What is a Parlay Bet?: Parlay Betting Odds and Payouts

Posted by Joe Ellison .

You have to risk it to get the biscuit. That famous mantra captures what it means to place a sports parlay bet. Both novice and experienced bettors are drawn to parlay betting for one reason: larger payouts. Granted, with larger stakes come greater risks. This guide explains everything you need to know about parlay betting, how they work, what the outcomes may be and pros and cons of parlay wagers.

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What is a Parlay Bet?

Simply put, a parlay is a sports wager that links two-or-more individual bets together to build one ticket with a potential higher payout. In order for a parlay to cash, ALL event outcomes must be picked correctly.

Parlays can be a combination of moneyline betting, spread betting, over-under point totals and more. They can cross sports and even occur on different dates in the future.

The allure of parlay bets are without question the higher payouts on the back-end should all legs hit, but also know that the probability of that shrinks with every parlay leg you add.

NFL Parlay Bet Example

Here’s an easy-to-follow example of a potential NFL parlay:

Leg 1: Browns (-115) moneyline win over the Steelers

Leg 2: Seahawks -2.5 point spread win over the 49ers

Leg 3: OVER 49.5 in the Chiefs-Raiders game

Now, in order for this parlay to hit, the Browns must beat the Steelers, Seattle must beat the 49ers by 3-or-more points and the Chiefs and Raiders must combine to score 50-or-more points. If any of those three things do NOT happen, the parlays loses.

NBA Parlay Bet Example

Just like in the NFL, NBA parlays are very popular among both novice and veteran bettors.

Here’s an easy-to-digest NBA parlay example:

Leg 1: Cavs (-175) over the Pistons

Leg 2: Warriors (-9.5) over the Lakers

Leg 3: OVER 212 points in the Hornets-Heat game

In order for this parlay to win, the Cavs must beat the Pistons outright, the Warriors must beat the Lakers by 10-or-more points and the Hornets and Heat must combine to score 213-or-more points.

What if the Hornets and Heat final is 109-103? On the outside chance that happens, the third leg of your parlay would push as the 109 + 103 point total equals exactly 212 points. So, bookmakers would slice that leg of your parlay off the ticket, lower the odds (payout) and you would just need to have the Cavs win and Warriors to cover by 10-or-more.

Parlay Bet Outcomes

Win

Win

In order for a parlay to win, a bettor must accurately pick the outcome of ALL events listed on the ticket. If they have wagered on five events, all five picks must be correct for the wager to cash. This includes moneylines, point spreads and over-under totals.

Loss

Loss

A parlay loses when one leg of the wager is incorrect. So, if you accurately predicted a Alabama-Georgia point spread bet, a Seahawks-49ers moneyline, but bet the OVER in the Browns-Steelers and the UNDER hit, your entire parlay ticket loses.

Push / Tie

Push / Tie

The best online sportsbooks offer a parlay incentive where in the off-chance one leg of the wager pushes, also known as ties, only that event is removed from the bet slip and the rest of the action lives on. So, if you accurately picked two events on a three-team parlay and the third event pushed, you would get paid out on a two-event parlay.

Parlay Odds and Payouts

Parlay betting is a high-risk, high-reward sports wager. The more bets involved in the parlay, the smaller the chances are that the gambler will win. Using a standard -110 vig for both point spreads and totals bets, here is a look at the odds of winning a parlay bet, as well as parlay payouts if you win.

Parlay Bet SizeOddsPayouts
2-Team Parlay27.47%$264.46
3-Team Parlay14.37%$595.79
4-Team Parlay7.52%$1,228.33
5-Team Parlay3.94%$2,435.90
6-Team Parlay2.06%$4,741.27
7-Team Parlay1.08%$9,142.43
8-Team Parlay0.56%$17,544.64
9-Team Parlay0.30%$33,585.23
10-Team Parlay0.15%$64,208.16

Pros and Cons of Parlay Betting

As is the case with most sports betting options, there are pros and cons to parlay wagers.

Be sure to review each before building your first parlay and do your homework on each event to avoid any assumptions heading into a matchup.

Pros

  • Higher payouts
  • Can back favorites and underdogs
  • Can mix bets from different leagues
  • Don't lose if one leg pushes

Cons

  • Higher risk
  • Some sportsbook place bet limits
  • One outcome loss and the entire ticket loses

Special Types of Parlay Betting

Bettors can correlate point spread bets with with Over/Under bets in a number of ways. Factors in certain games correlate and bettors can use those factors to create EV+. If a site allows same-game parlays or SGPs, you can use this to correlate point spreads with Over/Under bets. Sportsbooks used to disallow this but SGPs are more common now.

  • Correlated Parlay Bets: If the underdog team has a strong defense but a weak offense, then betting on the underdog plus the under would be a correlated parlay bet. If the underdog wins, then it’s likely to win because the game was a defensive struggle.
  • Same-Game Parlays (SGPs): Bets on the same game, where one win increases the odds of the other bet winning. Betting on the 1st Half winner and the full-game winner is an SGP. Check payouts because bookmakers fudge on these sometimes due to the correlation.
  • Round Robin Parlays: Making multiple parlay bets at once. These are broken up into multiple parlays of 2’s and 3’s. Instead of having a five-team parlay where all 5 teams must win, you would win certain bets if only 2 or 3 teams win.
  • Teaser Bets: Parlays where the player buys points on the point spread. Read our article on teaser betting for more information.

Difference Between Parlay & Teaser Bet

Sports bettors learning on-the-fly may occasionally confuse parlay betting with teasers. This is not uncommon because both require multiple wagers, also referred to as legs, on the same ticket. However, a three-team parlay is made up of three specific bets, typically against the spread, moneyline or point totals, or a combination of the three. A teaser bet is a parlay where the bettor “buys points” and moves the line and, in turn, hopes to improve their odds.

For example, a parlay bet may look like this:

  • Browns -3.5 over Steelers
  • 49ers ML over Rams
  • Buccaneers-Saints OVER 51.5 points

In order for the bettor to win that bet, all three picks must be correct. The Browns must cover by 4-or-more points, the 49ers must beat the Rams and Tampa Bay and New Orleans must combine to score 52-or-more points.

When betting a 6-point teaser, the wager slip will look like this:

  • Original Line: Buccaneers -6.5 over Jaguars
  • Teaser Line: Buccaneers -0.5 over Jaguars (bettor buys 6 points to lower spread)
  • combined with
  • Original Line: Chiefs-Raiders OVER 52.5 O/U Point Total
  • Teaser Line: Chiefs-Raiders OVER 46.5 Point Total

So, in order to win this two-team teaser, the Buccaneers have to win by 1-or-more points (instead of 7-or-more) and the Chiefs-Raiders must combined to score 47-or-more points (instead of 53-or-more).

Parlay Betting FAQs

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Joe Ellison

Joseph is a dedicated journalist and horse racing fanatic who has been writing about sports and casinos for over a decade. He has worked with some of the UK's top bookmakers and provides Premier League soccer tips on a regular basis. You'll likely find him watching horse racing or rugby when he isn't writing about sport.

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