What is a Parlay and How do They Work?

Parlays offer huge payouts from small wagers by betting on at least 2 moneylines, totals or point spreads. Putting it another way, it’s wagering on more than one game at a time creating a list of teams from different games who you think will win. In European wagering these types of bets are called accumulators, for the obvious reason as the odds accumulate as you add teams to the bet. One huge point of note here is that in order for your parlay to payout then all of your selections must be correct, meaning that if you have a 4 team parlay and 3 teams win and 1 team loses, your bet is a losing bet. Placing parlays can be profitable and exciting however predicting the outcome of many games is, as you can imagine, is a lot harder than predicting just the one.

Moneyline and Points Spread Parlays

The main types of parlays are on the points spread and the moneyline, however there is a difference in the 2 types of parlays. When placing a parlay on the points spread, let’s say a 3 team parlay, because the odds on each individual team to win are the same then the odds are standard, i.e a 3 team parlay pays out at 6 to 1, and a regular parlay odds offering would look something like this...

  • 2 teams 13-5
  • 3 teams 6-1
  • 4 teams 10-1
  • 5 teams 25-1
  • 6 teams 40-1
  • 7 teams 75-1
  • 8 teams 150-1
  • 9 teams 300-1
  • 10 teams 600-1

The above odds examples will not change much at all from sportsbook to sportsbook, and as mentioned, the odds for each team to win are the same when betting on points spreads.

Moneyline parlays are different due to the fact that moneyline odds are different in every game and are therefore a simple accumulation of the odds on each team. Let’s use a 2 team parlay, this time wagering on the moneyline as an example. Let’s say you place a $10, 2 team simple parlay and pick the Cowboys at +160 and the Dolphins at -130. The Cowboys win meaning that you now have $26 going onto the Dolphins at -130. Should the Dolphins win then you would win $46 in total. Remember that both teams need to win in order for the parlay to pay out.

Are Parlays a Good Bet?

While parlays offer a great deal of entertainment and chances of hitting big wins, they are in fact not the most sensible type of bets to be making. To start with parlays do not offer true odds, for example the true odds of a 3 team parlay are 7 to 1 however you will only get 6 to 1 in a sportsbook, and the more teams you have in a parlay the worse the odds become. The chances of you hitting a parlay are of course slim compared to straight bets. Should you wish to place parlays then keep the amount of teams to a minimum, no more than 4, and maybe don’t wager too much on them. Parlays do however offer the recreational bettor a lot of fun and for this reason they are a popular bet, especially on packed NFL Sundays when there’s a whole lot going on.