Understanding Parlays – How A Parlay Bet Works

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 pointspread parlays and moneyline parlays.  In this article, we’ll look primarily at pointspread parlays and will look at moneyline 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 pointspread parlay involves fixed payouts, while the payouts for moneyline 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:

          2 teams 13-to-5

3 teams 6-to-1

4 teams 11-to-1

5 teams 22-to-1

6 teams 40-to-1

7 teams 80-to-1

8 teams 150-to-1

9 teams 300-to-1

10 teams 600-to-1


What this means is that a bettor making a wager on a five-team parlay stands to win $22 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 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 in our article on parlay cards.