In the world of online sports betting, parlays are one of the most fun and potentially lucrative ways to combine a group of bets into one larger money-making opportunity.
Whether by combining a series of highly unlikely outcomes for a large payout, or by mixing likely and unlikely bets for an increased potential return, parlays can change the nature of sports betting to increase both the risk and the reward.
But with that being the case, parlays do have limitations and restrictions that educated sports bettors need to be aware of prior to betting. Most of those limitations and restrictions are based around the concept of a “correlated parlay.”
In simple terms, correlated parlays are the combination of multiple bets that are related to one another – if Bet A hits, then Bet B has a better chance of hitting.
These are different from standard parlays, which often involve two or more entirely separate outcomes that aren’t related to one another.
The reason these are disallowed is because certain outcomes would decrease profit for sportsbooks significantly, and would make parlays much safer bets for sports bettors.
Parlays are, by definition, a riskier way of betting on outcomes, so if much of the risk is removed, sports books would stand to lose more than they’re prepared to.
How Do Correlated Parlays Work?
Let’s use an example to help illustrate how correlated parlays work, and why they’re disallowed. Take, for instance, Game 7 between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics in the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals.
For this game, Miami was +130 on the moneyline, and they were +3 on the spread. If someone were to try to parlay these results, they wouldn’t be able to do so, because if Miami were to win (and thus hit the moneyline bet), they would of course also be guaranteed to cover that +3 spread.
Because there wouldn’t be any benefit to the sportsbook, and the only benefit would be for the bettor themselves, it’s highly unlikely that any reputable sportsbooks would allow a parlay of that nature – they would allow betting of both of those outcomes, but not as a shared outcome in a parlay.
Using Related Parlays While Avoiding Correlated Parlays
That said, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t parlay results from a specific game or match-up that may have a higher likelihood of hitting than the odds reflect.
Sticking with that Heat/Celtics example, let’s say someone were to want to bet the Heat moneyline, and the Heat to score over 110 points.
Perhaps there’s a correlation between the Heat winning games when they score over 110 in the playoffs vs. losing when they score under that amount.
If they wanted to parlay the moneyline bet, and the Heat scoring o110, they’d likely be able to do so, because hitting on the moneyline wouldn’t necessarily guarantee or even increase the odds of the Heat scoring over 110 points. The two outcomes are separate from one another, and would thus be able to be parlayed together in the form of a same-game parlay.
In the world of sports betting, knowledge of guidelines and restrictions are important to being a profitable bettor with a positive reputation with various books.
If a bettor tries to take advantage of certain parlays that may be disallowed, their book of choice may no longer allow them to bet, and they may have to look elsewhere for their betting opportunities. But educated bettors can still take advantage of smart parlays to maximize their potential returns, and minimize the size of their losses.