There are a lot of sports in which betting parlays doesn’t make a lot of sense for smart bettors. In fact, in most cases betting parlays isn’t a great idea. Mixed martial arts betting is one place that can potentially be an exception, though. In fact, often times betting fighters in a parlay is the best way to balance risk and return and maximize your betting impact.
The first important factor to remember is that MMA betting is done on the moneyline and not with a point spread. That makes parlay betting far more attractive. When you bet moneyline parlays you get the potential payoff simply by multiplying the payoffs of the bets you are including together. That means that the payout is derived from the odds of the individual bets. If you find the individual odds to be attractive and full of value then you’ll also find the potential parlay payout to be attractive. In contrast, when you bet a point spread parlay the odds for those bets are fixed, and don’t come close to reflecting the true risk involved. For example, if you are parlaying three games there are eight possible outcomes – WWW, LLL, WWL, WLW, LWW, WLL, LWL, and LLW. Only one of those eight outcomes – WWW – pays off in a parlay bet. The standard payout for a three team payout is just 6/1, though. That means that over the long term parlay bets are expected to be losers. To be a long term winner you have to overcome those expectations, and that is far from easy to do. Except perhaps in very special circumstances point spread parlays are to be avoided.
So, why can parlays be attractive in MMA? Simply put – heavy favorites. MMA is a sport that frequently has heavy favorites in fights, and that can even happy in big time title fights. It is not at all uncommon to see a fighter assigned odds of -550 or even worse. Upsets can and do happen, but these fighters are typically assigned such unattractive odds because they are dominant fighters with a very good chance of winning. While sometimes you might want to bet on the underdog because they have a better chance than the odds indicate there are many times where the favorites are the clear choice and you want to bet on them because the only way they are likely to lose given the matchup and the comparative skill of the opponents is if they make a big mistake.
The problem with straight bets on heavy favorites is that the payoff is not attractive and the bets can be quite expensive. Let’s say, for example, that a favorite of -500 seems to have a clear edge, and you have $100 to bet on the fight. A bet on that fighter would return a profit of just $20. While that profit may be sufficient over the long term to make a profit it is hardly exciting in the short term, and the chances of going broke would be quite high if you were to hit a losing streak and weren’t prepared for it with a proper bankroll.
Parlaying together two -500 favorites would increase your potential profit by 10 percent, and if you are very confident in both fights then the increase in risk is minimal. Where parlays get powerful, though, is if you combine that -500 favorite with two lower priced favorites that you still feel confident in. If you bet $100 on a parlay with a -500 favorite and two -200 favorites your potential profit is $170. If you bet $100 on each fight you would only have a maximum profit of $120 and your maximum loss would be three times higher. While the risk is higher with the parlay because any loss means an overall loss it can still often times be worthwhile if your opinions are strong in the individual fights.
When constructing your parlay bets in MMA two things are important – creativity and experimentation. There is no one way to properly craft a parlay bet. The best thing you can do is creatively come up with several possibilities and look at the potential payouts to see how reward and risk are balanced before picking the best bet or combination of bets. If there is one heavy favorite you are confident in you might find that you could maximize our profit by splitting your bankroll three ways and parlaying that favorite with three different underdogs in two fight parlays. Or you might find that two heavy favorites and an underdog make a nice combination. On a card that looks really chalky you might feel confident parlaying four or five solid favorites together. The only thing you want to be sure of is that if you are making multiple parlay bets that involve the same fight you want to be sure that you feel very strongly about that fight because one loss there can derail several bets. Beyond that if the potential payout seems to better suit the risk involved than a straight bet would then it is worth a look.