A parlay is an exciting wager that allows you to roll multiple selections into a single bet in a bid to generate a large profit. You occasionally see headlines about sports fans that strike it rich by landing a parlay at huge odds. For instance, Las Vegas native Tayla Polia won a cool $100,000 after correctly guessing the spreads in 15 different NFL games during the 2015 season. But what exactly is a parlay, how does it work, how is it calculated and how can you follow in Polia’s footsteps?
What Is A Parlay?
A parlay allows you to roll a number of different predictions into a single wager in order to secure a higher potential payout. Let’s say you believe the Minnesota Vikings can cover the spread against the Detroit Lions, the New Orleans Saints can cover against the San Francisco 49ers, the New England Patriots can cover against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers can cover against the Arizona Cardinals. If you have a bankroll of $40 to bet with, you could divide it into four and bet $10 on each of those predictions. Alternatively, you could combine them into a single parlay. If they all prove to be correct, you will secure a far larger payout than you would have earned by simply placing four individual bets. A parlay can include moneyline selections, spread bets, predictions on total points or prop bets. The more selections you add, the greater the potential profit you stand to earn.
How Do Parlays Work?
A parlay allows you to accumulate far higher odds than you would gain by placing single wagers. If you bet $10 on the Lions covering the spread at -110, $10 on the Saints covering the spread at -110, $10 on the Patriots covering the spread at -110 and $10 on the Steelers covering the spread at -110 on a particular weekend, you would earn a profit of $36.40 if they all proved to be correct. However, if you rolled them all into a $40 parlay you would earn a profit of $491.33. You could just bet $10 on that parlay and you would secure a $122.83 profit if you were successful. Bettors love parlays, because they present you with the exciting opportunity to earn a large profit despite laying down a relatively small amount of cash. Yet there is a catch: all of your selections must prove to be correct or your parlay is busted and your stake is lost. It is a bet that offers a higher risk of failure and a higher potential reward than a single wager, but if you are successful you can earn a life-changing sum of money.
How is a Parlay Calculated?
The best way to calculate your potential winnings from a parlay is to convert the odds of each selection into decimal format. Let’s say you want to bet on the following selections for a parlay:
- Toronto Raptors to cover the spread against the Houston Rockets at -110 (1.91)
- New Orleans Pelicans to beat the Phoenix Suns at -143 (1.7)
- Over 234 points between the 76ers and the Wizards at -110 (1.91)
- New York Knicks to beat the Denver Nuggers at +225 (3.25)
You will see the American odds on each of those selections, and we have converted them into decimal format in brackets. You can convert them yourself, but there are plenty of handy tools available online to do it for you. You then multiply 1.91 x 1.7 x 1.91 x 3.25 = 20.16. That tells you that for every $1 you will gain a return of $20.16 if you are successful. A $10 parlay would therefore pay out $201.60 if all four predictions turn out to be correct. Most sportsbooks will inform you of the combined odds and the potential payout you stand to make when you place a parlay bet, but it still helps to know how it is calculated. Alternatively, Bet Today USA has an onsite Parlay Calculator which allows you to work out your potential returns.
How Can I Compile A Successful Parlay?
Sportsbooks love it when bettors place parlay bets, because a high proportion of them are unsuccessful, however there are several examples of them being taken to cleaners by parlay bettors. Sportsbook traditionally make a higher margin on parlays than on any other bet, so you need to be shrewd if you are to beat the books and cash in a massive parlay. Here are some tips to help you compile a great parlay:
- Resist the temptation to simply combine all the moneyline favorites on a particular weekend into a parlay. At least one of them will generally let you down. Decide which teams actually deserve that favorite tag and which ones will fail to live up to the hype.
- Avoid including selections with really low odds. They will not make a great difference to your potential payout, yet they still risk scuppering your parlay.
- Also avoid selections with high odds. If you think a big underdog will cause an upset, it might be more sensible to place a single wager on it. When compiling a parlay, aim for that sweet spot between -200 and +150 on each selection.
- Do not just stick to spreads when putting a parlay together. Look at moneyline, totals and props in order to find value on different ball games.
- Make sure you do plenty of research before including a selection in your parlay. Check out each team’s recent results, their head-to-head record, injuries, fatigue, motivation, home advantage and so on before taking the plunge.
- Look for reduced juice sportsbooks. If you get -105 on each selection rather than -110 it can make a significant difference to your potential earnings. Also factor in free play bonuses to stack the odds more in your favor.