NFL Picks: Guide to Betting NFL Parlays

Jordan Sharp

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 6:20 PM GMT

The parlay can be a vicious NFL Picks weapon, but if misused, it can turn into easy money for the sportsbooks. If you follow these simple steps however, your parlay betting will take a turn for the better. A parlay is combining several straight bets into one super bet, where all sides must cover in order to cash the ticket.


First of all, (and this is a theme of mine in the betting strategies) don’t bet a parlay of more than two or three teams. The small difference of going from a three-team parlay to a four-teamer gives the sportsbook a very large advantage going in, making it not worth your time or money. There are already too many variables in the NFL, and making a big parlay is not worth it. Would you poke holes in a boat before getting in it? That doesn’t mean you should never bet a parlay with four or more teams, but I’ll get into that later.

Check out our introduction to adding Football Pleasers to your NFL Picks.

When betting parlays, it is key to know the difference between true odds and fixed odds. Fixed parlay odds are the odds you get when all of your wagers are considered a 50/50 shot, or -110. If you bet three NFL spreads at -110 in a parlay in Week 1, your fixed odds are most of the time +600 if you win all three games. However, there is a way you can add value to a parlay, without adding much extra risk on your part.

Say you want to add another parlay to your NFL picks, where two of them are straight wagers, and the other one is an even money underdog bet of +120. There isn’t a huge difference between -110 and +120 in the NFL, but adding that one even money bet to your three-team parlay moves the payout from +600 to +700. The sportsbook has to now use the true odds of the parlay.

Now I mentioned earlier that you should only bet a big parlay in one instance, and that’s if you’re playing with house money. If you reload your bankroll online and get that nice 10-15% free play bonus that some sportsbooks give, use that money to go for it all in an eight team parlay. You can also use what you just learned about true odds to help your chances.

Say you want to bet an eight-team parlay, but you’re getting crappy odds of 150/1. All of your bets are 50/50 wagers of -110, but by adding one bet that is higher or lower than -110, it makes the sportsbook use true odds, which compounds profit. Therefore, even if it’s just one +100 wager with seven -110 wagers, the payout jumps from 150/1 to 183/1. That is a huge jump for very little extra risk.

Despite the possible (but very unlikely) riches you could get from betting parlays in the NFL, there isn’t long-term value in them, so I would use them sparingly. It is a trick by the books to get you to dream about the sports cars you’ll buy, when in fact you’re just buying them for the bookmakers. However used sparingly and conservatively, the parlay can be profitable. Don’t little your NFL Picks with several parlays per week, but one or two with small wagers of a unit or less can be a profitable way of mixing up the NFL Odds.