Parlay Definition and Examples in Sports Betting: A Comprehensive Guide

In the world of sports betting, a unique type of wager called a parlay has gained significant popularity among bettors. A parlay is a single bet that combines two or more individual wagers, yielding a higher payout if all of the connected bets are successful. The increased potential returns make it an enticing option for experienced sports bettors and newcomers alike. However, it’s essential to comprehend the intricacies of this wager before diving in.

Parlays are commonly employed in diverse sporting events such as football, basketball, and horse racing. As each additional bet is included, the odds multiply, leading to a larger potential payout but also increasing the overall risk. To win a parlay bet, every selection within the wager must be successful, making this bet type more challenging than placing multiple individual bets.

It’s crucial to study various examples in sports betting to grasp the full range of parlay betting possibilities. From simple two-team parlays to more complex wagers involving multiple teams or event variables, understanding the parlay structure will help bettors make well-informed decisions and maximise potential profits. As with any sports betting endeavour, strategic thinking, thorough research, and sound knowledge of the sport and its athletes are vital elements for success.

parlay bet guide

Parlay Definition

A parlay bet is a type of wager in sports betting where a bettor combines two or more individual bets into a single bet. This approach increases the overall odds and, if successful, leads to a greater payout. However, for a parlay to win, all the selections within it must be accurate. Bettors can include various types of wagers in their parlays, such as point spreads, moneylines, and totals.

Parlays are also referred to as ‘combo bets’ or ‘multi bets’ in America and ‘accumulator bets’ in the UK. These bets are popular due to their potential for higher returns in comparison to placing individual bets. The increased odds in parlays are reflective of the fact that they are more challenging to win with each additional bet included.

An example of a parlay bet could be a bettor combining the outcomes of four different games in various sports, such as Aussie rules football, cricket, rugby, and soccer. By linking the four bets together, the odds are increased, resulting in a higher payout if all four bets are correct. However, if even one selection is incorrect, the entire parlay bet loses.

The risks involved with parlay betting can be significant, as the probability of winning decreases with each additional selection. It’s essential for bettors to weigh the potential rewards against the risks when incorporating parlays into their overall betting strategy. In some cases, experienced bettors might employ strategies like betting on correlated bets or using a round-robin parlay approach to increase their chances of success.

Basics of Sports Betting

In sports betting, individuals place bets on the outcome of various sports events or games. The essential component of such wagers is understanding the odds, which represent the probability of a particular outcome occurring. A sportsbook, which is an establishment, physical or online, that accepts and manages bets, sets the odds and calculates the potential payout for the bettor.

There are various types of bets that one can make on sports events. One such popular bet type is the parlay bet. A parlay bet combines two or more individual wagers, and the bettor must win all the selected bets for the parlay to be successful. The appeal of parlay betting lies in the greater payout, as the odds for the combined wagers are higher than individual bets.

For example, consider a bettor who wants to place a parlay bet on three football games. The odds for each of the three individual bets may be 1.70, 2.10, and 1.50. To calculate the combined odds for the parlay, the bettor would multiply the individual odds together: 1.70 x 2.10 x 1.50 = 5.355. This parlay bet’s combined odds stand at 5.355, yielding a potential higher return for the bettor if all three bets are successful.

In order to place a parlay bet, a bettor must understand how odds work. Decimal odds, commonly used in Australia, represent the total amount the bettor will receive for every dollar wagered, should their bet win. For example, if a bet has odds of 2.00, the bettor would receive $2 for every $1 bet if the bet wins.

To sum up, sports betting involves placing wagers on the outcomes of different sports events or games, using the provided odds by a sportsbook. Parlay betting is a popular bet type that combines several individual bets for a higher potential payout. However, winning a parlay bet requires success in all the selected bets, making it riskier than individual bets.

How Parlays Work

Components of a Parlay

A parlay is a type of wager in sports betting where two or more bets are linked together to create one bet with a greater payout. It combines multiple wagers (called “legs”) into a single bet. For a parlay to win, every leg included in the parlay must win. This higher risk of multiple selections winning simultaneously results in a larger potential payout, making parlays an attractive betting option for some bettors.

There are various types of bets that can be included in a parlay, such as point spreads, moneylines, and over/unders. The key is that all selections must be successful for the parlay to be considered a winning bet.

Calculating Parlay Odds

Calculating parlay odds depends on the individual odds of each bet within the parlay. The combined odds are determined by multiplying the odds of each selection together. In most cases, sportsbooks will use the decimal odds format for calculating parlay payouts.

For example, let’s assume you have a 3-team parlay with the following moneyline selections:

  • Team A: 1.50
  • Team B: 2.00
  • Team C: 1.70

To calculate the combined odds for this parlay, multiply the odds of each selection together:

1.50 x 2.00 x 1.70 = 5.10

A $100 bet on this parlay would thus have a potential payout of $510, with a profit of $410.

Keep in mind that parlays can involve bets in different sports and leagues, and the odds will vary accordingly. The more selections included in a parlay, the less likely it is to win, but the payout increases accordingly, adding an element of excitement and potential reward for the bettor.

Types of Parlay Bets

In this section, we will explore various types of parlay bets that can be placed in sports betting. These include Point Spread Parlays, Moneyline Parlays, Totals Parlays, Prop Bets Parlays, and Teaser Parlays. Each type has its unique characteristics and strategies.

Point Spread Parlays

Point Spread Parlays involve combining two or more bets with point spreads. A point spread is a figure set by bookmakers to handicap a game, providing an advantage to one team and making the wager more even. To win a point spread parlay, all of the chosen teams must cover their respective spreads. This can lead to greater payouts, as the likelihood of all teams covering the spread decreases with each added team.

Moneyline Parlays

Moneyline Parlays consist of combining two or more bets on the moneyline, which is a straight-up bet on which team will win the game, without considering any point spreads. The more bets you add to a moneyline parlay, the greater the potential payout, as each successive team must win for the parlay to be successful. However, this also increases the risk of losing the entire parlay.

Totals Parlays

Totals Parlays involve wagering on the over/under, which is the combined total points scored in a game. When bettors place a totals parlay, they’re combining multiple over/under bets within a single wager. To win this type of parlay, all selected overs and unders must be accurate. As with other parlays, the more bets included increases both the payout and the risk.

Prop Bets Parlays

Prop Bets Parlays merge two or more proposition bets – wagers on specific outcomes within a game, unrelated to the final score or outcome. These can include bets on individual player performances, team statistics, or specific in-game occurrences. To win a prop bets parlay, all selected propositions must be correct. The varying nature of prop bets and their odds can lead to intriguing combinations and potential payouts.

Teaser Parlays

Teaser Parlays are a variation of point spread parlays, where bettors can adjust the point spread of each game to their advantage, increasing their chances of winning. However, teaser parlays usually offer lower payouts than standard point spread parlays due to this increased probability. Teaser parlays are popular in certain sports, such as American football and basketball, where points can often yield significant differences in a game’s outcome.

Each type of parlay bet offers unique challenges and potential rewards. Combining various parlays within a single wager allows bettors to take advantage of diverse strategies and odds, aiming for larger payouts in sports betting.

Parlay Examples

NFL Parlay Example

In an NFL parlay bet, you can combine multiple bets on different games to increase the potential payout. For instance, let’s say you think the Ravens (-6) and Packers (+4) will cover their spreads on an NFL Sunday. You could create a parlay with these two bets as follows:

  • Ravens (-6): The Ravens must win by at least 7 points for this part of the parlay to hit.
  • Packers (+4): The Packers must either win the game or lose by no more than 3 points for this part of the parlay to hit.

If both of these results occur, the parlay will be a winner, and it will pay out at a higher rate than if you had bet on each game individually.

NBA Parlay Example

Similarly, in an NBA parlay, you can combine bets from multiple games to increase the potential payout. Let’s say you want to bet on the Heat (+5) and Golden State (-9) in two separate games. You could create a parlay with these two bets as follows:

  • Heat (+5): The Heat must either win the game or lose by no more than 4 points for this part of the parlay to hit.
  • Golden State (-9): Golden State must win the game by at least 10 points for this part of the parlay to hit.

If both of these results occur, the parlay will be a winner, and it will pay out at a higher rate than if you had bet on each game individually. Keep in mind that the more bets you add to a parlay, the higher the potential payout but also the higher the risk, as all bets within the parlay must win for it to be successful.

Parlay Betting Strategies

Parlay betting can be an exciting and potentially rewarding way to enjoy sports betting. To maximise your chances of success, it is important to develop a well-thought-out strategy. This section will outline three key areas to focus on when building your parlay betting strategy: choosing the right games, balancing risk and reward, and managing your bankroll.

Choosing the Right Games

When constructing a parlay, it’s crucial to select the right games. Here are a few guidelines to follow when choosing games to include in your parlay:

  • Perform thorough research: Analyse factors such as team form, injuries, and head-to-head records to make more informed decisions.
  • Look for value bets: Identify games where the odds seem to be slightly in your favour, such as underdogs with a good chance of winning or favourites with low odds.
  • Avoid high-risk games: Be cautious of games with too many unknowns or unpredictable outcomes, such as closely matched teams or games heavily influenced by external factors (e.g., weather conditions).

Balancing Risk and Reward

To strike the right balance between risk and reward in your parlay bets, consider the following aspects:

  • Avoid overly ambitious parlays: While long parlays with multiple legs can offer higher potential payouts, the likelihood of winning decreases with each added leg. Aim for parlays with a manageable number of legs to maintain a reasonable chance of success.
  • Mix favourites and underdogs: Including both favourites and underdogs in your parlay can help provide a balance of risk and reward. If the underdogs win, the payout will be higher, while the favourites provide a solid foundation for the parlay.
  • Use alternative betting markets: Explore alternative markets (such as point spreads, over/under, or player prop bets) to find bets with the best value and lower risk.

Managing Bankroll

Effective bankroll management is essential for long-term parlay betting success. Keep these tips in mind when managing your bankroll:

  • Set a budget: Determine a fixed amount of money you’re willing to allocate to parlay betting and stick to it.
  • Use unit betting: Divide your bankroll into units and only bet a certain percentage of your bankroll per parlay (e.g., 1-2% per bet). This approach helps minimise the potential impact of a losing streak.
  • Review and adjust: Periodically review your parlay betting performance and adjust your strategy accordingly. If your bankroll grows, you can consider increasing the unit size, and if it is shrinking, you can scale back your unit size or reassess your approach to game selection.

By following these guidelines, you can develop a more successful parlay betting strategy and increase your chances of reaping the rewards from this exciting type of wager. Remember to stay disciplined, patient, and continuously learn from your experiences.

Alternative Betting Options

Sports betting offers a variety of methods to place bets, including parlay bets which involve linking two or more bets together to create a single wager with a higher payout. However, there are other avenues you can explore when considering how you want to structure your bets. In this section, we’ll discuss single bets and accumulators as alternative options.

Single Bets

A single bet is an individual wager placed on a specific outcome. These bets are often seen as less complicated than parlays, as they only involve one event and don’t require multiple selections to win in order to cash out. Examples of single bets include betting on who will win a match or predicting the number of goals or points that will be scored in a game.

With single bets, there is less risk involved as you only need one correct outcome to win. However, the payouts in single bets are usually lower compared to parlay bets since you’re not taking on the increased risk of correctly predicting multiple outcomes.


Accumulator bets, also known as combo bets or multi bets, are similar to parlays. They involve combining two or more individual wagers into a single bet, with all selections needing to be correct in order to win. In the UK, they are often referred to as “accumulator bets”.

The main difference between parlays and accumulators is that accumulators typically offer fixed odds, rather than being dependent on individual odds. This can make it easier to understand and calculate your potential payout. However, they still increase in risk as you add more selections to your bet.

To summarise, both single bets and accumulators offer alternatives to parlay bets depending on your betting strategy and risk appetite. Single bets suit those after simplicity and lower risk, while accumulators provide an opportunity for higher combined odds and potentially greater payouts if you’re willing to take on the risk of multiple selections.

Calculating Parlay Payouts

Calculating parlay payouts can be done using a parlay calculator or manually. Parlays are a betting method where multiple bets are combined, increasing the potential payout but also the risk. Different types of odds, such as American, decimal, and European odds, can be used when calculating parlay payouts.

Using a Parlay Calculator

Parlay calculators are useful tools to quickly and accurately determine the potential payout of a parlay bet. By inputting your bet amount and the odds for each of your selections, the calculator will display your potential winnings. These tools usually support American, decimal, and European odds.

Manual Calculation

Manual calculation involves converting all odds to decimal format, multiplying them together, and then multiplying the result by your bet amount. Here’s the step-by-step process:

  1. Convert odds: Convert American or European odds to decimal odds. For example, for American odds:
    • Positive odds: decimal odd = (American odd / 100) + 1
    • Negative odds: decimal odd = (100 / absolute value of American odd) + 1
  2. Multiply decimal odds: Multiply all of your decimal odds together. This will provide the overall decimal odds for your parlay.
  3. Calculate payout: Multiply your overall decimal odds by your bet amount.
  4. Subtract original stake: Finally, subtract your original bet amount from the calculated payout to obtain your potential winnings.

Keep in mind that multiple-paragraphs are used in this section to improve readability and understanding. Tables, bullet points, bold text, and other formatting are not included as they are not necessary for this specific topic.

Remember, parlay bets can be exciting due to the potential for higher payouts, but they also come with increased risk. As a bettor, it is essential to consider these factors and choose your bets wisely.

Advanced Parlay Concepts

In this section, we will discuss some advanced parlay concepts such as round robin parlays and player props parlays.

Round Robin Parlays

A round robin parlay is a type of parlay bet that involves multiple individual bets linked together to form several smaller parlays. Instead of having to win each bet in a parlay, round robins allow for some bets to lose while still having the chance to win a portion of the total payout. This decreases the risk compared to a traditional parlay.

To create a round robin parlay, a bettor will select three or more teams or events they would like to bet on. The round robin then creates all possible parlay combinations with these selections, typically in 2, 3, or 4-team combinations. For example, if a bettor chooses four teams, a 2-team round robin would create six separate parlays.

Here’s an example of a 3-team round robin parlay:

  • Selections: Team A, Team B, Team C
  • 2-team round robin combinations: (Team A & Team B), (Team A & Team C), (Team B & Team C)

If one team loses, only the parlay with that team is lost, while the other parlays can still win.

Player Props Parlays

Player props parlays are a type of parlay bet focused on individual player performances within a game rather than the outcome of the game itself. These bets can include player statistics such as points, rebounds, assists, and more.

The concept of a player props parlay is similar to a traditional parlay: multiple player prop bets are combined into a single bet with higher odds. If all the individual player prop predictions are correct, the player props parlay wins and receives a higher payout.

For example, a bettor could create a player props parlay by selecting:

  1. Player 1: Over 25.5 points.
  2. Player 2: Over 8.5 rebounds.
  3. Player 3: Over 4.5 assists.

If all the predictions are correct, the player props parlay wins with increased odds. Similar to a round robin parlay, a player props parlay allows for some bets to lose while still receiving a portion of the total payout. This adds an extra layer of excitement and variety to sports betting.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Parlays

Higher Payouts

One of the main benefits of parlay bets in sports betting is the potential for larger payouts. When multiple bets are linked together in a single parlay, the odds increase, which in turn, increases the potential payout if all selections are correct. This can be attractive to bettors who want to maximise their winnings, especially when compared to individual bets.

Increased Difficulty

However, the drawback of parlays is that they are harder to win. Since all linked bets need to be correct for the parlay to be successful, the probability of winning decreases with each additional bet in the parlay. This increased difficulty can make parlays a riskier betting option, as one incorrect selection can cause the entire parlay to fail.

Entertainment Value

Despite their increased difficulty, parlays can provide great entertainment value. The excitement of having multiple bets linked together means that there’s a heightened sense of anticipation as bettors await the outcome of each game or event. This can be particularly enjoyable for those who enjoy a thrill and are willing to take on the higher risk associated with parlays.

In summary, parlays offer higher potential payouts and added entertainment value, but with increased difficulty and risk. Bettors should carefully consider these factors when deciding whether to place a parlay bet in sports betting.

Tips for Betting on Parlays

Identifying Favourites and Underdogs

When betting on parlays, it’s important to know the distinction between favourites and underdogs. Favourites are the teams expected to win their respective games, while underdogs are less likely to come out victorious. In sports betting, these are often represented by point spreads, moneylines, or futures. To identify the favourites and underdogs, look for the ‘+’ or ‘-‘ symbols beside a team’s odds. In general, a team with a ‘-‘ symbol is considered a favourite, while a ‘+’ signifies an underdog. This knowledge can help you make better decisions when constructing your parlay bets.

Researching Teams and Matchups

Research plays a crucial role in sports betting, especially when it comes to parlays. This involves gathering information about teams, players, and their recent performances. Consider factors such as home-field advantage, head-to-head records, and injury reports. Keep an eye on any recent trends, like a team’s win-loss record over their last few games. Additionally, bettors should be aware of possible teasers, which allow them to adjust point spreads in their favour. A well-researched approach can help bettors make more informed decisions when selecting bets for their parlays.

  • Home-field advantage: Teams often perform better in their own stadiums, gaining confidence and energy from supportive crowds.
  • Head-to-head records: Check past results between two teams to identify dominant performances or potential upsets.
  • Injury reports: Look for updates on key players who might miss a game, as this can greatly impact a team’s performance.

Selecting Appropriate Betting Amounts

Determining the right amount to bet on a parlay can be crucial in ensuring long-term success. To do this, bettors must consider their risk tolerance, bankroll management strategies, and potentially the overall value of the parlay.

When allocating funds for your parlay bets, it’s important to remain consistent with your overall betting strategy. Some bettors may choose to use a fixed percentage of their bankroll for each bet, while others may opt for a tiered system based on the perceived risk of the parlay. Regardless of your approach, remember that parlays often come with higher risk due to the need for multiple correct outcomes. As a result, it’s generally wise to bet smaller amounts on parlays compared to single bets.

  • Fixed percentage: Allocate a consistent percentage of your bankroll for each parlay bet (e.g. 2% of your bankroll).
  • Tiered system: Assign different betting amounts based on the perceived risk of the parlay (e.g. 1% for lower risk, 3% for higher risk).

Understanding Parlay Terminology

Push and Tie

A push occurs when the point spread or total in a single leg of a parlay results in a tie. In this case, a tie means the wager neither wins nor loses. A push can affect a parlay in different ways, depending on the sportsbook’s rules. If a push happens in a three-team parlay, most sportsbooks will reduce it to a two-team parlay and adjust the payout odds accordingly. Similarly, a push in a four-team parlay will typically reduce it to a three-team parlay.

It’s important to know how the sportsbook you’re betting with handles pushes, as that can significantly impact your potential payout. When building a parlay, be aware of close point spreads or totals where a push is more likely to occur.


The term juice refers to the commission that sportsbooks charge for taking bets. Also known as “vig” or “vigorish,” juice is a percentage of the amount bet, which is taken by the bookmaker as their profit. In parlay betting, sportsbooks often include juice in the calculation of the odds for each individual leg and then multiply them together to determine the overall parlay odds.

Sportsbooks may have different methods of calculating juice, affecting the payout odds. Keep this in mind when comparing potential parlay payouts at different sportsbooks, as the bookmaker with the lowest juice on individual bets may not offer the highest payout for a parlay containing the same bets.

By understanding the terminology and concepts of push, tie, and juice in parlay betting, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions when placing wagers. Remember to always compare different sportsbooks to find the best odds and payouts for your parlay bets.


In sports betting, parlay bets offer a unique and exciting opportunity for bettors to combine multiple bets into one wager, increasing the odds and potential payout. These bets can involve different sports and games, adding variety and excitement to the betting experience. Parlay bets require a strategic thinking and a strong understanding of the sports involved to increase the chances of winning.

When placing parlay bets, bettors can apply various strategies based on their knowledge and analysis of the games and teams involved. With the right approach, successful parlay bets can lead to significant payouts. However, it’s crucial to remember that the difficulty of winning these bets increases with the number of selections added, as all selections must win for the bet to cash.

In conclusion, parlay bets in sports betting can be an entertaining and rewarding option for bettors who have a solid understanding of the sports and games they’re wagering on. Keep in mind the risks, and remember to bet responsibly, enjoying the excitement that parlay betting can bring to the world of sports betting.