How To Calculate a Parlay

Liam ParkerContributor IMay 13, 2009

NEW YORK - MARCH 1:  A man holds his betting slips and money at an Off-Track Betting (OTB) parlor in Midtown Manhattan March 1, 2008 in New York City. The board that oversees New York City's OTB operations voted last week to close all 71 parlors by mid-June since the city does not want to subsidize the gambling outposts. State officials are contesting the ruling.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)


How many times have you placed a big parlay only to have it lose on the final game? Sure, you've picked 4 out of 5 or 5 out of 6 but it still pays the same as if you went 1 for 5 because if you lose one game you lose the entire wager.

One of the reasons online sportsbooks can offer very high odds parlays is because its so difficult to pick one winner let alone pick 5.  First, let's have a look at how to calculate a parlay.

How to Calculate a Parlay

If you are going to bet parlays, always check the payouts as the odds vary from site to site but generally, they payout about 2.6/1 for a two teamer and 6/1 for a 3-teamer using Standard -110 lines.

If you are selecting all spreads in your parlay there is a little secret I will let you in on that will increase your payout.  Include an Off Standard Line (one that isn't -110) in your parlay and you will be given "True Odds" instead of the fixed odds you would normally receive.

Check out for all your straight wager and Parlay needs

Here is how you can calculate a "True Odds" Parlay yourself.

Let's say we want a parlay with the following teams:
New York Giants      -150
Miami Dolphins        +170
New York Rangers    -120

First, we have to determine what the multipliers would be for each game, simply divide what the total payout would be (risk + win) by the risk amount

Giants - 150 to win 100, so the total payout would be $250
250/150 = 1.6666

Dolphins - 100 to win 170, so the total payout would be $270
270/100 = 2.7

Rangers - 120 to win 100, so the total payout would be $220
220/120 = 1.8333

Now that we have the multipliers, we multiply them together to come up with the True odds of the parlay.
1.6666 x 2.7 x 1.8333 = 8.2495

The return on your parlay would be about 8.25 this includes the risk amount so your profit would be approximately 7.25 for every dollar you risk on the above parlay.

Types of Parlay Bettors

Working in the business for so long, I've seen several approaches to parlays and several different types of bettors who play them. Let's have a look at a few.

The Average Bettor - The average bettor, probably just like you, places parlays for a bit of excitement or if they have a few games they feel good about. If you don't mind the risk keep doing what you are doing but if you are looking to make money betting over the long haul read what the pro does and follow his lead.

Small Player/Shot taker - the small player/shot taker usually puts down $5 to $10 on 10-12 team parlays looking for a huge win that often never comes. These players would be better served buying scratch and wins.  That being said, I will tell a story about one of these shot takers. I was manager at a well-known Online Sportsbook and when a player would hit a big parlay, we would give them a call to congratulate them.  One player hit a $10 x 11 teamer for over $11,000, so I picked up the phone to congratulate him and I was greeted with ambivalence. "Ok thanks, yeah it was nothing" the player responded. I was more excited than he was.  It struck me as odd behavior for a guy who just made $11,000 from $10. After the call I looked through his account and he'd actually hit 3 others for similar amounts within the last 4 months.  Sometimes I guess it's better to be lucky than good.

The Pro - The Professional gambler doesn't bet parlays unless he finds a book that allows correlated parlays. A correlated parlay is a bet where if one result happens the other result is likely to happen also. For example if you take a -1.5 runline and the over of a baseball game, if the over happens a 2 run victory by the favorite is also likely to happen.  Even then a Professional will avoid parlays.

Big Loser - I hate saying someone is a loser but it's hard to find another word for someone who is down way more than they should be. These types of players are a bookies dream. Most of the time when a player is down a ton of cash they will start to chase their losses trying to get it all back quickly as possible. Sadly, this risky behavior often creates a bigger hole than the one they were already.  If you are one of these bettors who has gotten too far over your head that it seems impossible to get back to even you have a couple choices. First is stop betting, take care of your debts if you have any and just suck up your losses. If you need help contact gamblers anonymous, they have all the resources you need to move on.

If you still believe you can make it back to even and beyond, you have to change what you are doing. First off, put down the parlays and realize it took you a long time to lose as much as you have so you have to allow yourself the same amount time to get back.  If you have lost $100,000, over 3 years don't expect to make it back in one weekend, that happens in the movies not real life.  Then learn to gamble the right way but most importantly learn a money management system, spread your money around if you are right six out of ten times, you are making a profit and then you can start making your money back.

Thanks for reading

Stay Gold,

Rory Gold



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