A parlay bet is a single wager where more than one correct pick is needed to win the bet. The odds for each of your picks are multiplied by one another to find the “parlay odds”, which are the odds applied to the entire parlay wager.
Parlay bets are also commonly referred to as combination bets or accumulators.
For example, you can place a parlay wager where you select the Giants, Lions and Chiefs to all win their games on Sunday. The odds for each of these teams is multiplied together to find your “parlay odds” which are then multiplied by your risk amount to find your potential payout.
If each of the teams win their games your parlay bet is a winner. If just one of these teams loses then your parlay bet is also a loser. More on this example below…
Calculating Parlay Bet Payout
To find your parlay bet payout amount you simply multiply the single odds associated with each of your picks by one another in order to find your total “parlay odds”. These odds are then multiplied by the wager amount in order to find the potential payout you would receive if all your picks are winners.
Here is an example:
As you can see multiplying the odds of 2.30, 4.04 and 1.30 together equals the combined odds of 12.09. These parlay odds are then multiplied by the wager amount ($20 in this example) to find the potential payout.
If the Giants, Lions and Chiefs all win their games you would receive a payout of $241.82 on a $20 bet. If any of those teams fails to win then the bet is a loser.
Parlay Bets Video
For those of you who prefer watching a video to reading a page of content I created the following video that explains parlay bets and gives an example of how to calculate your payout.
Parlay Bet Pushes
The most common method used by sportsbooks to deal with pushed bets on parlay wagers is to simply remove that pushed selections from the parlay bet and reduce the odds accordingly.
For those of you who don’t know, a pushed bet is one that you neither won nor lost. For example, if the over/under in an NHL game was 5 and the game finished with exactly 5 goals being scored then the over/under bet would push and be returned.
With parlays, the pushed bet will simply be removed from the parlay bet and the payout adjusted accordingly.
Uses of Parlay Bets
Parlay bets are typically used to increase your potential payout. This is often done when you’re betting on big favourites. For example, betting on Milos Raonic in a first round match against a weaker opponent won’t win much as a single bet. But if you parlay Raonic with Shapovalov for example, your potential payout increases and the bet can become much more enjoyable and profitable. Nobody likes betting $100 to win $10.
Parlay Bets and the Provincial Government Lotteries
At the present time most provincial sports betting lotteries (Proline, PlayNow.com, Sport Select, etc) require all bets made through their betting options to be parlay wagers. Single game bets are not currently allowed. The minimum number of selections on the parlay bet varies between 2 and 3 depending on which provincial lottery. For example, Proline in Ontario requires 3 to 6 selections on every parlay bet, while Proline Stadium in Atlantic Canada requires between 2 and 8 selections.
I’m not sure why the provincial lotteries don’t accept single game bets. I believe the governments only allow parlay bets in order to compound the juice on each bet (due to the horrible odds they offer) and in turn increase the profits for the provincial lottery corporations.