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Every bettor, especially sports bettors have their good days and bad days. The key to betting is always to minimize losses on your worst days while getting maximum returns on your best days.
How many times have you predicted the outcome of multiple games and gotten them all correct? If you bet on all of the games individually, called “straight wagers”, your winnings would be decent. However, if you bet all the games together as part of one bet, called a “parlay bet”, your returns could be astronomical.
Let’s break down the specifics of a parlay bet and how one would make such a bet at a sportsbook.
What is a Parlay Bet?
A parlay bet is a bet that involves two or more games. The games or events can come from different sports. However, to win a parlay bet one must be correct on every bet of the parlay. If one game or “leg” of the parlay is wrong, the entire bet loses. Since these types of bets are harder to predict, the payouts are much higher.
What is the Math Behind a Parlay Bet?
One can get a very good sense of the amazing returns on a parlay bet using a parlay calculator (courtesy of vegasinsider.com). Here are some examples with how a parlay would work with betting on spreads versus moneylines.
4-team parlay with spreads
|Leg 1: Notre Dame Fighting Irish -6.5|
|Leg 2: Alabama Crimson Tide -24.5|
|Leg 3: New York Giants +7.5|
|Leg 4: Kansas City Chiefs -8|
This is an example which shows how one can construct a parlay by combining games from college football and the NFL. Again, for this parlay to cash, all four teams must cover their respective spreads.
Since this parlay deals with spreads, look at the Fixed Odds Parlay Table on the parlay calculator. There you will find that this parlay would payout at roughly 10/1 odds.
Why is this advantageous? Let’s say that you bet $100 on this parlay. If the parlay cashes, you would profit roughly $1000. However, what if you went 4-0 betting on each of these games individually? Sportsbooks usually take out a 10% vig when betting. Thus, every correct $100 bet on each individual game would net roughly $90. Therefore, going 4-0 by making individual wagers or “straight wagers” would only net a bettor $360.
5-team parlay with moneylines
|Leg 1: Duke Blue Devils -1000|
|Leg 2: Gonzaga Bulldogs -2500|
|Leg 3: Michigan Wolverines -350|
|Leg 4: Los Angeles Lakers -600|
|Leg 5: Milwaukee Bucks -420|
This type of parlay is one of the most commonly bet parlays. Bettors are drawn to this type of parlay since all five teams are big favorites to win their games. Because this parlay involves moneylines, these five teams would simply have to win in order for the parlay to cash.
To find out what this parlay would payout, go to the True Odds Parlay Calculator. After entering all moneylines, it is revealed that a $100 parlay would pay out $112.46. That is not bad considering how big of favorites some of these teams are.
Now let’s look at if a bettor wagered $100 on each favorite individually. Their payouts would be $10, $4, $28.57, $16.66 and $23.80 respectively for a total of $83.03. Thus, bettors may prefer a return of almost $30 more despite the risk of needing to hit every leg of the parlay to win.
How Do I Make a Parlay Bet?
When making a sports bet on a mobile device, you would click on the bet you want to make. Once you clicked on the bet, a screen pops up that asks you how much you want to wager. For parlays bets, ignore this screen that pops up since you need to wager on multiple games. Simply keep clicking all bets you want to have as part of your parlay.
Once you have all the bets you need, go to your betslip. Many sportsbooks will still show your betslip in two parts: what your bet would look like as a parlay and all your bets listed as straight wagers. Check the odds you are getting under the parlay section. If it is agreeable to you, place your wager there.
Parlay bets are a little less confusing to make in-person at a sportsbook. When you approach the cashier, the first thing you should tell them is you “wish to make a parlay bet.” By doing this, they will already begin the process of organizing your bet as a parlay. Simply list all the bets you’d like to make for your parlay and how much you wish to wager. The cashier will show you all of your bets and what the potential payout is for you to review. Make sure all the bets are accurate before completing the transaction by handing the cashier your money.