What is a Parlay? How to Bet on Parlays

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(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
BetMGM @BETMGM Jun 30, 2022, 10:01 AM

Parlays are exciting online sports betting opportunities to leverage your sports knowledge into more entertainment at the online sportsbook.

A multi-game or One Game Parlay combines multiple bets (aka “legs”) into one wager. In doing so, the odds climb, as does the potential payout if all the bets hit.

What is a Parlay?

A high-reward opportunity that provides extended entertainment over the course of an afternoon, entire day, or longer, parlays aren’t limited to one type of bet (e.g., moneyline or spread) or one sport; bettors may build a parlay of three NBA moneyline wagers or a parlay of eight moneyline, spread, and over/under wagers across NFL, NBA, and NHL games.

Another option at BetMGM is the One Game Parlay, which allows you to add multiple bets within one game.

What is a One Game Parlay?

Instead of placing a single $10 bet on the Philadelphia 76ers’ moneyline (-250) in a game against the Detroit Pistons for a $14 payout (including stake), you can add several additional bets to increase the entertainment value and potential payout.

A One Game Parlay for a Sixers-Pistons game might be:

  • 76ers moneyline
  • Joel Embiid over 12.5 rebounds
  • Tobias Harris under 17.5 points
  • Cade Cunningham over 1.5 3-pointers

If all four legs hit, your $10 bet – i.e., the same amount staked on one Sixers’ moneyline bet with a total return of $14 – may return $105, an ROI of 750%.

How to Place a Parlay Bet

You have endless options if you prefer to spread out the parlay excitement over multiple games. And those games can be over weeks or months, especially if you bet on future odds.

Here’s a real-world example of a multi-game parlay with futures odds:

During the 2021 NFL season, one BetMGM customer used a $500 FreeBet to build a championship futures parlay with three teams:

Los Angeles Rams: +1000 to win Super Bowl LVI
Golden State Warriors: +600 to win the 2022 NBA Finals
Colorado Avalanche: +600 to win the 2022 Stanley Cup Final

With BetMGM’s easy-to-navigate online sportsbook, it’s simple to select each wager, add it to your bet slip, and enter the parlay stake.

For this customer, a $500 FreeBet stake at +53800 odds amounted to a potential payout of $269,000 and months of entertainment. And after watching the Rams defeat the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl, the Warriors defeat the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals, and the Avalanche defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final, the bettor won $269,000.

Calculating Parlay Odds

BetMGM automatically calculates parlay odds, so you don’t need to worry about the math.

However, here’s a moneyline example in MLB betting (Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Guardians) if you’d like to know:

  1. Using a betting odds converter, you must convert American odds into decimal odds. The Tigers (+110) are 2.1 in decimal odds, and the Guardians (-115) are 1.87.
  2. Multiply the decimal odds (2.1 x 1.87) to get your multiplier (3.927).
  3. Multiply the multiplier (3.927) by your wager amount ($50) for the payout ($196.35).

Pre-Packaged Parlays

Instead of building your own parlay with eligible wagers, you can select a pre-packaged parlay built for you.

Available for select sports and events, a pre-packaged parlay (aka Cross Sport Parlay) combines wagers, some of which might not be available as a single bet, into a parlay.

In addition to the Rams-Warriors-Avalanche parlay, the bettor could’ve selected a pre-packaged NBA regular-season moneyline parlay (+325) that included wins from the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks.

What is a Parlay Boost?

BetMGM offers a variety of sports betting promotions for customers, including parlay boost tokens.

If you earn a parlay boost – by, for example, placing certain qualifying bets as part of an NBA playoffs promotion – or receive a free one in your account, you can receive better odds and a bigger potential payout.

Instead of +300 odds for a three-leg NFL moneyline parlay with the Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, and Buffalo Bills, you might get +330 odds with a 10% boost token. On a $100 bet, you’d receive an extra $30 with the boost.

What is Parlay Insurance?

Your entire Sunday is planned out: Ten hours of NFL betting.

From kickoff of the New England Patriots-Miami Dolphins game at 1 p.m. ET until the final whistle of the Denver Broncos-Las Vegas Raiders Sunday Night game just before midnight, you’re watching 14 NFL games. And you’re building a $25 moneyline parlay around four of those games.

You hit on the Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, and Dallas Cowboys, and need a Broncos’ win to collect more than $100. But Davante Adams and Derek Carr spoiled it with a late touchdown in a Raiders’ three-point win.

Your parlay is done, right? Not with parlay insurance.

Occasionally offered as a promotion, parlay insurance protects against last-minute touchdowns, overtime buzzer-beaters, and other losses with coverage up to a predetermined amount.

Check the promotions section of your account for available insurance and other opportunities.

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