Sports Betting: The Keys To Understanding Parlay Odds



One of the most common types of bets in the sports betting world is the parlay. Also known as combinations, a parlay is a selection of two or more wagering outcomes in which the odds for the payout increase with the number of bets that you select. The more teams that you put on the parlay ticket, the higher the potential payout. However, all teams that you pick on the ticket must win or cover for the parlay to be considered a winner. Here is a look at the keys to understanding parlay odds.

Fixed Parlay Odds

For the most part, football and basketball parlay odds include standard -110 odds. Instead of having to calculate the odds, there are fixed payoffs for each bet. Let’s pretend you make four separate bets with one team against the spread and one total on each ticket. The odds of any of those being a winner are 1-in-4 so the actual odds are 3/1. However, the sportsbooks will pay either 13/5 or 5/2 assuming all bets are the standard -110. If you bet on each different outcome, there will be one winner at $260 and three $100 losers. That would be a net gain of $40 for the books. It’s easier to understand how parlay bets work once you understand the fixed odds.

The House Edge

It’s obvious that the parlay bets give the house a pretty decent edge. The more teams on each ticket, the greater the likelihood the house takes home money since you need more teams to cover in order to win the parlay ticket. While the payouts are greater for the winning parlays, there are enough losers to cover the house’s losses and more. Factor in that the books usually see the same picks on multiple tickets and it’s easier to understand why they have an edge. One loss from a very popular team could result in the loss of countless parlay bets. That is another reason why parlay bets are considered favorable risks for the sportsbooks.

Positives Of Parlay Wagers

The biggest positive of parlay wagers is obvious: the potential for a big payout. The more teams you put on a ticket, the greater the chances you will score a big win. This is especially true for betting large spreads. The sportsbooks allow you to risk significant amounts of money. While it is risky, the more you put on the line the greater the potential winnings if you hit on a wager. Parlays could include as few as two teams on a ticket, so you don’t necessarily have to put too many teams on a given ticket. It’s all about how much money you want to risk and how much you want to win when you are deciding how to build a parlay bet.

Negatives Of Parlay Wagers

The biggest negative of parlay wagers is the odds. Assuming that that the standard -110 odds are applied to every team on the wager, the break-even point is 52.38-percent. While it might not seem like a lot, it’s harder to hit on 53-percent of your parlay bets than you might think over the long run. It also takes a lot more patience than betting on teams individually. If you aren’t patient, it can be easy to lose a good amount of money in a short time betting parlays. While the potential for a bigger payout is higher on the parlay bet, the odds of making a profit are actually higher betting one team at a time individually. There are both positives and negatives to betting parlays. By understanding how they work, you can make a more informed decision on whether or not the parlay bets are the best option for you.