A NFL parlay or accumulator is a single bet that links together two or more individual wagers and is dependent on all of those wagers winning together. Many experienced bettors will joke and say the parlay is French for “loser”. Many professional sports bettors will stay away from parlays due to the fact that the odds of hitting parlays are substantially less than what should be paid for these very hard bets. NFL parlay bets are paid out at odds higher than the typical single game bet, but still below the odds. For instance, a common 2-team parlay might have a payout of 13:5 if both picks are correct. In reality, however, if one assumes that each single game bet is a coin flip and would be expected to pay out at 1:1, the true payout should instead be 3:1, a substantial difference.
Now one has to take into account that the true parlay odds on a 2 team parlay at -110 (standard vigorish) is +264 roughly right around 13:5 so most bookmakers do offer fair odds on 2 and 3 team parlays. Once you get over the 3 team parlay is when the bookmakers start to juice the odds against the player. For more on this see our 4 team parlay article.
I will outline an example below of a traditional parlay bet; you place a three-team NFL parlay on the Giants -3, Eagles +7, and Dolphins +4, If any one of those teams fail to cover the spread, then you lose the parlay bet. But if all three teams cover the point spread in their games, then you will win somewhere in the area of 6:1, which means you would win $600 for every $100 that you bet. If you push on one of those picks, you then have a two-team parlay and the odds would revert to the bookmakers current 2 team parlay odds. If you push on two picks, you would then have a straight bet.
Parlays are a bet that most professional gamblers will not even sniff at. You can make much more money betting each NFL game by itself and not have an entire bet ruined by just one game. For instance if you were to bet $100 each on four games instead of betting $400 on a four team parlay, your odds to make money on your bet would be substantially increased. If you were to win three out of the four games, you end up with roughly a 50% on your bets, however, if put into a parlay winning three out of four ats gets you absolutely nothing besides maybe a stomachache for coming so close but falling short.
Now with that being said, pro gamblers haven’t completely removed the parlay bet from their arsenal. There are 2 situations when a professional sports bettor will consider a NFL parlay as high as 3 teams. First they will never go over a 3 team parlay since that is the cutoff point at which bookmakers are still offering objective odds. The primary reason when a professional gambler would consider a parlay would be if both of the bets are dependent on one another. Meaning if this outcome happens then this outcome is also likely to happen. These types of sports bets are called correlated parlays. You can read more about these profitable types of bets in full detail here. Correlated parlays are considered the homerun type bet that bookmakers fear the most.
The other setting where a professional sports bettor will bet a parlay is when they are trying to circumvent the betting limits. Let’s say the opening numbers come out and he sees 2 games he likes and knows the numbers are going to move but the betting limits are only $500. This bettor normally bets $1000 per game. Because sportsbooks normally don’t have limits on parlays, a pro may make a $2000 parlay bet on those 2 games to make sure he gets down as much as he normally does. By placing this parlay wager the player is guaranteed his normal stake on a game before the odds move thus making a parlay bet attractive.
To be honest over the course of one’s life there will be a few parlays that you hit here and there, however betting NFL parlays with more than 3 teams is not a wise way to make money in the long run. The reason that bookies and bookmakers still exist is because of people betting parlays and ending up just one game short. The bookmakers increase their profits on the bets, and that is why a lot of the times it is promoted on a gambling website or at the casino sports book. Rule of thumb is that if the bookmaker is offering you something too good to be true (i.e. return on bet) than it usually is. Be a smart sports bettor when it comes to NFL parlays.