There comes a time in many seasoned NFL bettors’ careers that they might become jaded by simply betting sides and totals for a prolonged period of time. If this sounds like you, it’s time to expand the breadth of your gambling horizons. NFL parlay betting is a go-to for many sports gamblers looking to increase their excitement and the potential of a big payout. This is accomplished by making your NFL picks on the outcome of multiple games as opposed to traditional single game wagers.
The more games you add to the parlay ticket, the higher your potential payout becomes — with the caveat being that your odds of cashing take a big hit on the other side of the coin. With such a potential for big earnings most NFL bettors find it well worth the risk, so it’s best to do your research on how to best play parlays to maximize your chances of hitting your NFL picks.
What follows is a comprehensive how-to guide for betting NFL parlays, touching on things from the basics of parlay betting odds, common types of parlays plus stats and strategies focused solely on NFL parlay betting.
NFL Parlay Betting Basics
Betting on NFL parlays is rather straightforward if you have been sports gambling for any significant amount of time. Placing a parlay bet is just a matter of filling out a parlay ticket by adding 2 or more games to it, and submit it either in person or online. Note that many outlets cap games at 12 for parlay betting, but not all, so do your homework and find the venue that works best for you. Another quick FAQ is what happens if one of your games ends in a push, that leg of the parlay is simply removed from the ticket.
Common NFL Parlay Bets
Moneyline Parlay Betting
Moneyline, or straight up betting is as basic as it gets, pick a winner and if they come out on top you cash your ticket. Parlaying NFL moneylines can be very lucrative if you have a knack for predicting upsets or have a strong feeling on a number of teams on a given weekend.
Point Spread Parlay Betting
Betting against the spread is pretty much the gold standard for NFL bettors worldwide. Spreads are the industry’s way of evening the playing field between teams whose skill levels are not on the same level. This is accomplished by basically taking points from the favored team and giving them to the underdogs. This creates a betting situation where the team who is favored may have to win by a touchdown but the payout is much better than betting on the moneyline.
Over – Under Parlays
Over/Under betting, or betting the total, is a bet made based on the outcome of the combined total points that will be scored by each team in a game. Books set lines for each game and you bet on whether you believe the actual total will go over or under the projected line. These are extremely common when betting parlays because
Now that we know the basic types of NFL parlay bets let’s take a look at an example of an NFL Sunday parlay ticket.
Los Angeles Rams to beat the New Orleans Saints | +200
Los Angeles Chargers to beat the Detroit Lions | +250
New England Patriots to beat the Miami Dolphins | -400
New York Giants to beat the New York Jets | -500
The above would be an NFL parlay ticket covering four different games on the moneyline. Remember, each has to win for you to cash in a winner. The easy part, making your picks, is done, but how do you calculate the payout based on the above information? To do this we must first cover the two types of odds to be familiar with when betting on NFL parlays. “True odds” are the realistic odds of a certain outcome while “Fixed Odds” are the odds offered by most sportsbooks for NFL betting.
‘Fixed Odds’ or ‘Vegas Odds are the lines which bookmakers offer up any given Sunday to their clientele. These odds are lower than what they should be statistically in order to protect the sportsbooks from over exposure. Most books offer up 6/1 odds for 3-team parlays and have zero interest in offering true odds to their customers for any reason. This is, after all, how their money is made, by ensuring they have a sharper edge than their players do. Only way around this is to have the time and gumption to put in work and sift through stats until your find an edge of your own. Successful NFL bettors also make a strong push to seek out “true odds” and exploit them when opportunities arise.
When the term “True Odds” is brought up when talking about NFL betting, it refers to the realistic odds of something happening, as opposed to what a linemaker deems best for his book. Obviously “true odds” are a far stronger indicator of the actual chance of something happening during an NFL game.
Let’s say we’re betting on a coin flip, doesn’t get much simpler. A single coin flip is a 50/50 bet of course, but say you wanted to parlay the outcome of 3 consecutive coin flips. With only two possible outcomes it is easy to determine the “true odds” for this scenario. 3 tosses of a coin yields 8 possible unique outcomes – Tails/tails/tails, tails/tails/heads, tails/heads/tails, heads/tails/tails, tails/heads/heads, heads/tails/heads, heads/heads/tails, heads/heads/heads.
Each and every one of those outcomes has the same probability of occurring since the flip of a coin is a completely random even with zero room for finding an angle to improve our winning chances. So, the “true odds” are calculated by figuring out how to break even over the long term. To do this we will pick the same combination of flips and nothing else, statistically you will win every 8 flips. This means the “true odds” of 7/1 would be required to break even in our coin flip betting scenario.
Now that we’ve found the “true odds” we can turn around and apply that to a betting application. We do this by determining if the odds have any value attached to them by comparing them to our calculated probability. So, any offer above 8/1 would provide value for use because the projected payout would be higher than our calculated “true odds” of 7/1. Digging into the numbers is the only way to find these exploits in the odds and is a very strong system of making money long term betting on the NFL.
Now that we understand how to use “true odds”, lets now learn how to calculate them for your NFL parlay tickets.
How-to Calculate True Odds in the NFL
To begin with we must first change the odds listed on out NFL parlay bet from the American format into decimal odds. While the parlay calculator found below can do this automatically, it’s a good practice to learn how to do this on your own to best understand NFL parlay betting.
In order to convert underdog odds we use the following formula (ODDS+100) ÷ 100. So the previously outline plus money games would end up with the following odds:
Los Angeles Rams +200 to beat the New Orleans Saints |(200+100) ÷ 100 = 3.0
Los Angeles Chargers +250 to beat the Detroit Lions | (250 +100) ÷ 100 = 3.5
The same basic idea applies to favorites with minus odds with another straightforward formula : (ODDS +100) ÷ ODDS. So the aforementioned favorites would come out with the following odds:
New England Patriots –400 to beat the Miami Dolphins | (400 +100) ÷ 400 = 1.25
New York Giants –500 to beat the New York Jets | (500 + 100) ÷ 500 = 1.2
Now that we’ve converted all of our odds to decimal form the next step is to multiply each with the integer below all the way down the list. Our equation would look like this:
3.0 x 3.5 x 1.25 x 1.2 = 15.75
Now that we have added each game together we have “true odds” but they are still in decimal form. To convert them back we just multiply 100, subtract 100 and Bob’s your uncle. Our combined parlay equation would be”
(15.75 x 100) -100 = 1475
This means the “true odds” for our 4-team NFL parlay would be +1475 to win.
To contrast let’s take a look at what that same 4-team NFL parlay would look like at a casino or sportsbook that utilized fixed odds payouts for their NFL parlay bets.
These can be considered an average NFL parlay payout chart from a casino or sportsbook.
Referring back to our 4-team NFL parlay above remember our “true odds” came out to be +1475 for that particular quartet. As you can easily see in the chart above, that bet at a book using these standard “fixed odds” would payout just 12.28/1 or +1228, an 18.28% decrease in your potential weekend payout. Some books do offer parlays which qualify for “true odds” payouts if you pick more than 15 teams, while others cap players to a dozen. Just another reason to put in the work to find the betting outlet which is right for you and your NFL picks.
There is a trick to the trade to circumvent fixed odds when betting on NFL parlays. Let’s say we’re looking to bet an 8-team parlay with fixed odds at 150/1. The trick here is to include one bet that is NOT priced at -110, this forces the book to use “true odds.” So you make the 7 picks at -110 and a single leg at –115, using the same system as above to calculate true odds our output would be (1.91 x 7) * 1.87 = 173.41 or +173.41. This represents a 23.41% increase in your payout when compared to the fixed odds you would be looking at with 8 bets at –110.
Types of NFL Parlay Betting
While the basics are all covered when betting NFL parlays with options including moneylines, spreads and totals, there are many ways which parlays can modify these classic bets to best suit your needs.
Teasers take the idea of a parlay and turns it on its head to give the player a far better chance of cashing a winning ticket. When a teaser is bet the client will receive a shift in the point spread to make a single leg win more likely. This creates situations where an underdog can get blown out or a favorite can squeak out a win and you can still cash your parlay ticket. The standard adjustments for NFL football parlays are 6,6.5,7,10 and 14 points. The downside here is the more points adjusted the lower your payout will be due to the odds adjustment on the books side of things. Many bettors see this as a more pleasurable way to bet NFL parlays by creating more winning picks with the downside of decreased payouts per win.
As with any parlay on an NFL game or otherwise, a single loss will end your day. Also much like other parlays a push is usually just taken off the ticket. But be sure to check the terms and conditions of the site you are playing at to be certain as some venues do count ties as a loss on parlay bets.
Pleasers, or revere teasers, are yet another way for NFL bettors to mix it up on a weekly basis. In this case the spread is moved in favor of the bookmakers and not the person laying the bet. So in stark contrast to a teaser, favorites now just about have to win by blowout and an underdog has to just barely lose in order to cover the adjusted spreads.
Obviously the upside of these types of bets are a massive uptick in your payout potential if you manage to string together a few unlikely wins. Because of this ties are often counted as losses on pleasers so be aware of the terms you are betting under. The risk of NFL pleasers are obvious but if you have a good feeling about a few underdogs, you might be able to steal a fat payday off this type of NFL parlay.
Round Robin Parlays
This variation of NFL parlay betting is a great way to expand and diversify a Sunday betting card. Simply put, round robin betting is a way to tie multiple parlays together at once, a parlay of parlays if you would.
If you either have a high degree of confidence or liquid courage, the NFL round robin might be the parlay for you. Say you are high on a trio of NFL teams against the spread for the upcoming weekend of action.
- New England Patriots (-6.5)
- San Francisco 49ers (+4)
- Kansas City Chiefs (-13)
In lieu of creating a single ticket with all 3 teams on it, we can instead fill out three separate parlay tickets to allow for us to win money even if one team fails to cover their spread. The downside of this style of betting is the required amount for players to wager in order to cover the bet.
Now that we have all that out of the way let’s tackle some strategy for betting NFL parlays.
NFL Parlay Betting Tips
The first step to any successful betting strategy is constructing a plan of attack and having the mental fortitude to stick to your unit size and betting limits.
The next step is to do your research, this cannot be overstated. Getting a feel for teams by watching them, sifting through the numbers and shopping odds are all great way to give yourself a betting edge provided you have the time and will to do so. To help supplement your efforts many sites such as SportsIntel.com offer a weekly rundown of NFL parlay picks to assist bettors in making the most out of their investments.
Another tip is that parlay betting in some situations can be used to circumvent betting limits at certain sportsbooks. Let’s say that the Packers line opens at +200 when it should really be closer to +150 based on your research. You can go and make 10 different parlays with two teams each, using the +200 line with a randomly chosen –110 game, on average you can look forward to laying 5 times the maximum bet. The ROI does take a hit at –110 but to get the maximum stake down can make up for that loss and make for big swings in your bankroll.
Correlating parlays is another way to take a bit of the edge back from the bookies. Say for example a bookie offers you two bets, “Will there be lightning storm today?” and “Will there be a thunderstorm today?”. If they let you, betting on both of these on a parlay either yes or no would be a very strong play. While this is a simplified example which would never be offered anywhere, there are many times when you can bet outcomes which you deem correlated. For example, if a team is double digit favorites and are 6-0 cashing OVERS when winning by a TD or more. If you have faith in the team covering the spread then parlaying that with a bet on the total make a whole lot of sense. Finding angles like this takes time, but pays dividends to those who put in the work.
Finally, a closing tip for NFL parlay betting is to keep your stakes small, even in the 10$-20$ range to start off with when wagering multi-leg parlays. Say you hit a 15-team parlay at fixed sportsbook odds, you can now afford to buy a new Ferrari with just a 10$ bet. Parlays are big money for most sportsbooks because people get carried away bet way too much and winning way too infrequently. Think of it as a raffle and spread your money around when looking to bet on parlays in the NFL, don’t put all your huevos in the same basket.