Parlay Betting Guide

Understand how parlay betting works, how to calculate odds and payouts, and the best parlay betting strategies and systems for profit.

If you are looking for the opportunity to receive a huge payout with minimal stake when betting on sports then Parlay bets are something that will definitely interest you. Winning a parlay bet will depend on multiple selections all being successful, therefore winning this type of bet is not as easy as winning a straightforward bet. This is why the payout for a parlay bet will be so much higher.

Got it? If you place three single bets backing three selections in different games, you are able to win one or two out of the three bets. However, with a parlay bet, these three selections must all be valid to have a winning parlay, or even a single wrong selection will make your parlay a losing one. In other words, you must get every selection right.

Parlay Betting Explained

A parlay bet is a type of wager that consists of two or more sporting selections (i.e., bets). In order to win this type of bet, all of the selections will need to be correct otherwise it would result in a losing bet. It stands to reason that this type of bet is harder to find success with but the payouts are significantly higher if you happen to win your bet.

The more legs you choose the higher the parlay payout will be. Naturally, this will result in the wager being particularly hard to win. The whole concept of parlay bets is exactly as it would be with all forms of accumulator bets. The more unlikely your selections are to be successful the more dramatic your payout potential will be. For this reason, it will be difficult to implement solid strategies when using parlay bets as a lot of factors will not be in your control, most notably luck.

As with any type of betting your results will be determined by good discipline and good selections as well as a healthy dose of luck. Because the odds are much higher with parlay bets it is far more likely that you can go long periods without having good results. However, one good month of results can completely make up for what has come before.

Parlay Odds

A parlay bet is a series of selections that are gathered together to create a single payout. Parlay odds and the payouts are quite convoluted which makes calculating them manually very difficult for the average person. Thankfully there is no need to do these complex calculations. Below is a table of what you would win on selective bets considering you wager $100.

Number Of SelectionsOddsAmount WonPayout
2-Team Parlay7/1$700$800
3-Team Parlay13/1$1300$1400
4-Team Parlay18/1$1800$1900
Examples of Parlay Betting Odds

True Odds for Parlays

Beware that sportsbooks will not pay out true odds of a parlay. It is a common practice that sportsbooks will manipulate all the odds in their favor. There is a difference between implied probability and true probability and this is essential to know if you desire to beat the bookmakers. For every selection the difference between this implied and true probably becomes more significant.

Parlay Payouts

Parlay payouts are commonly calculated online due to convenience. On the other hand, most sportsbooks offer payout charts, but the odds may not be true assuming they were not based on the American odds of -110.

Consider these following payouts for football matches for example, the odds are based on -110:

Number Of TeamsPayouts
Two Teams2.64/1
Three Teams6/1
Four Teams12.28/1
Five Teams24.35/1
Parlay Payout Table

As shown here, two-team parlays have the lowest payout due to the low risk while five-team parlays are the riskiest.

This is for when you select parlays that are already made to go for betters to use. Although this is certainly convenient we do not recommend as the odds you will be receiving are very unlikely to represent good value and this is what all good betting strategies revolve around. You can use our parlay calculator to see the potential payout of your wager.

Definition of Parlay Betting
Definition of Parlay Betting

How Does Parlay Betting Work?

Parlay bets are a series of multiple selections that are made on the same ticket. All bets are grouped together to make one wager. For a parlay bet to be successful, all individual selections will need to win otherwise the entire bet will fail regardless of the number of selections that are successful.

Although punters have the option to place the parlay bet after the selection, the payout is usually calculated in two separate ways. Either the odds will be fixed on a chart which is usually offered at -110 odds in which the selection payout will be at 13/5 odds, or alternatively, the odds will not be fixed and the bettor will need to calculate them first in which case the payouts may not be as calculated since sportsbooks are unlikely to make it the case where you are receiving true odds.

Parlay bets can be played in two ways, the Teaser, and the Pleaser. The former Teaser bet allows you to move the lines of each strong favorite selection. With the teaser bet, you will receive low odds as compared to a standard parlay which makes for easier wins.

On the other hand, the Pleaser bet is considered to be the opposite of the teaser due to the fact that you will move the lines of each favorite selection in the opposite direction which makes the selection quite difficult. Although the pleaser bet allows for larger payouts, it is less favorable when being compared to the teaser.

Low-Risk Parlays

On paper, placing multiple bets on a single wager and receiving huge payouts is by its very nature not low risk. Due to the fact that bookmakers will turn the parlay odds against the bettors, there is a huge risk of betting with odds that are far from the true value. Therefore, if a bettor has selected many teams, the chances are the sportsbook will manipulate the odds against their favor.

The bottom-line stands that whether parlays are best suited for low-risk or high-risk is dependent on the odds chart, and the blind luck of the punter. Most punters avoid parlays altogether while professionals carefully play along.

Correlated Parlays

A correlated parlay is a type of wager that allows you to place two bets that are chained together. In this type of bet, if one of the bets is a success, the chances of the second bet being a success will increase as well. Although as attractive as correlated parlay seems, most sportsbooks rarely offer this type of bet making it of course difficult to implement any type of strategy.

The main advantage of correlated parlays is profitability. The odds of winning huge payouts increase drastically when one side of the parlay bet is a success. However, the same principles remain as the success of your bet will be determined by the quality of your selections.

Progressive Parlay

A combined wager of multiple sports events is called a progressive parlay. This type of parlay bet consists of a joint wager on multiple events. Unlike the regular parlay, progressive parlays allow you to win the entire stake at a low payout even if a few of the individual bets fail. On the other hand, if all the bets are successful, you will receive a large payout due to the reasonable odds at stake.

Parlay Insurance

Due to the fact that parlay bets are some of the riskiest types of sports betting, it stands to reason that certain sportsbooks offer insurance to punters in order to entice them to place more parlays. The insurance policy offers to cover some of the losses with a refund or free bet. This will usually be part of a promotion that will be triggered when one of your selections lets you down this.

If a Bet Pushes

A bet push refers to the total amount of bets made, that hit the precise number of odds set by the bookmaker. This type of bet is removed from the parlay, and the bettor is refunded. However, they will need to win other bets on the parlay ticker to gain a full payout.

parlay betting explained
Parlay Betting Explained

How To Place a Parlay Bet

Placing a parlay bet is actually very simple. If you are familiar with betting on accumulators then the process doesn't differ so much. Before you place your bet you should consider the type of bet you are looking for. Do you want the bet to a big longshot with the chance of a huge payout or do you want a bet with much smaller odds which will result in a smaller payout but a much more likely one? When you have done this you can start looking for odds and selections that represent good value.

Select A Number Of Wagers

The number of teams or outcomes selected will have a huge impact on the odds of your bets. If you select teams with a high likelihood of winning their matches you might want to have a lot of selections to push up the odds. However, if the outcomes selected are between moderate and high odds then you might want to limit the number of selections due to the fact that winning this type of bet becomes less and less realistic.

Choose The Type(s) Of Wagers

The type of wager you will choose should depend a lot on your selections. If you like to select outcomes with high odds then outright winner is a reasonable market for you to bet in. This is because you can use your knowledge of the sport to pick outsiders that have a chance of winning their matches and hope that one of these bets will come off once in a while.

On the other hand, it is very popular for sports betters to implement a betting strategy on the more exotic markets such as the over/under market. This is because the odds here are more likely to be consistent and it is possible to find patterns. This is ideal for betting systems as we will have a better indication of how much value we are getting from a particular bet. Some bets revolve around their being just one goal in a match for example. This type of bet is extremely popular and many parlay bets are made up of a huge amount of selections as punters try to get lucky by choosing games they think are unlikely to finish goalless.

Pick The Right Events

Sometimes you might decide to add an overwhelming favorite to your bet slip just because you see this one selection as your banker. However, if the selections that surround it are long shots we suggest that this is not a profitable strategy because you will be risking your chances of profit the times your long shot selections are successful ones. Therefore it is always good to place bets with similar odds or at least have a system where patterns can emmerge.

As with any form of betting you will need to consider the stakes of the particular match you are betting on and whether the odds selected represent good value. For example one team might normally be considered a favourite to win a match but external factors will have an impact on the likelihood of the result.

The Best Sports For Parlay Betting

When using parlay bets we always suggest that you stick to betting on sports you have strong knowledge of. This is simply because your knowledge will be a big factor in you deciding if the bet you are betting on represents good value. Here below is a list of some of the sports you can place this type of bet on.

Parlays in NFL

nfl icon

Parlays in the NFL can be very fun and with many matches often occurring over a short period of time they are ideal for parlay bets. Knowledge of the game and the specific leagues are essential as well as knowing the multiple betting markets you can bet on. If you are confident your knowledge and use of statistical data will help you have an edge over the bookmaker then we wish you good luck. Popular legs to add from NFL matches are money lines and spreads.

Parlays in Football

football icon

Parlays in football are extremely popular. The premier league for example is one of the most famous sporting leagues in the world and many betters can feel confident with their selections for the upcoming weekend of football. Specific betting markets such as the over/under markets are very popular and can lead to many profitable betting strategies if implemented correctly. Predicting the outcomes of matches and specific markets is also a lot easier than it is for other sports as hardcore followers of football will be able to know what results constitute a massive surprise.

Parlays in Horse Racing

horse racing icon

Parlays in horse racing are very exciting but can also lead to a lot of frustration. Predicting the winners of a horse race isn't that easy because horses are a lot less predictable than humans are and things can happen which are out of people's control. This is why it is rare to see a horse race with an overwhelming favorite. Therefore we think that parlay bets are not best implemented when betting on horse racing.

Parlays in Esports

esports icon

Esports can be very hard to predict and we suggest that you only bet on this market if you have a firm understanding of how this gaming works. Predicting who will win the matchups can be difficult as it will be dependent on certain formats and on many games, the winners of the events are not as consistent as they would be in a sport like Tennis for example where the same men and women compete for the same titles almost every tournament. If you have a strong knowledge of this world then this would represent a great opportunity to bet as this market is yet to reach the same heights as other mainstream sports.

Pros & Cons of Parlay Betting

Even though using parlay bets can bring lots of advantages they of course have some drawbacks. Some of which we have already covered.

Advantages of placing parlay bets:

  • Offers the possibility of winning lots of money from minimal stakes.
  • You don't have to be too consistent to make money.
  • Choosing multiple selections means you are more reliant on luck.

Disadvantages of placing parlay bets:

  • Your return of successful bets will not be that high.
  • A high potential to go on a very long run without winning any bets.
  • Very difficult to implement solid betting strategies using this type of wager.

Singles vs Parlays

Singles are the simplest type of wagers and they differ hugely from parlay bets. This is because your success will be dependent on only one selection winning. With this type of wager you are more likely to return consistent profit if you implement a successful strategy.

With parlay bets, your returns will be dependent on all selections winning. If they do the returns have the potential to be huge but if they do not you will have lost your entire stake which of course is the biggest drawback of using parlay bets. To summarise using single bets is a far more conservative approach and a much better type of wager to build a successful strategy around. Parlay bets even when implementing some good basis of strategy will require a huge amount of luck and you will have to experience high levels of volatility if it is a type of wager you want to persist with.

parlay betting slip
Example of a parlay betting slip, compared to the equivalent single straight bets.

Profitability of Parlay Betting

The profitability of Parlay betting will be dependent on a few factors. Arguably the most important one is the odds you select. If the odds are high then this can contribute to you receiving a huge payout. The great thing about this type of wager is that adding just one selection to your bet slip can have a tremendous impact on the potential payout.

Bookmakers do not represent the true odds of something happening which makes choosing wise selections extremely difficult but we always believe there is good value out there if you are prepared to put in a good amount of research.

Betting Parlays: FAQ

Answers to the most common questions about parlay bets.

What exactly is a parlay?

A parlay bet is a wager that consists of two or more sporting selections. In order to win this type of bet all of the selections will need to be correct otherwise it would result in a losing bet. It stands to reason that this type of bet is harder to find success with but the payouts are significantly higher if you happen to win your bet.

How to calculate parlay odds?

The best way to calculate parlay odds will be by betting online. This way you will simply be given the amount you would win if your bet is successful. With this information, you can then decide if the bet represents good value or not.

What is a progressive parlay?

A combined wager of multiple sports events is called a progressive parlay. This type of parlay bet consists of a joint wager on multiple events. Unlike the regular parlay, progressive allows you to win the entire stake at a low payout even if a few of the individual bets fall. On the other hand, if all the bets are successful, you will receive a large payout due to the reasonable odds at stake.

Is parlay betting worth it?

When betting with parlay bets you will need to accept that you will not be having winning bets as often as you would with a more conservative type of wager. Parlay bets are harder to hit and it is possible to only hit one of these bets and be in profit for the whole year but the longer the odds are the less skill that is involved.

What happens if you push on a parlay?

A push refers to the total amount of bets made, that hit the precise number of odds set by the bookmaker. This type of bet is removed from the parlay, and the bettor is refunded. However, they will need to win other bets on the parlay ticker to gain a full payout.

What does a 3-team parlay pay?

A 3 team parlay is a type of wager that consists of 3 selections. In order to win this type of wager all selections will need to be successful.

What does a 5-team parlay pay?

A 5 team parlay is a type of wager that consists of 5 selections. In order to win this type of wager, all selections will need to be successful.

Is betting parlays for suckers?

Well, this term is very specific and is probably only fair to use in certain circumstances. We would argue that if you know exactly what you are betting on and don't live under illusions that you are a guaranteed millionaire in the making then this type of wager is not for suckers at all.

Pros & Cons of Placing Parlay Bets
Pros & Cons of Placing Parlay Bets

If you want the chance of winning big when betting then parlay bets will be ideal for you. The chances of implementing a successful strategy for these types of bets is unlikely due to the high-risk nature of this type of wager, however, if you want to have fun and choose bets that will make you scream with joy if you win then hopefully this guide will help you achieve exactly that.