sports bettor celebrating a win on his phone

A parlay bet involves a single sports wager in which multiple wagers are combined into one. Parlay bets can involve moneylines, point spreads, futures, prop bets or totals. The bets, however, must be on different games. Parlay bets aren’t legal in many jurisdictions but they are popular sports betting options because they deliver bigger payouts than single-game bets. But if parlay bets are legal in your area, you shouldn’t assume that the larger payout makes such a bet worthwhile. Parlay bets are more complicated than single bets because in order to win, every step of the wager must fit. If one part of the wager goes off, the whole parlay bet is lost.

For instance, a sportsbook may announce that you can win tens, hundreds or thousands of times your original wager since you’re betting on multiple picks at the same time, together. However, if any of them loses, you lose the entire parlay. If you want to take a high risk for a high reward, a parlay bet may be the answer. If, however, you don’t want to risk everything on a wager in which the possibility of winning is relatively low, stay away from parlays.

Gambling Excitement

Many people prefer parlay bets because they are flexible. You can place a parlay bet that combines multiple sporting events and even events occurring across multiple types of sports. One week’s parlay bet may cover games played in the NFL, the NHL and the NBA. If all of your picks win, you win – big.

There are parlay calculators online that help you figure out when and how to place a parlay bet. These calculators take the odds that you input for each stage of your parlay so that you can calculate your bet’s payout. Basically, the parlay payouts are calculated by multiplying the decimal odds together and then multiplying that number it by your wager. That gives you the total amount of money the sportsbook pay out on a win. Parlay Formula involves reinvesting the wins from one sports event to a wager on another event. When you parlay the those payouts, the wins are multiplied together which increases the amount of the payout.

Payouts on parlays are much higher than single bets. You can combine multiple teams’ moneylines into a parlay bet which increases the win exponentially. Say that you bet on one team to win at -120 and another at -150. By combining them, the odds become +205 so you could go home with $305 on a $100 bet.

Payouts grow as you continue to add to the bet. Some sportsbooks allow you to bet on up to 10 events at a time and there are even a few sportsbooks that will accept up to 15-bet parlays. The more bets that you add, the higher the chances that your bet won’t succeed but if you do……wow!

Placing a Parlay Bet

To place a parlay bet, you have 2 options. You can either:

  • Fill out a parlay card and give the card to the sportsbook desk to place the bet
  • Direct the ticket writer to fill out the teams and totals on which the bet is to be placed and the amount.

You can find both types of parlay bets at most retail and online sportsbooks and mobile wagering apps.

Types of Parlay Bets

The most common types of parley bets are Teasers and Round Robin parlay bets.

  • In a Round Robin, multiple parlay bets are placed simultaneously. The bettor selects multiple totals or teams for his/her Round Robin bet, chooses the number of totals or teams that they want to tie together and ties the parlays to the number of combinations chosen. The combination determines how many parlays the bettor has. The ticket cost is based on the amount chosen for each parlay and the payout for each winning parlay is the same as if the bets had been made individually.
  • A Teaser involves selection of multiple totals or teams but no moneylines are involved. The bettor may move the total or point spread plus or minus 6-10 points with each stage of the teaser being moved the same number of points in any direction. The additional points contribute to easier wins so payout is less than with a Round Robin. The more teams involved, the better the payoff. Different sportsbooks have different rules and different odds, meaning teaser and payout options are also different.


Parlay payouts vary based on the odds that the individual sportsbook has for the number of teams included in the parlay. This is confusing, with odds changing at any time and different sportsbooks offering different odds and different payouts for the same parlay. It’s recommended that bettors check with the sportsbook ticket writer before placing a parlay bet.

Winning your Bet

You can win your bet if:

  • None of the totals, moneylines or sides loses
  • If a game is cancelled or ends in a tie. So even if you place a 4-team parlay and one game is cancelled, you’ll collect the payout if your other 3 chosen teams win. The payout, however, will be based on 3 teams, not 4.


Parlay payouts are fixed when the bet is placed. Even if the odds and lines for a game move, the parlay odds and lines won’t change after the parlay bet is placed, regardless of whether the lines change for or against the bet.

When lines change the bettor may place a second parlay bet based on the new line. The first parlay bet, however, stands so the bettor has two live parlay bets running.

Josh Appelbaum of the Vegas Sports and Information Network summed up parlay bets when speaking to Inside Hook. “Parlays are the penny slot of sports betting. In my book I have a chapter on why you should avoid parlays. Simply put, they make a killing for the house. Average Joes are roped in by the get-rich-quick mentality of striking it big, but they are playing right into the sportsbooks’ hands.”

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