Parlay bets are wagers that combine two or more different bets into one overall bet. The maximum number of bets you can parlay varies by sportsbook, but the limit is generally pretty high. You can have a two-team parlay or a 10 team parlay, on most sites you can parlay the spread of every NFL game in a given week. In order to win a parlay bet of any size, you must win every bet within the parlay. So, if you bet the moneyline of 10 different teams and only nine of them win, that is a losing bet, and you would lose all of the money you wagered.
For example, you might want to bet on the Indiana Pacers to beat the Chicago Bulls in a game where the Pacers are -140 favorites, and also to bet on the Phoenix Suns to beat the Sacramento Kings as -130 favorites. Separately, a $100 bet would net you around $73 and $71.50 respectively, but if you parlay them into one bet, a $100 would net you roughly $203. Of course, both teams need to win now for you to win any money at all, but it’s a much better bang for your buck if you’re confident in both teams.
This explainer will also cover the different types of parlay bets, how payouts work for parlay bets, the types of bets that can be included in parlays, the pros and cons of parlay betting, and the best parlay betting strategies.
There are three unique types of parlay bets that are worth explaining:
Round robin bets
Teaser bets are a form of parlay bets where you can adjust the point spread in your favor. Teasers are most commonly used in NFL betting though they are allowed in other sports. So, if you wanted to bet on teams favored by a large spread, you can tease the spread down to a more manageable number, or even turn a favorite into an underdog.
By far, the most common form of NFL teaser bet is the six-point teaser, though 6.5 and 7 point teasers are also frequently used. In basketball teasers, the numbers usually range from 4 to 6 points.
So, suppose one NFL Sunday you want to bet on three games:
Buffalo Bills (-7.5) over the New York Jets
New Orleans Saints (-7) over the Carolina Panthers
Tennessee Titans (-9.5) over the Jacksonville Jaguars
Teasing those three bets by six points would change the odds to:
Buffalo Bills (-1.5) over the New York Jets
New Orleans Saints (-1) over the Carolina Panthers
Tennessee Titans (-3.5) over the Jacksonville Jaguars
Of course, your potential winning on a three team teaser would be much lower than parlaying those games together with their original lines.
The most common odds for a three team teaser is +180, meaning a $100 bet would yield $180 if all three of your picks were winners.
If one of your bets in a teaser is a push, then that bet is essentially cancelled out and the remaining winning bets are the ones that count. So, if you win two of your three bets and the other is a push, you will be paid out as if you won a two-team teaser.
If a teaser bet involves you getting better odds, a pleaser bet is the exact opposite. In pleaser bets, you are getting worse odds on the teams you bet on. In teaser bets, you are traditionally getting an extra six points for each spread, while in pleaser bets you are giving away six more points per game. It’s worth noting that because pleasers are both more complicated and harder to win than teasers, they are far less common and not all online sites offer pleasers.
So if you bet on a three-team pleaser with these original odds:
New England Patriots (-1) over the Miami Dolphins
Kansas City Chiefs (-7.5) over the Las Vegas Raiders
Dallas Cowboys (-4.5) over the New York Giants
The pleaser changes those odds to:
New England Patriots (-7) over the Miami Dolphins
Kansas City Chiefs (-13.5) over the Las Vegas Raiders
Dallas Cowboys (-10.5) over the New York Giants
While teasers pay less money than traditional parlays, a pleaser bet will pay out far more than a teaser or a standard parlay, because the odds are so much higher. A two-team pleaser will traditionally pay out in the +650 or +700 range, while a three-team pleaser generally pays out at +1800. So, a $100 bet on a three-team pleaser would pay out $1,900 if all three teams covered their modified spreads.
Round Robin Bets
The round robin bet is not as common as the teaser, but it does present an interesting way to mitigate losses with parlays.
A round robin bet is a series of wagers where you divide bets into three smaller parlays (or more depending on how many bets are in your parlay). Suppose, you wanted to place a three team parlay as follows:
Cleveland Browns (-3, -110) over the Cincinnati Bengals
Indianapolis Colts (-1.5 -110) over the Houston Texans
Minnesota Vikings (-7, -110) over the Chicago Bears
The way a round robin works is that you separate the bets into three different bets. So for the above example, the round robin would look like this:
Bet 1: Browns and Colts
Bet 2: Browns and Vikings
Bet 3: Colts and Vikings
The reason to do a round robin bet is that if one of the three teams you were going to parlay loses, that is a losing bet in a traditional parlay. However, with a round robin, going 2-1 would mean you still win one of the three bets. If all three of your picks win, then you win all three bets. The odds for all three bets would be +260, assuming you were betting on -110 moneylines.
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Placing parlay bets is often slightly more complicated than placing a traditional bet, but most of the popular sportsbooks today make it as straight forward as possible. Generally, if you click on a bet you want to make, it will appear in your bet slip on the righthand side. In most cases, once you click on a second bet, the options on your bet slip will expand to parlay, teaser, round robin, or whatever that sportsbook offers automatically. From there you can just continue filling your bet slip as a parlay.
Sportsbooks are usually not going to allow you to parlay the spread and the moneyline of the same game, but if you opt into a “same game parlay” (which almost every site offers these days) you can parlay the spread or the moneyline with any amount of player or game props that are available. For example, in a same game parlay for a Chiefs game, you can parlay the Chiefs moneyline with Patrick Mahomes’ passing yards prop and Travis Kelce’s receiving yards prop all into a single bet.
While a parlay bet just means merging two or more bets together, most sites do not restrict the number of games you can parlay, allowing you to do twenty team parlays if you choose, but there are sites that cap parlays at ten or fifteen games, and many sites also cap the total amount of money you can bet on a specific parlay.
How to read and understand parlay odds
Before placing a parlay bet, it is crucial that you understand how parlay betting odds work. For example, you place a two-team parlay on college basketball games where each team has -110 odds against the spread.
Below is a chart explaining the odds for parlay bets. This chart assumes you are placing bets that are all -110 favorites. Parlaying bets with different odds would change the calculations, of course.
For this parlay you might bet on the Villanova Wildcats (-8.5, -110) to beat the Georgetown Hoyas and the Virginia Cavaliers (-11.5, -110) to beat the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. That is a standard two-team parlay bet, so your odds are 2.6-1 or +260. To use a round number, a $100 bet would pay out $360, so you would win $260 in profit.
If you wanted to add a third team to the parlay, your odds would go up dramatically. Suppose you add a bet on the Kentucky Wildcats (-8.5, -110) to beat the LSU Tigers as your third team in the parlay. Now your odds are +600. If all three teams that you bet on cover, you would win a $700 payout, so $600 in profit.
A four-team parlay, assuming every team had matching -110 odds, would be +1100. After that your odds would essentially double with each team you added to the parlay. A ten team parlay would have +7200 odds, so for every dollar you bet, you could win seventy-two dollars in profit.
What Types of Bets Can Be Included in a Parlay?
Every betting site has different rules on what types of bets can and cannot be included in parlays. Some sites flag certain games as unavailable to include in parlays, while many other sites might allow a same game parlay option.
Most sites do not allow you to do correlated parlays. To explain a correlated parlay, let’s use a randomly selected Houston Rockets versus Toronto Raptors game as an example. The over/under for that game is 221.5. If you wanted to say parlay the over with one of the team overs, say, the over on 114.5 points for Toronto, that would be a correlated parlay. Those bets are too interconnected and most sites would not allow that parlay.
Some sites also only allow two-way parlays, so you could do a two-team baseball moneyline parlay, but you will not be allowed to add a third team to the parlay. (To learn more check out our moneyline betting guide ).
One of the reasons why parlays are considered one of the most fun forms of betting is that you can bet on three different games in three different sports. You can bet the spread in a college basketball game, a college football game, and an NFL game and parlay them together. (To learn more check out our betting against the spread guide )
Many sites do allow you to parlay different types of bets, though it is restricted on certain sites. So, on many sites you could parlay the total number of runs in a baseball game, with the over/unders of a pair of NBA games. (To learn more check out our guide to betting over/unders )
If you can hit on one parlay, it will probably cover many that you lost
The excitement of following and watching each of your bets play out
It’s easy to get carried away and basically reduce your chances of winning to just above 0%
Can drain you bankroll in a hurry
Pros and cons explained
Parlay sports betting is very popular, but is it very profitable? More than almost any other form of sports betting, parlay betting is a high-risk, high-reward venture. Suppose you looked through a day’s slate of college basketball games and found five games that you wanted to bet on.
If you were betting on the moneyline of five different games, you would only need to win three out of five games to come out ahead. Of course, to win a five-way parlay, you would need to win all five games, the odds of which are substantially higher.
To break the math down, let’s say you bet $20 on all five games separately. Your max winnings would be $191 on $100 wagered, so a profit of $91.
If you took that $100 and bet it on a five way parlay of those college basketball games, your potential winnings would be about $2,540. The odds of winning such a parlay are +2450. So, bundling all five games together in a parlay means your potential winnings are about thirteen times what they are if you just place five separate $20 wagers.
Seeing those numbers, it’s easy to understand the excitement of placing parlay bets, but it is really hard to go 5-0 in bets against the spread. Oddsmakers aren’t setting those odds as a favor to you; they know parlays, particularly large parlays like five-teamers, are extremely hard to win. Some people speculate that sports books show 30% winnings on parlays, far higher than their margins for standard moneyline or over/under bets. Know going in, that while you can occasionally win a massive parlay, no one gets rich on sports parlay betting, except the sportsbooks, of course.
What Are the Best Parlay Betting Strategies?
While we have already established that, in most instances, sportsbooks want you to bet parlays because they account for a disproportionate amount of their winnings, there are instances where you can outsmart the bookmakers with a parlay bet.
The most notable parlay betting strategy that can yield legitimate results is the correlated parlay. A correlated parlay, as explained above, allows you to parlay several connected wagers into one parlay bet. So, you might bet the over of a Purdue-Penn State basketball game, and also bet the individual team totals for both teams. The parlay betting odds for that game would yield a much higher profit than placing all three bets separately.
If your thinking is that the game is certain to go over, you can make much more money by parlaying all three bets together. However if that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Most sites do not allow any correlated parlays for that very reason. They are not in the business of giving money away. There are still sites that will allow correlated bets, although they often come with lower bet limits, mitigating the total amount of money you can win.
Another way to make some money with parlays is by combining player props. If a site allows you to combine individual props, you can take advantage of that. For example, parlaying Joe Burrow’s passing yards prop with Jamarr Chase’s receiving yards prop, but that too might not be allowed on every site.
Time to Place Your Bets
You don’t need to be a math whiz to place a parlay bet, but you should know how to use a betting odds calculator. Before you place a parlay bet, you should weigh the odds of placing the amount of bets you plan on making separately versus what you could profit by combining your bets into a parlay.
It helps if you know how to calculate true odds, though there are betting calculators that can do the work for you nowadays. Suppose a team that you want to bet on has +150 odds and you want to place a $30 bet. You can calculate true odds by multiplying the amount of your bet (30) by 150, which equals 4,500 and then dividing that number by 100, which equals 45. So, your $30 bet on +150 odds would earn you $45 in profit if it ends up being a winning bet.
In general, you can and should use a betting calculator when dealing with parlay betting odds. Every time you add a bet onto a parlay, the potential value of a bet does not go up by 50%, it goes up by a much larger percentage than that, eventually doubling with each bet.
The most important thing to know about parlay bets is that no one gets rich just by betting parlay bets. Betting parlays is one of the most fun ways to bet, but you must do so sparingly, and responsibly.
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