Source: chicagobears.com

Anyone that follows sports betting will have seen at least one story of a lucky punter that’s won big on a wager.

The chances are that big win would have been courtesy a parlay bet. If you’d like the chance to join the big winners club then swot up on everything you need to know about NFL parlay bets right here.

What is a parlay bet?

In a nutshell, according to the experts at Bovada, a parlay bet – or ‘multiple’ or ‘accumulator’ bet as they are called in some parts – is a selection of single bets pooled together into one big bet. There are a couple of key things to note with parlay bets though.

Firstly, the multiple selections must be from different events – not the same event. For example, backing two different NFL teams to win games would constitute a parlay bet; this would be called a two-game parlay bet. If, however, you’d wagered on a team to win and a certain player to score a touchdown within the match this would not be a parlay bet; these would normally be wagered through ‘bet builders’.

Parlay bets aren’t limited to two selections though; in fact you can add as many selections as you wish. With each leg you add to your bet, the terminology grows I.e. a bet that included bets on every game from the NFL’s opening Sunday on September 11th would be referred to as a 14 team parlay because you’d be betting on the outcome of 14 games.

The second key thing to note is that in order to win your bet every single selection has to come in as a winner; get one selection wrong and your entire bet loses. In a scenario where you’ve bet on, say, 10 games you could get nine predictions right and win nothing; that’s a real kicker. If that’s not something you want to experience then consider exploring ‘parlay insurance’ schemes where bookies give you money back if you’re bets lose my one selection or explore more complex multiple bets such as trixies and goliaths – amongst others.

Why do NFL fans use parlay bets?

Source: usatoday.com

There is one simple reason why people place parlay bets; they like the potential of bigger returns. When you consider what is needed to win a parlay bet, it’s pretty clear why the potential returns grow rapidly. If you place a bet on a solitary NFL match outcome i.e. home win, road win or tie where the probabilities of each outcome was evenly split you’d have a 33.3% chance of getting. If, however, you have to get the predictions of two games correct to your chances reduce. Let’s picture the possibilities:

A single bet (Team A vs Team B):

  • Outcome 1: Team A wins
  • Outcome 2: Team B wins
  • Outcome 3: Neither team wins

A two-team parlay (Team A vs Team B, Team C vs Team D):

  • Outcome 1: Team A and Team C win
  • Outcome 2: Team A and Team D win
  • Outcome 3: Team B and Team C win
  • Outcome 4: Team B and Team D win
  • Outcome 5: Team A win and C & D tie
  • Outcome 6: Team B win and C & D tie
  • Outcome 7: Teams A & B tie and Team C win
  • Outcome 8: Teams A & B tie and Team D win
  • Outcome 9: Teams A & B tie and Teams C & D tie

As you can see, even without dipping into the complex world of odds, taking on a two-team parlay gives the bookmaker a much higher probability of coming out on top. As the bookies probability of winning grows, so do the punters betting odds. Wind this scenario forwards to four, five, six or more games and you’ll quickly start to grasp why NFL parlay bets attract huge attention from punters; they can net you huge sums of money – sometimes even life changing ones.

How do NFL parlay bets impact the odds?

Source: nj.com

Now, one of the common questions punters who are inexperienced with parlays ask is why not just place multiple single bets on their own tickets rather than grouping them together. On the surface, that vaguely makes sense, however, there is only one upside to this theory and there are two big downsides. The upside is that you could lose a selection or several and still win on the winning selections you made. The downsides are two-fold; firstly, a $10 parlay costs you $10. If you want to achieve a similar coverage on your single bets you need to stake that $10 for every bet, which soon racks up. The other issue with the single bet approach is that you lose out on shrinking probability/growing odds relationship the parlay brings.

Let’s look at a real life example using upcoming fixtures and live odds to explain how the NFL parlay odds work.

A real life example

Source: dknation.draftkings.com

Our selections are as follows with our stake being $10:

  • Game 1: Ravens vs Jets, Ravens to win @ 10/23
  • Game 2: Saints vs Falcons, Saints to win @ 4/9
  • Game 3: Steelers vs Bengals: Bengals to win @ 4/11

if we were to back these games as three single bets we would have to stake $30 with the potential returns as follows:

  • Game 1: $4.34 profit
  • Game 2: $4.44 profit
  • Game 3: $3.63 profit
  • Total: $12.41 profit

So, when backing those three games as a single bet you are risking $30 to win a potential $12.41 profit. When you pool them together as a parlay bet you lose the safety net of still profiting if one team slips up but you gain the benefit of only staking $10 and the odds ‘boost’.

The exact same selections in a parlay for $10 would return you $18.26 profit – that’s a 47% uplift! Consider that we’re only talking about a three-team parlay here. The more selections you add, the higher the bookies ‘boost’ element will become and the higher your returns would be naturally. It’s also worth noting that our example looks at three selections that are heavily odds on, which makes it all the more bonkers!