If you are a seasoned sports bettor or a newbie, the value of learning about different betting avenues is a must for those looking to succeed. Today we will be covering the Parlay Bet and all of the minutiae that goes along with this type of sports wager.

While working with single bets on a weekly basis are fun, a parley bet can really be the cherry on top of a good game and can crank your sports betting excitement up to 11. For those unfamiliar, parlay betting allows you to tie multiple bets together in order to drastically up the payouts, but all wagers must win. The more games you add the higher your potential payout is, but your odds of winning also take a massive hit, so it’s important to educate yourself on how to effectively bet parlays over the long term.

In this how-to guide to betting on parlays, we will cover topics ranging from the basics on parlay odds, types of parlays, betting trends and strategies tied closely to parlay wagering.

The Basics of Parlay Betting

A parlay is comprised of two or more selections tied to one another with most sites capping how many legs can be connected, usually around 10. Betting on a parlay is as simple as selecting the parlay option and adding each section separately to you betting slip. For you to cash a parlay each fold of said betting slip must win, no second chances here, fellas. It’s worth noting that If one of the games on the ticket ends in a push, that leg is removed from the parlay ticket.

Let’s take a look at a simple example of an NFL Sunday parlay betting ticket:

Los Angeles Rams to beat the Carolina Panthers | +200
Indianapolis Colts to beat the Los Angeles Chargers | +250
New England Patriots to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers | -400
Dallas Cowboys to beat the New York Giants | -500

As you can see, we have created a ticket betting four different NFL teams on the moneyline, each of which must win to cash in. Great, you have your selections, but how do you calculate your payout based on this ticket. Well, there are two types of odds to be aware of when betting parlays, ‘true odds’ & ‘fixed odds’. Simply put, fixed or Vegas odds, are the lines which bookmakers offer up with line much lower than what they should statistically be. When the term ‘true odds’ is used, the person is referring to the realistic odds of said even occurring as opposed to what’s on offer at the sportsbook. True odds are a better indicator of probability for any given event and we will show you how to calculate them below. Having a strong understand of true odds vs Vegas odds is paramount when looking to embark down the parlay betting rabbit hole. Now is where we shift into some moderate book learning as we look into how to calculate true odds manually for a parlay tickets.

How Do I Calculate True Odds?

First thing’s first, we have to convert the above NFL odds from the American format into the decimal odds format. This is easy, especially with the betting calculator on this page, but let’s learn how to do it on our own first to better understand parlay betting. Now while the above American odds are either plus or minus odds, the decimal format does not, so we must convert our bets separately.

In order to convert underdog, or plus money odds, we follow this simple formula (ODDS +100) / 100. So our above underdog legs would look like this:

Los Angeles Rams to beat the Carolina Panthers | (200 + 100) / 100 = 3.0
Indianapolis Colts to beat the Los Angeles Chargers | (250 + 100) / 100 = 3.5

And it’s the same idea with the favorite, or minus odds, by following another simple formula of (ODDS + 100) / ODDS. Our newly converted decimal odds would look like this:

New England Patriots to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers | (400 + 100) / 400 = 1.25
Dallas Cowboys to beat the New York Giants | (500 + 100) / 500 = 1.2

Now that we have successfully converted our parlay betting odds from American to decimal formats we can finally calculate the odds for our parlay;

Los Angeles Rams to beat the Carolina Panthers | 3.0
Indianapolis Colts to beat the Los Angeles Chargers | 3.5
New England Patriots to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers | 1.25
Dallas Cowboys to beat the New York Giants | 1.2

Your next step? Simple multiply each of the odds with the value of the next all the way down the list. Our example would look like this:

3.0 x 3.5 x 1.25 x 1.2 = 15.75

Now to revert this back to a more familiar American style odds we just multiply by 100 and then subtract by 100. So our combined parlay odds would be:

(15.75 x 100) -100 = 1475

So, the final American odds for our parlay wager would be +1475

Now let’s see what that same 4 team parlay would look like at a sportsbook or casino that uses fixed odds payouts for their sports betting parlays.

Number Of Teams In Parlay Fixed Odds
3 6-1
4 10-1
5 20-1
6 40-1
7 75-1
8 150-1

Going back to our previous example using 4 teams from the NFL’s opening week slate, our true odds came out to be +1475 for that parlay bet. As you can see above that same bet at a book using these fixed odds would only return +1000 or 10/1, a 38.38% decrease in your payout.

Forgive us for stating the obvious but do yourself a favor and hunt down a betting outlet that uses the true odds for their parlay betting needs.

There are also two main variation on the parlay betting model, the teaser and the pleaser. These are some of the most powerful tools in a sports bettors pocket.

Teasers

Fun and with a big potential for profit, teasers have been a wildly popular addition to betting cards since their introduction. The irresistible feature of a teaser is your ability to manipulate the point spread in a way that you deem most favorable. Unlike a traditional parlay, you sacrifice a larger payout to gain a higher win rate with a teaser.

An easy to understand example using the above games would be to assume the Dallas Cowboys are 6-point favorites at the New York Giants in Week 1. We can ‘tease’ the line 6 points to get the G-Men’s spread up to +12 point underdogs or we could tease Dallas down to pick’em odds. Now while all this comes the price of diminished payouts, winning more often just feels good doesn’t it. And you can apply a teaser to points totals as well, sending a 54.5 point total soaring to 60.5 and giving you the edge on betting the under.

Pleasers

Much like everything else in sports betting each Yin or teaser has its Yang, or pleaser. A pleaser is the opposite of a teaser in the regard that you are moving the line in the opposite direction. This makes is more akin to a traditional parlay bet by upping your potential payout while reducing the probability of a positive outcome. If you are feeling real brave you can tease and underdog line and really bust the bookie if your team ends up winning.

Now that we have the basics down, let’s take a look at some strategies for beating the books when betting on parlays.

Parlay Betting Tips

First off, like any other betting strategy across the board, beating parlays requires discipline and a well-constructed plan of attack. If you need help with this our blog has a number of complementary articles in order to create a solid plan to profits.

Another easily overlooked piece of the puzzle is to take advantage of bonuses offered at a sportsbook you might be playing at. Simple but effective for making the most out of each wager. Each venue has a different package so shop around for bonuses while you are line shopping.

For all you high rollers out there, parlays can be a great way to wiggle around betting limits as well. Say a casino has a limit of $1,000 max bet on college football games, but you have capped your ass off this week and have 3 locks that you want to exploit. Putting these all together into a parlay you can technically bet over the limits, but again with a much higher rate of loss than just betting the games separately at the max.

Correlated parlays are another way to game the system and are a sportsbook’s biggest
headache. Let’s say a book offers both a line for team A to be ahead in the third quarter and to win the game. If possible, a parlay on these two legs would be ideal because a team leading into the third is statistically likely to hold onto the win.

Therefore, you greatly up your winning percentage and payout totals by betting both as either yes or both as no. Many outlets try their best to make the opportunities to correlate parlays very low, but keep your eyes open and strike when you see an opening.

Another example would be a College basketball spread of 18.5 and a game total of 86, both teams are high scoring squads but team A is far superior. It makes a world of sense to parlay the OVER with the favorite as its likely to be a high scoring affair either way and if the favorite wins by that much, an over is a near lock. Now this system isn’t perfect but it presents a lot of value compared to the time required to do the research each week.

A good way to look at weekly parlay betting is to think of them as buying tickets to a raffle with a healthy payout. Don’t view them as a go-to for any reason, they are more of a garnish as opposed to a main ingredient when cooking up the ideal sports betting system. So, on a less than exciting NFL Sunday, sprinkle a little parlay zest on top of that betting card and prepare to care about every game on The Red Zone today.

Also keep your stakes small, $10-$20 is really all you need to be playing regularly on a multi-leg parlay. If you win a 15-team parlay at fixed odds you are looking at a payout over $150k off just a $10 ticket, so play it like a big Powerball Jackpot. Pick you darndest and keep your fingers crossed that today might be the day that changes your life, but don’t hold your breath.

While betting parlays can easily up the excitement of a UFC card or a full Sunday of NFL football it is easy to get carried away trying to force your luck. But, if you maintain discipline, bankroll management and do your research it can be a great addition to any sports bettor’s arsenal.