NFL parlay betting explained: How does it work?

NFL parlay betting explained: How does it work? 

There is a bonkers amount of money invested into sports betting every single day with a huge slice of the cash being wagered on NFL parlay bets. 

Whether you’re in the camp of never having heard of parlays or simply can’t find a way of winning one then this article is for you as we look at all things parlay with a special focus on how NFL parlay bets work.

What is a parlay bet? 

All industries love to give things different names and load their world with jargon that ‘normal’ people don’t understand; bookmakers are no different. Thankfully, we are here to break it all down into simple bite-size chunks. The first of those chunks tells you what a parlay bet is at a high level. 

Very simply put, a parlay bet is a bet placed across multiple events. For example, one of the most common bet types in NFL betting is the money line bet I.e. who will win. 

Ordinarily, you’d pick a team to win and if that team wins, you win and if that team loses, you lose. Parlays work very similarly to that but with multiple selections; this could be two games or 10 games (or more – there is no real limit to how many legs you can add to your parlay). What it can’t be is selections from the same game; this is something else!

How do you win a parlay bet?

So, you now know that a parlay bet is where you place a bet across multiple events – or in the case of NFL parlay betting – multiple games. In order for your bet to be deemed a winner every selection has to come in. 

Imagine a scenario where you’ve bet on the outcome of 10 different games; if you get nine correct but one game wrong then you will not win a penny. That’s the agonizingly painful world of parlay betting. 

Why do people place parlay bets? 

The idea of having a 10-game parlay bet where just the solitary match lets you down is excruciating; something like that has happened to most punters at one time or another. So, why then do they set themselves up for such a fall? The answer to that is very straightforward – the potential rewards to a parlay bet are huge. 

When you place a single bet, the bookmaker gives you odds based on the probability of that bet coming true (minus a small hedge that enables the bookies to stay in business). This approach is followed through for parlay bets but there are two key things that happen to supercharge the odds on offer from bookmakers. The first thing to stress is that the more selections you make, the more the probability drifts and, as such, the odds grow naturally. 

An Example

For example, if you place a bet on a solitary NFL game there is the potential for three outcomes – team A win, team B win or it ends in a tie. By simply adding another two games to your bet your wager all of a sudden has 27 possible win/loss/draw combinations. That’s vastly less likely to win than the three outcomes of the single bet. Now imagine how many potential outcomes there are in a 10 game parlay! 

On top of having this natural odds growth, you also find that bookmakers will apply boosts to the odds based on how many selections are made. How generous these boosts are will vary across bookies but, as an example of how they can climb, you can expect to see something like the below:

  • 1 game parlay – 0%
  • 2 game parlay – 0%
  • 3 game parlay – 5%
  • 4 game parlay – 10%
  • 5 game parlay – 15%
  • 6 game parlay – 20%
  • 7 game parlay – 30%
  • 8 game parlay – 40%
  • 9 game parlay – 50%
  • 10 game parlay – 60%

It’s not uncommon for parlay ‘boosts’ to reach 100% – albeit you’d have one monster of a betting slip to reach this level meaning the likelihood is you’d never reap the rewards of the said bonus – it is, however, not impossible.

Still confused?

If at this stage you are still befuddled about the whole parlay betting process then perhaps a real-world example will help.

Let’s take two games from the NFL opening game week as single wagers; this means you place two bets that are completely independent of one another. 

£10 on the Eagles to beat the Lions @ 1/2 returns £5 profit

£10 on the Chargers to beat the Raiders @ 4/7 returns £5.71 profit

That’s £20 staked for a combined return of £10.71 when placed as single bets.

In a parlay bet, you’d placed the selections together meaning you could stake £20 i.e. the same combined amount but for bigger potential returns £47.14 or £27.14 profit; that’s a big difference. This is because the probability of predicting both games correctly Is greatly reduced. 

There you have it, a guide to NFL parlay betting. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!

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