A parlay combines all your selections in all possible ways. Individual doubles, or trebles, or even quadrellas and quintellas (five) remain as single bets.  Every unit that makes up the parlay is its own bet. We call them “all up” bets, and I stress each one is an individual bet.

If we have three horses and we want to parlay them, we would have three doubles and the treble. Four bets. If we added one more horse, our cost blows out to 11 units (see below). If we add one more horse, making five in total, and we want to parlay every combination, we stretch our resources to 26 bets: 10 doubles, 10 trebles, five quadrellas and one quintella (five horses, all up).

NSW offers three and four horse parlays. They also offer all up betting where you have one unit on the whole lot to win. They all must win. So you have two options and two tickets, although it is more common these days to find one ticket covering both options – you simply mark the appropriate box for a parlay or an all up bet.

The beauty of this kind of bet is that it can turn a small amount into something quite significant when things are going your way.

For a four-horse parlay using one dollar units, you’d outlay \$11. You can go to 50 cents if you wish. You don’t need to outlay a lot. Four winners at \$5 each would produce nearly \$1,300 return. It is likely that all four of those winners would be second favourites, so it isn’t in the land of fantasy.

On the other hand, you would only have to be lucky once a year with three or four \$10 winners to pay for your annual holidays. That same \$1,300 would come from a three-horse parlay at those odds. If you were lucky enough to hit four \$10 winners in a parlay (it does happen) you would receive nearly \$15,000. You must never forget the catch; you can very quickly get caught up in the euphoria. Just like any other form of betting, it is highly advisable to bet entirely within your means. At \$10, a parlay of four horses costs \$110.

I took a few days during the week to travel down to Melbourne, before I wrote this article, because I wanted to see how their newish parlay system was operating. I’m glad I did, because otherwise I suspect a lot of people would be wondering what the heck I was talking about when I talk to you about parlays. The brochure that is provided by the Victorian TAB, which some people would argue is the best TAB set-up in Australia, has to be read to be believed.

The idea of a parlay is to use any money won on a bet as the stake for a further bet. For example, if you wish to parlay four horses, and you wish to combine them in all combinations (which is the essence of a parlay bet) you need to have 11 win bets: six doubles, four trebles and one four horse accumulator. Effectively, you are having 11 all-up wagers. Every combination that is possible to “all-up” is part of your parlay.  An all-up bet on four horses would cost you one unit; to parlay them would, as I have demon­strated above, cost you 11 units.

Well, after visiting several Melbourne TAB centres, I have to say that the people selling the Victorian version have little idea how it operates and/or do not wish to discuss it. I was ignored in a hotel and I was told in another that all I had to do was place a bet and it would become “bloody obvious” how it worked. One branch became helpful after I indicated that I was trying to get together an article for Australia’s biggest selling racing magazine. I accept that these people were being run off their feet.

However, facts are facts, and they remain facts. Nobody really knew why the ticket, which has been photocopied for their brochure, costs \$7. Nobody could tell me how the figure had been arrived at.

Formula 1 provides for individual win bets (which do not parlay – God knows why they play any part in a parlay bet). Formula 2, using three races as its example, “will parlay a win bet on all possible combinations of two races and will cost \$3 for a \$1 investment: first race win dividend parlayed onto second race selection, first race dividend parlayed onto third race selection, and second race win dividend parlayed onto third race selection.”

There is no treble bet in this group. It’s just three doubles.

If you are still with me, let’s move to Formula 3. You can select the Formula 3 bet for your treble, or, I assume, for an all up on four, five or (if I am able to understand the computer card) six races. You can make multiple selections in each leg. Now here’s where it gets even simpler.

If you choose Formula 1 and Formula 2, using three horses, you will have six bets. If you add Formula 3, you will add another bet (the treble). And that is where we get the \$7! Call me slow, call me difficult, but at the same time ask yourself why on earth the brochure has to be so difficult to interpret. I suspect they are trying to do too much on the one ticket.

A single, simple genuine parlay ticket does not seem to me to be a possible option. I put the case of five-horse parlays to one agent and she simply stared at me in disbelief. I’m quite sure she thought I was off my trolley when I pointed out that a true parlay, linking all combinations to maximum effect, would cost 26 units. For the time being, I’d say that the old TAB Ltd has it over SuperTab.

By The Optimist

PRACTICAL PUNTING - OCTOBER 2004