There no doubt multi bets are good fun and something to brag to your mates about after you’ve snagged a big one (expect to be next shout though!). From a profitable punting perspective, however, they are a bad bet for multiple reasons.
In this article, I’ll explain the main culprit – market percentage compounding – and how you should play your multis to avoid the rip off.
Market percentage compounding is the increase in market percentage you pay with each leg you play on a multi.
It occurs because with each leg you play, you receive a progressively worse return than you should compared to if you were placing your bets in a fair market (100% market).
This is best explained with an example. Let’s say you placed an ordinary $100 bet @ $2 and the market percentage was 105% (i.e. this is a similar market percentage you would find on any head-to-head or win-draw-win match, e.g. AFL, NRL, NBA, NFL, soccer).
Crunching the numbers
The fair price in a 100% market in the above example is:
Fair Price = Market Price x Market %
= $2 x 1.05
If your bet won, you would return $200. In a fair market, you should return $210. Another way to calculate market percentage is to take the return you should get (fair return) and compare it to the return you actually get (market return):
Market % = Fair Return / Market Return
= $210 / $200
Every time you place the individual bet above, your market percentage will be 105%.
Now let’s take a four-leg multi in the same situation.
This table demonstrates what happens to the market percentage on each leg of the multi. It’s important now to explain that multis are just an “all-up” bet – your return on Leg one is your outlay on Leg two and so on until your final leg.
The table is split in two halves: Market Outlay (the outlay we actually get) and Fair Outlay (the outlay we should get in a 100% market):
You can start to see why the bookies love multis, and the more legs the merrier!
The trick with multis is to compare the Market Outlay to the Fair Outlay on each leg. It starts out fair enough, but then each time you add a leg, the outlay becomes less and less compared to what it should be – this is what creates the poor market percentage and makes multis a rip off.
So, you have four teams you like this weekend. How should you bet them? Well, if you were happy to bet $100 on your multi to begin with, I recommend backing them each individually for $100 instead.
In other words, break up your multi and play them as individual legs. It sounds like four times the risk but as I’ll explain in my next article in this series, it’s definitely the smarter way to play your bets.