Parlay Bets Explained

Parlay bets are single bets that involve wagering on a variety of outcomes. The parlay bet will win if all of the individual picks on the parlay ticket are winners. If any play on the parlay ticket is a loser the entire parlay bet loses.

For example:

If you make a 3-team NHL parlay bet with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks all winning their games, the parlay bet will only payout if each of these three teams comes out with a victory.  If any team loses then the entire parlay bet loses.

Calculating Parlay Odds

I’m sure you will have guessed by now that the payout for a parlay bet is much higher than for any individual team bet, or even if you place a single bet on each of the three teams (because you would still win the Sharks single bet, if the Maple Leafs single bet loses – which is not the case with parlays).

Parlay odds are calculated by multiplying the single bet odds for each outcome by each other.

Continuing with the example:

Say these are the odds for single bets on each of the three NHL teams:

Toronto Maple Leafs +185 (2.85)
Boston Bruins -150 (1.67)
San Jose Sharks -170 (1.59)

I’m including the decimal odds because it is much easier to calculate parlays using these odds.  Multiplying 2.85 x 1.67 x 1.59 you get 7.57.  The odds for this parlay are then 7.57 in terms of decimal odds, which is +657 in terms of American odds.

Therefore a $100 wager on this parlay would payout $757 if each of these three teams wins their game.  But don’t forget if any team loses then the entire parlay bet is a loser.

Pushes On Parlay Bets

It is possible to push bets.  For example, if you have the Lakers covering an 8 point spread and they win by 8 points then that bet is pushed.  Don’t worry though this doesn’t screw up your parlay bet.  The Lakers wager is just removed from the parlay bet and the odds are adjusted accordingly.

When Parlay Bets Are Typically Used

Parlay bets are great to use when you are wagering on favorites.  Betting $100 to win $20 in a single bet on a big favorite seems like a lot of risk and little reward.  Many bettors choose to parlay several favorites in order to increase their potential payout.

Another Way To Think About Parlay Bets

With a parlay bet you are basically just rolling over the payout from the first legs of the parlay bet onto the next leg of the parlay bet, and so on. This is why the payout can get so high.

For example, if you’re betting $100 on the Maple Leafs at odds of 2.85, you would receive a payout of $285. With a parlay bet this amount is basically then also applied to the next leg of the parlay (Bruins 1.67). If the Bruins also win then the $285 would turn into $476 (285*1.67). Then the $476 is rolled onto the last leg of the parlay (Sharks 1.59) to find the final payout of $757.