Parlay Betting Explained

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Parlay betting is a fun way to combine multiple bets. Famously referenced in the Oscar-nominated film Silver Linings Playbook, a parlay bet is a bet on top of another bet.

To win the parlay, you have to win both bets. However, a parlay can still win if a game is tied or canceled.

For instance, on a two-team parlay, a tie and a win would produce a straight wager payout. On a three-team parlay, a tie and two wins would produce a winning two-team parlay payout. If both games in your parlay tie, you will not win but will be returned your original bet amount.

Different sportsbooks have different odds, so when placing a parlay bet it is best to first do your research. Additionally, payouts for parlay betting are fixed at the time the bet is made. So even if the odds change throughout the season, the parlay odds will not change for or against you.

There are several variations in parlay betting. Two of the most popular are Round Robin parlay and Teasers. Here is some information about both of them.

Round Robin

A Round Robin bet involves placing multiple parlay bets at one time. A bettor will choose anywhere from three to eight teams and then will choose to do parlays anywhere from two to eight teams.

This can be a bit complicated but we are here to break it down for you. Here’s an example of a three-team Round Robin. Let’s say the teams are the Green Bay Packers, the New England Patriots & the Philadelphia Eagles. Let’s say you also chose to do parlays with two teams. Below are examples of how your tickets would look.

  • RR# 1 – Packers +10.5 & Patriots -6.5
  • RR# 2 – Packers +10.5 & Eagles +8.0
  • RR# 3 – Patriots -6.5 & Eagles +8.0

Let’s say for each ticket, you are wagering $50. That means you are putting up a total of $150 on these three parlay bets. However, you stand to win $130 on each, making your potential payout $390. Unlike traditional parlay betting, a Round Robin offers bettors the opportunity to still win even when one of their teams loses.

Parlay Betting

Teasers

A Teaser bet is more similar to traditional parlay betting. The difference is that teaser bets allow bettors to adjust the lines to give themselves better chances to win. Though it increases your chances of winning it also decreases how much you stand to win. Most common teasers include a range anywhere from 4.5-5.5 points, but some sportsbooks will allow you to go even higher.

Let’s use an example from the NBA. Say you want to make a three-team/four-point teaser bet with the following teams.

  • Philadelphia 76ers +6.0
  • Milwaukee Bucks +9.5
  • Los Angeles Clippers +7.0

With a four-point teaser bet, this would move the odds four points in your favor for each team.

  • Philadelphia 76ers +10.0
  • Milwaukee Bucks +13.5
  • Los Angeles Clippers +11.0

With this particular teaser bet, your payout if you win all the games would be 9-5. You have to win all the games, though, to win anything. In this example, you would win $180 for every $100 wagered.

Teasers get more difficult to win the more you move the line. So if you plan on doing this kind of parlay betting, be sure to understand what you’re getting into. You can also stick with an over/under bet, they’re far simpler.

How to build a good parlay bet

Parlay betting can be fun, but there are some ways to improve your chances. Here are some helpful tips for building a good parlay bet.

  • Be Ambitious – Parlay betting allows for the opportunity to turn a small bet into a big profit. So if you have an instinct about a team, follow it. Now is the time!
  • Hedge Your Bets – If there is an opportunity for you to protect yourself against potential losses, you should take it. For instance, let’s say in your final game you’ve put money on the Philadelphia Eagles +3.5 against the New Orleans Saints. You could hope for the best in the Eagles covering or you could put some money on the Saints. This way, despite the outcome, you’re guaranteed to make some money.
  • Use Free Bets – Most online sportsbooks offer incentives to open accounts with them. A common incentive is to offer a free $10 bet for first-time users. While it sounds great in theory, this original stake is not returned. Meaning if you were to wager your free bet on a -110 moneyline and win, you’d only receive a payout of $9.20. However, if you use your free bet on a parlay, you have a better chance of returning a profit. If not, no harm no foul.
  • Be Aware of Bet Size – Don’t get blinded by thoughts of large payouts. An increase in bet size is not always a wise idea. While fun, parlays are hard to win so it’s best to be fiscally cautious.
  • Consider Parlay Time Spans – Remember that a parlay does not payout until all associated bets are won. If you choose two bets that have a long-running time span, be aware that your money will be tied up in those bets for awhile. If that doesn’t suit you, then be sure to choose bets that conclude around the same time.
  • Include Multiple Sports – A wider variety of sports will help your chances of success in a parlay bet. It ensures that if something unexpected happens, you’ve diversified your investments.

Why should you make parlays?

Parlay betting is a great way for bettors to potentially win big. Unlike betting on an individual game, parlay betting offers the unique opportunity to greatly increase your potential payout. It’s also an enjoyable and fun way to experience sports betting. Parlay betting is great if you have more than one favorite team and feel strongly about both winning their respective games.

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