The spread of sports betting across the United States has placed many new sports betting terms in front of novice sports bettors. In the sports betting glossary, parlay wagering deserves some definition. This guide describes the four types of parlay wagers found at typical sportsbooks.
A parlay wager is a type of combination bet that requires the player to choose the outcome of multiple events. The parlay bettor can use a mixture of point spreads, moneylines totals or alternative lines to compose his or her bet.
Each of these bets is known as a “leg” of the parlay. The payout for the parlay wager is based on the number of legs in the bet.
A sportsbook will accept almost any combination of wagers for a parlay. The only prohibition would be on correlated events, such as a bet on both the money line and the point spread for the same team.
Parlays can seem like quite attractive wagering options due to their payout structure. Depending on the number of legs in the bet, a player can win thousands of dollars for every one dollar wagered.
The catch with parlay wagering is the all-or-nothing component. In order to collect on the bet, the player must be correct in all of his or her selections.
If even one prediction turns out to be false, the entire bet is lost, regardless of how well the rest of the selections performed. As a result, the house edge on parlay betting is quite high, and can stretch above 10 percent in some cases.
If one of the predictions happens to result in a tie, then that leg of the parlay is typically dropped. The resulting payout is as if that portion of the bet never happened. However, some sportsbooks go so far as to count ties as losses. So, despite the potential for a huge payday, sharp sports bettors tend to disdain parlays as sucker bets and avoid them.
Teasers are a type of parlay that shifts the odds of the wager in the player’s favor. They are typically available for American football and basketball games.
If a player bets a teaser, there will be a prescribed point spread shift that the player will incur. So, the underdog in each matchup can afford to lose by more points, and the favorite does not have to win as decisively as the posted spread. In fact, in some cases, the favorite might be able to lose the game and the bet still wins.
Typical adjustments break down as follows:
- American football: 6, 6.5, 7, 10, or 14 points
- Basketball: 4, 4.5, or 5 points
As with any parlay, each leg of the bet must win for the player to cash in the ticket. However, the payouts for teasers will be less than typical parlays, due to the odds adjustment.
The sportsbook will treat ties on teasers the same way as in parlay wagers. Some sportsbooks will count a tie as a loss, so players must be sure to examine the fine print on their wagering slip.
A pleaser is another type of parlay that is a reverse teaser. In a pleaser, the point spread actually moves in favor of the sportsbook, rather than the player.
So, favorites must now win by more points in order to beat the spread. Conversely, underdogs must lose by fewer points than their original allowance to cover.
Unsurprisingly, the risk of loss increases when a player chooses a pleaser bet. However, the payout potential for a pleaser is even higher than a typical parlay.
Pleasers tend to carry a house edge that stretches beyond 40 percent. The sportsbooks tend to treat ties on pleasers as losses.
So, the risk of ruin for a pleaser bettor is quite high. However, a good feeling about a few underdogs might result in an outsized payout for the lucky player.
Round robins are a way to diversify one’s parlays, so to speak. Essentially, round robins are a way to bet a combination of parlays at once.
A player might consider a round robin if he or she has a high degree of confidence in a few point spreads. For instance, imagine that the bettor feels solid about the following lines:
- Houston Texans @ -6.5
- Miami Dolphins @ +4
- Kansas City Chiefs @ -13
Rather than place a single three-team parlay, the bettor can use a round robin to create three two-team parlays and cover all the possible angles. The advantage of this type of bet is that a player could still win money even if one of the teams doesn’t cover the spread.
The disadvantage of a round robin is that players must wager a larger amount of money to cover the bet. Like a boxed trifecta at a horsetrack, a bettor must pay the cost of betting each individual parlay option.