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what is a parlay bet

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We’re gathered here to solve the matter of what is a Parlay bet for punters that aren’t familiar with the term. This wager involving multiple selections is one that people in Britain probably know by another name. It won’t be long before the Parlay betting meaning becomes clear to you.

What is a Parlay Bet?

A Parlay is just another name for an accumulator or acca betting but used more so across the Atlantic in American gambling circles than here in the UK. It really is as simple as that. The Parlay bet meaning is pretty straightforward, then, if you understand accumulators. We shall explain further for the benefit of those who don’t.

How Does a Parlay Bet Work?

what is a Parlay bet

As plain as the Parlay bet definition is, it’s worth looking more closely at how this type of bet works. If there are fewer than four legs in the wager, then there are specific names for them. A Parlay containing three selections is a Treble and two a Double. Before you start thinking that four picks is a Quadruple, the correct term is four-fold. In fact, -fold appears after the number of selections to describe Parlays with four or more legs to them.

When asked what is a Parlay bet, you should know that odds are parlayed, or accumulate, from one pick to another. There’s a lot of multiplication going on when you place one of these wagers through an online bookie for calculating total returns. You only receive a payout from them if all legs win, however, so you must be completely accurate with the selections.

What this means is the more picks you include in your Parlay betting, then the greater degree of difficult involved in pulling the wager off. It can be a real sickener if one leg lets you down, so that’s why bookmakers have Acca Insurance among their betting offers so you can get a refunded stake or bonus to the same value should that happen.

Parlay Bet Example

Working through an example Parlay should help you get it straight in your head how it works in practice. That’s what we’re going to do now. There’s no better way of having a Parlay bet explained to you really. In a typical weekend of football betting action, you decide to back six league teams all to win their respective home matches together:

  • Leg 1 – Swansea City to beat Birmingham City @ 4/5
  • Leg 2 – Stoke City to beat Rotherham United @ 8/11
  • Leg 3 – Norwich City to beat Hull City @ 3/4
  • Leg 4 – Middlesbrough to beat Millwall @ Evs
  • Leg 5 – Leicester City to beat Coventry City @ 4/7
  • Leg 6 – Leeds United to beat Cardiff City @ 2/5

Should all six sides secure victory at their own grounds, then multiplying their respective odds together works out at just less than 23/1 (22.94/1). A £5 six-fold Parlay bet returns £119.70 in total, meaning almost £115 (£114.70) profit. Such a large win off a relatively small stake highlights one reason why these wagers have become so popular.

What is a Parlay Bet in Football?

We’ve just worked through an example of a football accumulator or Parlay bet, so it should be clear in your minds. What you may not realise, though, is just how popular this particular sport is to gamble on. During the Twenty-First Century, placing wagers on football has surpassed horse racing as the number one betting pastime with the British public.

Thanks to an increased commercialisation in the beautiful game, which already has global appeal, gambling advertisers crept in. This has only served to grow football Parlay betting online with bookmakers putting Premier League odds for the latest games at the forefront of their coverage. It has never been easier to place a wager on football.

That is down to other technological advances developed during the internet revolution. The creation of mobile football betting apps allows you to take a punt on your smartphone anywhere so long as you have a Wi-Fi connection. It has made gambling convenient, as well as accessible to a wider audience.

While sponsorship in the product has grown, future changes have now been introduced. Following an April 2023 vote, Premier League clubs will no longer have gambling advertising on their shirts as of the end of the 2025-26 season. It remains to be seen if this measure results in less Parlay betting on football, but for many punters this has become a weekly ritual.

What is a Parlay Bet in Horse Racing?

It’s not just the outcomes of different football matches that prove popular as Parlays with punters, but horse races too. The connections between gambling and this sport are even more intimate. This means betting on horse racing has its role to play too. At any given meeting, there are at least six races for you to bet on.

Glancing through today’s racecards, you will often see even more action on the track. There can be seven or even eight races to place wagers on, but some punters prefer to combine their picks from all or selected events at a meeting in a Parlay bet. Unlike football, there are ways of making it more sophisticated and mitigating loss with horse racing.

You could, for example, put Parlays on as each way bets covering both an outright win for your chosen horses and them finishing placed. The unit stake doubles in this case. Non-runners and Rule 4 deductions can also impact a Parlay bet on horse racing in ways they don’t in other sports because these elements aren’t present elsewhere.

What is NFL Parlay Betting?

Parlays are most closely associated with US sports as the term is American in origin. As their equivalent of an accumulator across the Atlantic, it features prominently stateside in gambling on all the major leagues. A Parlay bet on NFL American football is common with the different Conferences and Divisions of the league to pick winning teams from.

It’s not just the regular season either. Once the playoffs come around, NFL betting sites can showcase the best sides on the gridiron as they bid to reach the Super Bowl. Like other US sports, the odds for American football will be in the moneyline format. Watch out for spread betting too as an alternative option for your NBA Parlay betting wagers.

What is a Parlay Bet in Basketball?

From one US major league sport to another now. An NBA parlay bet online or two is another common occurrence on the other side of the Atlantic. Shooting some hoops is exactly what basketball betting sites want you to wager on, and there are plenty of chances to do just that. With 30 teams competing in the NBA, that’s 15 games every matchday.

Just like the NFL, there are then extensive postseason playoffs after all the conferences reach their regular end. This means you can continue to place Parlays well beyond the normal season’s conclusion if you want to. Again, look out for moneyline and spread betting options to include in your multiples.

Parlay Bet Calculator

Doing the maths involved to figure out what you stand to gain if one wins is complex. We can take the number crunching off your heads, however, with our accumulator bet calculator specifically designed to handle this wager.

It’s completely free to use and we’ve made this simple tool so that all you have to do is put the right number of legs, odds for each selection and the stake in there and it does the rest. The Parlay bet calculator can handle anything no matter how many picks you’ve put in your wager, so see what your potential profits are next time you place one.

Pros & Cons of Online Parlay Betting

There are some great upsides to Parlays but also plenty of risks that aren’t so good. When you’re thinking of putting a bet like this one, you should consider both sides to the argument.

Pros:
  • Better value than some win singles
  • Big profits from small stakes
  • Each way option on some sports
  • You can insure parlay bets
Cons:
  • Greater potential for losing stake
  • More difficult than other wagers
  • Need all legs to win for a payout
  • Only one loser ends whole bet

Alternatives to the Parlay Bet Online

What about Parlay bet alternatives? Well, quite a few exist and they involve much greater unit stake outlays for higher levels of protection. We’re not talking about Acca Insurance here, but what they call full cover bets that have the same number of selections as your Parlays but placed in every possible permutation of wager from Singles or Doubles and up. Here’s a list of the most popular combination and system bets around:

  • Trixie Bet – 3 picks as 4 bets: 3 Doubles & 1 Treble
  • Patent Bet – 3 picks as 7 bets:  3 Singles, 3 Doubles & 1 Treble
  • Yankee Bet – 4 picks as 11 bets: 6 Doubles, 4 Trebles & 1 Four-fold
  • Lucky 15 Bet – 4 picks as 15 bets: 4 Singles, 6 Doubles, 4 Trebles & 1 Four-fold
  • Canadian Bet – 5 picks as 26 bets: 10 Doubles, 10 Trebles, 5 Four-folds & 1 Five-fold
  • Lucky 31 Bet – 5 picks as 31 bets: 5 Singles, 10 Doubles, 10 Trebles, 5 Four-folds & 1 Five-fold
  • Heinz Bet – 6 picks as 57 bets: 15 Doubles, 20 Trebles, 15 Four-folds, 6 Five-folds & 1 Six-fold
  • Lucky 63 Bet – 6 picks as 63 bets: 6 Singles, 15 Doubles, 20 Trebles, 15 Four-folds, 6 Five-folds & 1 Six-fold
  • Super Heinz Bet – 7 picks as 120 bets: 21 Doubles, 35 Trebles, 35 Four-folds, 21 Five-folds, 7 Six-folds & 1 Seven-fold
  • Goliath Bet – 8 picks as 247 bets: 28 Doubles, 56 Trebles, 70 Four-folds, 56 Five-folds, 28 Six-folds, 8 Seven-folds & 1 Eight-fold

Parlay Betting Strategy That Works

Used correctly, Parlays can prove profitable with a bit of luck. Although betting is just supposed to be a bit of fun, if you can be successful with it too that helps. Speaking of aid, that’s exactly what our experts are here to do now. They’ve got some hints and tips so that you make better decisions and choices with your Parlay betting moving forward. We’d love to be able to guarantee you a win every time, but that’s just not possible. Follow our experts’ advice and you’ll get things right more often than not at least:

Limit the Size of Your Parlays

As you can win plenty off a small stake, it’s very easy to be seduced by the total combined odds of multiples. Too easy in fact. It’s smart Parlay betting strategy to be selective about what you include in the wager. The more legs that you include, then the more winners needed before you get a payout. Our advice is to only have the picks you feel most strongly about. Remember, be realistic. The odds of pulling off a nine-fold or ten-fold Parlay and up, for example, aren’t in your favour.

Seriously Consider Full Cover Bets

Acca Insurance is good for Parlay betting, but combination and system wagers are even better at protecting your investment. While the unit stake suddenly multiples and your total outlay goes up, it’s much easier to adjust your stake plan sometimes than finding a qualifying accumulator that betting offers for existing customers will insure. A Yankee or Lucky 15, for instance, can still pay out to you even if all four selections don’t win. Full cover bets give you a chance to further mitigate the risk in a way that Acca Insurance just isn’t designed to.

Short-Price Favourites Go Together

If there’s no value in betting on short-price or odds-on favourites on their own, then the logical course of action is to put them together in a Parlay bet. As the respective legs have their prices multiplied together, you’ll end up with a wager that has high implied probability but should give a decent return if the market leaders do the business. Parlays work particularly well in this regard, but picking out the right favourites to include is an art form all of itself.

Best Parlay Betting Sites

The bookies take these kind of multiple wagers all the time, so there’s no need to worry. There are lots of online Parlay betting sites to choose from as pretty much every single one allows or offers some form of accumulator. Top of the line bookmakers not only have Acca Insurance deals, but provide you with bonuses like additional winnings if your Parlays are successful.

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Jamie Clark
Jamie Clark
Jamie Clark

Jamie Clark has been with www.bettingsites.co.uk from the very beginning and penned the very first pieces of content that appeared right here. Known for his horse racing expertise, his strong gambling knowledge comes from childhood where he was surrounded by both horses and betting. The godson of a former on-track bookmaker at Market Rasen Racecourse, Jamie ended up working in the same industry and became Sports Editor of heavyweight bookies Coral for three years before they merged with Ladbrokes. After a successful spell freelancing for other big names in the business, he helped us launch this site with his skills, experience and ability coming in useful. Read long form content across a range of betting subjects from Jamie right here.