What is a Parlay Bet? Explained

What is a Parlay Bet?

Sportsbooks and online sports gambling are taking the world by storm over the last few years. There are dozens of sites that we can use from a smartphone. These sites can be intimidating, but there is nothing to fret. One thing that can scare away amateur bettors is a parlay bet.

What is a Parlay Bet?

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 To understand a parlay, you have to first know how a single bet, or line, works. 

To place a single bet, you select which sport you want to bet on. This ranges from major sports such as baseball and soccer to more international sports like rugby and cricket.

  • Once you pick a sport and match, you pick what you want to place a bet on.
  • This can include who wins, the over/under of the total score, what the halftime score will be, or even who scores the first point.

The possibilities are endless!

Example of a Single bet:

Atlanta Falcons -5 O 45.5

Houston Texans +5 U 45.5

You can bet on the Falcons to win by at least 5 (-5) or the Texans to win or lose by less than 5 (+5).

You can also bet on the combined score be either over 46 or under 45.

Here is how to easily explain what a parlay bet is.

  • You can bet on several single bets at once and combine them to form one large bet.
  • The size of a parlay bet can vary per site.
  • You can usually do a parlay up to eight or ten bets.
  • Certain ones like FanDuel Sportsbook allows 16 bets to be placed within a single parlay.

*Sidenote: In most cases, you can only pick one bet per game per parlay. This means you cannot pick both the winner and over/under from the same game. There are certain exceptions, one being the NFL. Pre-kickoff, you can bet on a same-game parlay.

This allows for bettors to bet on the winner, over/under, first to score, halftime score, etc all on the same parlay.

**Sidenote: Check the policies and requirements for whichever site you use.

Some offshore betting sites will only allow certain sports to be combined in the same parlay.

It is not common but can happen.

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Example of a Parlay Bet

Parlay taken from FanDuel Sportsbook 01/26/2020

  1. SB 49ers vs Chiefs 49ers +112
  2. CBB UCLA vs Oregon O 131 -110
  3. CBB Ohio St vs Northwestern Ohio St -6.5 -110
  4. NBA Suns vs Grizzlies U 230.5 -110

4 Team parlay +1375

$100 bet pays out $1375.08

This particular parlay was put together from games available on the FanDuel Sportbook app.

There is one football bet for the Super Bowl, two bets from two college basketball games, and a bet on an NBA game.

Individually, only the football bet would payout a profit.

Combined, the odds are much greater as this one bet needs four different things to happen to win the bet overall.

The more bet lines within the parlay, the greater the potential payout will be.

High-risk, high-reward.

Why bother with a Parlay Bet?

Even after explaining what a parlay is, some may still steer away.

A question that may pop up is, “Why should I bother with a parlay bet?”.

“Risk vs reward” is the best phrase to use. Every bet has either a “+” or “-” in front of a number.

The 49ers winning the Super Bowl has a money line of +112 ( the money line is a flat-out winner, it doesn’t matter what the score is).

Every odd is based on a bet of $100. For +112, you win $112 when you bet $100.

If you bet $10, you win $11.20 and so on.

If you were to bet on the Chiefs to win instead, the odds sit at -128.

This means you would have to bet $128 just to win $100.

These types of bets are best suited for parlays, as you don’t make a profit on them individually. “-” defines the favorite to win while a “+” defines the underdog.

The more bets with “+” you have in a parlay, the larger the payout.

Referring back to the example above, even just one “+” out of four bets can have a major potential payout.

A parlay can make a bettor some big bucks, but everything has to hit on the parlay.

If one bet doesn’t pan out, the entire bet is void, and you lose.

The positive side is that you won’t lose as much compared to betting on each bet separately.

You can bet $10 on each individual bet and may only win $60 if they all hit.

With a parlay, a $10 can payout $250.

The risk is that more than just one thing has to happen for a parlay to win, but you can win the most money this way as well.

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How To Create a Parlay Bet

Most of the online sportsbooks let you set up a parlay in the same way.

 The only thing that differs is how many bets can be placed on one parlay. 

With sites like FanDuel, Bovada, and MyBookie use this simple format to create a parlay bet.

  1. Log-in to your account
  2. Decide which sport(s) you want to bet on- these can easily be found on “All Sports” tab
  3. Pick your first bet- a tab pops up and says to either “Place bet” or “Add to betslip”- Add to betslip
  4. Any additional bets will automatically be added to the betslip, or list of bets on a parlay
  5. Once you decide on your bets, go the the “Betslip” tab
  6. You place your bet under “# Team Parlay”- the number at the beginning refers to how many bets are in the parlay
  7. The site will automatically calculate the payout for whatever bet is placed because who has time for math
  8. Hit the “Place bet” button
  9. You can track your parlay under the “betslip” tab and can see active and old parlays

*Sidenote: As you track your parlay bet, you can have the option to take an early cash-out.

If you are feeling unsure that you made the right choices, you can cash-out and get back some of your initial bet.

The longer you wait, the less money you will get back.

Are Parlay Bets Safe?

This question gets asked frequently.

The simple answer is that it varies with each person’s discretion.

  • If you don’t prefer high-risk bets, parlays are not for you.
  • If you prefer larger payouts, parlays can be the trick but there is also the high-risk.
  • Sports betting is still gambling and there are really no “safe” bets.
  • There is some sort of gamble or risk with every bet placed.

The rule of thumb when it comes to gambling is to always ask yourself this question before placing a bet, “Can I afford to lose this amount of money and still be comfortable in life?” Gamble responsibly.

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