What are Progressive Parlays Regarding Sports Betting? Definition and Meaning
by Doc's Sports - 10/10/2014
A progressive parlay operates much like a standard pointspread parlay, but with a twist - they are harder to lose. In a progressive parlay bettors choose between four and 12 teams. Like a standard parlay, bettors win and get a sizable return if they select all of the games correctly. Where these bets differ is that bettors also get a payout - albeit a much smaller one - if only most of their picks are correct. Typically, in 4-, 5- or 6-team progressive parlays you get paid with one wrong, while you can make two mistakes in 7-,8- or 9-team parlays and three with 10, 11 or 12 teams.
It sound too good to be true, doesn’t it? There has to be a catch. Well, of course there is. You pay for the extra security of this bet in the lower payouts. Let’s look at a 10-team parlay, for example. Betting just a straight parlay, the potential payout would typically be 700/1. With a progressive parlay the payout for all of the picks being correct is just 250/1. With nine out of 10 games correct the payout is slashed to 25/1. It would be 3/1 for eight of 10, and even money for seven of 10.
The problem with pointspread parlays of any kind is that they are not mathematically sound for most bettors. The average square bettor doesn’t have better than a 50 percent chance of being on the right side of a given bet - not over the long term. At 50 percent, the true odds for hitting a 10-team parlay are 1,023/1. The bet only pays 700/1 - or potentially less depending on the book. Betting when the odds are so dramatically less than the potential reward is a fast way to go broke.
The true odds paint an even worse story for progressive parlays. With a progressive parlay the probability of hitting all 10 games is still 1,023/1, but the payout falls all the way to 250/1 - a horrible bet. Your chances of hitting nine of 10 are about 102/1, but the payout is 25/1 - another horrible bet. Your chances of hitting eight of 10 are worse than 11/1, but the payout is just 3/1. Lousy. Your odds of hitting seven are about 1.4/1, but the payout is just even money. Yet again, a lousy bet. So, there are four different ways to get paid in a 10-game progressive parlay, and each one pays well below the true odds. The numbers would be different depending upon the number of teams involved but the overall story would be the same. In almost every case, then, the progressive parlay is a sucker bet.
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