Learn to Bet on Sports: What is a Parlay?

If you’re a beginning sports bettor, you may tire quickly of the standard straight wager. Yes, you can find some great action on plenty of games that offer drama. At the end of the day though, you hunger for more.

You get tired of hitting singles, making the layup, and getting three yards and a cloud of dust on first down. It’s time for homers, long 3-pointers, and deep touchdowns passes.

That’s where the parlay bet comes in.

Parlay Definition

A parlay is a single wager that links two or more individual bets.

All of the bets must win in order for the parlay to win.

The odds are greater and the payouts higher on parlay bets. The more games added to a parlay; the bigger the payout.

For example, let’s say the Steelers are a +4 underdog to the Ravens and Dallas is a -6 favorite against their favorite rival, the Redskins. If you bet $10 on each game individually and both teams covered, you would end up with about $19.

If you bet the Steelers and Dallas to cover as a parlay, and they both did, you would end up with roughly 2.6 times your bet, or $26. The typical odds on a two-game parlay are 2.6 and increase as you add games. If any leg of the parlay ends with a push, that bet is subtracted from the parlay.

Making the Parlay Bet

Making parlay bets is not all that difficult. At your favorite online sportsbook, you simply choose “Parlay” and begin adding the games that you would like to include in your wager. It is important to understand that you can choose from different bets to include in your parlay.

You can include the easiest type of wager – the moneyline – in your parlay. In moneyline betting, of course, you are betting on a team to win regardless of the point spread.

You can also choose point spread bets to include in your parlay. Point spread betting is extremely popular with both gamblers and sportsbooks. Point spreads attract gamblers, which helps sportsbooks and bookies make money.

For fans of bets on totals, or the Over/Under, they can be included in a parlay as well. A bettor could essentially bet the moneyline on one game, bet the point spread on a second game, and bet on the total in a third game and include all three wagers in one single parlay bet.

 


Sports Betting 101: What is a Parlay Bet


 

Understanding Parlay Payouts

You can calculate your potential winnings on a parlay bet rather easily. Let’s say you choose a three-game parlay and that each wager has the standard -110 juice.

First, convert -110 to decimal odds. The result is 1.91. With three bets all at 1.91, we multiply 1.91 x 1.91 x 1.91 and get 6.97. Converting this decimal back to American odds, we get +597 which means your payout on this parlay is going to be roughly 6-to-1.

Some parlays will have fixed odds. Payouts on these bets are even easier to calculate.

Should You Bet Parlays?

It’s a question that only the individual bettor can answer. The benefit of parlay betting is the payout. Betting on a game individually at -110 will earn you less than double your money. On the same three-game parlay from above, you would win close to $600 on a $100 bet at near 6-1 odds.

Where there is great risk for reward, there is also great risk for failure. Sportsbooks love parlay bets because mathematically the odds are in their favor. The odds of a bettor hitting the first game in a parlay are roughly 50/50. With each additional game, those odds decrease.

Even so, sometimes as a bettor you need to swing for the fence. Responsible parlay betting can offer some much needed entertainment and an even better potential payout to pad your betting account.