Parlay Betting Strategy In Sports Betting

Parlay bets in sports are the most popular bet type in the world aside from straight wagers. It isn’t a secret why these wagers are so popular with the masses. They offer large payouts if bettors can string together a few winning bets. Of course, the sportsbooks wouldn’t be offering these large payouts if they were making a profit. Read on to learn how parlay bets work, true parlay odds, and how you can take advantage of them when placing sports bets and increasing your winnings.

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2 Team Parlay Betting – Explained

Below is an example of a 2-team parlay using NFL point spreads.

  • New York Giants +3.5(-110)
  • Jacksonville Jaguars -3(-110)

2-team parlays traditionally pay 2.64/1 or in American odds, +264. A winning $100 wager on this parlay would payout $360. Bettors would be returned their $100 original stake and receive $260 in profits.

All legs or bets of a parlay must win for the wager to be graded as a winner. In the case of a push, parlays revert to the smaller number of teams. For example, if we bet a 3-team parlay, and one of the bets pushes, the wager becomes a 2-team parlay with an adjusted payout. If one leg of a 2-team parlay pushes and the other bet wins, sportsbooks differ on how they handle the wager. Some may revert the parlay into a straight wager and grade the bet a winner while others will return all stakes and grade the bet as a push. Sportsbooks that grade pushes in parlays as losses (there are very few that do this) should be avoided.

True Betting Parlay Odds

In the table below, we’ve calculated the true odds of parlay wagers compared to the average sportsbook’s payouts. It’s vital to note, however, these are not the accurate odds in the sense that the oddsmaker’s edge is zero. There is still traditional vigorish attached to these wagers. The true odds calculation is straight bets made on the same amount of wagers, with the profits rolled over for each bet. So, while there still is an oddsmakers edge, it’s considerably smaller the closer we get the true odds.

No. of Teams Offshore Odds True Odds
2 +264 +300
3 +600 +700
4 +1228 +1500
5 +2435 +3100
6 +4741 +6300
7 +9142 +12700
8 175/1 255/1
9 335/1 511/1

It’s should be obvious based on the data above that the sportsbooks always have an edge when it comes to parlays. However, if we look closely, their margin is much smaller on 2 and 3-team parlays than say a 7-team parlay. Sticking to 2-team and 3-team parlays is the way to go in this market. It should also be noted that some operators offer parlays up to 20 teams.

Due the gargantuan payouts that bigger parlays have, the books increase their edge on these wagers by lowering the payouts. We can quickly draw from the true odds that parlays above four teams are almost never worth considering. The higher the number teams, the bigger the end held by the oddsmakers. Recreational bettors love wagering large parlays, and the bookies are happy to take their action. They make so much money off gamblers every year on parlays. They will often publicize when someone hits a big parlay payout in hopes that others will follow their lead.

Fixed Odds Parlays & Sportsbooks

Sportsbooks have fixed odds they use for parlays, and these numbers are all based on -110 pricing for each wager or leg. At most online sportsbooks in the US market, bettors can add a single selection to the parlay that isn’t the standard -110 to force a fair calculation.

To do this, we need to calculate each leg of the bet in the form of a multiplier. The math here is relatively straightforward. We simply take the amount risked versus the amount won on a winning wager. For a -110 bet, our $110 stake returns $210 on a winning wager, the $110 stake and $100 profit. To calculate this, we can divide 210/110 and get 1.909. We can round this number off to 1.91. For a +105 wager on a $100 bet, using the same math, we come back with 2.25. To figure out our parlay calculation with a +105 bet added into the equation, we simply multiply each wagering modifier.

5 Team Parlay Betting – Explained

If we are calculating for a 5-team parlay, the math will look like this:

  • 1.91 * 1.91 * 1.91 * 1.91 * 2.05 = 27.28

We subtract 1.0 from our 27.28 decimal odds to account for our stake that includes the amount risked to 26.28. These decimal odds are easily converted into US Odds, which comes out to +2528.

If we compare these odds the usual +2435 payout for a 5-team parlay, although we don’t hit the true odds, we have a substantial advantage over the fixed payout. Substituting one bet that doesn’t have -110 odds will force a calculation from the sportsbook. For larger parlays, with 7-8 teams, a -115 or -120 attached odds for one wager will still offer a better calculation than all -110 bets. There’s also an opportunity here to take advantage if the parlay odds are truly fixed and don’t move regardless of the attached juice. Bets that are -115 or higher are simply more likely to win compared to -110 wagers.

Advanced Parlay Betting Strategy

If you’re going to be betting a lot of parlays, the first thing we recommend is that you get the best possible odds available. There is often what may seem like small variations in parlay odds between sites, but remember even a 10-20 cent difference adds up in a big way over the long run. This is an area where some bettors, even who are excellent line shoppers on their straight wagers, forget to line shop for the best price.

Clearing Sportsbooks Bonuses

We touch on this a lot more in-depth in our comprehensive article on sportsbook deposit bonuses, but it’s worth touching on briefly here. 3-team parlays are always the best way to clear freeplay bonuses because bettors will get the chance to apply free stakes to three different wagers instead of a -110 straight bet. We mention this specifically for football, because at the start of football season, sportsbooks offer a large list of bonuses, including reload bonuses for players that have accounts.

Circumventing Betting Limits

One of the best ways to get more money down on a bet you like is to parlay it with another wager. For instance, say you’ve bet the maximum amount allowed on a point spread permitted by the sportsbook.

Parlaying that wager with another bet would let you bet more that selection. Bettors might parlay it with a heavy favorite’s moneyline or another bet or two that they feel strongly about. Remember, since 2-team parlays pay +260 or better, they only need to win one of these wagers to turn a profit on their bet, provided their main max market wager is a winner.

Odds On Team Parlay – Sportsbooks & Odds Table

2 +264 +264 +264 +260 +264 +260
3 +595 +600 +600 +600 +596 +600
4 +1228 +1228 +1228 +1150 +1228 +1200
5 +2435 +2435 +2435 +2200 +2436 +2400
6 +4741 +4741 +4741 +4000 +4741 +4700
7 +9142 +9142 +9142 +8000 +9143 +9100
8 175/1 175/1 175/1 150/1 175/1 175/1
9 335/1 335/1 335/1 300/1 335/1 335/1
10 642/1 642/1 642/1 500/1 642/1 642/1

Parlay Odds Breakdown

BetOnline and sister sportsbook,, are the clear choice if you’re interested in betting parlays. 2-team parlays are +264, which is the same for most sites, but they also have 3-team parlays at +600, which is not universal at other betting sites. It gives them a clear edge over Bovada, their main competitor in U.S., if you’re interested in betting parlays. On the other end of the spectrum, GTBets and are not ideal for parlays. They don’t offer the +264 on 2-team parlays that has become standard in other markets. They are at +600 for 3-parlays, but anything higher than that and their payouts are worse than most sites. We don’t recommend betting parlays greater than three teams, but payouts at GTBets are especially poor as you add more teams.

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Parlay Betting Strategy – In Conclusion

While the above parlay tips on parlays are helpful, parlays, for the most part, are losing bets that are heavily wagered by recreational losing sports gamblers. Bettors should almost never bet more than 2-3 team parlays, but we do recommend forcing a calculation if you’re going to be a higher number of teams to get a fairer price.

The fundamental problem with parlay betting is that it discourages line shopping, something that is paramount to success in sports betting. You should be shopping around for the best odds and looking for reduced juice if possible. It’s highly unlikely that you’re going to find the best odds for your selection of bets at a single sportsbook. You’re almost always going to end up with a more profitable ticket line shopping and betting straight wagers at several sportsbooks. Parlays should be used sparingly. The only time parlays should be utilized almost religiously is for clearing freeplay deposit bonuses.