In sports betting, a parlay bet is a bet made up of two or more individual wagers. Combining bets makes them harder to win but increases their payout.
Parlay Betting In The US
Parlays in sports betting are legendary. Many parlay bets have paid off handsomely against all odds. Both "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Uncut Gems" conclude with parlay wagers.
Parlay? How do you parlay? Parlays?
These and other parlay-related questions will be addressed.
BET IN PARLAY
Different parlay terms apply in different regions. They are also known as "accumulators" or "multis."
Whatever the name, the concept is straightforward. A parlay bet is a combination of multiple bets. Winnings from one wager are rolled over to the next. To win a parlay, each "leg" or bet must win.
Consider last year's Super Bowl between the Chiefs and the Buccaneers. The Chiefs finished with a -3 spread and a betting total of 54.5.
A $100 bet on the spread and total is taken. They could wager $50 on the Bucs +3 and another $50 on the under 54.5. Our hero wins $90.90 if both bets win at -110.
This gambler could also combine both bets into a $100 parlay. For the bet to be successful, both sides must win. If the Bucs win 31-9, the bettor wins $264.
Is there a distinction?
Read on before you put your money into parlays.
HOW ARE PARLAYS PAID?
When a sportsbook accepts a parlay bet, it creates a multi-level wager in which each winning bet increases the wager on the next leg.
The first bet in the preceding example is $100 on Bucs +3 or under 54.5. Both bets finish at the same time, so it makes no difference which one is "first." Because the Bucs +3 are covered, $100 becomes $190.91.
The stake for under 54.5 is $190.91, and -110 on that pays $173.55. $364.46 total.
Remember that the bettor started with $100, so the profit would be $264.46.
For -110 parlays, simple back-of-the-envelope math exists. Two-teamers pay out at 2.6-to-1. A 3-teamer pays 6-to-1, and the odds increase by -110 for every -110 bet placed.
Let's take a look at some hypothetical Week 1 NFL parlays. All lines are provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and are listed below. We'll look at a three-team and four-team parlay now that we've covered a two-team parlay.
PARLAY ON 3 LEGS
Begin with a three-team moneyline parlay of favorites. Moneyline parlays are popular among bettors who are confident in their favorite teams but do not want to lay long odds for a small payout.
Here are three NFL Week 1 favorites that make excellent parlays:
Lions vs. 49ers (-380)
Browns vs. Chiefs (-320)
Raiders vs. Ravens (-250)
The fictitious bettor wagers $100 on three teams. San Francisco and Detroit will be featured on Sunday afternoon. If San Francisco wins, the bettor has $126.32 plus the original stake to roll over to the next bet.
That is Kansas City's danger. If the Chiefs win, the bettor wins $39.48. They have $165.80 now.
Monday night. At -250, Baltimore receives $165.80. The net profit is $66.12, bringing the total to $232.12. After deducting the original bet, the bettor won $132.12.
The three-team parlay returned +132.
PARLAY OF 4 STEPS
Our protagonist decides to be more assertive. This three-team moneyline bet paid +132. Unexciting.
Consider a four-team parlay with spread picks and underdogs. Our hero believes Daniel Jones and Kyler Murray will have successful third seasons. They're short on rookie quarterbacks. So:
(+3) Texans (-105)
Panthers -5 (-105)
After three early games, the $100 bet becomes $914.83. On the moneyline, Giants +115 pays $1,966.80.
This payout is significantly greater than the 12-to-1 rule of thumb mentioned earlier. Small price changes (all less than -110) have an impact on the parlay payout.
RISKS OF PARLAY
According to most sources, parlays provide poor long-term expected value for sports betting. A parlay must include all or nearly all of the bets in order to have a positive expected value (+EV).
Because the bar is so high, most parlays make it easier for the sportsbook to win bettors' money. For proof, look at the revenue breakdown of any legal betting market. By far the majority of parlay money is kept by sportsbooks.
If that isn't enough to persuade you, consider comparing the expected value of a $100 parlay to two $50 spread bets at -110. Here's how it works out if you have a 50% chance of winning:
-$4.55 for straight
Using parlays should double or accelerate your payouts to sportsbooks.
BENEFITS OF PARLAYS
Despite what the sports betting industry claims, parlays are not evil. Parlays have their advantages.
People like small bets that pay off big. The same logic underpins the popularity of lotteries.
People are not afraid to place -EV bets. Betting isn't about long-term profits for them, which is fine. A six-team tournament with little chance of winning is entertaining. Allow them to parlay if they are responsible.
There are +EV parlays. Combining winning bets raises the potential payout. Correlation can assist even -EV bettors in winning parlay bets.
What if you won one bet and increased your chances of winning the other? You certainly can! These are known as "correlated parlays."
The most obvious example is betting on the total of the game. If the first-half total is higher, the overall total becomes a favorite.
Because parlays are so obvious, sportsbooks prohibit them. Or did. SGPs have grown in popularity in sports betting. Compare the payouts to the individual bets parlayed together before booking them. Sportsbooks manipulate payouts based on correlation, eliminating +EV.
Correlated parlays are permitted and pay. NFL Week 6 in 2021 is an example. The Kansas City Chiefs face the Washington Football Team there.
Kansas City's offense is explosive, while Washington's defense is formidable. Washington is unable to compete in a high-scoring shootout. Washington has a better chance of covering or winning in a low-scoring game.
If you accept this premise, Washington and the under are correlated bets. If you're correct, parlaying both has a +EV.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE GAME IS CANCELLED?
Newer bettors frequently have questions about grading multiple-leg parlays. A single loss ends a parlay, but bets can sometimes tie.
First and foremost, push. Consider Houston losing by three points while the other legs win. The push is removed, and the wager is converted into a three-team parlay.
Another pandemic-related concern is game cancellations or rescheduling. Typically, the bet is removed from the parlay and becomes smaller.
A moneyline tie is the same. The tie is out unless you're betting a three-way market (common in soccer).
Check your sportsbook's rules to see how they handle different types of bets.
Teasers and Round Robin parlays are popular.
Multiple parlays are involved in Round Robin bets. So simple! Round Robin bets make parlays easier to understand. "Round Robining" teams in sports betting is analogous to "boxing" horses for an exacta or trifecta bet.
For the Round Robin, the bettor selects 3-8 teams or totals. They will decide how many teams or totals will be combined for Round Robin. A bettor can choose up to eight teams and totals for a Round Robin and tie parlays to as many three-team combinations as they want.
The bettor's parlays are determined by the combination of teams. A bettor will have 28 parlays if they choose two teams to Round Robin eight teams. A bettor with three-team parlays will have 56 tickets.
The parlay amount is charged for the ticket. If the bettor only has $300, he or she can Round Robin by two, resulting in 28 $10 parlays. The payouts for winning parlays are the same as for single bets.
A teaser is a type of parlay in which the bettor selects multiple teams or totals. Moneylines are not permitted in teasers. In contrast to a parlay, the bettor can change each point spread or total. Because of the spread or total, these bets are easier to win and pay less than a traditional parlay.
Teaser bets have the potential to change spreads or totals by 6-10 points. Each leg must have the same number of points as the previous one. Those teaser legs could go in a variety of directions.
The Chiefs' -7 line can be lowered to -1. The Houston Texans have a chance to get +4 to +10 points.
The more teams in a teaser, similar to a parlay, the better the payout. Based on their odds and rules, different sportsbooks provide different payouts and teaser options.
In casinos, Parlay Cards are the most popular way to bet on parlays. Long, narrow cards with the side or point spread filled in by the bettors. After selecting the teams and totals, the bettor hands the card to the ticket writer along with their wager.
Football parlay cards are extremely popular. Teasers, ties win, and pleaser reverse teaser cards are all part of the Parlay Cards. Because parlay cards are becoming more popular, they have been added to mobile sports betting apps.