What is a Parlay Bet?

By Andrew D

August 05, 2022

Image Courtesy of Alamy


In the heady, exciting world of sports betting, there can be few more exhilarating tactics than placing a daring parlay bet. A group of friends all chip in for the stake and if it comes in then you all get rich and buy sports cars.

It doesn’t, of course. But the fun was in the dream right? In the giddy speculation about what color your Lamborghini would be? (Black)

Before we get into the finer details – if you are here as a new bettor wondering what all the fuss is about and whether you should start to bet parlays then listen up:

Parlays are the work of the devil. They will suck you in and bleed you dry so fast that your head will spin. They are fine as a silly, whimsical, spontaneous kind of bet.



If you are looking to liven up a sporting event that you’ll be experiencing with friends then – fine. We won’t deny that there is fun to be had that way. There will always be that moment when the game you’re watching is working out nicely and someone remembers to check the other bets. Drama and much shrieking ensues. And then it stops and the ticket is torn into several pieces.

Why do you think sportsbooks advertize when the occasional parlay bet comes in and a group wins a six-figure sum? Because they’re trying to show you that it can be done. Why would they want that? Because they keep a huge percentage of the money that is placed on parlay bets when compared with other betting markets.

We’re getting ahead of ourselves. Parlays are something of a “hot topic” here in The Jump Hub office.

We have ALL been burned by them.

Stay tuned. We’ll give you the lowdown on what a parlay bet actually is and why you would be a fool to get involved on a regular basis. If you want to gain a better understanding of your other options, check out our excellent article – How to bet on NBA games


Parlay wagers – sometimes referred to as “accumulators” or “multis” (multiple wagers) are betting tickets that contain two or more bets. Together they constitute the same bet.

The bets do not have any connection to each other in terms of their content. Most are more straightforward than this and include straight bets and prop bets. However, you could have a parlay ticket where you predict that:

  1. The Green Bay Packers will beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by more than 10 points.

  2. Giannis Antetokounmpo will achieve a double-double in points scored and total rebounds

  3. There will be at least 10 corners in the soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona

You get the picture. The bets themselves are totally irrelevant apart from the varying odds that each one carries with it.


If the first bet wins then the winnings from that become the stake of the second bet. This means that your second bet now has a higher amount riding on it. If that one wins then the whole amount rolls over again until no more bets remain. As the amounts grow, so do the winnings if the bet wins and that is how vast sums can be accumulated with a parlay bet.

Your final bet might be the one with the longest odds and you suddenly find yourself with $300 riding on it instead of your usual $10

In essence it is a bet made up of a number of smaller bets, linking bets together, so that they are treated as one big bet. This is why parlay payouts are significantly higher than when standard bets win.

Let’s say we made a parlay ticket with five individual bets. Five NBA teams that we pick to win.

If all five win then the payout will be very high. Typically reflecting odds of around +2335

That means that a stake of $10 would win us $230.35


Sounds good right?

There are, however a few issues.

If ANY ONE single bet on the whole ticket fails to come in then the ENTIRE PARLAY is lost.

Think of it this way:

If you place a five-team parlay and manage to go 4-1 then your whole bet is lost.

If you had placed separate bets on those 5 teams to win then you would have made a clear profit. Not as significant as if they’d been in a winning parlay.


Herein lies the key and the main distinguishing feature between two betting styles.

Here at The Jump Hub, we are constantly harping on about how sports betting should be done for entertainment purposes only. And it should. But that doesn’t mean you have to throw your money away. We’re still “in it to win it” – it’s just that we’re not betting with next month’s rent money.

It all depends how you get your kicks. As we mentioned earlier, if the fun for you lies in hanging with your buds and getting excited when the first bet in your 10-team parlay comes in then it’s all well and good. You will probably never experience an actual winning ticket, but it is giving you entertainment value nontheless.

If you enjoy the strategic battle of analyzing stats and recent form looking for an “edge”. Pitting your wits against the online sportsbooks and their evil algorithms then this is not going to give you any satisfaction.

You are almost guaranteed to lose and even if you do win, they are stiffing you on the price

The real probability of you predicting four NBA point spreads that are parlayed together is around +1500. For every $100 you stake, you would therefore receive $1,500 in profit. Except you won’t find any bookmakers offering you those odds. You might expect to be offered +1200

All sportsbooks have their own formulas and terms and conditions but it’s fair to say that they are pretty similar. As more bets are included in a parlay, so the amount of “juice” grows. For terms such as "juice" it may be beneficial to read our Sports Betting Glossary.

We recommend Australian sportsbook PlayUp for all your NBA Betting. They have great offers and promotions, keen NBA odds, and a huge array of other sports to have a bet on. Read our full review of PlayUp.

18+ | You know the score | Stay in control | Gamble responsibly


It is generally accepted among the serious sports betting community that parlays are an exceptionally poor way to go about betting on sports. Certainly in terms of the long game and the potential for coming out on top. That’s because for a parlay bet to have a positive expected value (EV) almost all the bets on the ticket must also have a positive expected value. The chances of this are very slim indeed. In other words…


The odds on individual bets are calculated to be about even. The aim is to generate a small profit for the betting sites and keep you coming back for more. They protect themselves with juice but we can generally accept that the chances of you making profit from your bets are around 50%

We’re talking standard bets with published lines here. If you want to bet that the moon is made of cheese and will crash into the Earth next week then that’s your business. It doesn’t form part of this summation.

If you combine more and more bets into the same wager, then the bookmakers rub their hands together gleefully. You are simply assuming more risk at the same time as limiting your chances of winning.

Not a great idea…


Let’s say you want to wager $100 on a three-team basketball parlay.

First things first:

You do your due diligence and research the form carefully. Any injuries to consider?

  • Which teams are on the road?

  • Have they had a run of road games?

  • How do they normally perform when they return to their home stadium?

  • Of the upcoming selection, which matchups have been the highest scoring in the past?

  • Any teams meeting their biggest rivals?

  • Any grudge matches? Payback from last time?

  • Any of the best offenses meeting the worst defenses? Vice versa?

The list of such questions you can ask yourself and research is virtually limitless. If you have been taking this seriously then you have already got in place your system and are maintaining your discipline and following your superbly researched and designed NBA Betting Model. Right? You have your own set of questions that reveal tantalizing tidbits of information that you can use to make your deductions.

Having done all that, you decide that you will back the Los Angeles Lakers +150, the Milwaukee Bucks +100, and the Detroit Pistons +203. If all three teams win, then your $100 will be miraculously turned into $1,515.

Now then. Statistically, even the best professional sports bettors are only able to win about 55% of the bets that they place.


Are you a sharp bettor? Well, that’s a redundant question actually. If you were then you wouldn’t be:

  1. Reading this article

  2. Considering placing a parlay for even a second

Did we mention that sportsbooks charge you for the privilege of placing bets with them in the form of the juice or vigorish?

So, to simple BREAK EVEN when sports betting, you need to win 52.4% of the bets you place.

To break even

Giving you – and let’s be generous here – 3% in which to make your living. If you’re a sharp bettor of course.

Which you’re not

And neither are we


It is staggering to realize how many sports bettors make irresponsible decisions with their bankroll.

If you feel you may be one of them then you need to immediately read our article – how to manage your bankroll in sports betting. It is without hyperbole that we say it is the single most important aspect of your betting strategy. Fail to pay attention to it and you are almost guaranteed to lose.

We have never met a single sports bettor, that takes it at least as seriously as we do here, that has no bankroll management system.

Consistency and objective decision-making are the key. Try not to bet with your heart. Never bet on your own team because there is just no way you can be objective. If you do, treat it as a throwaway bet for fun. It is probably outside the remit of your system but you can allow yourself to enjoy it that way. At all other times, stick to the rules and trust in the model.

Standard “flat” betting will help you to ride the rollercoaster of ups and downs. Wins and losses. Streaks of both kinds. Combine this with your bankroll management and you have a decent chance of at least breaking even.

The alternatives are sometimes known as “chase systems” and will lead you down a pathway towards heartbreak, disappointment, and madness. Systems like this require that you place ever-larger bets to try and recoup your previous losses. If nothing else, your foray into a system like this will be mercifully brief. But you’ll be broke. Or worse.


Round robin parlays are no more than a gimmicky shortcut that betting sites will offer you. They make it easier to place multiple parlays at the same time using the same roster of teams. If we recommend that you avoid parlay betting then we double recommend that you avoid these. They are simply one bad decision magnified X number of times.



Typically, canceled games will simply be removed from the parlay, and it continues without them. So, a four-game ticket drops to a three-game one. Each sportsbook will have its own attitude to this so get in touch with them if you’re not sure. But that’s a pretty standard response.


It comes down to this:

Parlay bets are much harder to win than regular bets, so they offer much larger payouts.

They do not represent any part of a sensible strategy to adopt if you are looking to make money in the long term. Parlay bettors are essentially risking more with a lower probability of collecting.

That doesn’t mean that everyone should avoid parlay bets totally. As we said earlier, they can be a bit of fun if you pitch in as a group and go for the big one.

Deep in their heart, every gambler, whether serious or casual, dreams of turning a small amount of cash into a huge payday. The difference is that experienced bettors know that when something seems too good to be true, it always is.

As we always say – legal sports betting should be done…


It is, at best, a tremendously difficult way to make any real money. At worst it is the destruction of everything you know and hold dear. It has crushed hopes and dreams all over the world. Destroyed families. Caused mental health issues.

It is not to be taken lightly or underestimated.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, you are not alone.

Call the National Problem Gambling Helpline:

  • 1-800-522-4700

Or visit:

There you can have a judgment-free chat with a helpline specialist. Sometimes talking it through is all you need to get the ball rolling and change a bad situation.
Thanks for reading.

Take care of yourselves and ALWAYS obey the golden rule:


When the fun stops, stop

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