What is a parlay bet in sports?

May 4th, 2021

If you are new to sports betting and looking to test your luck with an advanced wagering strategy, look no further than the parlay — a hugely popular sports betting method with high-reward potential!

A parlay is a type of wager in which you can link two or more bets into a single wager to boost your potential payout.

While the term "parlay" is common in American sports wagering, this bet type may also be referred to as an accumulator, acca, combo bet, or multi wager.

With parlay wagering, every leg of your parlay must hit in order for the bet to win.

Moneyline parlay

Let's look at an example of a parlay wager with two separate NBA matchups: the Dallas Mavericks at the Miami Heat, and the Golden State Warriors at the New Orleans Pelicans.

If you place a single $100 bet on the Mavs' moneyline odds (+128), you would net $228 if the Mavs defeat the Heat.

Team OddsNet payout on $100 bet
Dallas Mavericks

Likewise, if you place a single $100 wager on the Warriors (+107), you would net $207 if they beat the Pelicans.

Team OddsNet payout on $100 bet
Dallas Mavericks

While you could place two separate $100 wagers and potentially collect a total of $435 if both of your individual bets hit, you could also link these two wagers into a single parlay bet and boost your profit.

A $100 parlay on the Warriors and Mavs to both win gives you +372 odds. Therefore, if both teams triumph, you would net $471.96 on your single $100 parlay wager.

On the contrary, if one of these two teams loses, you win nothing on your parlay bet.

The reason behind the better payout on a parlay is simple. It is much more difficult to correctly predict the outcome of two or more events, compared to one. Therefore, sportsbooks grant you better odds if you combine two or more sporting events into a single bet.

At TwinSpires Sports, you can place a multi-team parlay, such as the one above, or a multi-sport parlay on select matchups.

Multi-sport parlay wager

A multi-sport parlay combines two or more bets from different sporting events. 

For example, you can parlay the moneyline odds on the Brooklyn Nets (+102), the Arizona Diamondbacks (+130), and Tottenham Hotspur (+110) into one single wager.

This specific parlay bet would offer +876 odds on all three teams to win outright. If all three teams prevail, you would net $975.66 on a single $100 bet.

By comparison, you could risk $300 by placing a single $100 wager on each of the three sporting events, but you would only net $642, if each individual wager is correct.

Parlay wagers are not limited to moneyline odds. You can also combine the point spread, Over/Under, or prop odds into a single parlay.

How pushes work in parlay wagering

When you bet the spread or Over/Under, you may encounter an instance in which one of the legs of your parlay is a push, or a tie. 

In this instance, the push is thrown out of the bet, and your parlay is reduced to however many legs remain, with the odds adjusted accordingly.

Basic parlay strategy

One simple strategy with parlay wagering is to look for large moneyline favorites to include in your bet. 

For example, let's say the Phoenix Suns own -910 moneyline odds to win outright against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Betting $100 on the Suns' moneyline is not a worthwhile risk, but you can use these moneyline odds as a leg in your parlay to boost your potential payout.

Let's say you also like the Toronto Raptors' point spread (+9.5), as well as the Heat's (-3.5) in their respective matchups. If you place a $10 parlay wager on both teams to cover the spread, you get +261 odds and a potential net return of $36.09.

By adding in the Suns' -910 moneyline odds as a leg of this parlay, you now get +301 odds and a potential payout of $40.07 on a $10 wager.

Another strategy is to create a correlated parlay, in which you combine two related bets.

In college football, you may find a team like Clemson favored by a huge point spread, but the Over/Under on total points is lower than you expected. If you think Clemson will cover, you would parlay Clemson's point spread with the Over on total points, because chances are the score will be high if Clemson wins by a large amount.

You can use a similar strategy with player props. For instance, if you think a quarterback will hit the Over on his total passing yards for the game, you could parlay the Over on the total receiving yards for the team's leading receiver, as well. 

Try out your own parlay wagering strategy today at TwinSpires Sports!