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Betting Parlays

Sports Betting: Parlays

By Loot, Sports Handicapper,

Parlays are basically a bet with multiple teams on it. In straight-betting, you take one side. On a parlay, you pick multiple sides. If any of those sides lose, you lose the bet. Players are attracted to parlays due to the big payouts. Others, however, generally steer clear of parlays due to the high-risk and the unfavorable odds that are offered.

When betting on sports like basketball and football, bets are against the spread, so those parlays will be paid off according to a set schedule. Here is an example:

San Antonio Spurs -7.5 vs. Toronto

Los Angeles Clippers -4 vs. Memphis Grizzlies

You take the Spurs and the Clippers on a 2-team parlay (the minimum amount of teams you can play). This parlay generally pays 2.6 to 1. In other words, a $100 bet on a successful 2-team parlay would pay $260, but you can bet any amount. It doesn’t have to be $100. For this bet to win, the Spurs must win by at least 8 and the Clippers must win by at least 5 points. Both of those things need to happen. If the Clippers win by exactly 4 points, the bet would just become a straight bet on the Spurs.

Here’s another example:

Pittsburgh -4.5 vs. Cincinnati

Miami +5 vs. New York

San Diego +6 vs. Denver

You take Pittsburgh, Miami, and San Diego on a 3-team parlay. A 3-team parlay usually pays 6 to 1. If you made a $100 parlay and all three teams covered the spread, you would win $600. All of them need to cover the spread for you to win. If San Diego lost by exactly 6 (push/tie) and you won the other two games, the 3-team parlay would just be knocked down to a 2-teamer.

Here are the general payouts for parlays: (You can get better at Sportbet)

2-Team Parlay: 2.6 to 1
3-Team Parlay: 6 to 1
4-Team Parlay: 10 to 1
5-Team Parlay: 20 to 1
6-Team Parlay: 40 to 1
7-Team Parlay: 75 to 1
8-Team Parlay: 150 to 1
9-Team Parlay: 300 to 1
10-Team Parlay: 700 to 1

It’s important to note that some sportsbooks offer enhanced odds on parlays, which is an absolute must for the bettor who regularly makes parlay wagers.

What we discussed above are parlays for sports that have a point-spread. But there are also sports like boxing, baseball, and MMA, where there are no point-spreads. So how does that work? Well, you can also make parlays in these sports, but it’s just a little different and many would say better. Without a point-spread, the odds are expressed in a money line, which is just a way to express probabilities.

Here is an example of a moneyline parlay, using baseball, which relies on money lines and not spreads:

New York Yankees (-140) vs. Tampa Bay

Detroit Tigers (+110) vs. Cleveland

So you make a 2-team parlay on the Yankees and Tigers. Just like before, they both need to win the game for your bet to be a winner. But the way you determine the payout is not based on a pre-determined schedule, being that the odds for baseball teams are all different. You simply use the odds to determine the potential payout. So let’s say you make a $100 parlay on these two teams. You put $100 on the Yankees at -140. If they win, your $100 would become $170. You take that $170 and put in on Detroit at +110. If they win, your $170 becomes $357. Subtract the $100 bet and that leaves you with $257 in actual winnings.

Also note that while standard betting in basketball and football occurs against the spread, you can also bet and parlay those sports on the money line.

Money line parlays are considered better bets in terms of not getting juiced. In other words, the odds you receive are a fairer representation of the actual odds of it happening. In football and basketball parlays against the spread, the payouts are already determined and the juice is more extravagant. While the payouts look incredible at first glance, the actual odds of it far surpass the potential payout.

That is one reason most pros stay away from parlays except in certain cases. When making straight bets, the odds you receive are pretty close to the actual odds--meaning you can actually win. But when the odds you receive are significantly worse than the actual odds, it’s really difficult to win over the long-run.

Our advice is to be selective when making parlays, especially if you’re trying to be serious about sports-betting. It’s one thing to make a 2-team money line parlay with a couple big favorites, but it’s quite another to constantly throw up hail-marys in the form of extravagant parlays. Just like the sports we bet on, a batter who swings for homers every time he’s at bat or a boxer who tries to knock his opponent out with every punch he throws are not going to be very consistent. In sports-betting, we are not looking for big moments that rarely spring up. We’re looking to be steady and consistent.

If you're still confused, please check out our article on how parlays work.

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