The vast majority of the time, sports betting is about one outcome: you either pick one side to win or the other. If your team wins, you win your bet. If they lose, you lose. However, there’s a type of bet that’s called a parlay that relies on two or more outcomes. If you’re not familiar with this high-risk, high-reward strategy, let’s walk you through it.
A parlay is when you tie multiple selections into one bet. Of course, you could be on just one outcome at a time but with a parlay, you need to win all of your outcomes to cash your bet. Let’s say you decided to play a four-game parlay with the following teams:
1. Dallas Cowboys -4.5
2. Chicago Bears -2.5
3. Cleveland Browns +10
4. Seattle Seahawks PK
With this four-game parlay, every single selection that you added to it has to win for you to win your parlay. If any of these games lost, then you lose your entire parlay.
The benefit of a parlay is the payout. Parlays are popular because you can bet a small amount and win a big one. Going back to our example above, if you bet any one of those games at -110 or 1.91, then you’d win less than double your money. For a $100, that’s $191 (roughly speaking). However, if you played a four-game parlay and won it, then you’re $100 would pay out $1330. That’s a much bigger win.
The risk with parlays should be quite obvious: they lose most of the time. In sports betting, it’s tough enough to pick winners on a consistent basis. At -110, a winning percentage of 55% or 56% makes you a winner in the long run. However, if that’s success in sports betting, then it makes it really hard to hit a four-game parlay. If you’re odds are 50/50 to hit the first bet, then they’re cut to 25% once you play a two-game parlay, 12.5% once you play a three-gamer and 6.75% once you play a fourth. That’s a miniscule chance of winning. There are times when parlays can be a shrewd strategy but for the most part, this is a strategy employed by squares.
The easiest way to calculate a parlay is just to rely on the sportsbook. In this day and age, almost every betting site will automatically calculate the odds for you as you add the selections to your betting ticket. However, if you still want to understand how they work, here is how to do it.
The first thing you want to do is convert your odds to decimals. With fractional odds, you simply divide to get the decimal. With American odds, what you’re going to want to do is take 100 and divide them by the odds. If it’s a negative sign in front of the odds – say -150 – then you add one to the decimal number. It’s a positive number in the 100’s, then you would add two. Say, if it’s +150, then you would add two. If it’s +250, then you would add a three and so on.
Once you’ve got your decimal, then you simply multiply each of the odds by each other and then add in your stake. For example: 1.5 x 2.0 x 3.0 x your $50 stake. That means your parlay would pay $450 if you won.
Now that you understand how to calculate parlay payouts manually, let us make it even easier for you! check out our PARLAY CALCULATOR.