What Is a Parlay in Sports Betting and How Does It Work?

Have you ever overheard someone excitedly talking about their parlay bets at a sports game?

The term “parlay” is well-known among sports bettors but can seem complex to those new to the scene. More intricate than a straightforward bet, parlays involve multiple picks and the potential for significant rewards.

Curious about how to leverage parlays for bigger wins? We’ve got you covered with all the essentials you need to craft expert wagers.

Dive in as we unravel the complexities of parlay betting and set you up for success.

Key Takeaways

  • Discover all the perks of opting for a parlay bet!
  • You’ll be able to calculate your parlay odds based on experts’ techniques.

Defining a Parlay Bet

A parlay bet is when a bettor makes two or more bets and combines them into one wager.

This makes it so that if even one of the bets fails to hit, the entire parlay fails. It can be almost any number of wagers, and it can include any type of bets.

I, personally, wouldn’t recommend parlays for newbies, there are other easier ways to gamble to start with. To find out more, visit our sports betting for beginners page where you’ll find great tips to place your first bets in the best conditions!

For example:

A parlay may consist of betting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -5.5- point spread this weekend and betting on Bryce Young to throw under 199.5 yards, which was his prop that weekend.

If the Buccaneers win by 7, but Young throws for 200 yards, the parlay fails.

→ The most significant difference between a parlay and a regular bet is simply the size and length. 

The Mechanics of Parlay Betting

Parlay betting involves combining multiple bets, increasing the potential payout but also the risk.

For instance: In an NFL game between the Buccaneers and Panthers, you might include several prop bets in your parlay:

  • Buccaneers to cover a 5.5-point spread.
  • Bryce Young to throw for over 199.5 yards.
  • Mike Evans to have over 65.5 receiving yards.
  • Chris Godwin to have under 50.5 receiving yards.
  • Baker Mayfield to throw for over 240.5 yards.

All these selections must win for the parlay to pay out. While parlays can also span different games or even sports, combining bets increases both the stakes and potential rewards.

Types of Bettors:

  • Average Bettors: Generally play it safe with lower-risk parlays.
  • Shot Takers: Go for high-risk, high-reward bets.
  • Professional Gamblers: Balance risk with calculated strategies for more consistent returns.

Understanding your betting style is crucial, especially if you’re starting out. Begin with safer bets to mitigate risks before exploring more complex parlays.

Advantages and Risks of Parlay Betting

Parlay betting can offer significant rewards but comes with heightened risks:

Massive Payout Potential: Parlays can yield high returns.Compound Risk: A single loss affects the entire parlay.
Engagement Across Games: Keeps interest in multiple events.Increased Stress: Higher stakes lead to more stress compared to single bets.
Diverse Betting Options: Allows for various bet types within one parlay.Risk of Overconfidence: Success may lead to risky bets and potential failures.
Long-Term Bets: Some parlays last several months, sustaining engagement.Tax on Winnings: As Jim Wang from TurboTax notes: “All income is taxable, and gambling winnings are considered income”.
Chasing Losses: Losing can lead to attempts to win back losses, escalating the risk.

Jim Wang emphasizes that all winnings are taxable, adding a layer of consideration for betting gains.

Additionally, the famous advice from Kenny Rogers highlights the importance of cautious gambling, especially with parlays where the stakes and potential losses can mount quickly:

You’ve got to know when to fold them. Know when to walk away.

By understanding these pros and cons, bettors can better navigate the complexities of parlay betting and make informed decisions.

How to Place a Parlay Bet

Placing a parlay bet is straightforward. Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Select Your Sport: Go to a sportsbook app like FanDuel or DraftKings and choose the sport you want to bet on.
  2. Pick Your Games: Choose two or more games that you want to bet on.
  3. Set Up Your Parlay: Access your Bet Slip, select “Parlay”, enter your bets and the wager amount.
  4. Submit Your Bet: Confirm and submit your selections to place your parlay.

Always bet on sports and teams you know well. If you’re a football enthusiast, avoid mixing in unfamiliar sports like basketball just because a bet seems appealing. Stick to familiar teams to increase your chances of success, especially when starting with parlays.

For example: If you know the Chicago Bulls well but not the Golden State Warriors, focus your bets on what you know best.

Strategies for Successful Parlay Betting

Including prop bets in your parlays: Betting sites occasionally offer prop bets that are highly likely to succeed, such as a bet on Christian McCaffrey achieving over 0.5 rushing yards. Including such bets in your parlay can increase its chances of success, especially during weeks with unfavorable NFL matchups.

When constructing a parlay, consider adding an “Off Standard Line” bet—one that doesn’t carry the typical -110 odds. This adjustment allows the parlay to pay out at true odds, potentially increasing your winnings.

For example: If you create a parlay with the New York Giants to lose, the Miami Dolphins to cover, and the Dallas Cowboys to hit the over.

Substituting one of these with a bet that isn’t at -110 odds can lead to a higher payout, provided all parts of the parlay win.

Understanding Odds in Parlay Betting

Parlay betting combines multiple bets, each influencing the overall odds and potential return. That’s why you must understand the odds in sports betting properly before placing a parlay wager.

Here’s a breakdown.

Rule of Thumb for -110 Bets:

  • Two-Team Parlay: Approximately 2.6-to-1 odds.
  • Three-Team Parlay: Roughly 6-to-1 odds.
  • Each additional -110 bet roughly doubles the payout.

How to calculate your own parlay odds?

  1. Convert Odds to Decimals: For -110 odds, this is 1.91.
  2. Multiply the Decimal Odds: For three bets, 1.91 x 1.91 x 1.91 = 6.97.
  3. Calculate the Payout: For a $10 bet, multiply 6.97 by $10 to get $69.70.
  4. Determine Net Gain: Subtract the initial $10 to net $59.70.

→ This results in American odds of +597, close to 6-to-1.

Remember, while adding more bets to your parlay can significantly increase potential returns, it also raises the risk, as all bets must hit for you to win.

The more legs in your parlay, the higher the reward but also the greater the risk, due to the compounding probability of one bet failing. So, keep in mind to balance both of these elements when making a decision.

Legal and Responsible Parlay Betting

When engaging in parlay betting, it is critical to only place bets through legal channels. The risks and penalties for betting illegally escalate with more complex bets like multi-leg parlays. To ensure you join a legit and reliable platform, refer to our online sportsbook reviews.

Moreover, the stakes are inherently higher with parlays, as the chance of losing increases with each added bet. It’s essential to choose your bets wisely, limit the amount wagered, and consider keeping your parlays smaller to reduce the risk of total loss.

Additionally, the complexity of parlays means that the failure of just one bet can cause the entire parlay to fall apart. This interdependency can add significant stress, as the potential high payout comes with increased risk.

NFL parlays, for example, are quite challenging due to the unpredictability of the games.

Ready to Place a Parlay Bet?

With parlays, while the potential for a high payout is attractive, the associated risks are substantially greater. Betting responsibly is paramount, and utilizing resources like betting guides, and newsletters can help you make informed decisions.

For further insights and strategies on parlay betting and more, consider exploring additional resources in our betting 101 section.