Understanding How Parlay Odds Work

Image of a hand holding a phone with a number of matches to bet on.

Many sports bettors are familiar with parlay bets. They are a good option for those who want the chance to win big in online sports betting because they have potentially large payouts, which make them very popular. Keep in mind, though, that winning such a bet is more challenging than with a straightforward bet. 

What is a parlay bet?

With thorough knowledge of the sports you’re betting on, you can conquer the parlay betting format.

Many readers might be familiar with the term, but if you’re reading this thinking, “what does parlay mean?”, don’t worry, because it’s very simple. A parlay is a combo bet. This means that instead of placing several individual bets, you can combine them and treat it as one big wager. Due to the different odds that come with this format, you stand to win more with all of these rolled into one wager.

The number of bets typically ranges from two to 10 bets. For example, you can bet on the Ravens, the Patriots, and the Texans to all win their game on any given Sunday. If all of these teams win, you will receive a much greater payout than by betting on each game individually. For a parlay to be successful, you need all teams selected to win or to correctly predict all the right outcomes. This will also depend on the exact football parlay odds that are given when you make your wager in the above example, although there are many other kinds of sports you can make parlay bets on. 

Overall, understanding parlay betting and all of its intricacies are key, as you’ll need to factor in the odds, just like you would for any sports wager. You also need to be aware of the terms and conditions of the site you’re betting on. This is because all betting sites have their own approach on, for instance, how they handle a tie bet, or “push” (which we’ll also discuss further on).

Why would you want to group bets together?

It’s quite simple, really. The sportsbook casino will payout more money if you correctly pick multiple individual bets together. Since the bets are dependent on each other, there is more risk, which results in a higher payout. The odds are much higher than for individual bets, which is why the parlay bet payouts end up being greater, too. Remember, if any of your wagered outcomes don’t occur, the total bet will be lost. It’s worth mentioning here that parlay bets are best suited to people who like to take their chances with big payouts and aren’t bothered about the longer odds of winning. (But of course, you should only ever wager what you can afford to, and always gamble responsibly.)

If you’re still asking yourself the question, “how does a parlay bet work?” let’s take a look at a comparative example. Let’s say we are betting on three games individually versus betting as a parlay. In this example, each game has the same -110 moneyline odds. Let’s make the bankroll for all of these games $300.

What happens if you pick all three games’ outcomes correctly?

Scenario 1: If you bet on the games individually, you’d place $100 on each game in turn. At the odds of -110, each of the three games would give you a “profit” (on top of your original stake) of $90.91. This means that your total profit would be $272.73.

Scenario 2: If you picked all three games as a parlay bet, you’d place a single bet of $300. Your total payout would be $1,787.40. This means you’d make a profit of $595.80. 

At Borgata Online, if your first bet wins, your bet will be rolled into the next game. If both bets win, the payout will be higher than if you had bet on each game separately. Result!

But what happens if you pick incorrectly?

With the same example, if you bet $100 on three games (individually) but only pick two out of three games correctly, your total profit would be $181.82 for the individual bets. With parlay bets, your profit is negative $300. Losing the entire bet if one part of it doesn’t come through is the risk you take when placing a parlay bet.

How do parlay odds work?

You might be wondering “how do parlays work when it comes to odds?” Well, the reason parlay bets payout so much more than individual bets comes down to how parlay odds are calculated. It might feel a bit overwhelming trying to figure it all out in the beginning, but all the details will become clearer once you start placing bets on a site.

For example, when you bet at an online casino like Borgata Online, your potential payout is calculated for you as you add games and bets to your parlay slip. Each line’s odds are multiplied, one after the other. You’ll get to see exactly what profit you could make on winning sports betting odds.

What are the chances of winning a parlay bet?

Parlay can be a high-risk bet, but the high rewards offered make it worth it. Obviously, the more bets involved in your wager, the slimmer the chances are of you hitting the parlay, however, if you do hit the parlay with more bets, the payouts have massive potential. 

If you were to use the standard -110 for totals and point spread bets, then the odds of you winning your parlay bets based on the number of wagers you place, is as follows:

  • Two-team parlay – 27.47 percent
  • Three-team parlay – 14.37 percent
  • Four-team parlay – 7.52 percent
  • Five-team parlay – 3.94 percent
  • Six-team parlay – 2.06 percent
  • Seven-team parlay – 1.08 percent
  • Eight-team parlay – 0.56 percent
  • Nine-team parlay – 0.30 percent
  • 10-team parlay – 0.15 percent

What happens if one bet in a parlay pushes?

A push is the gambling term for a tie or a draw – and not all sportsbooks treat them in the same way. Find out how the sportsbook casino you’re betting at addresses pushes before you place a wager with them. In most cases, if one of the games on the parlay pushes, that wager will be removed from the parlay. The payout will be reduced to one less team in the parlay. For example, if you had a three-team parlay, and you got two picks correct and the other was a push, you will only be paid out for the two picks as if it were a two-team parlay.

Of course, this is one of the things you need to consider when making these types of wagers, and when you’re evaluating between making a single bet versus a parlay.

Don’t confuse teaser bets with parlays

Houston Texans players celebrate in their game against Oakland Raiders.

You’ll find that so-called “teaser bets” are common, especially in football. Teaser bets and parlays are not the same. With the teaser bet, you can move the point spread (the margin of winning points) in your favor. It is similar to parlay bets in one way, as you are able to select the number of teams to tease (i.e. for which you adjust the point spread). Teaser bets pay out less than parlays, but it can improve your winning odds. For example, if you would like to tease football games, you can tease the New York Giants (+6) over the Dallas Cowboys. With the NFL teasers changing the spread by six points, the new point spreads will be the New York Giants (+12) over the Dallas Cowboys. 

Parlay betting tips

With the parlay, you are forced to be perfect in your betting picks to be able to receive a payout from the sportsbook casino. Before you place your bet, a good tip would be to handicap each game you would like to include in your wager. It’s important to do your research on the teams you want to add. Remember to be mindful of your bankroll. It is also advisable to keep an eye on team reports and online sports betting trends to make sure that you are making informed wagering decisions.

Are parlay bets worth it?

It’s no secret that parlay bets can be lucrative if you get them right, however, as a long-term betting strategy they are high-risk. The chances of winning a parlay bet every time you wager are relatively low and as such, you should try your hand at other, safer betting types too. However, if you do your research and you only bet with money that you can afford to lose, then parlay bets can be highly rewarding.

Place your parlay bets at Borgata Online

At Borgata Online, we offer a range of online sports betting markets at our online sportsbook. Stay up to date with the latest odds for your favorite sports. We also provide live betting on all popular sports, including baseball, football, golf, and tennis. For more information on how to place your wagers with us, follow our sports betting guide. Register today and start placing your parlay bets online with us!