Football Parlays & Odds Explained

A parlay is a single sports bet involving at least two bet types winning. That could be two teams, two player props, one of each, etc. The allure of these bets has always been a larger payout than choosing a single team to win.

Essentially, football parlays are wagers that combine multiple sections of a football game into a single bet. This is also where knowing how to read odds comes in handy.

Parlays consist of making selections if the selection is correct, the wager wins. In case any of your picks are not correct, then your wager ends up being a loser.

Keep in mind that these wagers are much harder to win than single bets, but their potential returns are higher. Therefore, when a parlay prediction becomes a winner, the payout is larger than what you’d get for a regular wager.

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Types of Parlays

Just like any other types of wagers like when you bet on football, football parlays come in different attractive forms; with some have juicier rewards than others. The most common and perhaps the most rewarding types of football parlays are the Round Robin parlays and Teasers.

football parlays

Round Robin

A Round Robin wager involves staking several parlay bets at a go, and it’s as simple as it sounds. These Round Robin wagers are fundamentally the method used by players to stake several parlays. Thus, if you place sports wagers, it’s practically identical to “boxing” thoroughbred horses for exactas or trifectas.

Now, pick anywhere from 3-8 teams or totals to be in the Round Robin. Then, pick how many teams or totals you want to combine for the Round Robin. For instance, you could pick 8 teams and totals, then combine the parlays to as many 3-team combos as possible. 

The team combination is what is going to determine the number of different parlays you are supposed to have. So, back to the example, if you want to Round Robin 8 teams, they’ll have twenty-eight different parlays if you instead picked 2 teams. On the flip side, if you decide to place wagers of parlays with 3 teams, you’ll end up having fifty-six different tickets. Are you getting the gist of it all?

However, you must also bear in mind that the ticket will cost the amount of cash chosen for each parlay. For instance, if you only have $300, you could choose to Round Robin the teams by two, so they have 28 different parlays for $10 each. The earns for each winner parlay wager is similar if you had placed these wagers individually. 


A teaser is similar to traditional football parlays where you are allowed to pick several teams or totals. Even so, there are no money lines allowed with a teaser. Unlike standard football parlays, you are allowed to move each point spread or total with a couple of extra points or with a deduction of a few points.

As a result, these wagers are easier to win even though they pay less than a traditional parlay. As long as you make the right predictions, you have plenty of room to rake in some substantial goodies with this type of wager.

Placing A Football Parlay Bet

There are two ways to place football parlay bets, and both are quite simple. As a bettor, one way of doing this is by directly instructing the ticket writer on the teams and totals you’d like to wager on. That also includes how much you’d like to wager on. Bear in mind that you can also fill out a parlay card either online or on a designated Kiosk.

Once you or the ticket writer has filled the card, you are supposed to visit the sportsbook desk to place the bet. In the case of an online platform, the process is as simple as clicking a button.

When to bet football parlays

As attractive as they sound, the number one thing you need to know about parlays is that they are not wagers that should be placed consistently basis. Use them sparingly and only under the right circumstances. Just because parlays have the potential of winning big, it doesn’t mean that you should go around placing bets every week. 

Know how to identify good parlays and uncover how to read football odds.

While the large payout potentials may be appealing, avoid chasing those payouts just for the sake of it. Not only is this approach bad, but it will also almost certainly cost you money in the long haul. If you ask any expert gambler who understands football parlays, they’ll agree that playing the long game is the smartest way of betting on football. Only place wagers that set you up for the highest chances of winning.

So, should I use football parlays?

Well, for a fact, there isn’t really any single correct answer for this question. This is because, while it is easy to say that you should use parlays under the right circumstances; in reality, you don’t really know what these circumstances exactly look like. However, there is one general rule that you should try to stick to. This rule of thumb is, ‘only place a parlay when it offers better value than backing each selection.’

Essentially, this is the key to betting football parlays effectively. For all punters who bet on football or any other sport for that matter, the aim isn’t just to win as many betters as you can. Instead, the objective is often to find the bets that bring you the most positive expected value. Therefore, the only way to make consistent and regular profits is to identify value in the betting markets.

And of course, you would want to maximize that value as best as you can. In that sense, parlays can be a great way to do this only under the right circumstances.

Identifying the value of football parlays

Still, on the question of betting football parlays and the right timing, you have to do your quick math before making your move quickly. For instance, if you want to multiply the value of parlays exponentially, you have to identify value in more than one selection. You would also want to combine those selections into a single wager. 

Keep in mind that you would not always win because there’s often the risk of one or more selection letting you down. However, when you do win, your overall returns are boosted remarkably. Also, picks that offer value as standalone wagers do not automatically offer better value when you combine them into multiple wagers. The thing with parlay betting is that it is just not as straightforward as many players assume.

Remember, you’re not looking to place a parlay every time you like the look of more than one selection. Even if you think three teams are going to cover your bet-slip, you don’t automatically put them all in a parlay. You have to choose your spots very carefully. If you are not sure whether the best option is to place a parlay or single wagers, then try and stick to the single wagers.

Moneyline Parlay Betting Odds

When you decide to moneyline odds for parlay betting, the bets will be relative to the odds of each of your selections within that parlay. In this case, your odds will go up if you pick several underdogs, but your odds will be lower if you decide to select the big favorites.

This makes moneyline parlays a great option for an annual trip to Vegas, where the idea is to go big or go home. However, parlay betting for people who take their sports seriously may not be a reasonable betting strategy since they are too high risk. 

Winning with Football Parlays

There are two instances when football parlays can be winning bets. The first case is obvious; when neither of the sides, moneylines or totals picked is a loser. The other case where a parlay wager can still be considered a winner is in case of a tie or a game is canceled.  

Parlay Odds

Like any other types of wagers, not all parlay payouts are the same. Sports betting sites could have varying odds for the selection of events that are picked in a parlay. This ends up being quite confusing when looking at games that have varying odds and payouts for the same parlay.

Moreover, the said odds could be changing at any time, and so, you must confirm before placing your parlay wager. As we’ve already indicated, sometimes you are better off placing single wagers rather than parlays because of the odds.

Parlay Payouts

Payouts for a parlay are fixed by the time the bet is placed. While the odds and lines for a given game could change, the parlay odds and lines will not be altered by the house after you place the wager. Whether the lines change for or against the bettor, the initial wager won’t change.

In case the lines change in your favor as you bet, you can place another parlay wager with the fresh line. The initial wager won’t change but thankfully, you will have two live parlay wagers at hand.

Calculating Parlay Payouts

There are two different ways in which parlay payouts can be calculated, either using true odds or fixed odds. For fixed odds, all the selections in a parlay have to be at 1-110 odds. Therefore, they are commonly used for parlays that involve total selections and point spread. The number of selections in the wager is directly related to payouts. The odds will generally vary at different betting sites.

The method for true odds is a little different. Here, the parlay odds for each selection are multiplied together to give the parlay’s total odds. Therefore, the payout is the same as if you were to bet on each selection continuously and individually, then roll the initial stake and the winnings onto the next selection. All things considered, true odds for parlays offer more value than fixed odds parlays.

Check out this betting calculator to see what payouts you can expect from a wager.

Benefits of Parlay Betting

Despite having high risks, football parlays come with a selection of attractive benefits that you won’t find in other types of wagers. These benefits include: 

  • This type of wager allows players to make small bets with the possibility of large wins
  • It allows bettors with a limited bankroll to bet on several games at a go. 
  • A parlay bet is an excellent way to get action on each game, especially if multiple matches are going on at the same time. 

So, if you don’t have enough cash to place straight wagers on each game, you have a better chance if you chose this type of betting.

Cautions on Placing Football Parlays

To make the most out of your wagers, you have to pay attention to a couple of things; otherwise, the football parlays won’t be worth your while. Here are a few precautions you must keep in mind if you are to do things the right way. 

Avoid Parlays with Fixed Odds

By now, you should already have understood how true odds and fixed odds parlays are different. With that in mind, then it’s smarter to stay clear of fixed odds parlays because the potential returns are much lower than their single bet counterparts.

You should know, most betting sites often automatically use true odds rather than fixed-odds to calculate the potential earnings of this type of wager. This will always be the case if any of your picks have any other odds except -110. So, a good trick here is always to try to include such a selection. Doing so basically forces a betting site into paying out at the better odds. 

Keep your stakes small

Never risk a huge chunk of your betting cash on any specific bet. This rule is especially true for parlays. It’s easy to line up tons of parlays on your betting slip without winning even one. Going too big on this type of wager without due diligence is a surefire way of going broke even before you start enjoying your betting.

Keep the number of selections down

This one of the simplest tips for football parlays, and perhaps even fairly obvious. However, it is still worth our mention because many punters ignore it because of the thrill of massive wins. The more selections you include in a parlay, the harder it is to get right. The payouts go up of course, but you’re far more likely to turn a profit on parlays in the long run. You are better off lining up smaller selections that are more likely to be winners than going after that one big payout that’s clearly a long shot. 

Check the maximum payout for the bookmakers because this could also be a factor irrespective of your selections. That’s because the amount you can win on any one wager is limited. If you consider yourself a seasoned high roller however, this won’t be an issue for you. Even so, it could be a potential problem for parlays.

For instance, if you stake a $100 15 team parlay, the potential earnings here are a cool $150,000 (given the odds of +150000). However, if a sportsbook has a maximum payout $100,000, you won’t get the $50,000 on top thanks to the terms of play.

Use parlays with free play credits

A plethora of online betting sites offer reload bonuses to existing customers and offer sign up bonuses to new customers. Sometimes, these bonuses come in the form of free play credits or money that is added straight into your account. While you can use them for placing bets, the credit amount won’t be reimbursed if your prediction is a winner. Even though you only get the payout, this is still exciting. 

It is essential that you get the best possible value from free play credits because they can only be used once. Therefore, an excellent way to do this is to use them for placing parlays.

For instance, a 3-way parlay will give you an opportunity to make the three selections instead of only one. While there is no assurance of a payout, the potential payout would be much higher. Since these free bets often have no actual risk, it is more sensible to chase the higher potential returns. 

Parting Shot

Combining a sound strategy for buying points with the use of parlays can be quite profitable. However, you can only do this if you know how to buy points efficiently. Keep all the pointers we’ve discussed here at your fingertips, and you’ll hardly ever go wrong. Happy gaming!

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