What Is A Parlay Bet?
Strategy And Parlay Calculator
A parlay is a single sports wager that involves two or more bets combined into one. This can include point spreads, moneylines, totals, futures, or even prop bets, as long as the bets are on different games.
The allure of these bets has always been a larger payout than choosing a single team to win. But there’s more gamble to these types of wagers because every “leg” of the parlay needs to not lose in order to win. If one leg loses, the whole parlay loses.
The flexibility of a parlay bet also makes it attractive to gamblers. You can combine multiple sports into your parlay bet; for example, you can include the Cowboys from the NFL, the Celtics from the NBA and the Coyotes from the NHL into a single bet. If they all win, you win.
Test out the parlay calculator above and compare odds at different sportsbooks to see how it works!
Placing a parlay bet
There are two ways to place a parlay bet and both are quite simple. Bettors can either tell the ticket writer directly which teams and totals they’d like to bet on and how much they’d like to risk on the bet. Filling out a parlay card is the other option for placing this kind of bet. Once the card is filled in, the bettor simply needs to visit the sportsbook desk to place the bet.
Some mobile sports wagering apps offer both types of parlay bets.
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Winning a parlay
There are two instances when a parlay can be a winning bet. A parlay only wins if none of the sides, totals or moneylines selected is a loser. The parlay can still be a winner if a game is canceled or ends in a tie. The pay schedule will simply more down to the lesser payment. For example, the bettor will win if a baseball parlay for four teams has three winners and one game is canceled because of rain. The bet will only pay based on the schedule for three winners instead of four as originally planned. The bet is a loser if one pick for a parlay is wrong.
Not all parlay payouts are the same. Sportsbooks may have different odds for the number of teams bet in a parlay. This can be very confusing when looking at online sports that have different odds and payouts for the same parlay. Further, these odds may change at any time so bettors should check with the ticket writer in sportsbook before placing a parlay.
Payouts for a parlay are fixed by the time the bet is placed. Even if the lines and odds for an individual game move, the parlay lines and odds won’t change from when the parlay bet was placed. The parlay bet won’t be changed whether the lines change for or against the bettor.
If the lines change for a game, or games, in the favor of the bettor another parlay may be bet with the new line. The original bet cannot be changed and the bet will stand. The good news is that the bettor has two live parlay bets.
Types of parlays
A parlay is a type of sports bet and there are different variations of this kind of wager. The most common types of parlays are Round Robin parlays and Teasers.
A Round Robin bet is placing multiple parlay wagers at once. It’s just that simple. Round Robin bets are just a way to simplify making multiple parlays. When a bettor “Round Robin’s” teams in sports betting it’s similar to a horse bettor “boxing” horses for an exacta or trifecta bet in a race.
The bettor will select anywhere from 3 to 8 teams or totals to be in the Round Robin. They will then choose how many teams or totals they’d like to tie together for the Round Robin. For example, a bettor may select eight teams and totals for a Round Robin and tie the parlays to as many three-team combinations as possible.
The combination of teams will dictate how many different parlays the bettor has. Continuing the example, if a bettor wants to Round Robin eight teams they will have 28 different parlays if they choose two teams. If the bettor chooses to make three-team parlays they will have 56 different parlay tickets.
The ticket will cost the amount chosen for each parlay. If the bettor only has $300 they might choose to Round Robin the teams by two, so they have 28 different parlays for $10 each. The payout for each winning parlay is the same as it would be if the parlay bets were each made individually.
A teaser is similar to a traditional parlay where the bettor can select multiple teams or totals. However, there are no moneylines allowed with a teaser. Unlike a parlay, the bettor may move each point spread or total plus or minus a certain number of points. The additional points on the spread or total make these bets easier to win and thus they pay less than a traditional parlay.
Teaser bets can change the point spreads or totals anywhere from six to 10 points. However, each leg of the teaser must use the same number of points. Those legs of the teaser may go in different directions.
- For example, the New England Patriots -7 can be teased down six points to -1. Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns can be teased up six points from +4 to +10 points.
Much like a traditional parlay, the more teams involved with a teaser the better the payoff. Again, different sportsbooks have different odds and rules so they might have different payouts and teaser options available to bet.
The more popular way to bet parlays in casinos today seems to be with a Parlay Card. These are the long narrow cards where bettors fill in the numbered circle of the side or point spread they want to include in their bet. Once the teams and totals are chosen the bettor simply presents the filled in portion on the card to the ticket writer in the sportsbook along with how much they’d like to wager.
Parlay Cards are especially popular during football season. There are many different types of Parlay Cards including a variety of teasers, ties win and reverse teaser cards known as pleasers. These are more popular every year so the mobile sports wagering apps have started to add Parlay Cards for mobile bettors.
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Parlay Betting Strategies
This article assumes the reader is at least familiar with the bare bones basics of parlays. It is intended to be slightly advanced and will deal with various strategies and tactics that can be used to defeat sports books.
The best and most profitable strategy to employ with parlays is known as a correlated parlay.
Another way to incorporate parlays into your strategy is to bet into weak numbers and combine them with other, stronger spreads to increase your exposure to the weak number. The hope is that your edge on the weak number more than compensates for the house edge on parlays as well as the more fair spread.
Correlated Parlays: Yes!
One way to win using parlays is to find (and bet) a correlated parlay. This bet has been called the “holy grail” of sports betting, because, if you find a sports book that will take action on these bets, they are a virtual goldmine. Here’s how a correlated parlay works.
Let’s assume New Orleans is at home playing against Cleveland. Cleveland opened as a 15 point underdog, but now things have gone from bad to worse as the flu bug has caught the Browns. Now on Saturday (one day before the game), Cleveland is up to an outrageous 23 point underdog! A few key players are sick and the line has moved up. The over/under for this game is a relatively low 37, since New Orleans is expected to do much (if not all) of the scoring. In this case, a correlated parlay, using New Orleans/over 37 would probably be a smart bet. Chances are that if New Orleans wins and covers the high spread, the game total will also soar above the 37. This is not an extreme example, as many such bets can be found using college football especially. Another example would be if a sports book allowed parlays such as a hockey team -1.5 goals and the over on the same game. This would be extremely profitable, because if one bet wins, the other is highly likely (correlated) to hit also. Other examples include halftime/fulltime bets on the same game or props that relate to the game in question. The good news is that these bets are insanely profitable. The bad news is that very few books offer or allow them. If you find one that does, please let me know so I may join you in taking that establishment broke.
Using Parlays to Increase Exposure to Weak Lines
Another way to win using parlays is to find a line that is very weak, and use a parlay to increase your odds by pairing the weak line with another bet on the board.
For example, the market consensus is that Pittsburgh is a 5 point favorite over Kansas City. However, there is a sports book that gets a lot of action coming in on Pittsburgh, and so they offer Kansas City +7, which is a massive opportunity. You would be well served to first try and bet the max on Kansas City +7, since this bet will show a profit in the long run. However, maybe you don’t have the funds, or risk tolerance, to bet the max. A great way to leverage this bad line is to simply pair Kansas City with another bet on the board. Maybe you bet the total in the same game, maybe you bet a different team. Either way, your edge by including Kansas City +7 should more than compensate for the house edge normally present in parlays.
This reminds me of an amusing story I heard of a few years back. A lot of the details escape me, but the main points of the story are accurate.
This would not work with online books, but it’s entertaining and does serve to show how this strategy can work, at least in theory.
In Las Vegas, when a bet is made, and the ticket is printed, the bet stands. So bookmakers must be extra careful not to post an obviously bad line. The consequences for doing so can be a recipe for disaster.
Anyway, there was a college football game featuring a powerhouse and a below average team. Something like Nebraska in their heyday versus Western Michigan. The spread nearly everywhere was around Nebraska -49, however, one book in Vegas mistakenly posted Nebraska +49!! As the story goes, a rather large bettor noticed this, and, instead of simply betting the max, decided to try and bet some large parlays. He proceeded to bet a few thousand dollars on Nebraska +49/over, and also Nebraska +49/under and also paired Nebraska with other teams in other games, until he was satisfied and had laid down in excess of five figures. Obviously, Nebraska won easily, and a bunch of his parlays paid out. There was nothing the book could do except honor the tickets.
This story illustrates a few important points. First, the bettor tried to be smart and not raise the obvious red flag that a max bet would. Second, the bettor was not greedy, and bet a lot of parlays that he knew would lose, in order to lock in some near-certain profits. For example, taking Nebraska/over and also Nebraska/under. One will lose, but one will almost certainly win, netting a nice payday with very low risk.
If you ever find yourself in this position, in Las Vegas, don’t get too excited! You may just ruin the whole thing before it has a chance to pay off!
Parlays Can Be Profitable
In conclusion, be aware that parlays can offer much leveraged, profitable opportunities, if you know where to look. A great thing about parlays is that most bookmakers will automatically laugh and think “sucker bet” when in fact some parlays are highly profitable for the bettor. Knowing these spots will greatly increase to your bankroll and will also provide some laughs along the way.
This article takes Parlay betting to a new level where we seek to establish how to find profitable Parlay betting situations to increase profit leverage.