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 are two or more bets grouped together, all of which must win in order for you to cash your parlay. In a parlay, going 4-1 is no different than going 0-5, as all of your selections must win or your bet is considered a loss. You may use sides or totals in your parlay.
The two distinct types of parlays are point spread parlays and money line parlays. In this article, we’ll look primarily at point spread parlays and will look at money line parlays in our next article. The difference in the payouts a bettor receives can differ greatly depending on the type of wagers used in the parlay. A point spread parlay involves fixed payouts, while the payouts for money line parlays are determined by the odds of each selection in the parlay.
While parlay payouts will differ slightly from sportsbook to sportsbook, especially when you get to parlays involving at least five teams, the consensus payouts are as follow:
|# Of Parlay Teams||Parlay Payout|
|2 Team Parlay||2.6 to 1|
|3 Team Parlay||6 to 1|
|4 Team Parlay||10 to 1|
|5 Team Parlay||20 to 1|
|6 Team Parlay||40 to 1|
|7 Team Parlay||75 to 1|
|8 Team Parlay||100 to 1|
|9 Team Parlay||150 to 1|
|10 Team Parlay||200 to 1|
|9 of 10 Teams Parlay||20 to 1|
What this means is that a bettor making a wager on a five-team parlay stands to win $20 for every $1 wagered if all the games win. That’s the primary reason parlays are popular with a number of sports bettors—a big payout for putting together a string of wins.
Some parlay sportsbooks consider ties as losses, especially if you’re playing the parlay cards that are so popular during football season, so be sure to check the rules before you place your wager. At the majority of sportsbooks, however, a tie simply reduces the number of teams in your parlay. For example, if you bet a four-team parlay and one game ties, the remaining three games are now considered a three-team parlay and if the three remaining games all win, you’re paid off at 6-1, the odds of a three-team parlay. Point spread parlays can be made on sides, meaning one of the two teams, or on the total. Monday Night Football parlays involving the side and the total are often popular wagers, as a number of bettors are making one final attempt to get even for the week.
Point spread parlays are typically thought of as poor bets because the house advantage is greater than it is for straight bets and the house advantage increases as the number of teams in your parlay also increase. We’ll look at this more below.
Parlay cards payout at 5-to-1 compared to the 6-to-1 payout if you bet a three-team parlay through your online 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.
Moneyline parlays don’t pay off at fixed odds, because the odds of winning may vary greatly from team to team. While a parlay made against the pointspread assumes a 50-50 chance for each team to win, moneyline parlays don’t. The chances of a -160 favorite winning a game are greater than 50% and as a result, these bets are figured differently. A two-team parlay on a pair of -200 moneyline favorites pays less than a two-team parlay that uses a pair of -130 moneyline favorites.
In simple terms, moneyline parlays take the amount of your bet and place all the money on one team; if that team wins, your bet amount is recalculated to place the new entire wager on second team. If you bet more than two teams in your parlay, the process keeps repeating until you lose one game or win all the games in your parlay.
For example using your favorite parlay betting site, you like the Los Angeles Angels +160 and the Chicago White Sox -130 in a two-team parlay. If you make a $10 wager, you’ll have a $10 bet on the Angels +160, which would return $26 should the Angels win. Then you’ll have a $26 bet on the White Sox -130 . Should the White Sox also win, you’ve turned a $10 wager into $46. Contrast the $36 profit with the $26 profit a bettor winning a $10 point spread parlay on two teams would make. The difference in the payoff is because the Angels were an underdog and not given very good odds of winning.
Calculating moneyline parlay payouts is a fairly easy task, but does require a little basic math.
The first thing you need to do is convert the odds of each selection in your parlay into a decimal number. If you’re taking a favorite in your parlay, simply divide 1 by the odds. If you are using a -170 favorite in your parlay, you will have 1/1.70, which then becomes .5882. Because you receive the amount of your wager back on a winning bet, the number used for calculation purposes will be 1.5882.
Therefore, a bettor taking two -170 favorites will calculate the payoff by multiplying 1.5882 by 1.5882, which equals 2.522, so a $10 parlay will return a total of $25.22. Out of that $25.22, $10 is simply the return of your wager, meaning your winnings on the bet total $15.22.
When you have underdogs in your parlay, it’s much easier to calculate, as you simply add 1 to the payout. A +150 underdog is calculated as 2.50, where 1.5/1 = 1.5 and the addition of 1 gives you 2.50. 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, of which $29.71 is profit.
Three-team and upwards parlays are calculated exactly the same, but now you multiply by the number of teams used in your parlay. Make a parlay of three -170 favorites, you’ll multiply 1.5882 by 1.5882 by 1.5882, which equals 4.06, meaning a $10 bet would return $40.06 for a profit of $30.06.
Find out more parlay betting options with a Progressive Parlay