SGP vs. Parlay: Understanding the Differences

SGPs and parlays are both staples in the sports betting industry, but are they the same? You'd be surprised to learn that they're actually very different.
SGP vs Parlay in Sports Betting

Sports betting has evolved quite a bit over the years, introducing hundreds (if not thousands) of ways to increase engagement. Among the popular betting options are the Same Game Parlay (SGP) and the traditional parlay. Although both involve combining multiple bets for a more lucrative payout, they differ significantly in terms of structure, odds calculation, and flexibility.

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Same Game Parlay Explained

An SGP is a betting strategy where all the individual bets, also known as “legs,” are from a single game. This approach allows bettors to combine multiple bets within the same event with a chance for a bigger payout. For example, in a Braves and Diamondbacks game, you might choose to place an SGP that includes bets on the outcome of the game, the number of strikeouts by Chris Sale and the total hits by Austin Riley. All 3, of course, are from the same game. Hence the name.

One of the unique aspects of SGPs is the adjustment of odds due to the correlation between the different legs. Since all the bets are from the same game, the outcomes are often related. If we take a look at an NFL game, for instance, you can bet on a QB to have over 300 passing yards, but then it’s likely correlated with a bet on his team to win the game. Rarely will you find that a QB gets over 300 yards in a game and still walks away with an L. They’re firing on all cylinders and the wideouts must be doing something right as well. The interrelation of these events means the sportsbook will adjust the odds to reflect this correlation. 

Does the SGP make sense? It’s fairly straightforward.

Traditional Parlay Explained

A traditional parlay, on the other hand, involves combining bets from multiple games or events. There’s a chance you might be more familiar with this type of bet. It’s been around for a long time whereas the SGP is relatively new.

Bettors have the flexibility to choose legs from different sports or different games within the same sport. For instance, a traditional parlay could include a bet on the Mets to beat the Pirates, Arthur Fils to beat Alex De Minaur at Wimbledon and Argentina to beat Canada in Copa America — all at once.

In traditional parlays, the odds for each leg are calculated independently because the outcomes of these events are totally unrelated. This lack of correlation means that each bet in the parlay stands on its own. The overall odds are a product of the individual odds multiplied together. This independence often leads to higher potential payouts compared to SGPs with the same number of legs.

Key Differences Between SGP and Traditional Parlay

It’s easy to see the similarities between these two, but there are a few differences.

Source of Bets

The primary difference between SGPs and traditional parlays lies in where the bets come from.

SGPs are confined to a single game. This means all legs of the parlay are related to one event and one event only. In contrast, traditional parlays can pull bets from multiple games or events or even prop bets, providing more variety and flexibility.

Odds Calculation

This is probably the biggest difference between the two.

In SGPs, odds are adjusted to account for the correlation between the outcomes within the same game.

This adjustment often results in lower potential payouts compared to traditional parlays, where the odds are calculated independently. Sure, there might be the same number of legs, but the odds are a bit more complex.

The lack of correlation in traditional parlays means the potential payout can be much higher since the success of one bet does not directly influence the others.

Correlation of Outcomes

The correlation of outcomes is one of the defining characteristics of SGPs. Because all legs are from the same game, the success of one bet can influence the likelihood of another bet succeeding. 

For example, if you bet on the Rockies to beat the Reds and also on Ryan Feltner to throw over 5.5 Ks, these bets are likely correlated. 

In traditional parlays, however, the outcomes are independent. A win in one game or prop does not affect the outcome of another game included in the parlay. 

Potential Payouts

Due to the correlation of outcomes, SGPs typically offer lower payouts than traditional parlays with the same number of legs. This goes back to the odds. The sportsbook adjusts the odds to reflect the interconnected nature of the bets, which often means the risk (and thus the reward) is lower.

Traditional parlays tend to offer higher payouts because the combined probability of all bets winning is lower, making the potential reward greater.

Flexibility

SGPs are limited to selections within a single game. This can be seen as a restriction but also an advantage for sports bettors who prefer to focus on one event. This allows bettors to concentrate their research on a single game.

Traditional parlays offer greater flexibility, allowing bettors to combine bets across multiple games, sports, or events. This flexibility can be great for those looking to diversify their bets and potentially capitalize on their knowledge across different areas.

Which Do You Prefer? SGP or a Parlay?

Understanding the differences between SGPs and traditional parlays is a big deal. Sure, they seem similar, but the differences are massive. That’s not to say that one is better than the other. Instead, it really boils down to your risk tolerance and what types of bets you want to make.

SGPs focus on a single game and account for the correlation between events. The big downside is that this often leads to lower payouts. Traditional parlays offer higher potential payouts by combining bets from multiple games or events, with each leg being independent of the others.

By knowing these differences, you can make more informed decisions and better tailor your betting strategies to your goals.

Matt Brown


Head of Sports Betting and DFS

Matt’s love for sports betting and daily fantasy sports, coupled with a deep understanding of football, hockey, and baseball, shapes his innovative thoughts on Hello Rookie. He has a B.S. in Aeronautical Computer Science and a M.S. in Project Management.