Parlay betting is one of the most popular forms of sports wagering. With parlays, bettors can bet that two or more point spreads, over/unders, or moneylines will win, earning a higher payout if all of their picks win than they would have betting each one individually.
Bettors enjoy parlays for their big potential returns. The average odds at most sportsbooks for parlays are +260 for 2-team parlays and +600 for 3-team parlays. For example, if you straight bet $55 to win $50 on Miami -2.0 -110, and $55 to win $50 on Seattle +4.0, and both won, you’d profit $100. But if you instead put $100 on a 2-team parlay of Miami -2.0 and Seattle +4.0 and both won, you’d profit $260 at the standard +260 price.
Sportsbooks love parlays because they force bettors to be perfect. In the example above, if the bettor went 1-1 instead of 2-0, with two straight bets they’d have lost only $5; but with the parlay they lost the whole $100. A three-team parlay forces the bettor to go 3-0; even a normally profitable 2-1 is a losing wager.
It is hard enough to win with straight bets, so despite the increased payouts, parlays usually aren’t worth the risk long term. But one good time to use parlays is when you see semi-correlation.
True correlated parlays won’t be accepted by sportsbooks. A correlated parlay is when you try to parlay two events that directly correlate, such as taking a team to win both the first half of a game and the whole game. You can, however, wager on a team and the over/under in the same game.
So say Indianapolis is -7.0 against Houston (+7.0). You like Houston, but know they can’t keep up with Indianapolis’s offense. If they cover, in your estimation, it will need to be in a low-scoring game. In this situation, it makes sense to parlay Houston +7.0 and the UNDER. The events are semi-correlated since you expect Houston to cover only with a strong game defensively. Try to find semi-correlations like this one when using parlays.