Parlay Bet | 11 Parlay Tips [Odds and Where to Play]

Updated: 83993 Betting

Parlay Bet | 11 Parlay Tips [Odds and Where to Play]
Michael Calabrese US Content Manager

Experienced sports journalist, College sports expert and broadcaster, hailing from Pennsylvania

Ever heard the term Parlay and wondered how to wager one, what the odds are and where to make the bet?

What is Parlay Betting? - Parlay betting is a wager combining two or more sports betting picks, the success of which, depends on all picks being correct. The odds are combined, creating a single wager to provide significant returns when successful. They are by definition harder than straight wagers but add excitement to online sports betting.

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I was wondering if some sports betting sites are better than others for placing parlays and which sports are best for this type of wager. Given variations between sportsbooks including their in-house parlay builders, parlay bonuses, and cross-sport parlay options, potential payouts can vary widely. 

I've undertaken numerous hours of research to bring you the following advice to help you choose the best sportsbook for parlay betting. This advice will differ depending upon which state you are wagering in. So I have researched all the NJ sports betting sites, PA sports betting sites and Indiana Sports betting sites as part of this research. As we add other states to the site I will research the legal sportsbooks available in each of those states as well. 

How to Bet a Parlay

Typically you will need two or more betting picks to create a parlay to make one bet.

The more picks you add to the card, the harder it is to land a winner, and the more unlikely a successful wager will become. However, this is offset by potentially substantial rewards for those that manage it.

More Picks = Less Chance

Parlay become harder the more picks you add to them, however the more picks, the larger the ods, the bigger the potential returns.

To create a parlay online, log into your chosen sportsbook. [Above are my recommendations for the best online sportsbooks for Parlay betting] go to the sports events you wish to bet on and begin selecting your picks.

You can choose moneyline, totals, or any combination of wagers to combine. The larger the odds of each selection, the higher the overall price of the parlay. And the harder it will be to win. 

The most popular parlay in the US is a two-team parlay in the NFL. For example, you could select the Kansas City Chiefs-7 against the Denver Broncos and the Philadelphia Eagles-3 against the New York Giants. In this scenario, assuming each pick against the spread was priced at -110, the return on your parlay would be +260 at most sportsbooks.

Once all picks are on your card, you then choose the stake you wish to wager. Check the total odds and potential returns and submit the bet.

Now you have to trust your judgment and wait for each leg of the parlay to take place. 

Start Small to Practice

Maybe start your parlay betting small with just 2 or 3 picks. In fact, this is an ideal number and more likely for you to find success.

How to win a Parlay Bet

To land a successful, winning parlay each separate element of the wager has to win. One losing pick in the parlay and the bet is lost. No stake is returned, and the bet will be over.

What is the difference between fixed odds and true odds? - Fixed odds are those offered to you to bet on by the sportsbooks. True odds are the real probability of the outcome occurring. Whilst fixed odds are known, true odds have to be estimated. Find a difference in your favor and that's a wager to make!

Get True Odds Advantage

If you think the Fixed odds of an event happening better than the True odds offered, that's the time to strike and make a 'Value Wager'

The great advantage bettors have now is that they can make parlay bets at true odds using an online sportsbook from the comfort of home or on a mobile device within legally licensed states.

In land-based sportsbooks, often a fixed-odds parlay will be based on 50/50 wagering propositions with spreads applied but online you have the freedom to choose your own spread and collect true odds on your parlay wagers.

What happens if there is a push in the parlay? - If any part of your parlay is a push, it will be treated as a 'no-action' bet and ignored for the sake of the final odds. Effectively, the selection is removed from the parlay, the odds reduced, and the remaining picks will still be required to all be correct to gain a return.

Push in a Parlay?

A push result in a parlay wager will be treated as 'no-action' and the odds removed from the total.

How to Calculate the odds on a Parlay Bet

Most of the time, with an excellent online sportsbook for parlays, you will not need to work this out manually. As you add picks to your card on the site, the odds will be updated and be on display.

But for manual calculation, follow these rules.

To make working out parlay odds easier the first thing you should do I convert from US odds to Decimal odds, and this is straightforward.

Covert US Odds to Decimal

To make manually calculating your returns on successful parlays, convert US odds into decimal odds. It is way easier. Below is how to make the conversion.

For positive US Odds: Decimal Odds = (US Odds/100) +1

For example +315/100 = 3.15+1 =4.15 Decimal odds

+315 US Odds = 4.15 Decimal

Just reverse the procedure for Negative Odds, so

For Negative US Odds" Decimal Odds = (100/US ODDS) + 1

For example 100/175 = 0.57 + 1 = 1.57 Decimal odds

-175 US Odds = 1.57 Decimal

That's not so obvious, see above for how this works.

Let's say we have three picks in our parlay at the following odds

Parlay Picks Odds
Pick 1 +315
Pick 2 +240
Pick 3 +215


Convert to decimal if your sportsbook does not allow decimal display and then multiply them together. So..

4.15x3.40x3.15=44.44

The return for this parlay, therefore, is +4444 including the $100 wager stake

Picks US Odds Decimal Odds
Pick 1 +315 4.15
Pick 2 +240 3.40
Pick +215 3.15
Total Odds 44.44


Returning $4444 for a $100 parlay bet.

You can see how quickly the odds can accumulate.


Let's now try a more conservative parlay on favorites.


US Odds Decimal Odds
Pick1 -150 1.66
Pick 2 -175 1.57
Pick 3 -160 1.62
Pick 4 -190 1.52
Total Odds 6.41


In decimals, 1.66 x 1.57 x 1.62 x 1.52 = 6.41  - $641 return for a $100 parlay bet

a $100 parlay bet on these four outcomes at US ODDS if all correct would return $649.59 for a $549.59 win.

Notice how the American odds return a slightly bigger return. Utilizing a parlay calculator or parlay app outside of the sportsbook app you're using is a good way to double-check that you're getting a fair return on your wager. 

Use the Best Odds Type for Better Returns

Once you have learned how to convert US Odds to Decimal and vice-versa, you can check your potential winnings with both. Then select those odds when placing your parlay. You can see in the example above, the US Odds pay better than Decimal. It's not always the case, so always check to get that little extra when you win.

Which Sports Are Best for Parlay Betting?

The sports to play parlays on should be the ones which you are most knowledgable about. It's also worth noting that there are advice sites that specialize in parlay betting. These parlay betting sites generally revolve around "same game parlays" in the NBA, MLB, and the NFL. They advise on how to combine spread, total, and individual player props on a single-game parlay. These same game parlay (SGPs) options have become increasingly popular in the US in the past five years. 

As with any form of gambling, you should understand what you are wagering on in the first instance, and not be betting blind. Otherwise, you may as well be in the casino gambling on roulette for black or red.

Use Your Head When Betting Parlays

Because they are more difficult to win, you should use them mostly on sports you are knowledgable about.

With sports betting, you can introduce an element of skill making picks you predict with knowledge of the teams, players, form, and other factors.

If you are adept at handicapping, you can gain extra value in your parlay bets by adding those picks that look to have good value overpriced odds.

One great advantage of parlay betting is any extra value in betting odds you find when combined, increase that additional value exponentially.

Parlays are Great for Combining Value Odds

If you find 2 or 3 wagers that offer better fixed-odds than your estimation of the true odds, you should combine them to exponentially increase the value you have identified. But do not ignore betting them straight too!

What Type of Bets Should I Include in my Parlay Ticket?

Again, as above, this should be the type of bet you are the best at predicting correctly. Parlay betting options can seem virtually limitless, so it's important to build in guard rails for yourself.

Moneyline betting is excellent for simple outcome picks, or combining tipsters consensus picks for your parlay. Or perhaps you like to predict the final result of various sports events.

Moneyline Parlays are Best

But Spreads and totals betting can really mount up with 4 or more picks

To get more even odds, you can choose run lines, goal lines, or totals betting lines, along with spreads.

You can even combine a range of the different betting markets in your parlay. The odds work just the same accumulating each time you add another pick.

For the more speculative bettor, head for the prop bets. Bigger odds can create tremendous parlay odds. Consider calling the first TD scorer in football and adding four to your parlay. Look at this example.

+350, +350, +350, +350

Just a $10 wager on this parlay would return $4100.63 if you called all correctly! And don't forget you can take advantage of odds boosts to sweeten the deal even further! 

Sucker or Sharp? - Read On

Are parlays for suckers? Sharps might think so. Straight bets are a good way to make slow and steady progress, parlays can land big wins though!

Why do some people say Parlays are for Suckers?

Professional sports gamblers and wannabee professionals will often cite the only way to bet on sport is to make single wagers on one outcome and not combine picks.

It is true to say that in most cases, slow and steady bankroll growth is the way to play the sports betting game, but we are also here for the thrill of the wager.

A parlay only pays if all picks are correct, so it may be that you add seven picks to your parlay, have six winning picks and one loser. In this case, you would get nothing back despite correctly predicting six outcomes.

Parlays Can Break Your Heart!

If you have 7 picks in a Parlay, 6 Can win and you will still lose if the 7th goes wrong!!

Had you bet each of the seven outcomes in single wagers, you would have only one losing bet and six winners, almost certainly resulting in a healthy profit.

Fair enough, the sucker has lost. But get all picks correct and accumulate the odds of each and your return would be massively higher than if you had bet each singularly

Don't expect to achieve a high strike rate of correct parlay bets and beat the strike rate of the single bettor. You will be disappointed!


Reasons to Avoid Parlays

If you want to get the best odds on each of your picks, it will be unlikely that you will achieve it at a single sportsbook, thanks to reduced vig options with some. If you want only ever to get the best price, you will have to split your parlay, make straight wagers at different sportsbooks.

I certainly would not advise against this as getting the best odds as often as possible is key to successful sports betting.

Best Odds is Most Important

Best odds are the most important aspect of being successful at Sports Betting and even more so when betting on Parlays. Find a sportsbook with best odds for your type of pick and those small percentage really increase the parlay odds.

If you are betting parlays regularly but never hitting a hot one, then perhaps parlays are not for you. Especially if you find that you keep missing by just one pick. You may be better to concentrate on straight wagers, and maybe to maintain interest, still place your parlay, but with a much lower stake for that one time it does come off.

In Europe, they have something called accumulator insurance. Or Parlay insurance, offering the stake of the parlay wager back as a free bet if one selection in the parlay is a loser. 

Parlay Insurance

Hopefully, we will soon have the option of Parlay Insurance bets in the US - We will update you here as soon as they become available.

I have yet to find it available on US sportsbooks but will update as soon as I do. A sportsbook offering this promotion would be an excellent choice for you if you regularly lose a parlay on one pick.


What is a Game Parlay?

Some sportsbooks offer 'game parlays.' These are correlated parlays on more than one outcome in a single game. For instance, you may find a choice for a team to win parlayed with an Over/Under totals call.

I would expect again, the US sportsbooks to follow the lead of the European Sportsbooks in this regard. 'Bet Builders' as they are colloquially known in the UK, are one of the most popular betting options, particularly on soccer. They are also available on NFL and NBA matches.

Game Parlay & Bet Builders

Watch this space, it is only a matter of time before the incredibly popular Bet Builder game parlay extension comes to the US.

I fully expect the US Sportsbooks to introduce more of these types of bets in the coming months and years.


What is a 'good' Parlay to make?

Many online sportsbooks, in their quest to attract new online customers, offer a welcome bonus or free plays. Often matching first deposit amounts with free play credits.

Using these sportsbook deposit bonuses to make a parlay could be a 'good parlay bet' as you would be wagering the sportsbook's money and not your own. Be careful to read the fine print because some sportsbook app bonuses do not allow parlays as part of their promotions. 

Low Risk Parlay

If you can find a sportsbook that offers a Parlay from welcome offer funds, you have the option of wagering a low-risk parlay.

Check the full terms and conditions of each offer to ensure your parlay was eligible for use as a free bet. If your parlay is accepted, it is a great way to try to get a maximum return with zero risk. Be aware, however, that in almost every case, free bet stakes are not returned with winning bets. So if you won $400 profit from a $100 free bet wager, you would get only the profit and not the stake returned. Online sports betting sites are filled with specific terms and conditions, making some offers too good to be true. 

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