Want the chance to win big money with a small bet?
Parlays, Accumulators, and Multiples Explained
Want the chance to win big money with a small bet? You’ve come to the right place. Parlays, also sometimes referred to as accumulators or multiples, are a sports bet type that is designed to give you the chance to win big payouts from a proportionally much smaller investment. For the sake of this article, we will be referring to this bet type as a parlay, but keep in mind that the other two names are completely interchangeable as they mean the exact same bet type.
What is a Parlay?
A parlay is a type of sports bet that allows you the opportunity to make significantly more money on a smaller investment. These bets are tougher to win and carry more risk than a traditional sports bet, but make up for the risk with the appealing payouts. In the simplest terms, a parlay is when you take multiple individual bets (two or more) and string them together to make one big bet. These individual bets are comprised of point spreads, over/under (totals), or moneylines. To win the parlay, you must win all of your individual bets that make up the parlay.
For example, let’s say that there are three games on tonight that you are interested in betting on. Let’s also say that you want to bet $150 total for the night. You think that Team A, Team C, and Team E are all going to win.
Team A vs. Team B
Team C vs. Team D
Team E vs. Team F
As Individual Bets
You could bet on each of these games individually, or you could bet on all three of them at once as a parlay. Let’s take a look at the differences and payouts associated. We’re assigning some pretty basic payout odds to each team.
Team A -110
Team B +105
Team C -110
Team D +105
Team E -110
Team F +105
You could bet on each team individually, and your payouts would look like this if you won each game.
You bet $50 on Team A. + You bet $50 on Team C. + You bet $50 on Team E. = (Total of $150 in bets)
Teams A, C, and E all win!
On team A, you win $45.45 + On team C, you win $45.45 + On team E, you win $45.45 = (Total profit of $136.35)
As a Parlay
Let’s look at what would happen if you were to bet on these three games as a parlay. The odds and everything on each game are exactly the same.
You bet $150 on a 3-team parlay for Teams A, C, and E to win.
(Total of $150 in bets)
Teams A, C, and E all win!
On your 3 team-team parlay, you will profit $893.69
At first glance, you might think that you should always bet parlays instead of individual bets as the payouts are so much sweeter! There are a few things that you want to consider though before looking to adopt this strategy. Technically, related to the odds, the payouts are the same. (We can see your heads spinning in confusion now). What we mean is that the payouts are correct for the odds of the event happening. It becomes significantly tougher to win three games in a row, which is the reason for the higher payouts. The payouts aren’t artificially inflated or anything but pay out at the true odds. We are going to convert the odds into decimal odds to make this a bit easier to understand.
Team A is -110 to win which is the same as 1.91 in decimal odds.
Team C is -110 to win which is the same as 1.91 in decimal odds.
Team E is -110 to win which is the same as 1.91 in decimal odds.
The way you calculate the odds of multiple events ALL occurring is by multiplying the probabilities together. So the odds of all three events occurring is:
The odds of A winning (times) the odds of C winning (times) the odds of E winning
1.91 x 1.91 x 1.91 = 6.967
If we bet $150 at odds of 6.967, we get paid out $1045.05 minus our original bet of $150, which gives us a profit of about $895.05 (slightly different because of rounding). If you’ll notice, that is the same number from our parlay example above. Technically, the sportsbook is throwing no additional money into these bets. They are just letting you tie multiple bets together to get a bigger, but less likely to win payout. So as we said, parlays payout based on the same odds as a straight bet, but get their bigger numbers by combining the bets into one and forcing you to win all of them.
This leads us to our other important takeaway. A parlay bet requires that you win ALL of the bets to win your bet. In the above example, let’s say that Team C actually loses the game. As individual bets, you will still profit $90.90 as you will win 2/3 of your bets. In the parlay example, you will lose $150 overall because your bet requires all three of the teams to win to count. As you can see, parlays offer high payout totals (not better odds) but are much more challenging to hit.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Parlays
Parlays really have one big benefit and one big drawback that are interconnected. The big upside to a parlay bet is that you can win a pretty big payout from a proportionally smaller wager. The big downside, though, is that the bets are a lot riskier and harder to win as you have to win every single game on the ticket. If you bet $100 on a seven-team parlay where every team was -110, you would stand to win $9142.43 on that bet! But, you have to win seven individual bets to get that payoff which may sound easy but is a lot more challenging than you might think. This is why you get paid so well for hitting it.
Thankfully you are not required to stick seven teams on your parlays if you don’t want to. You can make them only two teams if you’d like if you’ve got two bets that you are dead set that you’re going to win. If you have a big parlay, you put together and are not sure on a game, just take it out. You aren’t really sacrificing anything because the bets are paid out at true odds.