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Parlays Betting Explained - What is a Parlay, How Do They Work, and How To Calculate Parlay Odds

Parlays Betting Explained - What is a Parlay, How Do They Work, and How To Calculate Parlay Odds

A Parlay bet is one of the most exciting and popular wagers among both recreational and professional bettors. But what is a parlay? How do I win a Parlay, What are the odds of my Parlay? Which sportsbook should I place my parlay bet with? Well, luckily for you, this handy Parlay guide will detail everything you need to know, including some expert tips from our handicappers on the best ways to win your parlay wagers.  

What Is A Parlay Bet

A Parlay bet is where you combine multiple selections into a single wager. The main difference between a parlay bet and a straight bet is that all of your selections must win on your parlay bet to cash your ticket — a single losing selection means the entire parlay bet results in a loss.

Any wager that has two or more selections is considered a parlay bet, and you can usually add up to 14 selections, but this depends on the sportsbook you wager with.

The more selections you include, the greater the odds, but also the greater the difficulty so finding the balance between risk and reward is important.

How Do Parlays Work

Parlays work by combining multiple selections into one single bet, these can be from the same or different sports but a traditional parlay must include selections from different matches.

With certain Sportsbooks such as FanDuel Sportsbook, you can also wager on a Same Game Parlay, where you can combine selections from the same match on a select number of games and sports such as the NFL or NBA.

A parlay combines your selections from each game into one bet and in effect rolls your stake from one selection onto the next and the next and so on, combining into one mega-odds payout.

It’s an excellent option for a fun, smaller-stakes wager to try and win big, particularly in sports like the NBA, College Basketball, or Football where you have many games played on any given day throughout the season.

How To Win A Parlay Bet

Parlay Bets are incredibly popular as they can be one of the most lucrative bets, but they come with increased difficulty with each selection you add to your parlay.

Sports’ unpredictability is what makes it great and what keeps us all hooked. Unpredictability and sports betting are not the best of friends, and in particular, when discussing parlays as just one losing selection kills the entire wager.

With that in mind, our expert handicappers have created a few top tips for wagering a parlay to help you win your bet and make it a fun profitable way to bet over time.

Check out our experts’ top-three parlay tips below:

  1. Stick to 2, 3, 4, or 5-team parlays most of the time – As mentioned above, each selection you add increases the difficulty so over time it is much safer and likely more profitable long term to keep to the smaller selection parlays. Those bigger 10-team parlays are great fun, but keep those stakes to a minimum and have these smaller parlays as your main wagers.

  2. Shop around for the best odds and concessions – Sportsbooks’ odds are a competitive market, not all online sportsbooks offer the same odds and often try to outdo one another. While there is often only a marginal difference between sportsbooks, in a parlay that quickly adds up.For example – if you wager a 3-team parlay with each selection at odds of -105 instead of -120, your payout would be $744.21 instead of $616.20 to a $100 stake, so $128.01 more in profit just for shopping the odds.Concessions are also a great way to try and get an edge when betting on parlays. One of the best examples of this is FanDuel Sportsbooks’ various Parlay Insurances. Nothing is worse than hitting four out of five winning picks for the last one to let your parlay down, this is where Parlay Insurance at FanDuel can ease the blow.Parlay Insurance gives you your stake back up to $25 in site credit if your 5+ leg parlay is let down by one selection. Not quite the big win you wanted but at least you have another shot at winning with your site credits.
  3. Manage your bankroll –  Being disciplined with your bankroll is key long term as not all parlays will win, particularly in the NFL, but if you keep your stake consistent, at odds of around 6/1, you only need to win 1 in 7 parlays to break even, any better than that is profit.

Parlay Betting Odds – How To Calculate Parlay Odds

One of the most common questions in regards to parlays is around their odds and knowing how to calculate your potential winnings when combining multiple picks.

With a parlay, you can combine a range of different bets such as spreads, Moneyline, Prop Bets, Points Totals, and more.

To calculate your parlay odds you must multiply the individual odds of your selections together and to then calculate the winnings you combine those odds with your stake. Thus, your total parlay odds will differ depending on the individual odds of each selection.

A large number of parlay bettors will mainly focus on the spread lines particularly on sports such as Football and Basketball, and the odds of these do not fluctuate as much as the odds are fairly standard between sportsbooks and each game at around -110. Check out below for a table of the typical point spread parlay odds.

Typical Point Spread Parlay Betting Odds

Number of


Payout to a $100

2-Team Parlay



3-Team Parlay



4-Team Parlay



5-Team Parlay



6-Team Parlay



7-Team Parlay



8-Team Parlay



9-Team Parlay



10-Team Parlay



How To Bet A Parlay

If you want to place a bet online via mobile or on the computer then it is very simple, and not much different from a normal straight wager.

All you need to do is head to your sportsbook and select all of your picks, be it teams, totals, or exotic bets, and once you have multiple selections on your bet slip you will see the parlay option appear, as seen below. The odds will update with each selection added, and when you enter your stake into the bet slip will also calculate your potential winnings.

If you are trying to place a parlay bet at the casino or in a sportsbook’s retail location, then simply tell the ticket writer the teams or selections you want to parlay and the amount you wish to stake and they’ll do the rest for you. Some sportsbooks will also have parlay cards you can fill out and take to the window.

Best Sportsbook For Parlay Bets

FanDuel Sportsbook is a great option for parlay bettors. With a wide variety of sports and markets that you can combine into parlays, the possibilities at FanDuel are endless.

FanDuel Sportsbook is always competitively priced so you can rest assured knowing you are wagering at the best possible odds.

Two of FanDuel’s best parlay features are unquestionably their Insurance options and also the possibility of a Same Game Parlay, a bet type they’re championing in the US betting industry.

We’ve all been there where one leg lets your parlay down and with multiple parlay insurance options across different sports and mixed sports parlays, you can at least have another go with free bet credits up to $25 on parlays of 5+ more selections when just one leg lets you down.

The new option is a great way to enjoy a wager on a primetime game or while tuning in to your favorite team. At FanDuel Sportsbook, matches that offer the Same Game Parlay can be found by their green SGP logo under the teams. The Same Game Parlay allows you to combine multiple wagers such as money lines, spreads, totals, and props into one wager on the game.

Best Sports To Bet Parlays On

There are many sports that lend themselves towards being good sports to bet parlays on, but ultimately a parlay is typically a fun, longshot bet so whatever sports you enjoy or feel you know better are great options.

With a parlay being a multi-leg bet the best sports are often ones with schedules that include multiple matches per day. The best example of this and the most popular sport to wager on is the NFL. NFL Sundays are great opportunities to try an NFL Parlay, with anywhere up to 16 games on a Sunday there are countless parlay options from money line, spreads, totals, or exotics.

If football is not your thing, then why not basketball? Both professional and collegiate basketball schedules have multiple games per day, and also with a wealth of markets to combine and choose from. An NBA Parlay offers just as much variation as an NFL one, and in the collegiate ranks,  tournaments like March Madness where you can see up to 32 games a day in the First Round, are perfect opportunities to try and win big on a March Madness Parlay.

Pickswise is the home of the Parlay. Our expert handicappers provide their best Parlays each day across a variety of sports. From our NBA Parlay to our March Madness Parlay and everything in between, we have you covered. Check back to see which Parlays Picks our experts like today!

Last updated: Sat 6th March 2021
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