. How Does a Parlay Bet Work?

How Does a Parlay Bet Work?


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This is the ideal place for you to learn everything about parlays, especially if you are new to sports betting or need a little brush-up on popular wagering terms. As Arizona is on the brink of becoming a significant entity in the sports betting industry, parlay wagering, which is very popular, is crucial to understand.

A parlay bet involves a series of multiple outcomes and works on an all-or-nothing principle. For a successful bet, each segment or leg of the parlay must be correct. If even one part of the parlay is wrong, the whole wager fails. These bets are challenging to win, which is why they can yield substantial payouts even when only a small amount of money is at stake. While it’s hard to consistently win parlay bets, some gamblers find them extremely lucrative.

We will delve into the fundamentals of parlays, explain how to calculate them, and equip you with some advice on parlay betting.

Parlay bets explained

A parlay bet differs from traditional sports betting, presenting an appealing option. This type of betting obliges the bettor to accurately forecast a cluster of separate bets combined into one. For instance, if you find yourself browsing through FanDuel Arizona during an NFL Sunday, you might spot three optimal betting opportunities. After thorough research, you may choose the Arizona Cardinals with a +3.5 advantage against the New England Patriots, predict the Denver Broncos vs. Las Vegas Raiders game to exceed 45 points, and back the Miami Dolphins to beat the New York Jets by more than a -2.5 spread.

Naturally, you have the option to place each of these bets separately. However, if you’re feeling particularly confident, you could consolidate them into a parlay to potentially earn a bigger payout. If your parlay is correct across all three combinations, you win your wager, which would result in a handsome return. On the other hand, if any outcomes don’t align with your predictions, the whole bet is forfeited. Just to clarify, even if you’re correct in two out of three, or 99 out of 100 bets in a parlay (for exaggeration’s sake), the bet is still considered lost.

Do parlays have big payouts?

The allure of parlay betting undoubtedly lies in its potential returns. Novice bettors in Arizona sports betting find parlays appealing as they allow for a small stake with the possibility of a substantial profit. However, the reason for these large payouts is the inherent difficulty in successfully achieving parlays.

Oddsmakers are by no means unintelligent. This is the reason why sportsbooks will keep thriving for an extended period. They understand the allure of parlay betting to sports bettors, particularly those betting recreationally. As the possible outcomes in a parlay accumulate, the odds become increasingly less precise. Eventually, the odds tilt significantly in the sportsbook’s favor. The bettor no longer has any statistical advantage, and they might not even be aware of this fact.

Calculating parlay odds & payouts

Computing parlay odds can be challenging. Different sportsbooks use unique formulas for their platforms. If you want a straightforward way to compute potential payouts, visit your favored online sportsbook, key in the results you want to bet on in the parlay, and input the amount you are willing to risk. Many times, sportsbooks will display the payout amount if the bet is successful. There is also a plethora of sports betting calculators available online.

For the context of this article, let’s construct some speculative parlay odds. Suppose in the NFL, you’re interested in placing a bet on the Arizona Cardinals to surpass the -2.5 point spread against the Seattle Seahawks, and concurrently, for the game to exceed a total of 45.5 points.

If you presume the spread and total are at -110 odds, two separate bets of $11 each would mean a total risk of $22 and a potential return of $20. Conversely, combining these two bets into a single parlay with odds of +264 would transform an $11 bet into a profit of $29.09, but only if both outcomes are accurate.

We suggest you maximize your odds by creating accounts at various sportsbooks. This enables you to look for the most favorable number, as sportsbooks are not always perfectly aligned. To boost your earnings, consider checking the parlay payout for a winning bet at each sportsbook.

How to make a parlay bet

Having grasped the fundamentals of parlay betting, let’s look at some hypothetical examples involving three of Arizona’s top professional teams: the Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, and Arizona Diamondbacks.

NFL parlay bets

We’ll begin by discussing NFL bets, which are the pinnacle of sports betting in the US. Trust us when we say, a lot of parlay bets are made on professional football. In this scenario, we’ll use three NFL bets on the spread and parlay them together. Starting with an example you might come across at DraftKings Arizona, select the Arizona Cardinals -6.5 in their game against the Los Angeles Rams and parlay this with the New Orleans Saints +2.5 when they play the Minnesota Vikings, as well as the Green Bay Packers -1.5 in their game against the Chicago Bears.

When the point spread for each is set at the conventional -110 odds, the three together transform into +596 odds. Suppose you place a bet of $10 and manage to win all three of these bets in the parlay, you would earn a profit of $59.57. Quite impressive.

NBA parlay bets

Wagering on the NBA is also quite prevalent in the United States. In our scenario, we’ll put another parlay bet, combining point totals, point spreads, and the moneyline. Examining BetMGM’s AZ sportsbook, we could choose the Phoenix Suns as favorites over the Orlando Magic by 3.5 points, wager that the Los Angeles Lakers and Washington Wizards will score less than 210 points, and select the Milwaukee Bucks to triumph outright as -220 moneyline favorites against the Miami Heat.

If you place a $10 wager and all three achieve a victory at the standard -110 odds and the -220 moneyline wager, you could earn a payout of $43. However, there’s also a possibility of a less fortunate outcome. For instance, if the Bucks win and the Suns beat the spread, but the Lakers and Wizards combine to score more than 210 points, the entire bet would be lost. This illustrates the precarious nature of a parlay – it’s much like a house of cards. If one element isn’t perfect, the whole thing collapses.

MLB parlay bets

In the following example, we will explore MLB betting, focusing solely on moneyline bets. The teams we’ll consider are the Boston Red Sox at -245, Arizona Diamondbacks at -200, and New York Yankees at -135 odds. The only requirement for each team is to win. When these bets are parlayed together, a $10 bet yields a profit of $26.76 from the moneyline parlay.

The different types of parlays

Alright, the complexity of parlays can definitely exceed the basic descriptions we’ve provided above. Besides the basics, other parlay betting options such as round robins and teasers also exist.

In a round robin, it’s possible to generate numerous parlays from just one bet. These types of bets reduce risk, although they typically offer lower payouts than traditional parlays. For instance, let’s assume you want to place a three-team round robin on the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, and Los Angeles Rams to win their upcoming games. This round robin bet would create parlays that include the following:

  • Cardinals, Seahawks, Rams
  • Cardinals, Seahawks
  • Rams, Cardinals
  • Seahawks, Rams

Then, you root for each combination, and the payout escalates depending on the number of correctly predicted parlays in the round robin bet.

A teaser bet operates in a similar fashion to other bets, requiring correct combinations for a successful bet, but it comes with a unique twist. This type of bet allows the sports bettor to adjust the lines. For instance, if a bettor sees the Arizona Cardinals at -3 odds, they can increase their chances of covering by shifting the line to +4. This process is then repeated for another game, and both are combined into a teaser. However, because the lines are significantly skewed in the bettor’s favor, the payouts aren’t as large as those in traditional parlays.

Why people bet parlays

There are several reasons why people place parlay bets. Firstly, as previously noted, the potential payout can be substantial. Moreover, they offer an exciting wagering experience, particularly as you progress through each stage of the parlay, drawing nearer to a significant windfall.

Drawbacks to betting parlays

Despite the excitement, there are multiple reasons to think twice before becoming a regular parlay bettor. As previously mentioned, parlays offer high payouts because they’re extremely difficult to win. If a sports bettor can manage to break even in sports betting through single-game wagering, that’s quite an achievement. Hence, one can only imagine how challenging it is to consistently win parlays.

In addition, as more outcomes are added to the parlay, the odds often become increasingly unfavorable for the sports bettor. If you’re a newcomer to sports betting in Arizona, you’ll soon realize that the industry heavily leans in favor of the house. Sportsbooks usually make a substantial profit with parlays. This is exactly why they continue to provide them as sports wagering continues to expand in the United States.

How to force true odds on a parlay bet

It’s common knowledge that true odds typically don’t exist in sports betting, ensuring the survival of sportsbooks. While parlays present poorer odds compared to single-game bets, sports bettors can outsmart the system and establish true odds in a parlay for themselves.

Typically, the conventional point total or point spread odds are established at -110 for both sides. However, oddsmakers may occasionally set them at -105 or -115, for instance. If any leg in the parlay deviates from -110, the sportsbooks will offer significantly more reasonable odds than if all parlay legs were at -110. Ultimately, by adding just one leg that isn’t -110, you can expect a greater payout.

What happens when a bet pushes in a parlay?

If a push occurs in one of the bets in a parlay, that bet is simply removed. For instance, if a push happens in one of the outcomes in a three-team parlay, it essentially becomes a two-way parlay. Similarly, for a two-team parlay, a push results in it becoming a single-game wager.

How do progressive, multi-chance and open parlays work?

Numerous parlay options are available for sports bettors. Let’s quickly review progressive, multi-chance, and open parlays.

  • In a progressive parlay, bettors can still make money even if some of their bets are wrong. These types of parlays usually have between four and 12 legs, and only bets on point spreads and point totals are permitted. For a progressive parlay with 4-6 teams, the bettor is allowed one push or loss. If there are 7-9 teams, the bettor has a leeway for two teams. For a parlay with 10-12 outcomes, bettors can afford to have three wrong bets.
  • Multi-chance: A multi-chance parlay functions similarly to a progressive parlay, with one exception. In such a wager, regardless of the number of games the bettor accurately predicts above the set threshold, they will receive the same amount of money if they win.
  • Rewording: In an open parlay, gamblers start with a single bet. If they win, they have the option to use the winnings to place another bet at their convenience. This process can continue for numerous rounds, however, some sportsbooks may have restrictions on the maximum number of bets that can be made in an open parlay. Not all sportsbooks offer this type of betting, so it’s advisable to check with your preferred ones.

Tips for successfully betting parlays

Given that you’ve read up to this point, it’s probable that you’re already intrigued by parlay betting. Therefore, we won’t dwell on warning you against excessive betting; instead, let’s focus on providing key strategies and advice for parlay betting.

  • Limit your combinations: You might have heard tales about individuals winning massive sums with 10 different point spread combinations. However, such instances are akin to hitting the lottery and are unlikely to occur consistently. It’s crucial to manage the depth of your parlay.
  • Keep your bets small: The primary advantage of parlay betting is the potential to win big with just a small investment. Thus, it is often recommended not to wager more than your normal betting amount on parlays.
  • Use hedging when feasible: The phrase “hedge your bets” may be familiar to you. This strategy can indeed be used in parlay betting. If you’re on the verge of winning a large parlay with only one result left, you can protect yourself by betting against the final outcome. This ensures that you make a profit regardless of the result. Additionally, it prevents the disappointment of losing the entire parlay on the last game. Even if you don't win the hedged bet, the significant parlay win will still be a consolation.

Related Sports Betting Articles

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  • Arizona Sports Betting Promos
  • Arizona Sportsbook Odds
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  • Wagering on Team Sports vs. Single Player Sports
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  • How Do Alternative Betting Lines Function?
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Is a parlay a bad bet?

Often, sports bettors do not get fair odds from the oddsmakers when wagering on a parlay, hence it is occasionally termed as a sucker’s bet.

Consistently achieving victory using a parlay strategy is quite improbable in the long-term. While you might get fortunate and strike a parlay for a substantial payout, it’s probable that you would have already lost a significant amount of money betting on parlays before hitting the jackpot.

Betting on sports is primarily meant for entertainment, and parlays can indeed add an exciting twist. If your sole purpose of sports wagering is to generate income, it would be prudent to steer clear of parlays. On the other hand, if you engage in sports betting for enjoyment, without spending large sums of money, a sporadic parlay could certainly spice up your weekend.