What is Parlay Betting?

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Florida sportsbooks give you a huge range of odds and props to put on a betting slip. Parlays, however, take those single bets to the next level. The main reason why bettors love parlays? They can pay out a lot for a very small stake. But that, of course, comes with a cost.

If you’re curious about how to bet parlays, whether they pay off long term, or whether there’s an edge to be found betting NFL parlays (or any other sport), see below for our detailed guide to parlay betting.

What is a parlay bet?

A parlay is a sports bet that considers multiple selections (legs) placed on a single betting slip. To win a parlay bet, you must correctly guess all of the selections.

For example, you can bet on the Miami Heat or wager on the Orlando Magic to win their respective games. Instead of betting on those two teams individually, you combine the two bets in the form of a parlay.

Of course, you can put more than just two selections in your parlay, as a lot of sportsbooks accept 10- or even 15-leg parlays. What’s more, you don’t have to stick to a single sport or even the same betting market. Therefore, your parlay could look something like this at an online sportsbook:

  1. Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks — Heat win (moneyline)
  2. Orlando Magic vs. Los Angeles Lakers — 213.5 (over)
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New England Patriots — Tampa Bay spread (-3.5)

Remember, if one of these selections fails, you will lose the whole bet.

Why is parlay betting so popular?

The odds of all your picks are bundled together. That can create a large potential payout, much larger than if you bet on each pick individually.

For instance, if you put $100 on three single bets all at odds of -110, and picked them all correctly, your payout would be $272.73. If you were to put all those same selections on a parlay and wagered $300, your profit would come to $1,787.40.

Based on this calculation, you can see why parlay sports betting is so popular. However, winning a parlay is rather difficult. Again, every pick has to be right. In other words, the payout is higher, as are the risks.

How to make a parlay bet

Before you can make a parlay bet, you need to set up an online sportsbook account. Then, make a deposit through the sportsbook’s cashier page. Most deposits go through almost immediately, so you can start browsing the available betting markets when you confirm the transaction.

Making a parlay bet at an online sportsbook is simple and intuitive. The layout of each Florida betting site is different, but most have an automatically generated betting slip area on the right side of the screen.

You can click the ‘parlay’ tab or simply click on multiple picks while browsing the live sportsbook odds, and the full parlay betting slip will be created for you. After you finish making your parlay slip, enter the desired stake while minding the minimum and maximum betting limits. The bottom of the slip will show numbers indicating the total odds of all the combined bets and the potential payout.

From there, just confirm the bet.

Parlays vs. teasers, pleasers, and round robins

Parlays are simple enough to understand, yet many people confuse them with their “cousins,” like teasers, pleasers, and round robins. All of these types of bets involve putting multiple selections on a betting slip. So what is the actual difference?

What are teasers?

We’ll start with teasers. These are essentially a type of parlay but very specific. Namely, a teaser consists of multiple selections with adjusted point spreads and totals. In other words, if you don’t like the original lines, you can “buy” points to work in your favor.

The sportsbook will allow you to bet with adjusted lines only if you make multiple selections as a tradeoff. Just like with the regular parlay, all selections must be successful for you to win.

For example, if the original Tampa Bay Buccaneers spread was -7.5 and you want to play it safer, the teaser will allow you to lower the spread to -1.5. Of course, with adjusted odds. As a prerequisite, you’ll need to put at least another teaser on your slip, but know that some sportsbooks allow up to 10 teasers or more.

What are pleasers?

The opposite of teasers are pleasers, which shift the lines in favor of the sportsbook. With a pleaser bet you will be “selling” points on spreads and totals in this scenario. But you’ll get better odds in return.

What are round robin bets?

Meanwhile, round robins consist of multiple parlays under the same wager. Unlike a regular parlay where all selections must win for you to make a profit, a round robin allows you to miss on one or more of your selections.

If you bet on a basic round robin that features three teams, you get paid if all three teams win or if any two of the three teams win. If only one team wins or none at all, you will lose.

For example, in more complex scenarios, like a six-team round robin, you can choose a number of ways to create the parlays within it, such as six five-team parlays, 15 four-team parlays, 20 three-team parlays and more.

Forcing true odds on a parlay

When betting a parlay exclusively at odds of -110, the sportsbook might employ fixed odds. These are low-paying odds and will make you surrender a lot of potential profit, especially when making plenty of selections.

However, if only one of your selections has the odds that are longer or shorter than -110, the sportsbook will be forced to pay out at true odds. So even if the sportsbook has unfair fixed odds, we can easily force them to calculate the odds differently and end up with a larger profit.

What happens if my parlay bet pushes?

Your bets can be a push in a few ways. These include when the margin of victory matches the whole-number spread when your wager has a “draw no bet” rule or simply if the game you bet on was postponed or canceled.

When something like this happens on a single-game wager, the follow-up is straightforward—your stake is returned to you. But what happens if one or several selections end up in a push on your parlay?

The good news is that your parlay will not fail. Instead, that leg of your parlay will just be taken out of the betting slip as if it wasn’t there in the first place. Unfortunately, this means that the odds of that leg won’t be multiplied by other odds, consequently resulting in your total odds and, therefore, the payout dropping.

What is a progressive parlay? What’s an open parlay?

We’ve already explained what teasers, pleasers, and round robins are, but there are also a couple of lesser-known parlay variations you should be familiar with, including:

  • Progressives — A progressive is a longer parlay where you can still profit even if one or several of your selections miss. The length of your parlay determines the number of legs you’re allowed to fail. For example, you can fail one selection on a 4-6 game parlay, two selections on 7-9 game parlays, and three selections on 10-12 game parlays. That said, the rules may vary from sportsbook to sportsbook.
  • Open — An open parlay is a very interesting type of bet, as it allows you to build your betting slip gradually. It works by choosing a number of legs and then starting with just a single wager. Once that first wager is concluded, you can add a new one and progress until one of your selections fails or if you win the final selection. In some cases, the sportsbook will allow you to place up to 25 legs on an open parlay. However, not all Florida betting sites have this option.

Why you shouldn’t bet parlays

Many consider parlays to be “sucker” bets. But that really depends on your approach. Still, no matter how you play parlays, they will come with a set of drawbacks.

The most obvious of these drawbacks is the fact that parlays are incredibly hard to pick. Rookie bettors can be blinded by high payouts and ignore the increased variance that means a slim probability of a parlay actually coming through.

Think about it: even the sharpest bettors are happy to win 60% of their bets. So what makes you think you can effectively win 100% of your bets on a parlay, especially if it includes a large number of selections?

Tips to build a winning parlay

There’s no cutting around the fact that parlay sports bets are risky. Nevertheless, if you know how to play them, you can at least minimize those risks to a certain point. That said, here are a few parlay betting tips to bear in mind:

  • Resist betting on too many selections — A large profit can seem irresistible, and novice bettors often fall into the trap of adding one or two more legs to their parlay just so they bump up their potential payout. However, with each new selection, your chances of success drop.
  • Force true odds — Always make sure that at least one of your selections does not have the odds of -110. This will force the sportsbook to offer true instead of fixed odds. True odds are always higher.
  • Use parlay bonuses — Some sportsbooks may feature sports betting bonuses and promos that relate to parlays, such as free bets or odds boosts. You should take advantage of them whenever possible.

Should you even bet on a parlay?

While parlays are risky and many sharp bettors avoid them, nobody can deny that they’re fun. Parlays shouldn’t be a big part of your regular betting routine, but it’s fun to give them a go from time to time.

After all, the payouts on a parlay can be quite large even if you bet a relatively small amount. You never know when it might be your lucky day. Just make sure to understand the associated risk and gamble responsibly.

How to calculate parlay odds

When making a parlay bet on an online sportsbook, you will automatically see the odds and payout on your screen. They are calculated in real-time as you click each leg over to your betting slip. But how do you calculate the odds yourself?

The easiest way is to take the odds of each leg and turn them into decimal odds by using an odds converter tool. These tools are free, and you can easily find them online. After discovering the decimal odds for each selection, you need to multiply those numbers together to get the total odds of your parlay.

Here’s an example of how that may look:

  • Leg 1: -110 (91)
  • Leg 2: +120 (20)
  • Leg 3: -155 (65)
  • Leg 4: +140 (40)

From there, we can calculate that 1.91 x 2.20 x 1.65 x 2.40 = 16.63992. All you need to do now is multiply that number with your stake to get the potential payout. If you were to bet $50 on this parlay, your payout would be $832 (including the stake).