What is a Single Bet?

What is a single bet? | The most reliable way to start amassing winnings

Gambling on the outcomes of sports events and other competitive contests has been in vogue for decades, if not centuries. With most big sports events being broadcast live all over the world, sports-based gambling is no longer just a local affair, and events like the Super Bowl and the FIFA world cup final see bets come in from all over the world, sometimes even from countries where the events themselves aren’t very popular.

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Given the amount of people rushing to bookmakers to place their bets, it’s no surprise that there is a great variety of bets to choose from, regardless of the sport you’re considering betting on. Even relatively simple, low-scoring games like soccer feature many options for bettors to browse through, such as first blood and double chance.

Some bets offer incredibly high return – a man named Nick Morrice won a whopping £10,000 in 2019 off a £10 bet he had placed 21 years ago, in 1998. After seeing a then eight-year old Judd Trump play a frame against his son, Morrice placed a fantasy bet with English bookmaker Coral on Trump capturing the world title before the age of 30. Trump brought the bet to fruition at the age of 29, the latest he could’ve for Morrice to win his 1000 – 1 bet.

Betting on an eight-year old to become world champion is hardly a reliable bet though, and while this bet makes for a good story, it hardly showcases the best in betting strategy. But with tens of potential bets to choose from, how do you deduce which bet offers the best balance at return and chance of return?

Well, in the case of sports betting, you wouldn’t have to look very hard to find out. A single bet is easily the best bet out there for those who are looking to have a high chance at winning, and a decently high rate of reward. But what is a single bet, and why should you know about them?

What is a single bet?

A single bet is the simplest bet available to bettors on any given sportsbook, for any given sport. It’s just a bet on a single fixture having a particular outcome. A single bet can be any kind of bet – a moneyline bet, a point-spread bet, or totals; what matters is that it’s only one bet. This contrasts with multiple bets like parlays and teasers, which involve combining bets into one slip.

Most professional bettors will wait till there’s only a few hours, or even minutes, before game time. This is so that they have all the information available to them before they place their bets, such as a particular player sitting out a game due to an injury. As circumstances like these can turn the tide in a fixture, it’s a good idea to follow the pros on this one, so don’t be impatient when you see some particularly enticing odds; wait to place your bets.

Multiple bets vs. Single bets | Which are better?

Another thing new sports bettors can learn from the pros is not to get enticed by multiple bets, and instead restrict yourself to a single bet on each slip. Why should you do this? Let’s explain by way of an example.

So on a particular day, you see 5 different fixtures and decide that you want to bet on all of them. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say each bet offers +150 odds (or 2.5 in decimal odds, and 3/2 in fractions). Since you’re placing multiple bets, the bookie offers you a five-game parlay at +750 odds (8.5 in decimal, 15/2 in fractions), which is five times the reward as your regular bet. Seeing the prospect of substantially greater return, you start to lean towards accepting the parlay.

Wait! Before you combine your slips, let’s do the math and see if the additional reward is proportional to the increase in risk. Again, for simplicity’s sake, let’s assume all the teams are evenly matched. So in the case of five single bets, your risk is 50 – 50 on five mutually independent events. That means you have a one in two chance of winning each bet, which is fairly straightforward. Given the +150 odds, you’re looking at an expected return (not to be confused with expected value, or EV) of $125 on five 20 dollar bets, or a 25 percent profit (150/2 + 100/2). That’s a modest return, at best. Now let’s look at the parlay.

The parlay has higher return, but your events are no longer independent – so each bet has to be correct to ensure any winnings. In this case, your risk will compound. Given the same odds and the same five 20-dollar bets, your expected return would be just $26 (750/ (2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2) + 100/ (2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2)), which is a -74% return. Yikes!

So what happened there? Because your risk compounds in the case of multiple bets and not single bets, you actually end up substantially more likely to lose in the case of a parlay. So with a 50 percent chance to be right about each game, your risk ends up cascading, and your chance of winning actually falls to 50% x 50% x 50% x 50% x 50% = 3.125%. So for the prospect of five times the winnings, you’re taking on a whopping 16 times the risk.

This is why parlays are such a great deal for bookmakers, and such a bad deal for bettors, especially as you add more games. Someone winning a 10 game parlay will likely end up making headlines with their winnings, which will encourage more people to try their luck. Most of these people won’t even realize that such a parlay has only a 1/1024 chance of working out, which is less than 0.1 percent, assuming 50-50 odds for each game.

This is why the pros stick to single bets, and we’d recommend that you do the same. It might take you a few games before you get to sizable winnings, but you’ll have more of a chance to stay in the black than you would with multiples. Good luck placing your bets!