Parlays cards are big business at legal sportsbooks in Nevada, as well as for illegal bookies throughout the country, especially during football season. Parlay cards typically come out on Tuesday, showing the most current odds at the time of printing. Even if the odds change on a game later in the week, a bettor still gets the odds printed on the card Tuesday; as a result, parlay cards have lower payouts than a parlay placed using current point spreads. While a three-team parlay placed at a sportsbook usually pays 6-to-1, a bookie’s parlay card outside of Nevada is more likely to pay 5-to-1.
Many parlay cards count ties as losses, particularly those used by illegal bookies. As a result, the odds on these parlay cards are frequently be rounded up to coincide with popular margins of victory. A 9-point favorite in a football game will become a 10-point favorite on the parlay card, as a game is more likely to be decided by 10 points than 9 and one or two ties in the big games can give the bookies an excellent weekend because every bet on those games is a losing one.
Parlays cards typically pay out as follows:
3 teams 5-to-1
4 teams 10-to-1
5 teams 20-to-1
6 teams 40-to-1
7 teams 75-to-1
8 teams 100-to-1
9 teams 150-to-1
10 teams 200-to-1
9 of 10 teams 20-to-1
Parlay cards payout at 5-to-1 compared to the 6-to-1 payout if you bet a three-team parlay through your sportsbook. But the true odds of hitting a three-team parlay are 7-to-1, which is calculated by multiplying .5 by .5 by .5, which equals .125. When you divide 1 by .125 you get 8, which becomes 7-to-1. If you have five teams, you multiply .5 by .5 by .5 by .5 by .5, which equals .03125 and 1 divided by .03125 becomes 32, meaning the true odds of hitting a five-team parlay are 31-to-1. This yields a hefty 34.38% house advantage. The house advantage on a straight bet is 4.5% so you can see why many people say parlays are terrible bets.
One other thing to look for with parlay cards is how the payouts are listed. One four-team parlay states the payout is 10-to-1, while another lists it as 10-for-1. While that may look the same, there’s actually a 10% difference. A 10-to-1 payout means that you get $10 plus your $1 back if you win. A parlay card that lists “10-for-1” means that your $1 turns into $10 and you don’t get your original $1 back. While it may not sound like much, a $10 parlay will return $110 on a 10-to-1 payout or $100 on a 10-for-1, which makes a big difference over time.