What is a Parlay in Sports Betting? A Detailed Guide

Vadims Mikeļevičs

Vadims Mikeļevičs

Parlays are among the most popular types of sports bets. Punters love them for a variety of reasons including the fact that parlays can pay out huge amounts of money. Parlays also allow bettors to customize the level of risk and reward. Not only do all bookies on our list of sporting bookmakers offer parlays, but many top sites even run regular promotions that are specifically aimed at parlay bettors.

So, what is a parlay in sports betting? Well, a parlay, also commonly called an accumulator, is a type of bet that involves placing two or more wagers on a single ticket. To win the bet, all of your predictions must be correct. Just one incorrect pick will render the bet a loser although there is a type of parlay that leaves room for error. We will discuss that particular bet type further down in this parlay betting tutorial.

Parlay Bet Example Types

parlay-bet-examples-typesThe defining characteristic of a parlay is that it is composed of two or more individual selections. An example of a parlay would be having the Toronto Maple Leafs ML along with the Over 205.5 in a Lakers versus Warriors match. Because this bet has two selections on it, punters typically call this type of parlay a two-teamer or a two-legged parlay. If you were to add, say, the Buffalo Bills at -3 to the mix, you would have a three-teamer. Again, each selection on the parlay must be correct for it to be a winner. This is where checking out the most up-to-date free correct score predictions comes in handy.

As illustrated in the above example, parlays allow you to mix and match your sports and bet types. You could create a parlay using an NFL spread along with an NBA 1 st quarter winner and an MLB runline. Your ticket can consist of underdogs, favorites, or a mix of both. While there are theoretically no limits to the number of selections that you can add to a parlay, a lot of bookmakers limit parlays to 20 selections although this isn’t always the case. A lot of bookies also place a limit on how high the parlay’s odds can be.

Now, you’re probably wondering how parlay odds and payouts are calculated. This is pretty simple. A parlay’s odds are calculated by multiplying the odds of each selection together. Let’s say you build the following three-teamer:

Table about Parlay Bet Example Types
Selection Odds
Chicago Blackhawks +1.5 1.60
Philadelphia Eagles -9.5 1.95
Detroit Pistons at Toronto Raptors Under 211.5 1.90

To figure out the accumulated odds, we multiply 1.60 * 1.95 * 1.90 which gives us 5.93. So, the odds are 5.93. To find out what the potential payout would be, you just have to multiply those accumulated odds of 5.93 by the stake amount. If you wanted to wager $10, then the payout would be $59.30.

How to Bet a Parlay

Placing a parlay bet is very straightforward. Start by making your first selection which will be added to your bet slip automatically. You can then go back to the betting menu to make your next selection which will also be added to the bet slip. Keep adding selections until all of your desired picks have been placed on the bet slip.

In most cases, the bet slip will ask you what type of bet you want it to be. Select the “Parlay” or
“Accumulator” option. You will see all of your picks, the individual odds, and the accumulated odds. You can enter the stake amount to see what the potential payout is. After that, it’s just a matter of submitting the bet.

Parlay Bet Examples


In sports betting, what is a parlay? Let’s go ahead and give an example. For this illustration, we’ll wager $10 on a 10-teamer that incorporates a creative mix of sports and bet types. Before we build our parlay, we need to remind you of the importance of researching all of your selections and using the MightyTips on our site. The more insight you have, the better your chances of winning are.

Now that we have done our homework, let’s build that 10-teamer.

Table about Parlay Bet Examples
Selection Odds
Arsenal first half 1X2 2.10
New York Yankees -1.5 2.55
Los Angeles Clippers ML 1.75
Calgary Flames +.5 1.80
Boston Celtics team total Over 101.5 1.90
Austin Matthews Over .5 goals 1.50
Toronto Blue Jays at Baltimore Orioles Under 9.5 1.90
Detroit Lions -6.5 1.95
Sheffield United at Manchester United both teams to score 1.65
Aston Villa X2 double chance 1.50

Once we’ve added all of these picks to our bet slip and selected the “Parlay” option, we will see that the accumulated odds are a whopping 440.84!! This illustrates another for loving parlays. They can pay out very handsomely. After entering $10 in the wager box and submitting the bet, we stand to make $4408.40. That’s something to get excited about.

This parlay also demonstrates how flexible you can be in terms of your betting options. We could have added tennis, billiards, volleyball, and darts selections to it if we wanted to. We could have had a KBO first five innings selection, an Aussie rules handicap bet, and even eSports picks on it. The possibilities are nearly endless. If you ask “In betting, what is a parlay?”, one answer would be that a parlay is a chance to win big bucks.

Baseball Parlay Bets

Baseball is a very popular sport. While MLB garners the most attention, professional leagues also thrive in countries like Japan, Korea, and Australia. Top bookmakers usually offer dozens of different bet types for baseball including:

  • Match Winner
  • 1X2
  • Spread
  • Alternative Spreads
  • Team Totals
  • Game Total
  • Alternative Totals
  • First 5 Innings Result
  • Winning Margin
  • Correct Score
  • Race to 3 Runs
  • First Inning Winner

Having so many betting options makes it a bit easier to zero in on prime opportunities and make parlays out of them.

Using a Parlay Odds Boost Promo


A lot of premier online bookmakers offer parlay bonuses. With a parlay odds boost, you get enhanced odds on certain selections. For instance, instead of getting the 1.90 odds on English Premier League Predictions for game totals, you’ll get special odds of, say, 2.10. Now that you know how parlays are calculated, you can see how having picks with boosted odds can significantly increase your potential payouts.

Another type of parlay promotion will add a bonus to your winning parlays. This bonus is typically based on the number of legs on your parlay. For example, you’ll get a 5% boost on your payout for a winning 3- teamer or a 10% boost on your winnings from a 5-teamer. The more selections on the parlay, the bigger the boost.

Standard Parlay

A standard parlay simply refers to the types of parlays we have been discussing and using in examples throughout this “What is a Parlay in Betting” guide. It is a single bet that consists of two or more selections. As we’ve seen, you can parlay any sports and bet type with any other sport and bet type. The only exception to this is same-game parlays which we will get to shortly.

What’s the Better Bet?

All types of bets have pros and cons. Parlays are no different. One of the most attractive aspects of parlays is that they can pay out staggering amounts. This is especially true when you build a large parlay or select long odds. They are also a way to get more value out of low-odds picks. While you might not see a lot of value in wagering two heavy favorites, putting them together in a parlay makes it more worthwhile. For instance, say you want to bet on two teams, but they are only paying 1.25. If you parlay those two picks together, the odds become 1.56 which is much more palatable.

Of course, the main downside to parlays is that you need all of your selections to hit. Missing just one pick will kill your ticket. It’s tough enough to pick just one winner let alone 2, 5, 10, or more. Nevertheless, a lot of people have won vast sums of money betting parlays.

Teasers, Pleasers

Two types of special parlays that you should know about are called teasers and pleasers. These particular bets are generally only offered on American football and basketball and they only involve spreads and totals. With teasers, the punter receives a lower spread or total. As you would expect, this significantly lowers the odds.

Let’s say that we at MightyTips helped you to find the best NBA online betting website that offers teasers. Now, let’s also say that the betting menu has the following spreads posted:

Los Angeles Lakers -7.5 Chicago Bulls -2.5 Detroit Pistons -5.5 Toronto Raptors +4.5 New York Knicks +1.5

For this example, we’ll go with a 5-point teaser. This means that you get to move the spreads in your favor by 5 points. As such, the new spreads become:

Los Angeles Lakers -2.5 Chicago Bulls +2.5 Detroit Pistons -0.5 Toronto Raptors +9.5 New York Knicks +6.5

As you can see, those spreads are much easier to overcome. However, instead of getting an estimated payout of about 25-1 as you would if you parlayed the standard spreads, this teaser would pay somewhere in the neighborhood of 7-2.

Pleasers are pretty much the opposite of teasers. Instead of moving the spread or total in your favor, you increase it. Naturally, this means bigger payouts. As you learn more about these exciting bets, you will discover that some spreads and totals are better to use in teasers while others are better used in pleasers. This is especially true in NFL betting.

Same Game Parlay

A same game parlay is a bet in which the punter parlays selections from one game. For instance, you can go to one of the bookies on our list of the best cricket betting sites and check out the betting menu for a cricket match between the Delhi Daredevils and the Mumbai Indians. You can then parlay the spread, total, or any other type of bet including props. Same game parlays are ideal for those who have deeply researched a specific game or know the two teams well. Even though most top online bookmakers offer same game parlays, not all of them do.

Progressive Parlay

Progressive parlays aren’t as commonly offered as other bets, but a lot of bookies do have them. Progressive parlays work like traditional parlays with one key exception. You can miss a leg or multiple legs and still win your bet. Needless to say, the payout will be significantly lower than it would have been had you nailed all of them correctly, but it’s better than nothing.

In most cases, you can miss out on one pick if it’s a small parlay with four or five selections. More leeway is granted for larger parlays.

Round Robin

Round robin parlays, also known as combination bets, are another type of parlay that leaves room for error. As opposed to a traditional parlay in which you essentially have just one bet, round robins are a series of smaller bets within that one main parlay. To illustrate, let’s say that you want to wager on Team A, Team B, Team C, and Team D to win. A round robin would break this down into 11 separate bets using every possible combination. The bets would look like this:

  • A+B
  • A+C
  • A+D
  • B+C
  • B+D
  • C+D
  • A+B+C
  • A+B+D
  • B+C+D
  • A+C+D
  • A+B+C+D

There would be six 2-teamers, four 3-teamers, and the one traditional 4-teamer. If one selection loses, then you’d still be left with a few winning combinations. A lot of round robin bettors like to sprinkle in underdogs and other high-odd picks into their wagers simply because they add a ton of value if they hit and they can still win if those long shots lose. This “What is a Parlay in Betting” tutorial should point out that some round robins allow you to miss more than one pick.

Basketball Parlay Bet

Basketball is yet another popular sport for parlay bettors. In addition to basketball generating tons of pregame bets, it is also one of if not the most popular live sport to bet on. And yes, you can parlay live bets. It isn’t uncommon for top bookmakers to offer over 200 unique bets on NBA games. This presents parlay bettors with loads of options including the aforementioned teasers, pleasers, same game parlays, and round robins. Check out our strategies for basketball betting for more information.

Football Parlay Bet: Teaser

CFL and NFL football are among the few sports that facilitate teasers. While we used basketball in our teaser example above, we should also take a moment to discuss football because there are interesting theories about football teasers. You see, there are a few key numbers in football. Because of the scoring structure, these numbers are 3, 7, and 10. When teasing football spreads, it helps when you cross these numbers. For instance, if a team is favored by 10.5 points, teasing it down in a six-point teaser crosses both the 10 and the 7 giving you a distinct advantage.

The Fine Print on Teasers

There are generally only ten types of football teasers. These are 2, 3, 4, and 5-team six-point teasers, 2, 3, 4, and 5-team 7-point teasers, 3-team 10-point teasers, and 4-team 13-point teasers. In basketball, you can usually tease a spread or total by 4, 4.5, or 5 points although some bookies might offer other numbers. While teasers might look easy, they are still tough to beat which is why you still have to do your homework when making your selections.

How Does a Push Work in a Parlay?

If you start betting parlays, you will inevitably encounter a situation in which one of your selections pushes. How does having a push on your parlay affect the bet? Well, just think of it like it was never on your ticket. It neither counts as a loss nor a win. The bookie will simply recalculate the payout using the odds from the remaining picks. So, if you had three wins and a push on a four-teamer, it essentially becomes a winning three-teamer.

How Much Does a $20 Parlay Pay?

When you bet a parlay, the potential payout depends entirely on the accumulated odds and the wager amount. A $20 parlay could theoretically net you a $2 profit or it could win you millions of dollars. If you parlay two heavy favorites, then the payout will most certainly be quite small. If you build a 12-teamer using long-shots, then you stand to make a lot of money.

How Do You Win at Parlays?

Winning parlay bets is a lot like winning any other type of bet. It all starts with doing your homework and researching stats, trends, and anything else that can impact a match including weather and referees. Winning parlay bets also involves a certain degree of luck. You have to understand that picking one winner is challenging. Every selection you add makes it even harder. However, it can be very rewarding if you win one.

We suggest that you take advantage of bookmaker bonuses and promotions like boosted parlays and free bets. When you receive your betting site’s deposit bonus, you can use it to bet parlays although you need to read the offer’s T&Cs to learn about any restrictions or limitations.

How Do Parlays Pay?

Figuring out the potential payout for a parlay is quite easy. All you need to do is multiply all of the odds together to find the accumulated odds. You can then multiply the accumulated odds by the stake amount to get the potential payout.

What Does a 3-Team Parlay Pay?

As mentioned throughout this “What is a Parlay in Betting” guide, a parlay’s payout equals the accumulated odds multiplied by the wager amount. In a three-team parlay, you have to multiply the three odds and then multiply that number by the bet amount.

Are Parlays a Good Idea?

Many punters have won huge windfalls from parlay betting. However, anyone who bets parlays will likely tell you that they lose many more parlay bets than they win. Very few professional bettors base their strategy on parlays as they are so highly volatile. However, most of them don’t shy away from sprinkling in the occasional one.

The higher the odds, the lower your chances of winning. However, those wins can be very sweet. If you are one to bet at fast payout betting sites, then we suggest that you at least try placing one or two parlay bets. It’s the best way to find out if parlays are for you.

Review Author

Vadims Mikeļevičs

Vadims Mikeļevičs

Vadims Mikeļevičs is an e-sports and biathlon enthusiast with years of writing experience about games, sports, and bookmakers.

Reviewed By Editor in Chief

Eugene Ravdin

Eugene Ravdin

Hey! I've been working for the official UEFA website for 18 years as a translator, reporter, editor, and language version editor in chief.