The Function of Parlay Bets

The Function of Parlay Bets

In terms of sports betting history, parlays are highly regarded. There are many stories of wild parlays succeeding against all odds to win large sums of money. Hell, the climaxes of the critically acclaimed recent movies “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Uncut Gems” both revolve around hazardous parlay bets.

So what is a parlay? What are the parlay rules? Do you desire to parlay?

We’ll go over everything parlay-related in this part, including the answers to these and other questions.


There are numerous names for parlays used throughout the world. Depending on the sportsbook or the region, they may also be referred to as “accumulators” or “multis.”

Whatever the moniker, the concept is rather simple. A parlay bet combines many wagers into one wager. This is done by carrying over the winnings from each wager into the next leg of the wager. A parlay needs a successful “leg,” or separate wager, in order to be declared a winner.

Think back to the Super Bowl between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers the year before. According to Pro Football Reference, the combined betting total for the two teams was 54.5, and the Chiefs concluded with a -3 point spread handicap.

Consider that a bettor choose to stake $100 on the spread and total. They may simply place a bet of $50 on the Bucs +3 and another of $50 on the under 54.5. In the event that both bets win at a price of -110, our hero will win $90.90.

Or the bettor may combine the two wagers into a $100 parlay if they so desired. Now that the wagers are linked together, both sides must succeed for the wager to be successful. This time, when the Buccaneers triumph 31-9 and raise the Lombardi Trophy, the bettor gets $264.

Isn’t that a significant change? Before loading the gun to fire the money, though, pause.


When the parlay bet is accepted, the sportsbook again sets up a multi-level wager so that each winning wager raises the stake on the following leg.

In the aforementioned example with two conventional -110 legs, the first bet is $100 on the Bucs +3 or the under 54.5. Because both bets finish at the same time, it doesn’t matter which bet represents the “first” leg in this scenario. Due to the Bucs +3 covering the spread, that $100 becomes $190.91.

The stake for the following leg, which is below 54.5, is now that $190.91. Additionally, that came in, and a wager at -110 on the price returns $173.55. When you combine these, you earn $364.46.

If you want to perform some quick math to figure out how much a parlay bet will pay out, there is a simple framework for -110 bets. A two-teamer pays out around 2.6 to 1, as we just witnessed. With a three-teamer paying around 6-to-1, the odds effectively treble from there for every -110 stake added to the parlay.

To further understand how parlays would work in various scenarios, let’s look at a few hypothetical wagers from Week 1 of the NFL season. All of the lines to come are from the DraftKings Sportsbook. Since we’ve already examined a two-team parlay, we’ll look at a three-team parlay before moving on to a four-team parlay.


Sports parlays are generally discouraged, at least in terms of their long-term expected worth, according to the majority of sources. This is because a parlay requires have all bets, or almost all of them, to have positive expected values in order for it to have a positive expected value (+EV).

Because this is such a high bar to clear, most parlays only make it easier for the bookmaker to win the players’ money. For proof, look at the revenue split of any legal betting market. Sportsbooks commonly retain a larger portion of the wagering proceeds from parlays.

If that isn’t convincing enough, you can readily see it by contrasting the expected value of a $100 parlay with that of two $50 spread bets placed at odds of -110. We’ll perform the calculations for you, but assuming that each wager has a 50% chance of succeeding, it goes like this:

  • Parlay: $-$9
  • Straight bets: down $4.55

If you wish to send money to the sportsbooks at a rate that is twice as quickly or faster, parlays should work.


Now, despite what the content in the sports betting industry tells you overwhelmingly, parlays are not the root of all evil. There are many different reasons to bet on parlays.

First and foremost, people like making small bets that have a potential of paying out big. The same justification underlies the appeal of the lottery.

Many gamblers simply don’t care if they are placing a -EV bet. It’s okay if they don’t always bet with the goal of long-term financial success. They indulge themselves by splurging on a six-teamer with slim chances of making it back home. If they’re playing sensibly and you prefer parlays, parlay away.

The second category is without a doubt +EV parlays. We’ve already talked about mixing winning wagers to increase the likelihood of a payout. However, even breakeven or -EV gamblers can occasionally find profitable parlay bets by employing the correlation principle.


What if you could combine two bets, but doing so enhanced the likelihood that you would win the first bet if you also won the second? Apparently, you can. These parlays are referred to as “correlated parlays.”

Combining the game’s overall over and the first-half over would be the easiest example. If the first-half total is correct, it is obvious that the overall total has gained momentum and is now the favorite to win.

It is so obviously the case that sportsbooks have protections in place to prevent you from placing bets on specific parlays. They at least used to. The world of sports betting has recently been swept up by “same-game parlays” (SGPs). Warning: Before placing your bets, make sure to compare the payouts on these to the payouts on each of your individual bets. In order to match the correlation, sportsbooks frequently alter payments, which eliminates their potential for positive expected value (+EV).

Some related parlays, however, are permitted and pay out in full. The sixth week of the 2021 NFL season will be the ideal time for an example. The football team travels to Washington to meet the Kansas City Chiefs.

If everything goes as planned, Washington will have a very strong defense and Kansas City will have a very potent offense. In the event of a high-scoring shootout, Washington’s chances of maintaining the lead are little to none. However, if the game ends with a low number of points, Washington has a much better chance of covering the spread or triumphing.

If you agree with this assumption, then betting on Washington and the under would theoretically be related. Therefore, including them both in a parlay bet yields a +EV if you are correct.


These days, it is increasingly popular to wager on parlays in casinos utilizing a parlay card. Gamblers fill out these long, narrow cards by marking the numbered circle adjacent to the side or point spread that they choose to wager on. Once the teams and totals have been chosen, the bettor simply hands the completed half of the card to the ticket writer in the sportsbook along with the amount they intend to stake.

Parlay cards do well during football season. There are many different types of parlay cards, including several types of teasers, ties win, and reverse teaser cards, sometimes known as pleasers. Parlay Cards for mobile sports betting have started to appear due to their rising popularity.

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