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Progressive Parlays

Sports Betting: Progressive Parlays

By Loot, Sports Handicapper,

Progressive parlays are modified parlays that offer a little forgiveness, in exchange for a lesser payout. In a regular parlay, you select multiple sides or totals and place then on the same bet. They all need to win for the parlay to be a success. If any legs of the parlay fail, the whole thing is a loss.

A progressive parlay offers the bettor the chance to lose part of the parlay and still cash in. The first thing is that this obviously doesn’t apply to a 2 or 3-team parlay--you have to pick at least 4 teams for a progressive parlay. In a 4-team progressive parlay, you would get your money back if only one leg of your parlay fails. but you pay for that perk being that a normal 4-team parlay would pay 10-1, whereas a 4-team progressive parlay pays only 5-1. By the time you get up to a 7-team progressive parlay, you can lose up to two legs of the parlay and still get some money back. A 10-12 team progressive parlay will even allow you to lose on 3 legs of your parlay.

With progressive parlays, we sacrifice what we would win in the event that we hit all legs of the parlay. The sacrifice is somewhat significant, being that if you are perfect, you would win about twice as much on a normal parlay than you would on a progressive parlay. So in order to get the perk of not needing to be perfect, you would be paying dearly in the event that you are perfect.


Progressive parlays make sense in that you don’t need to be perfect to cash in. It really stings to go 6-1 on a 7-team parlay and have zilch to show for it. In a progressive parlay, going 6-1 on a 7-teamer would pay 4-1, which sure beats the heck out of nothing. One of the more painful times in sports betting is when you make a grandiose parlay and almost hit it, losing just one leg of it. A progressive parlay helps you assuage you pain by being able to salvage at least something out of it.

There still seems to be something contradictory about a progressive parlay. If you’re bold enough to make a parlay of 4 or more teams, it’s clear you are throwing up a bit of a hail-mary. You’re trying to get a nice score with a lofty wager. So why all of the sudden would you try to hedge the bet by making it a progressive parlay? If you’re going to be a daredevil, be a daredevil all the way.

Another consideration is that there is always a bad-value element to these kinds of bets. Parlays are already tough enough as far as “juice” is concerned. In other words, the odds the bookie is offering you in parlays are not all that close to the actual odds of it winning. When you start to venture into offshoot versions of a parlay, the “juice” doesn’t tend to get any better. In a regular parlay, the odds are easy to calculate. In a progressive parlay, the picture of the odds is more muddled. When that’s the case, the bet tends to offer less value. The book will often use the lack of clarity to impose further juice on the bettor.

In addition, while progressive parlays are supposed to be more forgiving, that’s not so much the case in the event that one leg of your parlay ties. Whereas a normal parlay will just “reduce” to the next lowest number of teams, most books grade a tie as a loss on progressive parlays. Here are the general payouts with progressive parlays. Check with your book for exact payouts, as books often vary:

  All Teams Won 1 Team Loss 2 Teams Lose 3 Teams Lose
4 Teams 5/1 1/1 -- --
5 Teams 11/1 2/1 -- --
6 Teams 20/1 9/2 -- --
7 Teams 40/1 4/1 1/2 --
8 Teams 75/1 10/1 2/1 --
9 Teams 150/1 20/1 5/2 --
10 Teams 250/1 25/1 3/1 1/1
11 Teams 400/1 60/1 5/1 1/1
12 Teams 900/1 80/1 10/1 3/1

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