Parlay Betting Explained
Parlays are a single bet consisting of multiple selections. For the parlay to win, every single one of those selections must come good, meaning they often lead to larger payouts than single-selection wagers.
One benefit of parlays is that you can pick several individual bets that are on the safe side, such as betting on a favorite to win an NBA game, and combine them. On their own, these safe selections wouldn’t yield much of a profit, but by joining them together in a parlay they become more worthwhile. Alternatively, you can combine several underdogs to create big payout potential — this would, of course, be less likely to come off though.
Here’s an example of a three-team parlay bet in action, on a night of NBA games:
- Boston Celtics to win (-250)
- Philadelphia 76ers to win (-150)
- Memphis Grizzlies to win (-200)
- Parlay Odds +250
- $10 returns $35.00
The example bet above is a 3-leg parlay, as it combines three different selections. Parlays start from two legs, but often consist of four, five or six individual wagers. The maximum number of selections you can have varies across different parlay sports betting sites.
In recent years, same-game parlays have become increasingly popular in the US and elsewhere. This refers to parlays where each individual selection comes from the same game. If you have a clear vision in your mind of how a match will play out, a same-game parlay is an exciting betting option to utilize.
Here’s an example of a same-game parlay you could have placed on Super Bowl LVII:
- Philadelphia Eagles -2.5 (-105)
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling 60+ Receiving Yards (+260)
- Kenneth Gainwell 35+ Rushing Yards (+400)
- Parlay Odds +1500
- $10 returns $160
This one wasn’t a winning parlay, but you can see the potential for combining multiple selections from the same game to create larger potential payouts.
Pros and Cons of Betting Parlays
Parlay betting isn’t for everyone. Here are some pros and cons to consider before you place a wager.
- Larger payouts – With a parlay ticket, you can set up larger potential payouts than most straight bets
- Combine different interests – Interested in the NHL, MLB and NFL? Parlay betting allows you to combine multiple sports wagers in the same bet slip
- Exciting gameplay – Waiting to see the results of multiple matches you need to succeed creates an exhilarating betting experience, especially if you watch along from home
- Same-game parlays – If your interests lie with one sport or even just one team, same-game parlays allow you to hone in on a particular niche
- Multiple start times – Bettors’ parlay selections can start at different times, spreading the excitement of the bet over a weekend or longer period
- Low chances of success – Because you need all of your individual wagers to win for the bet to succeed, parlays are often difficult to land. The more selections you include, the harder it generally is to win
- Not steady profit – Parlay betting is unlikely to offer regular rewards, so it’s best to treat them as a one-off casual wager
- Easy to get carried away – Since there are high potential rewards, some bettors can get tempted to bet stakes they can’t afford. It’s vital you gamble responsibly by only betting what you can afford to lose
How We Review the Best Parlay Betting Sites
As well as offering excellent parlay betting features, there are many other boxes a sportsbook needs to tick to be featured here at Compare.bet. Have a look at the main criteria we consider below.
- Licensing and Safety – It’s essential for a sports betting site to be licensed by a reputable regulator, as this ensures bettors receive a degree of protection from malpractice. As for safety, SSL encryption ensures each bettor’s data is secure, while tools such as deposit limits encourage responsible gambling
- Choice of Sports and Markets – It’s no good having the option to form a parlay if there’s a limited range of sports and markets to choose from. The best sites have plenty of options from sports around the world, both ahead of time and in-play
- Betting Bonuses – The best online sportsbooks offer new customers a hefty welcome bonus featuring free bets and other rewards. After that, you should expect to receive regular offers like odds boosts and parlay insurance
- Competitive Odds – We compare the odds at different online sportsbooks to ensure bettors are getting a good deal on their wagers
- Banking Options – It’s helpful to have a range of banking options available to choose from to suit your preferences. As well as the standard bank cards, we like to see e-wallets, prepaid cards, and other alternatives like PayNearMe
- Mobile Functionality – Many sports fans enjoy placing a bet while on the go, so it’s important to have high quality mobile functionality. The best betting sites offer a dedicated mobile app, available to download for iOS and Android users
- Customer Service – Whether it’s through the live chat or email support, customers should be able to get timely help with any issues that may arise. An extensive FAQs page is also a big plus to help with common queries
- Site Design and UX – Attractive aesthetics and a friendly tone ensure bettors receive a warm welcome when they sign up to a new sportsbook, but just as important are the navigational tools that help them find the sports and markets they’re looking for
Parlay Betting Bonuses and Promotions
New customers are in the driving seat when it comes to picking out a lucrative welcome bonus. The best sports betting sites also offer regular promotions to existing bettors, ensuring there are plenty of ways to enhance your wagers.
Free bets are widely available both to new customers and current bettors. They’re essentially a token that is set to a particular value, such as a $5 free bet. This gives you the chance to place a bet completely risk-free and still have the chance to gain a profit if your selection is a winner.
Money Back Bets
A money back bet is simple: if your bet loses, you get your stake back. Depending on the offer, you’ll either get your stake back as a free bet, or as withdrawable cash. It’s a great way to try your luck on a sports market while minimizing the risk.
With multiple selections on the line, it’s easy for one leg of your parlay to let you down. With parlay insurance, you get your stake back if just one of your picks loses. Most of the time the stake is returned as a free bet.
Odds boosts improve the price on a particular market, increasing the potential payout in the process. The boosted odds will be listed alongside the original price, so you can easily assess the difference and decide whether you want to make a bet.
Parlay boosts increase the stated payout when you combine a certain number of selections. A popular example is BetMGM’s Parlay Plus — bettors receive a boost on their potential winnings when they place a parlay with at least four legs.
Ever placed a bet ahead of time and changed your mind once the match has started? The cash out feature allows you to end the bet early and take what’s on the table. If your bet wasn’t going to plan, you’ll usually be offered a portion of your original stake. On the other hand, if your chosen team was winning, you can cash out early for a profit and avoid a late setback.
Place Parlay Bets on a Number of Different Sports
Parlay betting is available on pretty much every sport you’ll find at top US online sportsbooks. Here are some examples to give you a flavor of what’s on offer.
The NFL offers some of the most diverse betting markets on the books. In addition to straightforward moneyline bets on the team to win a football game, you can make proposition bets like ‘which team will score the first touchdown?’, along with player props like how many rushing yards a player will make. Combine these together and you can make a great NFL parlay.
The NBA comprises 30 teams across North America and is comfortably the biggest basketball league in the world. Parlay bets can combine predictions on teams like the New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons, focus on player props like total rebounds and points scored, or mix together a bit of everything.
Fan of the NHL? Hockey is another great sport to put together a parlay ticket. Popular markets include the match winner, an outright winner of a tournament such as the Stanley Cup, and over/under bets, where you predict whether a team will score more or fewer goals than a specific number.
Here’s an example of an NHL three-team parlay in action, featuring two moneylines and a point spread:
- Las Vegas Golden Knights to win (-130)
- New York Rangers to win (-180)
- Montreal Canadiens +1.5 (-160)
- Parlay odds +347
- $10 returns $44.72
MLB is made up of 30 teams, divided between the National League and the American League. There’s a wide range of parlay betting markets available during the Division Series, League Championship Series, and the World Series. A run line bet is a great option for a parlay ticket and is essentially the same as a point spread. The run line is usually set to 1.5, so if you’re betting on the favorite they’ll need to win by at least two runs. If you go for the underdog, they can lose the match by one run and you will still win the bet.
Soccer parlays are great fun because there are so many different markets to bet on during a game. You can predict whether both teams will score, which team will take the most corners, or how many cards there’ll be in the match. Alternatively, if you’d rather play the long game, you can stick to futures bets for your parlay like which team will win the MLS Cup.
Here’s an example of a same-game parlay soccer bet on a Europa League match between Man Utd and Barcelona:
- Over 2.5 goals (-125)
- Barcelona to qualify (+120)
- Match offsides – Over 4.5 (-138)
- Robert Lewandowski to score at any time (+137)
- Parlay odds +1519
- $10 returns $161.86
Banking Options at Parlay Betting Sites
Before you get started with selecting individual bets for your parlay, you’ll need to deposit funds into your sportsbook account. Here are some of the most common payment options you can choose from.
Using a Visa debit card to make a deposit is a straightforward option that many bettors will already be familiar with. The only real downside is that withdrawals can take up to five business days — that is unless the Visa Fast Funds service is available, which gets the job done in as little as four hours.
Mastercard users also enjoy widespread availability at parlay sports betting sites. Simply enter your card details and save them for next time to set up quick and easy payments. Again, withdrawals are slower than alternative methods, but you won’t need to create any additional accounts like you would with an e-wallet.
If you’d prefer not to share your card details with the online betting site and want to access fast withdrawals, PayPal is a great option. It’s quick and easy to sign in to your account and set up a payment, and payouts are generally completed within 24 hours once the sportsbook has completed its internal processing.
Skrill is an excellent alternative to PayPal that offers additional perks like the Knect loyalty scheme. Users earn one point for every $1 spent and can cash in these points for rewards. Like PayPal, Skill withdrawals are usually completed in 1–2 days.
PayNearMe allows you to deposit funds into your betting account using cash. Begin by selecting PayNearMe on the sportsbook’s deposit page and it’ll generate a unique barcode. You can then take this to a local convenience store to complete the payment, with no bank details or passwords required.
Play+ doubles up as an e-wallet and prepaid card, allowing users to spend their Play+ balance anywhere a Discover card is accepted. Like other digital wallets, you can also use this method to process a speedy withdrawal, completed in a day or two.
Crypto is yet to become a common payment method at licensed online sportsbooks, but it is becoming increasingly popular. Benefits include instant and anonymous transactions and high limits on deposits and withdrawals. It’s important to do your research though, as crypto coins are much more volatile than fiat currencies.
Sign Up to a Parlay Betting Site and Build Your Bets
Now you know what parlay betting is all about and the types of bets you can make, feel free to browse our list of the top online sportsbooks to get started. Each of our chosen sites offers great options for creating a parlay bet, so go ahead and click through to sign up, claim a welcome bonus, and put together your first winning parlay.
Usually, yes. Have a read over the T&Cs before you place your free bet to make sure it applies to parlays.
Absolutely. The best parlay betting sites offer a wide range of fast payout methods such as PayPal and Skrill.
The maximum number of selections you can include in a parlay bet varies depending on the sportsbook, but is usually around 12.
Every customer has their own preferences when it comes to betting apps, but we’re confident you’ll get everything you need from our picks at the top of this page. All the popular online sportsbooks such as DraftKings, FanFuel and BetRivers offer dedicated mobile apps.
This is known as parlay insurance and is a fairly common promo at online sportsbooks. That said, it’s not a given, so you’ll need to look out for it at your chosen site and see which sports and markets parlay insurance applies to.