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.