What is a Parlay?

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What is a Parlay Bet
Info Details
Definition Parlays let players wager bet on two or more events at once. Players can also combine two or more different wagers at once.
Bet Type Exotic
Odds Depends on parlay size. Depends on each bet’s odds of winning.
Sportsbooks All USA Sportsbooks
Example 3 Team Parlay. Player takes Giants/Spread (Giants vs. Raiders), Jets/Money Line (Jets vs. Texans), Total/Over (Bears vs. Titans)

If you and your buddies like gambling on sports, no doubt one of them has made a parlay bet. Successful parlay bets are profitable because the odds of winning are remote. The more teams you add to the parlay, the greater the payout. Some sportsbooks offer 12 or 15 team parlays. A $1 wager can produce winnings in excess of $10,000. Remember the odds of picking 15 winners are stacked against the player.

There are a couple different approaches to parlay betting. We’ll detail the most basic ones below.

1. Picking winners in different games – This is the fundamental parlay bet. Suppose it’s Sunday before NFL action begins. You have a hunch the New Orleans Saints, Detriot Lions, and Philadelphia Eagles will win. You can visit an online sportsbook and make a 3 team parlay bet. You would pick each of these teams to win their respective matchups. Remember, in some cases you’ll have to contend with the spread the sportsbook has on each game. Your team will have to beat or cover the spread, depending on whether you take the favorite or underdog, respectively.

2. Picking winning wagers in one or more different games – If you’re an experienced sports bettor, you may already know parlays can also consist of different wagers. For example, you could focus your wager on one football game, betting the Total/Over (1st bet of parlay), taking the Spread/Underdog (2nd bet of parlay), and taking the Money Line/Underdog (3rd bet of parlay). Instead of making 3 separate wagers, you combine all 3 into one parlay. If correct, this wager would pay more than 3 separate winners because you are taking on more risk. The latter case allows you to collect on 1, 2 or 3 individual wagers whereas the 3 team parlay is all or nothing.

Can I really win a parlay bet? Most professionals steer clear of parlays because they are unfavorable towards the player. Think about it: the odds of picking 10 winning wagers is remote. Sure, you could make thousands of dollars if the bet wins. But it’s more than likely you’ll lose.

Reserve parlays as "fun" bets if you have a few extra dollars in your account and want to try something different. In the long run, regular parlay bets will chew through your bankroll faster than throwing your money in the fire.

See Also
What is a Parlay Card?
What is a Close Call Parlay?