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Explanation of what a Parlay is in Betting

There are numerous ways to bet the NFL, and one of them is the parlay bet. And while some bettors use them to their advantage, many professional sports bettors will stay away from parlays,

That’s because with parlays, a handicapper’s bet can be ruined by just one game.

So what is a parlay bet you ask? It is a single bet that links two or more individual wagers together, and is a dependent on all of those wagers winning at the same time.
For example, if a handicapper was to wager $100 on four individual games, and hit just three of them, they would end up with roughly a 50% return on their bet. Conversely, with a four-team parlay bet, even if a handicapper were to win three out of the four games, they would get absolutely nothing.

Nevertheless, while the odds of hitting parlays are substantially less than single bets. When done with care, they could pay dividends at the end of the day. Still, bettors need to understand a few basics.


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First, handicappers need to be aware that NFL parlay bets are paid out at higher odds than the typical single game bet. This is the lure of a parlay bet.

For example, a common three-team parlay might have a payout of 13-5, if all picks are correct, while the same single game payouts might be 3-1 — a substantial difference. However, handicappers need to take into account that most bookmakers offer fair odds on two and three team parlays, but over that, and the they all start to juice the odds against the player.
Next, let’s take a look at typical three-team NFL parlay bet, and assume the lines are the Cowboys -3, the Redskins +7, and the Rams +4.

In the first scenario, if any one of those teams fail to cover the spread, then a handicapper would automatically lose his or her parlay wager altogether. But, if all four teams cover the spread in their games, then the payout could be substantial, depending on the books four-team parlay odds.

The second scenario would be if a handicapper pushed on one of those picks. That would revert in a two-team parlay and go at the current two-team parlay odds that the book is offering. If a handicapper pushed on two games, it would thus become a straight bet.

So, where do parlay bets fit into a NFL handicappers betting arsenal? There are a couple places, starting with a situation when the outcome of one game is dependent on another. These are known as correlated parlays.

An example would be that if a total in a game is 40 and one team is favored by 24 points. Meaning if the favorite covers the spread, the total is likely to go over as well.
The other setting in which a NFL handicapper might want to place a parlay bet, is when they are trying to skirt the betting limits.
For instance, if the opening lines of two games are likely to go up but the limit is set at $500, a handicapper may want to chose a parlay, as books normally don’t have limits on parlays. By placing his or her normal wager on a parlay in this case, the bettor is guaranteed his normal ante on a particular game before the odds move and posibly a higher return.
In the end parlays are hit and miss if wagered on consistently, and are offered by oddmakers because most parlays end up with bettors coming up just one game short.
But if NFL handicappers still want to parlay their bets, they need to limit their parlays to no more than three teams, look for the correlations, and be patient if they want to make money in the long run.