Sports bettors are always trying to get the most from their wagers – and beat the online sportsbooks at their own game. Professional gamblers will have their own strategies and ways of making money. However, there are ways for all bettors to make more from less: parlay odds.
Of course, bookmakers like to tip the odds and markets in their favor – but a parlay bet can give you the upper hand. Also, use our betting odds calculator to figure out potential winnings.
In this article, we are going to look at what a parlay bet is – as well as how parlay odds work. We will come up with a few ideas for making the most of you parlay odds – and illustrate with some examples that may inspire you to check out the betting markets for parlays of your own.
What is a Parlay Bet?
Parlay bets are sometimes referred to as multiple or combination bets – and those terms reflect the nature of these wagers in a much better way. Rather than making a single – or straight – bet on an event, you will include a number of bets in your wager.
For example, you may want to bet on a number of NFL games over the weekend. You could make single bets on the Jets, Dolphins, and Chargers to win. But in a parlay bet you would bet on the chance of all three of those teams to win their individual games.
The attraction of a parlay bet is that parlay odds increase for every event – or leg – that you introduce into your bet. We will look more closely into how parlay odds work in a moment – but the basics of parlay betting is that because you are placing a bet on the likelihood of three events happening (in this example), parlay odds increase compared to the price of just one event. If anyone of the individual legs to the bet fails, the entire bet is lost.
The reason why parlay bets are so popular is that for a relatively small outlay you can win a large amount of money. Parlay odds make it that you can get a lot more for your $10 than betting just on the Raiders to win. The risk is greater – but so is the potential payout.
How do Parlay Odds Work?
These kinds of wagers can include just two legs or increase in size – depending on your bookmaker – to whatever you want to include. The parlay odds will increase substantially the more legs you introduce to the bet.
These huge parlay odds may be very enticing, but you need to realize that they are that big because it is far more difficult to correctly predict three, four or five events than it is to predict one.
Using the NFL example we mentioned before, here is how parlay odds work. Here are the odds for three games.
3 Parlay Odds Example
|New York Jets to win||+200|
|Miami Dolphins to win||+250|
|Los Angeles Chargers to win||-160|
To discover what the parlay odds for one bet is we need to convert these American odds into their decimal odds equivalent. If you are betting online then most sports betting sites can do this automatically, but the formula is very simple for favorites or underdogs.
For underdogs (or plus odds) you need this formula:
(plus odds + 100) / 100
So the Jets odds here would be (200 +100) – 100 = 3.00
For favorites (or minus odds) the formula is this:
(minus odds + 100) / minus odds
So the Chargers price here would be (160 + 100) / 160 = 1.63
Here are the three events with their decimal odds:
|New York Jets to win||3.00|
|Miami Dolphins to win||3.50|
|Los Angeles Chargers to win||1.63|
To get the parlay odds for our three-leg wager we now need to multiply these odds together.
3.00 x 3.50 x 1.63 = 17.12
To discover what the American odds for this parlay would be we need to convert it back by multiplying by 100 and then subtracting 100.
So our parlay odds work out to:
17.12 x 100 – 100 = +1612
If you staked $10 on this three-leg parlay bet you and it won you would receive $161.20 profit.
What are the Advantages of Parlay Bets?
As you can see from our simple example – there is the chance to win larger amounts of money for a relatively lower outlay. Due to the decreased chances of multiple bets winning, the parlay odds are greater.
Let’s look at this example again and compare it to straight bets on the three games.
- First, you bet $10 on the New York Jets to win at +200 – you would receive $20 profit
- Then, bet $10 on the Miami Dolphins to win at +250 – you would receive $25 profit
- If you bet $10 on the Los Angeles Chargers to win at -160 – you would receive $6.30
Those amounts are quite different to the $161.20 you would get with your parlay odds!
Many sports bettors like parlay odds as it means you can win a larger amount of money. The understanding is that there is less chance of the bet being successful. That is why many people use parlay bets as ‘a bit of fun’. If they come off then it’s great – but there is not as much expectation for that to happen.
It only needs one of the Jets, Dolphins, or Chargers to lose and this bet is lost. If you placed a bet on the three games individually you could at least still win something.
Basic Parlay Strategy
As with any form of betting you should always only ever look for the value wagers. You may find very attractive parlay odds, sure. But, you still need to figure out whether the wager as a whole is worth it.
If you bet on ten events to all finish in the way you predict, you’ll always see very attractive odds. Realize that the reason is that it’s highly unlikely you’ll get every single one correct.
We have two basic pieces of advice when it comes to multiple bets. Keep the number of legs fairly low, and place a small stake.
With the way parlay odds are calculated you can see from our example that the price offered for even just a three-leg bet turns out to be quite attractive. Taking into account the amount of risk incorrectly predicting the outcome of three games, a $10 total stake still gets you a nice profit.
Even if you are doing this every week it is not much of an outlay towards having a little bit of fun on a Sunday during NFL season.
Parlay Betting Choices
It really depends on the sportsbook or bookmaker you are using as to what sports you can bet on. But American sports and leagues all offer great opportunities to take advantage of parlay odds.
There are enough NFL games on a Sunday during the season to form a parlay bet. MLB and NBA both have multiple games most days of the week. So, there is also a good chance to make some interesting picks there too.
Some online sportsbooks may not allow betting on college sports involving schools from your state. However, both NCAA basketball and football also offer the chance to get some good value parlay odds for your betting.
Parlay Odds Verdict
As you can see, for the casual or professional sports bettor, parlay betting and parlay odds can make the weekend’s sports schedules very interesting. For little outlay, you can turn a very healthy profit.
As long as you realize that the parlay odds are bigger because there is a much smaller chance of the wager being successful, you can have a lot of fun with parlay bets.