Parlay Bets Explained

Parlay bets are single bets that link together a variety of different wagers (outcomes) in order to increase the odds of the bet and increase the potential payout.  A parlay bet only wins if every single predicted outcome in the parlay bet comes true.

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 game, 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 (yea I’m looking at you Toronto) 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 favourites.  Betting $100 to win $20 in a single bet on a big favourite seems like a lot of risk and little reward.  Many bettors choose to parlay several favourites in order to increase their potential payout.