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A History of the Parlay Bet

September 10, 2019
parlay card

The word parlay can be heard in many gambling circles. Its one of the first bets you learn beside point spread and total. From an outsider’s perspective, it is mysterious word that they have not heard much in their life, if at all.

Parlay has other meaning besides a type of sports bet, but those are very rarely used. When not used in sports betting it can mean ‘to transform into something better’. It can also mean ‘peace talks’. It has also meant, in more modern uses, to ‘relax and reflect’. An example of this would be in a rap song: lyrics: “parlayin’ in the cut”. Or See music video “Parlayin’ in The Bay

Now that I have that out of the way lets get down to the sports betting use of the word. The parlay is the practice of stringing multiple bets together into one bet. This act increases the payout exponentially. But, in a traditional parlay, if one of the legs of the parlay loses, you lose the entire bet. So, as your payout increases, your odds of winning decreases.

Serious sports bettors are advised to not bet parlays. Betting parlays can neutralize any profit that you can manage to squeeze from the sportsbook. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For the casual bettor, with a limited bankroll, who plans to bet game A and take all the money and then bet game B with it, but Game B starts before game A is completed, I say go for it. Play your two-teamer and good luck. But, parlays are the sportsbooks best friend because they generate the most $ for the house.

According to a study at UCLA, 31.7% of sports bets placed at a sportsbook are parlays. When I hear that I cringe. If you want to know where the sportsbook’s real edge is, it is in booking stupid bets.

As far as the history of the parlay, there seems to be no exact information on this.  From what we can tell, as long as there has been point spread sports betting, there have been people stringing together the bets to get high payouts at much lesser odds of winning.

Here are the payout odds for standard parlays

# of TeamsLas Vegas Payout**Global Book Payout

As you can imagine, sportsbooks get creative with parlays and there are other types.

Progressive Parlay

This is a type of parlay that will still payout if one or more of your picks loses. However, the winning amount paid out is lower if you happen to hit every leg.

Round Robin

This is the practice of taking a certain group of picks and then parlaying them every way possible. A standard three team round robin looks like this:

Leg 1Leg 2Type
Team ATeam B2 team parlay
Team ATeam C2 team parlay
Team BTeam C2 team parlay


A teaser is a type of parlay where the bettor gets to move the point spread (or total) any direction he wants. The amount of points you can move the spread varies from sportsbook to sportsbook but the industry standard is usually 6-7 points.  The amount of points you move the spread combined with the number of teams you are parlaying decides the total payout of the bet.

Teasers are enjoyed by many but are more of an “entertainment bet”. More serious sports bettors never bet teasers. Here are teaser payout odds from Bovada.LV

Points2 team3 team4 team5 team6 team7 team8 team9 team10 team

We hope this article was informative and you learned about the parlay bet. And if you are a serious bettor, we hope you can stay away from them.



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