Parlay bets are a great way to get the chance of a very high return on a small wager – a strategy favoured by many gamblers. By combining smaller bets together, bettors can boost their odds significantly and achieve huge returns.

In this article, we’ll explain how parlay bets work, how you can place them, and offer the best strategies for parlay betting from our team of expert gamblers.

What is a Parlay in Sports Betting?

Parlay betting is where you combine multiple selections to create a single bet. This is sometimes referred to as an accumulator bet or a combo bet and can be used across a multitude of sports and markets.

These bets are designed to offer larger payouts for a combination of winning selections, however, you need all these selections to win for the bet to pay out. For example, if just one result of your 5-team parlay loses and then the other four win, then the whole bet loses.

Parlay Betting Explained: How Parlay Betting Works

You first start by selecting the picks that you want to include in your bet. We suggest that the best way to do this is by picking short-priced favorites to combine them into a single selection.

The parlay can come in all shapes and sizes, and there are few limitations about what you can pick, with the most notable being multiple selections from the same game. For example, you could create a 3-game NFL parlay that includes the Miami Dolphins winning, Green Bay Packers winning, and the New England Patriots winning. You couldn’t make one that was the Green Bay Packers to win, Green Bay to cover the spread in their game, and the New England Patriots to win, as an example.

However, some sites do offer same-game parlays (also known as ‘bet builders’ or ‘prop builders’) for betting on multiple outcomes within one game. For example, using this feature, it would be possible to bet on Liverpool to win, Liverpool to have 5+ corners, and Darwin Nunez to score:

Parlay Odds

Odds are formulated based on the price taken for each pick at the time of placing the bet. The easiest way is to change the odds from American to decimal, then you all need to do is multiply each of the odds together to get your price.

Here’s how that might look:

  • LA Dodgers to win – 1.85
  • Seattle Seahawks to win – 1.65
  • LA Lakers to win – 1.75
  • Total Price = 1.85 * 1.65 * 1.75 = 5.34

Parlay Payouts

Payouts are all relative to the odds that you get. As highlighted above, the best way to work this out is by using decimal odds and then converting this back to American odds if needed. It’s also worth noting that the sportsbook will automatically do this for you and often, allow you to see potential returns before placing a bet.

Let’s continue with the parlay in the section above to see how the payout would work.

In this parlay bet example, the odds would be 5.34 or +434 in American odds. So, if you staked $100, you would make a $434 profit, assuming the bet won.

The potential for parlay bets can be huge, but you need to make sure that all your picks are strong to be successful. Often, people are too keen to boost odds by adding more picks, vastly reducing the likelihood the bet will win. We talk more about this in our parlay betting strategy later.

Parlay Betting Examples

One of the easiest ways to learn about parlay sports betting is to work through examples. Below we’ve included 2, 3, and 4-leg bets adding a single leg each time to highlight how adding just one more pick makes a huge difference to the odds.

2-Leg Parlay Bet

We’re going to start with two picks from an upcoming NBA game and a Premier League soccer game. Both are favorites, which keeps the odds relatively low to begin with.

Pick Odds
Cleveland Cavaliers to beat Boston Celtics 1.80
Manchester United to beat Everton 1.50
Total Parlay Odds 2.7

3-Leg Parlay Bet

For the third leg, we’re going to add in a horse to win the upcoming Kentucky Derby in the form of Forte, who is likely going to head off as one of the favorites priced at 7.00. As you can see, just by adding selection we’ve now got three favorites and a large total price.

Pick Odds
Cleveland Cavaliers to beat Boston Celtics 1.80
Manchester United to beat Everton 1.50
Forte to win Kentucky Derby 7
Total Parlay Odds 18.9

4-Leg Parlay Bet

Our final pick is going to be the winner of the next Super Bowl. This is the Kansas City Chiefs, who are relatively short-priced at 4.5, but still a strong favorite.

The price now jumps massively and all we’ve added into our parlay bet is 4 selections who are all favorites to win. This is the beauty of the bet type.

Pick Odds
Cleveland Cavaliers to beat Boston Celtics 1.80
Manchester United to beat Everton 1.50
Forte to win Kentucky Derby 7
Kansas City Cheifs to win the Super Bowl 4.5
Total Parlay Odds 85.05

If we were to convert this total price to American odds it would be +8405, meaning that if we wagered just $10, we would make a profit of $840.50.

Pushes on a Parlay Bet

When betting on the spread, if a bet is a ‘push’ – meaning it lands exactly on the spread or total – then that leg will be removed and the rest of the parlay will continue as normal at reduced odds. Essentially, it is as if the leg which was a push was never included in the parlay in the first place.

Some sites will however make an exception if this is included in a same-game bet. In this case, some betting sites will void the whole parlay as if the leg was a loss. You can check the Terms and Conditions for each bookie to be sure which action they’ll take in the event of a push.

How to Place a Parlay Bet

As an example, we’ll use BetOnline to give you a step-by-step guide on how to place a parlay bet. BetOnline is our top ranked of all the sites we reviewed for parlay betting, and also offers up to $1,000 as a welcome bonus.

1.   Visit the BetOnline Site

Register at BetOnline Step 1

Firstly, head to the BetOnline site and click the green ‘join’ button in the top right corner of the screen.

2. Create an Account

Register at BetOnline Step 2

You should now see the registration window: Fill in your details and press the ‘Create Account’ button..

3.   Make a Deposit and Claim Your Bonus

Register at BetOnline Step 3

Next, head to the cashier section of the site and click deposit. Choose the payment method that you want to use and enter in the amount you’d like to deposit. Use the BetOnline promo code BOL1000 to claim your welcome bonus.

4.   Make Your Parlay

betonline parlay picks

Now, go to the sportsbook and make the selections that you want to include in your parlay. These will all be added to the betslip automatically and will be saved.

5. Confirm Your Bet

betonline parlay betslip

Once your selections are complete, select the ‘parlay’ tab at the top of the betslip. Then; i the ‘risk’ box, enter the amount you’d like to wager. Finally, click the green ‘place bet’ button to confirm your parlay.

Types of Parlay Bets

Parlay bets are relatively straightforward, however, there are a couple of alternatives to the bet type that works within the same family, which we’ve outlined below.

Round Robins

Round Robin bets are a series of concurrent bets that are all linked to the same parlay. This creates a series of smaller bets, which means that instead of your whole bet losing should one line let you down, there are multiple other combinations that could still make you a profit.

Depending on how many picks you include in your bet will depend on the number of rounds included. The more picks, the more rounds. But the stakes work differently and with this, you bet per line, which can make them expensive.

The combinations will differ based on the bet type and number of picks. The most common are groups of twos and threes, but this can be increased depending on the number of picks.

For this parlay bet example, a four-team parlay might look like this:

  • Team A to win
  • Team B to win
  • Team C to win
  • Team D to win

A single parlay would need all results to win for the bet to win. A Round Robin with a 2 and 3 combination, would include the following bets:

  • Team A x Team B
  • Team A x Team C
  • Team A x Team D
  • Team A x Team B x Team C
  • Team A x Team B x Team D
  • Team B x Team C x Team D
  • Team B x Team C
  • Team B x Team D
  • Team C x Team D

This would create 9 bets in total and you would be required to bet per line. So, if your stake was $10 per line, your total bet would be $90.

Round Robins provide coverage in case a game loses. However, it only takes two or more to lose to put significant dents in the overall return.


Teaser bets have been designed to encourage punters to create a parlay in exchange for a better point spread line. Given that the likelihood of a parlay to lose increases the more picks, the sportsbook is essentially giving a better line to add more picks to your teaser bet to increase the number of ways you can lose.

For example, most teasers have two selections and in football, most sportsbooks give 6 points to the line. So, if a team was -9, they would move to -3 or if the over/under line was 52.5, this would move to 46.5,

You need to make at least two selections for a teaser bet, with some parlay betting sites allowing you to choose up to 10. Like a parlay, you need all selections to win for the teaser to pay out, which makes it a tough bet but does offer value if you think the line is overly generous in one direction.

Our Top Tips for Parlay Betting

We’ve included some parlay betting strategy below to aid you in essentially winning more from these bet types. Use the guide before you bet and apply this to your picks.

1.   Limit Your Picks

One of the easiest things to do with a parlay bet is to keep adding picks and see the odds rise. The lure of winning big is too much for some punters and the higher the stakes get, the more in favor of the betting site it becomes.

There’s no written rule as to how many you should choose, but think of it like this… would you back a horse priced at +2000 to win in a tough race? Likely not, as at that price, a place or each-way bet would be more appropriate. The more lines you include, the more unlikely your bet is of winning.

2.   Combine Short Prices to Find Value

One of the best uses of a parlay is to combine multiple short-priced bets to create a little more value. This is where parlay in betting can be very lucrative and instead of seeing no value in one -120 bet, find two and make them a little more appealing.

3.   Shop for the Best Odds

Small fluctuations in odds can have a huge effect on the bottom line of your parlay. It might not be the case that you can find the best price on all your picks at one sportsbook, but at least take the time to see what the prices would be at other sites and then choose the highest. You will be shocked how small differences in single prices really start to add up for combination bets.

Parlay Cards

Parlay cards are generally found in casinos, although they are starting to filter into online sportsbooks as well. They are essentially cards that include a range of bets you can include to create a parlay.

These cards come with fixed odds and the more you add in, the more the odds will continue to rise. They are targeted toward points and game lines, and once they are printed that is the line and the odds that you will get.

They can offer value when the line moves as the cards can’t be changed, meaning you get better odds/lines on the card than you would if you were betting online. However, this works both ways, so you can lose out just as often.

Parlay in betting can be used across a range of sports. In this section, we’ve covered some of the more popular sports as well as the bet types and where best to place these bets. You can also find out more in our full page on the best sites for parlay betting.


Moneyline, spread and total bets are the most common when it comes to the NFL, and these are widely used for parlays. Game weeks are targeted at most of these markets which allow users to pick from a selection of games over the course of a weekend. BetOnline allows access to the same game parlays (one of few to do so) with NFL, making them an obvious choice.


The sheer volume of games and the fact that there are a lot of short-priced favorites in the NBA lend the league well to these types of bets. Like the NFL, the moneyline, spread, and totals bets are most common and again, BetOnline is the best betting site due to features such as same-game parlays and props builders.


The MLB follows a similar pattern to the NBA in that the games come thick and fast with short-priced favorites for the most part. Some interesting markets for this include prop bets such as total number of strikeouts and the spread. Bovada is the betting site of choice, mainly because of its market-leading odds within the MLB creating huge value.


The NHL is the biggest hockey league in the world and its popularity continues to rise. For parlays, lots of punters flock toward the puck line as these are often much smaller than the spread in the NBA or the NFL, meaning that there is generally more value to found. BetUS has a huge range of NHL games, but also covers games from around the world, including Asia and Europe to mix things up a bit.


Soccer has one of the largest ranges of prop bets of any sports, so naturally works well with parlay betting. The MLS is the biggest league in the United States, but most bets are placed across Europe in leagues such as the Premier League, Serie A, Ligue 1 and La Liga. BC.Game has the biggest and best range of soccer markets to choose from, making them our top pick for soccer betting.


The UFC runs most weekends and generally has competitive cards. It’s another sport that has a lot of short-priced favorites, so creating parlay bets makes a lot of sense. Most punters will place a parlay that includes the results of all fights within the card for the event, which makes fights that are less interesting a little more appealing. The best betting site for this is BetOnline due to the global coverage of both UFC and MMA fights.


Esports is relatively new to parlay betting, but as the number of games increases, so does the bet types’ popularity. Games can be very competitive, which means that there’s not always a strong favorite. This allows punters to add in longer bets to create larger odds without the need to have a huge number of picks within the parlay.


Golf is synonymous with long-priced favorites (can be as high as +1500 for a tournament) which is not necessarily what you would initially link to a parlay. However, markets such as head-to-head and 3-ball bets can create an opportunity to create a parlay. Lucky Block has a huge range of both markets, which is why we rank them as the best for golf betting.

Horse Racing

Horse racing has traditionally included a huge range of parlay-type bets, such as trifectas and Yankees. The best markets to target are place bets, where you choose horses to place within the top two (sometimes three depending on the number of runners) across a racecard. However, the beauty of the bet is that you can tailor to this including horses from races from around the world. XBet is the best in the business for horse racing and would be our pick for betting on the sport.

Placing a Parlay Bet on Mobile

The increase in accessibility of mobile betting apps allows punters to bet on the go with mobile betting apps and sites. Parlay sports betting works in the same way on mobile as it would online, simply by adding selections to a bet slip and then choosing your stake.

The Best Parlay Betting Site

BetOnline is the best betting site for parlays, according to our team of gamblers. As well as being able to make parlays across different markets, BetOnline also offers a prop builder for same-game betting, a feature lacking in many competitors.

In addition, BetOnline comes with a great user interface, excellent customer support, and a welcome bonus for new players up to $1,000. As a result, it’s clear in first place among all the sites offering parlay betting.


What is a parlay bet?

Is parlay betting legal?

Which site is best for parlay betting?

Which sportbooks offer same-game parlays?

What is the potential payout for a $100 parlay?

Are different bet types allowed within parlays?

Are an accumulator and a parlay the same?

Which is better, single bets or parlays?

Can I place a parlay across multiple sports?

What happens a game within a parlay is canceled?