yards: If the Patriots are behind and Newton is throwing the ball, James White, who is known as more of a pass-catching back, is more likely to be used than Sony Michele. Running backs often rack up catches in garbage time when defenses are playing preventive schemes and forcing throws underneath.
Playing out largely as the bettor expected, the Bills won the game 38-9. As we can see in the screenshot, 8-of-9 legs hit, which, unfortunately, is one leg too few. (Again, to cash a parlay, we have to be perfect.) The bettor painted a plausible narrative, plenty of touchdowns were scored, but Gabriel Davis failed to find the end zone, costing the bettor a nearly 260-to-1 payout!
It’s tough to point out many holes in this same game parlay, especially after looking at the box score. The main problem was that too many touchdowns (3) went to Stefon Diggs, leaving Davis as the odd man out. Still, with a little bit of effort, there’s one criticism I can make regarding the number of touchdown scorers and the alternate total.
By picking three touchdown scorers from a 27-point implied team total, the bettor is essentially hoping to get the Bills’ touchdown scorers exactly right. In other words, the Bills are projected to score 3-4 touchdowns, and the bettor is trying to pick the player who scores each of those touchdowns, leaving little room for error. If we think there will be three different touchdown scorers, why not stick with the original total (Over 46.5) rather than reducing our odds with the alternate total (44.5)? On the other hand, if we want to stick with the alternate total, then it makes more sense and gives us more wiggle room to included merely two touchdown scorers.
A Plausible Narrative for the Game: MLB Example
Here’s an example for Sept. 29, 2021 match-up between the New York Mets and Miami Marlins:
Looking at this matchup it’s a fantastic spot for Walker and a bad spot for Hernandez. Walker gets a matchup against the Marlins who are probably the highest strikeout team in the league with their projected lineup right now owning a 27.9% K rate. Walker has seemed to fix his control issues over the last month sporting a 6.2% walk rate to go along with a stellar 26.2% k rate. Hernandez on the other side has struggled greatly to strikeout lefties so far this year owning only a 20% K rate to go along with a sky high 14.3% walk rate to the left side of the plate. He generally doesn’t have a long leash in most matchups especially if he’s getting hammered.
Adding in the Mets moneyline gets some nice correlation considering that Walker would have to get unlucky with his BABIP and Hernandez would have to get really lucky for this moneyline bet not to hit.
If you want to make it a bit spicier, you can add the over to this same game parlay. Hernandez is likely to get beat up here, and walker is still averaging almost 2 home runs per game over the last 5 starts. Add in the 15th ranked bullpen of the Marlins and the 23rd ranked bullpen for the Mets and you got a good shot the low 7.5 Total hits the over.
Same Game Parlay rules on voided legs
Same Game Parlays are a blast… but there are a few rules that you need to be mindful of when making these sorts of bets. Primarily concerning voided legs. If one or more legs of your bet is voided, how will your sportsbook grade the bet? Let’s look at an example:
Running back Zack Moss was a healthy inactive for the Buffalo Bills during week 14 of the 2021 NFL season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
And his non-appearance in the game showed a bit of an unhealthy side to the same-game parlay rules used by DraftKings — and, as it turns out, a good number of other online sportsbook apps.
In a tweet, @ray_levay13 showed his nine-leg same game parlay at +1100 odds, and it was a beaut, hitting on eight of the nine legs. As for the ninth leg? It was the under prop on Moss’ rushing yards. Moss was inactive, and so that portion of the bet was rightfully voided. Made sense to Levay, as it does to us.
What doesn’t make as much sense, however, is what happened to the rest of the bet: It was entirely voided.
@DKSportsbook sucks… Hit 8/9 legs of a Same Game Parlay and the last leg (Zack Moss) gets voided due to him being inactive, which makes sense. But, instead of adjusting the odds, the whole bet gets cancelled? That’s such BS @DK_Assist pic.twitter.com/JFR8WTxra6
— Ray Levay (@Ray_Levay13) December 13, 2021
A look at DraftKings’ rules concerning same-game parlays confirmed this was, indeed, the way it previously declared it would grade such situations.
“In the event a Same Game Parlay contains no losing selections, but a selection is settled as void, then the whole Same Game Parlay will be settled as void,” the rules read.
Incredibly, the rule as written also leaves open the possibility that if one of the legs is voided — and another leg loses — then the bet would be graded as a loss.
A source within DraftKings told Sports Handle, however, that if one leg of a same-game parlay is voided, the bet is refunded regardless of other outcomes.
“While it’s not great we refund/void losing SGPs if one leg is void, it’s not just winning ones,” the source said. “And we actually refund more losing SGPs as a result of a void leg than we are winning.”
Some sportsbooks recalculate odds, some don’t
The way DraftKings grades such single-game parlays is different from its No. 1 competitor, FanDuel.
In FanDuel’s case, if a leg is voided, the odds are simply recalculated — like they would be for any other parlay.
FanDuel appears to be in the minority, with one exception among the major online books, when it comes to this seemingly common-sense way to grade single-game parlays.
Barstool, while not explicitly discussing its Parlay+ same-game parlay feature in its house rules, notes: “A bet made as a parlay or accumulative bet shall remain valid with recalculated odds notwithstanding a match or an event which is part of the parlay/accumulative bet being void.”
But that’s seemingly it.
At BetMGM, the “One Game Parlay” rules state simply: “If a pick within a One Game Parlay is cancelled, then the entire One Game Parlay will be cancelled.”
BetRivers/SugarHouse does the same thing: “If a leg of the parlay voids the entire Same Game Parlay voids and returns to your balance.”
Caesars: “If any leg of the Same-Game Parlay bet is made void or settles as a push, then the whole bet would become a void or a push.”
Moral here: It’s not just fugazi odds that would-be same-game parlay players must navigate. It’s also wildly different rules for settlement.
Same Game Parlay Summary
Same game parlays are enticing, but they aren’t as advantageous as sportsbooks want you to believe. Regardless, they’re a fun way for the recreational bettors to have a big sweat without having to worry bout multiple games. Sportsbooks may maintain their house edge by reducing odds and payouts in same game parlays, but sports bettors can still make the most of the opportunity by coming up with a theory about how the game will play out and creating their same game parlay accordingly.