Football Alternate Bet Strategies

When betting on football, your options are pretty wide. You have the ability to bet on who is going to win, how they’re going to win, how much they’re going to win by, the performance of different players, and so much more. While you may be aware of the most popular football bets like moneylines and spread bets, there are some alternate bets that you may not be as familiar with.

While no bet in football is necessary to make, these alternate bets do provide an added layer of flexibility with your picks. Specifically, we’re talking about parlays, teasers, and pleasers. These are bets that allow you to compile different games onto the same bet and even shift the spreads in or away from your favor if you’re feeling really confident.

Besting these less well-known bets can certainly be done with the right information. Below, our experts have compiled their list of tips and tricks they feel you need to beat these alternate football bets. Check back often, as we regularly update this guide with new content to help you get ahead on the books.

Always Make Sure You Understand What You’re Betting

One of the biggest mistakes you can make sports betting on any sport is placing a wager that you don’t fully understand. This tip is true with any bet but becomes much more important when we get into the complexities of parlays, teasers, and pleasers. You could have all of the right predictions but end up losing your bets and losing money because you don’t make the correct bet.

Protect yourself from this headache by taking the time to learn everything you can about each bet. This does not just mean strategy. You should know what options you have with each bet, what it takes to win the bet, how the bet pays out, and what happens in any “strange” coincidence. As an example, one of the biggest pieces of misunderstanding that we will address more in this guide is how pushes (ties) are dealt with.

We call these bets complex, but they really are not that hard to understand. Our complex classification comes in relation to some of the other more straightforward betting options that you have in football. If you’re not able to tell us everything about these bets, take a moment now and check out our explanations of every type of football bet.

Fixed Odds vs. True Odds Payouts

When you group football bets together (parlays, teasers, and pleasers), you create an opportunity to get a larger payout from a smaller bet. It’s important to realize, though, that the sportsbook is not doing you any special favors here. It’s not like they’re paying you any better odds for grouping your bets together. In fact, often they are paying you worse odds than you would get if you bet each bet individually.

This is known as the difference between fixed odds and true odds. When you go to a sportsbook or sportsbook betting site, they often will have a chart that shows their parlay payouts based on how many teams you have. These payouts will be based on every bet you take being a (-110) type selection.

Here’s where the problem usually comes in. Most sportsbooks utilize the fixed odds payouts on parlays. These odds are not quite what you should be receiving on the bet. The sportsbook is shaving a tiny percentage off the top in order to make a little extra profit.

Let’s look at a four-team parlay to show you what we mean. You’re betting at a sportsbook that offers 10 to 1 on a four-team parlay. This means that if you win your parlay, you will get $10 for every $1 you bet. Each of your bet selections is (-110) if you were to bet it on its own.

First, let’s figure out the percentage likelihood of you winning your bet by converting each bet individually to an implied probability and then combining them to see the percentage chance of hitting all three based on the payout odds of (-110).

When you convert (-110) to an implied probability, you get 52.4%. Each bet would break even if you were to win it 52.4% of the time. To find the combined percentage chance of something happening, you multiply the different percentages together. So, to find the likelihood of us winning all four games, we need to multiply all four percentages together.

  • 52.4% * 52.4% * 52.4% *52.4% = Implied probability of winning all four bets
  • 7.54% = Implied probability of winning all four bets

Spoiler, these are also known as the true odds for a parlay. These are the odds that you “should” be getting paid at if everything is fair.

Now, our parlay said we are getting paid out at 10 to 1. If we convert this to an American odds format, we see that we would be getting +1000 from the sportsbook for winning this four-team parlay.

Is this good? Well, let’s convert the odds percentage we calculated to American odds and see. We take our 7.54%, and we convert it to American odds, and we get +1226.

So, we “should” be getting paid at +1226, but with our parlay, we are only getting paid at +1000. This means on a $100 bet, we “should” be getting $1226 in profit, but in actuality, we are only getting $1000.

This is the issue with parlays and fixed odds versus true odds. If you’re getting paid at fixed odds (which is the case at a lot of sportsbooks), you’re getting cheated out of some value. In these situations, you’d be better off betting each bet individually. Because of the allure of making more from a small bet, though, the sportsbooks are still able to attract a ton of action for these combined bet wagers.

What can you do with this if you want to bet parlays? You have three options, two of which we will talk about now, and the third is our next alternate bet strategy tip.

First, you can just accept that the sportsbook is making a little extra off of you and place your parlay. We really wouldn’t advise this, but it’s up to you. If the allure of the big payday is worth giving up a little value, then, by all means, go for it.

The second option you have is to look for a sportsbook that offers true odds on these parlays (or at least very close to them). Books like this do exist. When you check out a new sportsbook in person or online, get a copy of their parlay payout chart. If it is not to your liking, you can always choose to bet somewhere else. We will say that brick-and-mortar sportsbooks are almost always going to offer you worse odds than online sportsbooks. We’ve yet to find true odds in person, but we see them online rather frequently.

Overcoming Fixed Odds at Any Sportsbook

As we just stated, there is a third option if you’re looking to bet parlays and don’t want to take the cruddy fixed odds. If you notice, the parlay payout charts at every sportsbook are only calculated for bets that are (-110). These charts can only be used if every single bet on your parlay is a (-110) wager.

Do sportsbooks prevent you from adding bets to parlays that are not (-110)? Nope. The secret to tricking the system and forcing true odds on your parlay is throwing in at least one bet that is not (-110). This will force the sportsbook to abandon their chart and give you the true odds. It’s a simple trick, but one that can earn you a lot of value on your bets.

Now, don’t throw a bet onto a parlay that you’re not confident in just to get the true odds.

The payout on a losing bet with true odds is still $0. But if you have a bet you like (favorite or underdog) that is not exactly (-110), then take advantage of putting it on your parlay and enjoy escaping the fixed odds trap.

The sportsbooks make plenty of money already; we don’t need to make their jobs any easier.

Check How Ties Are Treated

Whether you are betting football parlays, teasers, or pleasers, you need to be aware of how pushes (ties) are going to be treated. With parlays, it’s usually fairly standard across the board, but with teasers and pleasers, you’ll usually get a choice. Let’s talk about each of these scenarios and options.

With parlays, pushes are usually treated as “reduces.” This means that they are treated as if they weren’t on the card to begin with. If you had a four-team parlay and one of your games pushes, you effectively now have a three-team parlay. That game is taken off, and if you win the other three wagers, you’ll get paid out as if it’s a three-teamer.

While this is standard, you can never take anything as standard in sports betting. You need to take a minute and find out for sure how they are treated. This is true whether you are betting online or in a brick-and-mortar sportsbook. If you can’t find the answer, ask customer support or a book agent to get you the answer.

With teasers and pleasers, you’re going to get an option of how you want ties treated (usually). You’ll have the option of ties win, ties reduce, or ties lose. Each one is exactly as it sounds.

  • If you choose ties win, a push will count as a win. Your payout odds will be lower for this, though.
  • If you choose ties reduce, your odds will stay the same, and a push will be treated like it wasn’t on the card like they are with parlays.
  • If you choose ties lose, you’ll lose your bet if you tie. But as you might suspect, your payout odds will be better if you choose this option.

Some books will have all three options, some will only have two, and on rare occasions, you may be forced into one of the options. The choice is completely up to you. The takeaway tip here is just to make sure that you know how they are being treated and that you are comfortable with it.

Look for Reduced Juice Promotions

Who doesn’t love free value? One of the most popular football betting promotions we see online for parlays is reduced juice bets. Sometimes these are only offered on individual moneyline, spread, or totals bets, but sometimes you’ll see them offered for parlays. If you see them for parlays, obviously you will want to look into taking advantage of them.

What we want to talk about, though, is when you have a promotion for a (-105) bet that you can use anywhere in the book. When you get this sort of a promotion, you shouldn’t use it on an individual single game bet, but you should use it on a parlay. Doing so allows you to effectively use the promotion more than once because it will be applied through on your parlay.

You’ll be able to get more value out of the promotion this way. It’s not a lot of value, but if you know anything about betting sports, every little bit counts.


Remember, you are never required to bet any of these wagers if you don’t want to. We only say that to make sure you realize that you can make a consistent profit betting the “normal” football bets. But if you’re looking for something a little different, these alternate wagers might be just what you’re looking for. If you use the tips and tricks we provided for you here, you’ll be putting yourself in a great position to turn a profit this season.