Parlay Betting Guide

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How to bet on parlays

Parlay betting has become a favorite in the sports betting community because of the possibility of high reward.

What is a parlay bet?

Parlays have become a prevalent form of sports betting in recent years as more bettors look for ways to maximize potential profit with minimal investment. While straight bets have a better chance of offering long-term profitability, parlays have higher upside in the more rare scenario where every part of the parlay hits.

A parlay is a bet incorporating multiple individual “legs” and the more that are added, the longer the odds exponentially get. Everything is far less nuanced with a straight bet, given that you either win or lose your single wager. With a parlay, it can get a bit more complex. Every bet within the parlay must win for you to win the parlay bet. If even one bet loses, it’s a losing parlay.

As mentioned, your odds increase exponentially for every leg added to a parlay. This means that the difference between adding a fourth leg to a three-leg parlay will give you much better additional odds than adding a third leg to a two-leg parlay.

You can parlay almost anything together, including bets across multiple sports. However, there are restrictions on parlays that have conflicting or congruent outcomes. For example, because of their correlation, you can’t put a game’s “over” and the halftime “over” in the same parlay.

You can parlay most bet types together, including moneylines, point spreads, totals, props, and even futures. You can mix and match different bet types in a parlay, or parlay point spreads or moneylines only.

As we will explain on this page, you can use multiple forms of parlays. The most common is the same game parlay, allowing you to parlay different bets from the same event into one bet. You can also wager on round-robin parlays that work a bit differently. To learn about how each of these bet types work individually, check out our full betting guide section.

As will be explored, parlays are inherently difficult to win, but there are ways to approach them strategically. Let’s discuss the merits of parlay betting.

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How do you read parlay odds?

Understanding how parlay odds work can be confusing, but we’re here to explain them. The basis of parlays is that your odds increase exponentially for every leg you add to it. The odds of each wager in the parlay matter, too, and will be reflected in the rate at which the parlay’s odds increase.

For example, let’s look at different sizes of parlays with strictly -110 wagers in them. Note that this table reflects parlays built from different games. Sportsbooks may offer lower odds when including legs from the same game in a parlay.

Number of -110 legsParlay odds (American)
2+264
3+596
4+1228
5+2436
6+4741
7+9142
8+17545
9+33585
10+64208

As you can see, for every -110 odds leg you add to a parlay, the odds almost double across the board. For a two-leg parlay with -110 odds for each leg, you can get +264 odds. This means that for every $100 you bet, you can return $264 with a win. With a 10-leg parlay, your odds are +64208, meaning that for every $100 you bet, you can return $64,208 with a win. 

This structure makes sense mathematically as it becomes increasingly more challenging for all bets to win as you add more. 

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Parlay betting across the major sports

Parlays can be created for every major sport and have legs from multiple sports. You can parlay anything together without a strong correlation, including moneylines, point spreads, totals and player props.

In this section, we will explore some examples of parlay bets within the four major sports markets.

Football

Parlays are a popular bet type during NFL and college football seasons. With the number of games each day, they become a natural fit.

Suppose that you’re wagering $50 on a parlay of the Cincinnati Bengals moneyline (+130), the Carolina Panthers moneyline (+200), and the Kansas City Chiefs moneyline (-650). If one or more of these bets lose, you lose the parlay. If all bets win, you win the bet at +696 odds for a $348 profit.

Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) carries the ball in the first quarter during a Week 17 NFL football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Kansas City Chiefs,
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Basketball

Parlays in the NBA and college basketball are standard, considering the extensive catalog of potential props and lines you can add to the mix.

For example, say that you are parlaying the Philadelphia 76ers -4.5 (-110) with Joel Embiid to record over 30.5 points (-110) for $100. If the Sixers cover the spread and Embiid notches 31 or more points, you would hypothetically receive a $264 payout at +264 odds. However, it should be noted that sportsbooks often change same game parlay odds to account for the inherent correlation, so in this case you might get odds around +210 instead of +264.

May 2, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) shoots the ball against New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) during the second half of game six of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center.
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Baseball

Baseball parlays can be among the most complex to create, as there are plenty of statistical categories to utilize in the player props market. Let’s look at an example.

Suppose you create a parlay bet of the New York Yankees moneyline (-200), Los Angeles Dodgers moneyline (-180), Atlanta Braves moneyline (-150), and Mookie Betts to hit a home run (+300). The final odds for the four-leg parlay are +1456 though, again, the exact odds from a given sportsbook may differ when including multiple legs from the same game.

Remember: If any leg of your parlay loses, so does the whole bet.

Hockey

Hockey parlays work similarly to baseball parlays, including puck lines and player props for goals and assists.

For example, you might create a longshot parlay combining the Edmonton Oilers -1.5 (+350) and Connor Bedard to record 3+ points (+300). The odds for this two-leg parlay are +1700. So, if you bet $20 on it, a win returns $340 in profit. If one or both selections lose, you lose your $20.

Chicago Blackhawks forward Connor Bedard (98) controls the puck in the third period at United Center.
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What is a same game parlay?

A same game parlay is a parlay bet that incorporates multiple legs from the same event. Also referred to as an “SGP,” this bet type differs slightly from a standard parlay.

A regular parlay typically includes bets from multiple events, but a same game parlay is limited to just one. Once you understand the nature of the same game parlay, you shouldn’t have any issue creating them yourself.

As previously mentioned, restrictions are placed on what you can put into a same game parlay. Because so many bet types positively correlate with one another if they are in the same event, it’s hard to supply odds for the bet adequately. So, you cannot put some bets together in the same parlay, like the game’s “under” and the “under” for a period or quarter in most circumstances.

Additionally, as mentioned above, sportsbooks may lower the potential payout in a same game parlay due to the aforementioned correlation. Each sportsbook has its own formula of determining what the odds of a same game parlay should be.

Not all games offer same game parlay capabilities. While most do for football, basketball, baseball and hockey, there will always be exceptions. SGPs are available for these markets at the most prominent online sportsbooks, so long as they are part of the major sports leagues.

If you’re looking to bet on some type of foreign basketball or hockey event, you might be unable to create a same game parlay.

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What strategies should you use when creating a parlay?

Because parlay betting can be hard to win in the long run, it is worth using a strategy to potentially increase your odds to win them. Overall, parlays are one of the quickest ways to lose money in sports betting. On the other hand, they are also the most profitable form of sports wagering for online sportsbooks, which should tell you something.

Still, let’s discuss some strategies for gaining back as much of an edge as possible from the house.

Limiting the legs

If you want to be a profitable parlay bettor, one of the easiest ways to keep yourself in the green is to limit the number of legs attached to your parlay. The more legs you add, your bet moves toward becoming a lottery ticket. Two-leg parlays can be extremely useful in certain situations, especially with the following strategy we’ll discuss.

While limiting the number of legs in your parlay also brings less upside, it also brings more stability.

Limiting bet size

Because of lower likelihood of winning parlays, a sound strategy is to limit the amount you wager to a small percentage of your betting portfolio. If you have an edge on the majority of the bets you are putting into a parlay, you are more likely to be profitable by placing those bets individually. Yes, the potential payout would not be as high, but you at least have a chance to win a majority of your bets without worrying about one leg ruining your entire parlay bet.

Look for the best odds

When it comes to betting, different sportsbooks have varying odds on all sorts of bets. It always makes sense to shop around, and it is at least as prudent to do so when placing parlays. You always want to get as favorable odds as possible. While it may take a few more minutes, getting the best odds can increase your potential payout, thus increasing your profits in the long run.

This is especially true regarding same game parlays. Because of the inherent correlation in same game parlays, sportsbooks have specific formulas for the odds of such bets. Therefore, it is important to see which betting site will give you the best odds before placing your same game parlays.

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Is there value in parlay bets?

Parlays are among the lowest-probability bets you can make at an online sportsbook. They’re exceptionally challenging to win, especially if you add more than three legs to the bet. While straight wagers offer limited upside, they are the far more profitable long-term alternative.

However, parlays provide massive upside that can’t be observed from most other bet type. We advise limiting the number of legs and bet sizes to minimize losses. Be smart and always bet within your bankroll. You can’t chase down that massive parlay score if you don’t have the funds to lose.

What is a round-robin bet?

Round-robin betting is a unique form of parlay that differs significantly from a standard or same game parlay. Essentially, you are sacrificing the size of your potential profit in exchange for a better chance of making some profit with round robin bets.

A “round robin” bet can include many different bets, and all bets are placed in combinations you can choose beforehand. For example, if you create a round-robin with four bets, you can make six mini-parlays of two legs apiece. Take a look:

BetParlay
Bet 176ers/Celtics moneyline
Bet 276ers/Bucks moneyline
Bet 376ers/Lakers moneyline
Bet 4Celtics/Bucks moneyline
Bet 5Celtics/Lakers moneyline
Bet 6Bucks/Lakers moneyline

As you can see, six combinations of two-leg parlays are created from the pool of four bets. Even if multiple bets lose, you can still get something back for your efforts. For example, if the Bucks and Lakers both lose, you’d still earn money for the 76ers-Celtics parlay.

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FAQ

How do I know if my parlay is valid?

An online sportsbook will notify you when you enter an invalid parlay into your bet slip. If selections within your parlay have too much positive correlation, you won’t be able to enter the bet and must adjust.

What is the difference between a parlay and a same game parlay?

A standard parlay has multiple legs from different games or events, while a same game parlay has legs from the same event.

How do you calculate parlay betting odds?

Parlay betting odds are difficult to calculate mathematically, so we suggest using a parlay odds calculator such as the one at SportsLine.

Is there a minimum or maximum to how much you can bet or win on a parlay?

Typically, there are minimum amount you must wager to place a parlay, but it varies based on the sportsbook. The same goes for the maximum amount you can win; each sportsbook has different limits for different bets.

What is the best type of bet to parlay?

The best types of parlay bets to make are those where you believe you have an edge worth playing on multiple straight bets.

Where can I make parlay bets?

You can place a parlay bet at any reputable online sportsbook. We recommend using sites like FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, Fanatics Sportsbook, bet365 and BetRivers for parlay betting.