Are Parlays Worth The Risk?

Written by superuser | November 24, 2021

Are Parlays Worth The Risk?


Parlay bets can be built using as few as two wagers or as many as fifteen. Parlays can consist of virtually any type of bet – moneyline, point spread, or totals. There are sportsbooks out there that will also allow player prop bets as part of a parlay.

Combining multiple bets into one has its advantages. The biggest, of course, is the payout.

A typical standard wager on the point spread will come with -110 odds. Combining two games as a parlay and betting on the spread in both results in a payout at +260.

As you add more legs to the parlay, the potential to win more increases. This is the draw and why bettors like parlays.

The question however is whether or not parlays are worth the risk? It’s difficult enough sometimes to hit one straight bet. Combining two or more wagers into one makes the likelihood of success drop. But, is doing so worth it?

Understanding Parlay Payouts

As stated, adding more legs to a parlay will increase the odds and make a rather large payout possible. We know that a two-leg parlay pays out at +260. Adding a third leg to the bet increases the odds to +600. A fourth leg increases the odds of your parlay to +1000.

It’s also important to understand the house edge in these parlay bets. In a typical standard bet with -110 odds, the house edge is 4.5 percent. That means the house stands to make 4.5 percent of every wager placed.

In a two-leg parlay, the house edge rises to 10 percent. In a three-leg parlay, the house edge only rises to 12.5 percent, but a four-leg parlay shows the house edge at 31.25 percent.

What’s interesting is that on a 10-leg parlay, the house has a 31.54 percent edge.

That’s not much more than a four-leg parlay. Understanding payouts and the house edge can help bettors determine whether or not a parlay is worth the risk. It could make the difference when choosing the right sportsbook.

Most Common Parlays

As you can see, the house’s advantage jumps drastically when a fourth leg is added to a parlay. For that reason, the most common parlay bets are those with two or three wagers. The most value is on the three-leg parlay where the payout is +600.

The house advantage continues to rise incrementally until you have 10 legs in a parlay. Adding the tenth leg reduces the house advantage by roughly 10 percent compared to a 9-leg parlay. The payout though rises to +70000.

Parlay Strategy

One of the easiest parlay strategies is to take two bets that compliment each other and pair them together. Some of these types of bets are not allowed. For example, you can’t bet the Lakers on the moneyline and against the spread and pair them in a parlay.

However, you can do the following. Say the Lakers are a 10-point favorite against Houston. In order to cover a 10-point spread, LA is going to have to score some points. The posted game total is favorable, so you combine the Lakers -10 and the Over into a parlay. If both legs win, your winning ticket pays out at +260.

Another strategy involves staggered games. Take the NFL as an example. You build a three-leg parlay with two games at 1:00 p.m. and a third at 4:25 p.m. If the first two games win, you can add a hedge bet to guarantee a profit.

The thought of fast money is always on your mind. But remember that picking winning sides is not easy. The best pro cappers will win 60-65% of their bets. You’ll be lucky to win 45%. That’s not great odds on bets including 2 or more sides.

There are other strategies as well, but parlays are a lot like ice cream. The rewards of eating ice cream are awesome, but a steady diet of this delicious goodness will likely do more harm than good.