The ‘all-or-nothing’ nature of accumulator betting, or parlay betting, as it’s known in the United States, makes it an inherently risky proposition. Nevertheless, the prospect of a huge payout for a small stake provides tasty bait for those punters who consider the risk worth taking. Once such punter was 26-year-old Las Vegas resident Tayla Polia who, in December, 2015, staked $5 on a 15-fold accumulator involving National Football League (NFL) matches and landed odds of over 20,000/1.
A lifelong sports fan, but having just her second sports bet ever, Polia had previously discussed point spreads with her boyfriend without, it seems, fully understanding the concept. In fact, she simply based her picks on whom she thought would win each game, regardless of the points spread. Reflecting on her windfall, Polia said, ‘I remembered that I picked the [New York] Giants and they lost.’ What she failed to realise, though, was that she backed the Giants as five-point underdogs, so their 38-35 defeat by Carolina Panthers was a winner as far as her accumulator was concerned.
All told, Polia backed four more underdogs, namely Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans, Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions, and not only correctly forecast that Pittsburgh Steelers, six-point favourites to beat Denver Broncos, would cover the spread, but also that both teams would score over 45 points. She had only been in Las Vegas for two months, having moved from Boston to escape the East Coast winter but, $100,000 better off, as the result of a naive, but nonetheless lucky, punt, she said she hoped to move on to a beach house in California in due course.