How to Bet Parlays

Parlays are the most popular of the exotic wagers, as the possibility for a big win from a small wager is there. In simple terms, a parlay is collection of two or more wagers and all of them must win in order for you to win your bet. If you place a bet on a four team parlay, going 3-1 is no different than going 0-4. All of your bets must win, or at least tie, for you to win.

There are two basic types of parlays, those wagered against the point spread and those wagered against the money line. The payoffs a bettor will receive should they win are quite different with the two. In parlays involving point spreads, the payoffs are fixed, while money line parlay payoffs are determined by the odds of each team.

Point Spread Parlays

The odds on a typical parlay involving point spreads, including totals, are generally something like:

2 teams 13-5
3 teams 6-1
4 teams 10-1
5 teams 25-1
6 teams 40-1
7 teams 75-1
8 teams 150-1
9 teams 300-1
10 teams 600-1

What this means is that a bettor making a wager on a five-team parlay stands to win $25 for every $1 wagered if all of the games win. That is the primary reason parlays are popular with a number of sports bettors. A tie game will simply reduce the number of teams in your parlay at most sportsbooks. If you bet a four-team parlay and one game ties, the remaining three games are now considered a three-team parlay and if the three remaining games all win, you will be paid off with the odds of a three-team parlay. Some sportsbooks will consider ties as losses, especially if you are playing the parlay cards that are so popular during football season, so be sure to check the rules before you place your wager.

Point spread parlays can be made on sides, meaning one of the two teams, or on the total. Monday Night Football parlays involving the side and the total are often popular wagers, as bettors are making one final attempt to get even for the week.

Money Line Parlays

Money line parlays do not use fixed odds, because the odds of winning may vary greatly from team to team. While a parlay made against the point spread assumes a 50-50 chance for each team to win, money line parlays do not. The chances of the Texas Rangers defeating the Houston Astros are greater than 50-percent, and as a result, money line parlays are figured differently.

To put it in simple terms, money line parlays take the amount of your bet and place all of the money on one team and if that team wins, recalculates your bet amount on the next team, again placing your entire wager on that team. If you bet more than two teams in your parlay, the process keeps repeating itself until you lose one game or win all the games in your parlay.

For example, a bettor likes the Los Angeles Dodgers +160 and the Chicago Cubs -130 in a two-team parlay. If the bettor places a $10 wager, they essentially would have a $10 bet on the Dodgers +160, which will return $26 should the Dodgers win, and then they would have a $26 bet on the Cubs -130. Should the Cubs also win, the bettor has turned a $10 wager into $46. Contrast the $36 profit with the $26 profit a bettor winning a $10 point spread parlay on two teams would make. The difference in the payoff is because the Dodgers were not given very good odds of winning.

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