It was the famed Jedi master Yoda who once said, “Impossible to see the future is.”
I think he was talking about betting on pod racing — or perhaps nuna-ball? — but either way, the lesson holds: We don’t know jack about the future.
This makes betting on sports difficult. And it makes betting on parlays even more difficult.
The sportsbooks know this, which is why every time you log on, parlay betting ideas are being thrown in your face. After all, parlays are basically print-fests for sportsbooks. A study by the UNLV Center for Gaming Research showed the books make over 30% profit on parlays, compared to 5% or so for single-game bets.
And in recent years, single-game parlays — especially in the NFL — have made a huge impact on the sports betting industry.
While hard numbers are near-impossible to come by, a FanDuel spokesman said last year that half — half! — of its new users had placed a single-game parlay within the first week of opening their accounts, and a BetRivers spokesman said 40% of its users placed an NFL same-game parlay last year, and those bets made up 20% of the company’s entire handle.
And boy are they fun.
Yes, single-game parlays are tough to hit, and sure, there’s zero way to figure out if you’re getting the right, never mind the “best,” odds, and —
Whoa. Hold up. As it turns out, there’s a new tool on the market — full disclosure, it’s from our sister site, ScoresAndOdds — that helps same-game parlay users create bets. It’s called ParlayIQ, and it runs thousands of simulations of the week’s NFL games.
From there, it tells you the percentage chance of whatever event happening, based on the sportsbook you choose.
TNF and SGPs
For example, at the time of this writing, on FanDuel, the Thursday Night Football player prop that is most likely to happen — a 65% chance, according to the sims — is Gerald Everett under 39.5 yards receiving.
OK, cool. So you click on that and then the fun starts. The sims then spit out what is most likely to happen if Everett’s under prop hits. And that’s the over on Austin Ekeler’s receiving prop — 39.5 yards, a 65% chance. So you click that, and it populates over with the Everett prop.
You can keep on doing this — basically, building a same-game parlay — based on what the simulations believe are the most likely outcomes based on the previously chosen most likely outcomes.
Correlation, our friend it is. (Not a Yoda quote, but it could’ve been.)
Based on the simulations, the next three most likely outcomes are a Chiefs win, the Chiefs covering the 4.5 points, and the Chiefs hitting their over. Granted, if the Chiefs cover the 4.5 points they also win on the moneyline, so the “Chiefs win” leg adds nothing to the payout, but you can include it in the parlay on FanDuel.
So, I added all those in — again, this is based on thousands of simulations — and according to ParlayIQ, this single-game parlay’s fair price is +488.
Well, I took this information over to FanDuel and guess what? They’re offering it to me at +734.
Now: Am I going to win? Well, even at +488 odds, I have a lowly 17% chance. And if FanDuel is right, it’s a 12% chance. So probably not.
But if the inputs on ParlayIQ are correct, at least I know my expected value is on solid footing. Basically, this tool is giving me a fighting chance to beat the books at their own game.
The time has come
As to the “why” of all this?
“At RotoGrinders we were able to create the industry’s first DFS optimizer,” said Dan Back, the senior vice president of the RotoGrinders network. “We saw how much users loved having information available to them while building lineups, so we’re excited to execute the same vision for sports betting on ScoresandOdds.com with ParlayIQ.
“We’ve seen little innovation around betting tools centered around parlays. Right now all parlays have to be built by hand, but through ParlayIQ we are at the first stages of solving that problem. Our eventual hope is allowing users to send these parlays directly from our tool to the sports betting app.”
Back said the tool will be free in the short term, but might eventually move behind the paywall.
In the meantime, though, he hopes users will take the sims out for a spin, though he does caution there might be a hiccup or two along the way.
“Every sportsbook has different rules and ways they present single-game parlays, so that’s been a very difficult aspect of this development,” Back said. “Version 1 of this is far from perfect in terms of relaying those rules and building in exceptions to users, but the overall utility of the tool for both standard parlays and SGPs is light years ahead of your old-school parlay calculators.”
And it’s not just for single-game parlays — the dashboard allows you to build parlays across all games. For instance, the sims love the following three plays on DraftKings: Geno Smith under 13.5 yards rushing (an 80% chance), Saquon Barkley over 28.5 yards receiving (78%), and Jacoby Brissett under 9.5 yards rushing (76%).
According to the site, the fair price on that parlay is +112.
DraftKings is offering it at +500.
I mean, why not, amirite? (Please don’t listen to my betting advice.)
Of course, single-game parlays — and parlays in general — are still always going to be of the “dart throw” variety. Winning one is awesome, but heaven knows there will be losses along the way.
But that’s OK. Yoda, the stage is yours.