Sports gamblers know that parlay betting provides a unique opportunity to drum up potential profit without increasing your financial risk. Sure, the odds of hitting successful tickets get longer, because more predictions are in play. But you're also elevating the potential return without demanding a steeper investment. The issue, though, is figuring out whether these wagers are the right way to go. That's where parlay betting calculators come into play.
These tools are similar to regular betting calculators, which can help you with odds translations and the mathematics behind arbitrage betting. The primary difference, as we'll get into further, is that they focus more so on payout nuances rather than line conversions—though they can often do this, too.
Wondering why you need a parlay calculator? Particularly if your sportsbook includes one on your bet slip? Read on to find out since this is one of the most interesting sections of our betting guide.
Parlay Betting Calculators Breakdown
How Parlay Betting Works
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of parlay betting calculators, you need to understand what these wagers actually are. And it's quite simple.
Parlay bets involve taking multiple wagers and combining them into a single large. This way, all the outcomes, whether they hit or are successful, are tied together. While this doesn't increase the possibility of a loss, because a sole miss ruins the whole bet slip, it is a great way of drumming up your potential winnings.
Let's run through a hypothetical. Say you're checking out the latest NFL odds and want to invest $100 in division winners for all four blocks in the NFC. You could, of course, lay down $25 per prediction on four separate predictions, this way the bets can be made independent of one another. But if you parlay them, you tie all four division winners to the same wager. By doing this, you will miss on your investment if any one of your four selections loses. Should all four-hit, though, you'll stand to win much, much more than if you had placed these bets individually.
This is parlay wagering in a nutshell: combining the outcomes of two or more bets.
How Parlay Betting Calculating Works
When you're looking to build parlays, it's important to know whether the prospective reward is worth what you're investing. That's where parlay betting calculators come in.
These handy tools invite you to plug in the odds on each of your wagers, and it'll then generate a total payout, based on the amount you're betting, should all of your individual gambles pay off.
Sticking with our NFL example from before, let's assume you're looking to invest in the following four division winners: New York Giants (+350), Seattle Seahawks (+150), Green Bay Packers (+200) and New Orleans Saints (+125). If you find a parlay betting calculator, you would then plug all four of these lines into its interface, enter the $100 you plan to wager and it would return the following information in some form:
- Bet Amount: $100
- To Win: $7,493.75
- Total Payout: $7,593.75
As you can see based on the potential return, you're dealing with high-stakes yet incredibly irregular odds. This isn't a simple 7-to-1 payout or something. There are a lot more granular details that go into it.
Hence the importance of a parlay betting calculator. It can give you this information immediately, so you know how this return compares to your individualized profits. For our example, it's clearly worth combining the four lines, because you stand to win thousands of dollars more if you parlay them.
No, the difference won't always be this big. It all depends on the initial odds of individual events. If you're betting favorites, where the payout is less than 1-to-1, you're not going to experience as large of a benefit.
Parlay Betting Calculator Conversions
In our above hypothetical, we were trafficking in American odds, the most common lines used in the sports betting industry. But there are three other main odd types that online bookies will use: decimal odds, fraction odds, and implied odds.
We break down all of the in-depth differences in our betting odds calculator guide, but all you need to know here is that most parlay betting calculators also have a conversion calculator. These will translate any one of the odd types into all other odd types. They should even provide you with payout information on non-parlay wagers, as well.
Why Use Parlay Betting Calculators?
We've alluded to this already. When you're combining a few different wagers—or, obviously, many different ones, it's too difficult to estimate the potential winnings by hand. It's better to get exact answers in real-time, which is what parlay betting calculators do.
Now, the bet slips provided by many online sportsbooks can also do these calculations for you. You're absolutely free to use those. But not all websites will give you access to them if you haven't created an account with them or, in some instances, made a deposit at the sportsbook. Third-party parlay betting calculators are free and require no registration.
How to Find Parlay Betting Calculators
In short, parlay betting calculators are everywhere. A quick Google search will bring a whole host of options.
Just remember: If you get asked to register for a site or enter any information at all, it's time to move on to the next one. These tools, whether they come from sportsbooks or betting-advice sites, should be totally free and anonymous.
Is Parlay Betting For You?
Parlay betting calculators are only necessary if you're actually, well, interested in placing parlays. So..should you be?
This rests squarely on your tolerance for risk. Longer odds are attached to every parlay. You're tasked with predicting the outcome on two, three, four, or more outcomes rather than just one. If you build a five-bet parlay, hit on four of your wagers, but miss on one, you've lost.
Indeed, just because you're throwing more wagers together, that doesn't mean you have to increase your actual bet. But some people can't tolerate the extra risk as it applies to their success rate.
Parlay Betting Strategies
Not all betting strategies are for everyone, but one approach gamblers—especially those new to parlays—can take when combining wagers is to strictly stick with what they believe are "lock" outcomes. Basically, this entails choosing games or futures for your bet slip that you feel are overwhelmingly likely to come true and then attaching them to other wagers of the same ilk.
Most people will use this parlay betting strategy to milk favorite odds. This particular method can be quite rewarding.
Take, for instance, an NBA odds enthusiast. Maybe this person is interested in betting on the Los Angeles Lakers to beat the Miami Heat in a regular-season game at -200; the New York Knicks to beat the Boston Celtics at -300; the Toronto Raptors to beat the Indiana Pacers at -250; the Dallas Mavericks to beat the Houston Rockets at -150. Let's also assume their budget, in total, is $100, which leaves $25 across four separate bets.
This is all fine. But if they place these bets separately, they stand to win $16.67 on the Rockets; $12.50 on the Lakers; $8.33 on the Knicks; and $10 on the Raptors. The grand total of this return would be around $47.50. That's not terribly much when risking $100.
However, the return changes if you parlay this bet. Using a parlay betting calculator with these four lines, we find out that our imaginary sports gambler would stand to win $466.67 in total, for a profit of nearly $367. That's a huge difference from the individualized bet slip—more than a $300 difference, in fact.
Perhaps that doesn't appeal to gamblers who don't want to lose $100 in one shot. They might prefer to capitalize on single wagers, where they can go 2-2 or something and still feel like they won. At the same time, when you have an opportunity like this to significantly inflate your winnings without actually upping your overhead cost, it would be bizarre not to at least explore it.
On the other end of the spectrum, you can try to suss out long-shot odds you actually believe to be a market efficiency and then parlay them at a smaller overall number.
Put another away: Try to spot more than one underdog line that you like and then parlay them without investing a boatload of money. Let's flip the script on our NBA example and say the theoretical bettor wants to place four wagers at +200, +300, +150, and +250. And rather than wager $100, you decide to only throw in $25. You stand to win $2,625 in this scenario, for a profit of $2,600.
Allow us to make this clear: The latter strategy is much, much harder to hit upon. Underdog lines exist for a reason. They represent the least likely outcomes. Still, if you've done your homework on certain teams or players and believe that they're being undervalued, it's okay to take a stab in the dark and lay a few longer shots on top of one another.