MMA Parlays

MMA Betting: Parlay Wagering

By Loot, MMA Handicapper,

Generally in sports-betting, parlays are considered bad plays. First of all, you’re asking for a lot to happen. It can be hard enough picking one winner, but when needing to pick multiple winners on the same ticket–you’re asking for a lot. Another criticism we hear about parlays is that it’s a bad play from an odds perspective.

Well you could say that parlays in MMA fall under the category of “asking for too much,” but as far as it being a bad value play, that’s not really the case. Most of our understanding of parlay wagers stems from the world of football and basketball wagering. Those sports involve point-spreads. The parlay pay schedule is a pre-determined formula that contains heavy juice. In other words, when betting basketball and football, the bookie wants you to make parlay wagers. The odds you receive do not match the true probabilities of what you’re asking to have happen.

That’s not really the case when making parlays in the arena of MMA wagering. There are no point-spreads, obviously. Each fighter has different odds. The variables that determine how much you will make are tied up in those fighter’s individual odds. There is no formula designed to make you pay extra juice. In other words, an MMA parlay payout is a true representation of the odds.

Let’s say, for example, you take two fighters on the parlay. One fighter is -200 and the other is +150. If you make a $100 parlay–it works like this. The $100 goes on the +150 fighter, it doesn’t matter who you pick first. If he wins, that $100 becomes $250. The $250 goes on the -200 fighter and if wins, you now have $375. You won $275.

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In other words, it’s a true payout, based solely on the odds of the fighters. It’s not based on a formula, making it so the bettor is not subject to the same juice that makes basketball and football parlays an iffy play from a mathematical standpoint. So say what you will about parlays, but they are not bad plays from a juice-standpoint.

It can be a challenge for MMA bettors to determine which fighters to put on a parlay ticket. Let’s say you like three fighters. One is a huge favorite at -600 and the other two are more moderate favorites at -170 and -220. Betting each of these fights individually requires you take a big stand with the potential of reaping only a small payout. Putting those 3 fights on a parlay ticket would be beneficial.

But how bad would it be to win with the -170 and -220 fighter, but lose the whole bet because the -600 favorite was beaten in a huge upset. It can be especially painful when that fighter loses because of a disqualification or some other extenuating circumstance. If you put $100 on a parlay with just the -170 and -220 fighter, your win would generate $131 and change. Put the -600 fighter in there and the payout goes from $131 to $169. That’s a pretty small amount of extra earnings. It will be up to you whether to include that heavy-chalk favorite.

There are different kinds of parlays, stemming from how many fighters you put on the ticket to the odds of the fighters. Where some bettors run into trouble is by lowering their standards for what fighters they include on parlays, as opposed to just straight bets. In other words, if you can’t make a case for betting a fighter straight, he should not be on your parlay ticket. This doesn’t include massive favorites where betting them straight is just too unrealistic. It refers to putting fighters on your ticket who you would not have otherwise bet straight due to your level of confidence. The standards should be high.

While we shouldn’t make bets we feel have a poor chance of winning, there is something to be said for the underdog parlay. The payouts could be huge and if you happen to hone in on a few good-value underdogs, it could be worth a play. First of all, you should also bet them straight. It really hurts to pick an underdog correctly and to not get paid. But let’s say you pick two underdogs, not even massive dogs, just two moderate ones at +160 and +220. A winning $100 parlay on those two fighters would net you a robust $732 in winnings. Not too shabby.

Related: The Power of Two Team Underodog Parlays.

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