Parlay bets explained: how to bet and calculate

Winning big on a single bid with parlay bets - that’s what most arbers are looking for. Almost everyone who gambles applied this strategy at least once. And you should definitely give it a read in case you’re specifically looking for a leverage that will allow you to multiply your winnings.

A closer look on a parlay bets

Parlay bet / accumulator / combo bets are bids composed of two or more events, each of which affects the overall prospect of the bet. You can only succeed if all events were played and/or some of them were voided. Bad news here is a loss of at least one of the picks, leading to inevitable defeat.

Parlay bets


Then why do we make such risky wagers, you might ask? Everything’s simple - to multiply the earnings. We can always find at least a couple of predictions with scanty odds (1,25-1,4) that discourage us from betting. Combining several similar predictions in a parley gives us reasonable odds (1,9-2,5). The ultimate parlay odds equal to the odds of each event!

How does a parlay bet work — Calculation of parlay odds

Let’s set up a live example of three group stage matches of the 2020 UEFA European championship: Belgium - Russia, England - Croatia, and Hungary - Portugal. For convenience, each bet amounts to $100.

Our picks:

  1. Belgium - Russia: a win for team Belgium or a tie (1,24).
  2. England - Croatia: a win for team England or a tie (1,26).
  3. Hungary - Portugal: a win for team Portugal with handicap(0) (1,25).

The odds are quite low. If we make three single bets of $100 each, we’ll have: ($100 х 1,24) + ($100 х 1,26) + ($100 х 1,25) = $375. Meanwhile, net revenue will amount to just $75, though at risk is $300.

Now let’s get straight to counting: 1,24 х 1,26 х 1,25 = 1,953. You have to admit that these odds are much more reasonable.

The calculation of the parlay is pretty simple, though we have the whole three options here:

  1. All bets paid off. At this point we can settle for victory of $195,3 ($100 х 1,953). At risk was the amount of $100, and the return is $95,3.
  2. A win for team Belgium, a win for team England, but team Portugal drew against Hungary. One of the events in the parlay was voided and the total rate should have been counted as “1”, which means the parlay value came down to 1,24 х 1,26 х 1 = 1,5624. The overall return is $156,24 ($100 х 1,5624).
  3. One or more bets paid off. It’s an automatic failure. We simply lose our bet.

Now we know what’s behind the parlay and that it can bring tangible profit with low risk. However, it doesn’t mean you should definitely include risky bets in your deal. It’s always better to go for lower odds, leaving open the possibility of return.

Parlay getting voided

Getting involved in parlay may result in your bet getting voided and returned, so it’s important to identify the way the return is calculated. A particular event in this case is calculated with the ratio of “1,0”. If the deal brings you several bets being paid off with return, each of them includes the ratio of “1,0”.

The most common cases are totals and handicaps. Besides, bookies may return the stake basing on non-sports grounds:

  • The event got cancelled;
  • A non-sports event (the agreement between the participants took place);
  • Bookmaker suspected a gambler of violating the rules;
  • The game ended ahead of schedule;
  • Bookmaker mistakes when setting up the odds for the game.

Some dishonest bookies may return even fairly won deals, referring to rules violation on the part of the client, incorrectly placed betting lines, or foul play. So the best decision is to choose official bookmaker shops where each client is protected.

Tips on parlaying

Amateurs usually have no idea how to parlay. Lots of mistakes are made causing even the most common parlay to crash. Anyway, there is no special guide on how parlays are done, just a couple of tips you can follow to boost your chance of succeeding:

  • Check each event carefully;
  • Avoid betting too many events in a parlay;
  • Determine the most appropriate odds and keep within the limits (between 1,25-1,7);
  • If clear win is questionable, play it safe and bet handicap;
  • Small amounts will do;
  • Keep to one kind of sporting event in a parlay.

Parlay bet types

The today’s betting world holds a whole lot of parlay strategies except for the win-win one. The most popular is betting football, though most of them can be applied to any sport. Let’s cut to the chase of the most effective ones:

  1. Parlay on a favorite. The strategy lies in collecting several (normally 2-5) bets on a win of heavy favorites.
  2. Horizontal wager. The basic idea of the strategy is to make consistent deals for three single bets. After winning one bet, you place all your funds (including the money you have won) on the second bet, and later on - on the third bet. The benefit here is that you can choose whatever bookie you prefer looking up the best odds.
  3. Safe parlay. Small wager, low risk. Find a couple of events with small odds (no more than 1,2) reducing your own risks. 
  4. Smart parlay. Pick up three events in a parlay as you see fit, and when two of them pay off, bet a single bet on the opposite event to the leftover. This method is quite popular among professional gamblers.
  5. Aggressive parlay. Get two decent events with average odds of 1,5-1,7. Apply martingale till the bank levels out. 

Check out a surebet strategy if you have no desire to put your money at risk implementing inefficient systems. BetBurger is a #1 surebet service, offering favourable rates for no-lose surebet plans including over 30 kinds of sport.

Parlay: strengths and weaknesses 

Just like any other strategy, parlaying has its strengths and weaknesses. You can either hit the jackpot risking small money, or get jacked full for one little coincidence. That’s why it is important to consider all possible scenarios.


  • significant increase in the ultimate ratio;
  • even small odds may bring decent income;
  • no need to jeopardize big money;
  • pleasant bookmaker bonuses (some bookies reward gamblers for parlaying).


  • greater risk than betting single bets;
  • difficulties predicting all events in a parlay at the same time;
  • betting small sums (hardly anyone decide betting big when in comes to parlaying);
  • a hard choice of a “right” bet.
Artur Polianskyi
For today Artur has 12 years of betting experience, and he kindly shares his knowledge with the readers of our blog. In his articles, you will find many useful tips for different strategies and learn more about all types of bets.
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