NFL Parlays

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper,

People like to play parlays in hopes of hitting it big. It’s a risky bet. You pick two or more games against the spread and they all must win in order for your wager to be successful. Again, winning one game against the spread can be an excruciating grind. Asking for multiple winners on the same card can sometimes be a lofty proposition. And while the payouts are not totally in-line with the actual odds of hitting such a bet, the payoffs can be handsome.

Here are the standard payouts for parlays (check your book for more details, as these numbers can vary slightly).

2-Team Parlay: 2.6 to 1
3-Team Parlay: 6 to 1
4-Team Parlay: 10 to 1
5-Team Parlay: 20 to 1
6-Team Parlay: 40 to 1
7-Team Parlay: 75 to 1
8-Team Parlay: 150 to 1
9-Team Parlay: 300 to 1
10-Team Parlay: 700 to 1

Those odds are certainly tantalizing, but remember–you have to pick every game correctly. That is certainly not easy and it’s the main reason why your bookie likes it when you play parlays. And the odds of hitting the parlay are greater than what the possible payout indicates, also giving the bookie another advantage.

Sometimes, a bettor only has a certain amount to bet. That amount might be too small to bet each game individually, so you go with a parlay. But let’s imagine a player makes a two-team $100 parlay. If he wins, he will get $260 in winnings. But if he just bet $100 on each game individually and won them both–he’d have won slightly less money. And he would also have the chance to break relatively even, in the event that only one of the bets won.


Parlays are great fun and should be looked at as recreational bets. Maybe you’re in Vegas for a weekend. Perhaps you won some money and want to play with your winnings a bit. You shouldn’t make this a key part of your betting profile. You see a whole sports betting industry with people bragging how they can beat the spread. And then you come along trying to do it multiple times on the same betting card. It’s asking a lot.

And if you play the bigger parlays, like 5 or 6-teams, it can be downright demoralizing to win most of your games, but end up a loser because one of your teams didn’t win. When you pick 4 or 5 out of 6 teams correctly, that means you’re doing something right. Your bottom line should reflect that.

A useful piece of advice is to keep your parlays small, both in terms of how many teams you choose and how much you wager. Veteran parlay players will also tell you how painful it can be if you hit the first 3 legs of your parlay, only to fall short on the final game. Nothing is worse than having a 4 team parlay and win the three morning games and drop the afternoon game. Try to forecast these situations. Maybe reduce the number of teams you play.

If you hit the first three or four parts of the parlay, with the last leg of your play taking place later, either Sunday night or on MNF, consider a hedge-bet. Make a straight bet on the opposite side to ensure you earn a profit in the event that the last leg of your parlay fails.

Parlays can be used for multiple types of wagers. Depending on the sportsbook, you can sometimes parlay totals. Most books will also allow you to parlay money lines. The parlay is certainly not considered a conservative bet, but some good bettors have been known to take a few large favorites and parlay them on the money line.

Say for example, New England and Green Bay are at home as big favorites. The money line might be as high as -400 or -500. Taking those teams on the money line requires you to put up a tremendous amount of money to earn very little. In this example, you would need to bet $900 to win $200. A $900 parlay would bring in $450. Of course, both teams would need to win and it’s a little more risky. But as far as parlays go, it’s not an altogether bad play.