Parlay Betting – How To Bet Parlays

Parlays bets are quite common and a favorite offering of legal sportsbooks throughout the country. Parlays are especially common during football season, but are in play year round and for all sports. Parlay bets are combining two or more wagers into a single bet for improved odds in return. For the bettor to win the parlay, all the included bets, or legs, of the parlay must win for the bet to be graded a winner. If any single leg of the parlay loses, the bet is considered a loser. Parlays give sports bettors the opportunity for a much larger pay day with mitigated risk in comparison to betting each leg individually.

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Parlays are two or more bets grouped together to combine for one wager All of which must win in order for you to cash your parlay. For a hypothetical five leg parlay example, going 4-1 is no different than going 0-5, both would be considered a loss. Going 5-0 would be considered a winner, and pay in the +2000 neighborhood if all bets were sides or totals. You can include sides, totals, game props, payer props or essentially any other offering in your parlay.

When betting parlays, point spread parlays have a fairly set pay scale when it comes to return on the number of legs used. This is due to the nature of the -110 fixed odds that are generally used for sides and totals on football and basketball wagers. Payouts can begin to change drastically when using money line options in parlays. Adding legs that have larger plus or minus odds figures will clearly have a significant impact on the payout of a given parlay. Parlay payouts will differ slightly from sportsbook to sportsbook, with the variance increasing with each added leg.

As mentioned however, if only playing sides, totals and other -110 offerings, the consensus payouts are as follows:

# Of Parlay TeamsParlay Payout
2 Team Parlay+260
3 Team Parlay+600
4 Team Parlay+1000
5 Team Parlay+2000
6 Team Parlay+4000
7 Team Parlay+7500
8 Team Parlay+10000
9 Team Parlay+15000
10 Team Parlay+20000
** Online Sportsbook average payouts, some parlay betting sites offer higher returns

The plus figure odds returns should be read as the return on a $100 wager. For instance, the +2000 return on a winning five team parlay would return $2000 on a $100 wager. The payout proportion remains the same regardless of the amount wagered, a bettor making a wager on a five-team parlay stands to win $20 for every $1 wagered if all legs included win. The massive odds boost is the primary reason parlays are popular with a number of sports bettors.

Ties, or pushes, are generally handled as such at parlay sportsbooks. At the majority of sportsbooks a tie simply reduces the number of teams in your parlay. Using the example on the pay table above, if you bet a four-team parlay and one of the included bets is a push, the remaining three games are now considered a three-team parlay. If those three remaining games all win, you will be paid in the neighborhood of +600, the odds of a three-team parlay.

While many bettors love the appeal of point spread parlays, others view them as poor value bets due to the the house advantage increasing over what it is for straight bets. There is also the return on money line parlays to consider, which bettors may view quite differently. Adding just one large plus figure in a parlay can significantly alter the rate of return. The same bettors that may turn their nose up at points spread based parlays, may be far more eager to play a money line parlay.

Money line parlays do not pay off at the same nearly fixed odds rate as point spread parlays. While a parlay made against the point spread assumes a roughly 50/50 chance for each team to win, money line parlays do not. The chances of a -260 favorite winning a game are significantly greater than the assumed 50% against the point spread. The same holds true for a +200 underdog. As a result, the payouts for these bets are calculated differently. Naturally, a two-team parlay on a pair of -200 money line favorites pays less than a two-team parlay that uses a pair of -110 points spread options. On the other side, a pair of +130 underdog options would pay more.

Sportsbooks will do the parlay payout calculation for you. However, if you want to peruse one of the countless parlay calculators available on the internet, you can get a good idea of what a payout might look like before creating your bet sheet.

In the examples above, a pair of -200 favorites would pay out just roughly +125. On the other side, a pair of small underdogs at +130 would pay out in the neighborhood of +430. The odds of each leg in the parlay matter significantly when calculating payout.

Using an MLB example, as it is an odds based betting sport, you want to parlay the Los Angeles Angels at +160 and the Chicago White Sox at -130 in a two-team parlay. If you make a $10 wager, you will have an expected return of around +275 on a winning bet. The increase in the payout is due to the Angels winning as underdogs, despite having a -160 leg in the parlay.

Calculating money line parlay payouts is a fairly easy task, but does require some basic math. Essentially, each leg of the parlay is converted to a decimal figure and multiplied by the decimal figure of each leg to calculate the potential payout.

The first thing you need to do is convert the odds of each selection in your parlay into a decimal. When considering a favorite in your parlay, simply divide 1 by the set odds. If you are using a -170 favorite in your parlay, the conversion is 1/1.70, which is .5882. Because the amount of the wager is returned on a winning bet, the calculated figure must be added to 1. This means the figure used for payout calculation purposes would be 1.5882.

Using this betting line as an example, a bettor taking two -170 favorites will calculate the payoff by multiplying 1.5882 by 1.5882, which equals 2.522. In turn, a $10 parlay will return a total of $25.22, or have odds of +152.

When adding underdogs in a parlay, it is equally easy to calculate. You will simply add 1 to the payout, the same as you with a favorite. The difference is that an underdog will already have a decimal figure higher than 1 due to the figure being divided by 1 being greater than 1. For example, a +150 underdog is calculated as 2.50. Dividing 1.5/1 = 1.5 and the addition of 1 gives 2.50. Using another hypothetical example, if you make a $10 parlay on a -170 favorite and a +150 underdog, your payout is calculated by multiplying 1.5882 by 2.50, which equals 3.970, so you’d receive $39.71, or +297 odds.

Three or more team parlays are calculated exactly the same, simply multiplying each decimal figure by the next for each included leg. For another example, if you were to make a parlay of three -170 favorites, you would multiply 1.5882 x 1.5882 x 1.5882, which equals 4.06. This means a $10 wager would return $40.06, or +300 odds.

If you want to dig deeper into parlay betting options, check out how to play a Progressive Parlay