What Is A Same Game Parlay?

Definition And How To Bet

By Mo Nuwwarah

Parlay betting is one of the most popular ways to bet on sports. Fans love the chance at a big return for a modest investment. In the past year or so, a newer, wilder type of parlay has taken the betting world by storm: the same game parlay.

What are same game parlays? Should you bet them? If so, what’s the best way to approach them?

We’ll answer these questions and more.

Where can I bet same game parlays?

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What is a same game parlay?

A same game parlay – or a single game parlay – lets bettors place multiple bets from the same game into one single parlay.

That’s the gist of it, and the concept has proven wildly popular. Just check sports betting Twitter during any big island football game, particularly the accounts of the big operators that allow same game parlays. If there are any same game parlays with big payouts live, they will promote them on their feeds in hopes of encouraging other bettors to take their own shots.

Usually they are lottery ticket type of bets, with odds of hundreds-to-one if not thousands. For example, someone using FanDuel Sportsbook parlayed five different players to score touchdowns in a 2021 49ers versus Colts game.

  • Jonathan Taylor Any time TD scorer
  • Deebo Samuel Any time TD scorer
  • Michael Pittman Jr. Any time TD scorer
  • Elijah Mitchell Any time TD scorer
  • Carson Wentz Any time TD scorer

A $10 wager paid out a whopping $4,758.30.

Building your own same game parlay is a fairly easy process. At DraftKings Sportsbook, for example, simply go to any game, click on one of the teams from that game, and click the white button on the “same game parlay” bar near the top, under the teams’ names.

Tons of different bets will now appear, many of which can’t be wagered on under the normal betting menu. A sub-menu under the same game parlay bar lets you sort the bets by type.

Here’s an example from a 2021 Cardinals versus Packers game:

  • Kyler Murray TD YES
  • Aaron Jones TD YES

At the bottom of the page, it says “add bet to slip” and we can see this parlay pays +340.

You can, of course, go much bigger and much crazier. And you don’t have to limit yourself to football. For Game 3 of the 2021 World Series:

  • Astros -2.5 runs
  • Carlos Correa home run YES
  • Yordan Alvarez home run YES
  • Over 8.5 runs

This one pays out +4000.

A primer on parlays and correlated parlays

Parlay betting — combining two or more bets that must all win for the bet to win — has always served as one of the biggest and best sources of income for sportsbooks. Most bettors’ wagers have a negative expected value (-EV). Therefore, linking the bets together compounds the likelihood of losing — and the sportsbook winning.

If you want to see some evidence, look no further than the income figures collected for Nevada sportsbooks. From 1992-2020, here are the casinos’ win rates out of the total handle collected for each type of bet. Per the UNLV Center for Gaming Research:

  • Football: 5.19%
  • Basketball: 5.21%
  • Baseball: 3.53%
  • Other sports: 6.22%
  • Parlays: 30.95%

The October 2021 figures provide even more of a doozy. The books held onto a terrifying 56.3% of their parlay dollars. Compare that to football (7.6%) and baseball (5.6%), and you can see that parlays keep the lights on for the sportsbooks.

However, some parlays can have a positive expectation (+EV). Parlays of +EV individual bets, for example, have themselves a +EV by definition. So do correlated parlays — parlays where winning one bet makes the other leg or legs likely to win as well.

To illustrate an extreme example, imagine College Football Team A is a -47.5 favorite over Team B. Now imagine the total on that same game is 48.5. Team A and the over are correlated — every single final score besides 48-0 where Team A covers the spread will send the total over. Therefore, parlaying them together will have a +EV assuming the spread is sharp.

Sportsbooks will block you from betting very obviously correlated parlays like first half over with game total over. At least, they once did. Now, same game parlays have changed that.

Downsides to betting a same game parlay

While the same game parlays has become a fun and exciting wager for countless bettors, there are some issues with them that you must keep in mind before you decide to bet them.

The biggest problem with same game parlays is there’s almost no way to know the true level of correlation, and therefore the true odds, of a same-game parlay hitting. Exactly how much does Bet No. 1 correlate with Bet No. 2 and Bet No. 3 and so forth?

This is a nearly impossible question to answer, but the sportsbooks use whatever proprietary algorithms they use, and they come up with their own payouts. There’s no way for the customer to know how this black box payout has been calculated, but you can be sure they build in plenty of cushion in markets with this much uncertainty.

Refer back to the Thursday Night Football same game parlay above. Kyler Murray to score a TD (+140) and Aaron Jones to score (-120) pays out +340. If you put bets with these prices in a regular parlay, that will also pay out +340.

That makes sense because there’s little – if any – correlation between these bets.

However, Murray to score parlayed with Cardinals team total over 29.5 (-120) should also pay out +340 if you go purely off the prices. Instead, putting these in a same game parlay, we find DK Sportsbook offers us a +300 payout. These bets have clear correlation because Murray scoring a TD propels the Cardinals closer to scoring 30 points.

Is a 12% hit to the payout too much? Too little? It’s difficult to say, but you can bet it’s very likely the former. Otherwise, bettors would be printing money on these and the sportsbook would quickly go out of business.

Upsides to betting a single game parlay

The upside to betting same game parlays is pretty obvious. They are pumped-up versions of regular parlays and they have same draw: a potentially massive payout for a tiny investment.

Reference back to the same game parlay tweeted by FanDuel Sportsbook above. We can’t see the prices of the individual parlay legs, but we can be fairly certain even in a rainy game with a low total, most of these bets weren’t too far from even money (+100). Jonathan Taylor, Deebo Samuel, Michael Pittman Jr. and Elijah Mitchell are all high-volume starters who score touchdowns on a fairly regular basis.

The exception, obviously, comes in betting Carson Wentz to score a TD. Quarterbacks who make their livings primarily as pocket passers are going to be decent-sized underdogs to score a TD. Wentz had zero rushing TDs on the season prior to this game.

Plugging in an average price of +125 or so on the four likely TD scorers with a rough guess of +600 for Wentz, we get a payout of ~178-to-1. However, this parlay paid out ~475-to-1 because multiple teammates scoring TDs in the same game has a negative correlation. There are only so many TDs to go around, so every TD scored by Pittman Jr. is one less TD that Wentz or Taylor can score.

There aren’t many ways to get a 475-to-1 lottery ticket in sports betting that you can sweat in a single game. Hence, the popularity of same game parlays.

Same game parlay strategy

Now that you know the downsides and upsides of betting same game parlays, what’s the best strategy if you decide you want to bet them?

Some of the principles that apply to strategic sports betting in general also apply to same game parlays.

For instance, be sure to line shop. Check what multiple sportsbooks spit out as the payout for a same game parlay you want to bet. You could find some big variation in not only the prices but the way their algorithms price the correlation.

Speaking of prices, it behooves you to use a sportsbook like FanDuel, which still posts the prices on the individual bets when browsing through same game parlay options. That way, you can at least reference back with a parlay calculator and see how much your bet “should” pay.

Then, compare the difference in the prices with your estimation on the level of correlation. Decide if the adjustment is in the ballpark of fair before you lock in your bet.

As for how to pick out your bets, look for spots where you disagree with the game total or spread.

If you love the over, try to think of how a game script where many points are scored affects different player props. Which players figure to put up big numbers in a shootout? Likewise on the under, but with everything reversed. Which players will excel and which will falter in a more grindy game?

Same idea on the game spread. Try to think of the tail ends of the range of outcomes. If you think a big underdog has a shot to win, maybe parlay some of their overs with the favorites’ unders. If you think a favorite will frequently win in blowout fashion, go the other way.

Most of all, keep these bets a very tiny percentage of your bankroll. They are best treated as what they are: lottery tickets. The sportsbooks promote them heavily for a reason. You are incredibly unlikely to see any return from these, so if you do want to bet them, bet small.