What is Parlay Bet?

There's nothing in sports betting quite like the thrill of winning a parlay. It's a combination of individual bets that create more lucrative odds so long as all legs of the wager are successful. While it's more difficult to win parlays than a single bet, the odds are also longer to allow for a larger payout if successful. We'll go over what a parlay is, what to look for when building one, and how to create one with a realistic chance of winning.

Are Parlay Bets Legal in Maryland?

The state passed a law in May 2021 to legalize sports betting in Maryland, and parlays are one of the most common forms of sports betting.

How Do Parlays Work In Sports Betting?

A parlay combines two or more individual bets grouped requiring all wagers winning to earn a payout. The payout is higher because bettors must win every game on the bet slip. All major sportsbooks offer parlays, and the kinds of markets allowed within those parlays continue to expand.

  • Winning A Parlay

    Winning a parlay is as simple as it gets. All legs of the parlay must be successful to earn a payout. There really is no gray area. The only caveat is if one or more of the legs push, that bet is taken out of the parlay and the parlay is readjusted based on the remaining bets.

  • Understanding Parlay Odds

    Because sportsbooks have different odds for just about every single bet, that means that the odds calculated when building a parlay are also different. Bettors will want to ensure they shop around with the parlay they're trying to build to maximize the best odds for a larger payout.

  • Payouts

    A parlay payout is based on the number of single bets you're parlaying and those individual odds. They vary greatly depending on those factors. A three-team parlay consisting of three -200 favorites would have parlay odds of +237. Another three-team parlay with three +150 odds would have parlay odds of +1460. Sportsbooks update the odds of your parlay as you're building it out.

Types of Parlays

Because oddsmakers continue to increase the types of straight bets that can be included in parlays, various possible combinations have exploded at online sportsbooks. You'll likely come across different variations of parlays during your betting experience, but here we'll touch on the most common forms of parlays and what goes into each.

  • Building a Parlay

    Parlays can be built in hundreds of different ways. They can include multiple sports, as few as two bets or more than a dozen, and recently can include multiple bets from the same game. Sportsbooks will let you know what can be included in a parlay and build out the real-time odds as you add selections to your bet slip.

  • Teaser

    A teaser is a type of parlay in which a specific number of points are added to each leg. In an NBA bet, for example, a five-point teaser on a parlay including the Wizards at +2, Bulls +3, and Lakers -4 would become Wizards +6, Bulls +7, and Lakers +1. The more points you receive in a teaser, the lower the payout. The fewer the points, the higher the payout.

  • Parlay Cards

    A parlay card is featured in physical sportsbooks. Rather than a bet slip populating at online casinos, parlay cards list games and their corresponding point spread, total, and moneyline bets. Bettors punch a hole next to the games they want to combine. They take the parlay card to a cashier to place their bet.

  • Round Robin

    A round robin bet is a set of events that are split up into mini-parlays that offer multiple chances to win. A round robin differs from a parlay in that all legs of the parlay do not need to be successful for a bettor to win. For example, an NFL bet on the Ravens, Packers, and Bears all to win as -200 favorites, all three teams would need to win for the parlay to be successful. A round robin would break up that parlay into three two-team parlays (Ravens-Packers; Bears-Packers; Ravens-Bears). Even if the Bears lost, a bettor could still win the Ravens-Packers part of the round robin.

What Bets Can Go In Parlays?

Sportsbooks continue to expand the types of bets that can be put into parlays. There was a time when just a few types of bets could be included, but sportsbooks are now making same-game parlays as well as team and player prop bets available as part of parlays. The traditional point spread, total, and moneyline bets will always be a part of parlays, but there are an increasing amount of options for bettors. Expect that to continue in the future. Sportsbooks will let you know what's allowed and what isn't as you're building out your parlay.

Pros And Cons Of Parlays

The obvious pro of a parlay is that your potential payout increases instead of a single bet or multiple bets by themselves. Winning three separate bets at +200 (with $100 wagers on each) nets $600 profit. But if a bettor parlayed those bets together and bet $100, the payout is $2,600. Of course, the con to this is that the entire parlay is ruined if even one game loses. Taking that same example, winning two of three bets with +200 odds nets $300 (two wins at $400 and a $100 loss). Going 2-1 as a parlay is a loss of $100 even though you won more than you lost.

Should I Place Parlay Bets?

Think about how many times you've bet a handful of games and gone undefeated in one night. It isn't easy to do. But that's what bettors need to successfully bet parlays. It's why we recommend new bettors avoid making complex parlays with unrealistic chances of winning. There are opportunities to parlay a handful of favorites together that's more likely to win even though the odds won't be as lucrative as those involving eight or nine legs or a bunch of underdogs. Get comfortable with the market you want to bet on, understand exactly what you're betting and what realistic odds look like, and be confident in your plays, or don't spend too much of your bankroll if you're really going out on a limb with your odds.

Parlay Betting Tips

The best tip we can give around parlay betting is to be realistic when you're building them. It can be enticing and exciting to build a nine-team parlay that has the kind of odds and potential payout that could purchase a small island. Online sportsbooks will often share on social media instances when those parlays actually hit. But for every miraculous parlay victory, thousands never had any chance of winning — and didn't. Taking a shot in the dark on a parlay with +2000 odds is fine, but it's important not to spend your entire bankroll on it.

If you are spending a decent chunk of change on a parlay, it's critical that you feel about every play. It should go without saying, but if you've read this far, you know that every leg needs to hit. Going undefeated on a given night is tough to do. Depending on what your other legs look like, it's good to add one leg with a great chance of winning (think -400) to increase the potential payout without really hurting your chances of winning.

Parlay FAQ

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