What is a Parlay?
In sports betting, a parlay is a single bet that combines two or more individual wagers into one bet. All individual bets must have a positive outcome to win a parlay.
This type of wager offers players the benefit of a higher payout than placing each bet individually since the likelihood of hitting all legs of a parlay is much less. Winning parlays are paid at higher odds than a single game wager but below the “true” odds for each matchup.
Because all bets involved in a parlay must win, the risk is much higher than making individual bets. However, parlays can be very profitable when used correctly.
The potential profits are what make parlays so attractive to bettors, but most recreational players don’t use the right strategy to bet them effectively. Nevertheless, there are several instances in sports betting where using parlays is most successful.
How Do Parlays Work?
Parlays tie together multiple wagers that must all win, but the higher odds reflect the increased risk. For example, a three-team NBA parlay could involve three moneyline bets: the Knicks at -120, the Bulls at +140, and the Pacers at -130. For this three-team parlay to win, all three teams must be victorious. If two of these bets are winners and only one loses, the overall parlay wager also loses.
If one leg of a parlay ends in a “push” or tie, that specific bet is discarded, which then reduces the parlay by one leg. For example, if a player bets a four-team parlay and gets three wins, with the final result being a tie, the bookmaker will lower it to a three-team parlay and pay the player the appropriate amount. European bookmakers allow players to include ties into a parlay, meaning they can wager on a win, loss, or tie when picking any match.
Parlay Betting Pros and Cons
Betting parlays in sports wagering is the most exciting way to bet because of the possibility of winning big if successful. Parlays could be an alternative for bettors who want to try something new. If done correctly, players can walk away with huge cash prizes that pay more than any other type of bet.
While parlay betting can sometimes be fun, the higher risk means players are more likely to win nothing. Winning when betting on sports is difficult using any type of bet, with players that bet parlays having a high potential to go long periods without winning anything. Using any solid betting strategy when betting parlays is also more challenging.
Experts regard progressive betting strategies like parlays as poor for managing a player’s bankroll. Professional handicappers make bets based on the edge they find with each wager. While the same method can be used when betting on parlays, it’s much more work with little advantage to the bettor.
Best Methods To Bet Parlays
Bookmakers don’t offer players a level playing field on fixed-odds parlay bets. For example, on a two-team parlay with the odds at -110 on both legs, the true probability should make the odds +300. However, a two-team parlay pays the bettor +260 for a win. That being the case, there are a few instances where betting parlays make perfect sense.
Most online bookmakers have welcome offers and ongoing bonuses for players in the form of free play. Three-team parlays are great for free wagers and other bonuses because they bring more juice than true odds and allow the player to free-play three different bets. In other words, a free play used on a three-team parlay is potentially worth three times more than using it for a single wager on the spread.
Parlay insurance is one of the latest twists offered by many online bookmakers. Some providers will refund the player’s stake if they lose no more than one leg of their parlay. Most sportsbooks provide players a refund of up to $25 per losing parlay.
This is a great way to help manage a player’s bankroll if wagering smaller parlays. Parlay insurance is more common in NFL and NBA markets, where picking winners is more challenging. Players must check if their bookmaker offers this option and review the terms and conditions to ensure it fits their needs.