What is a Parlay?

04 / 27 / 2021 By Ally Mielnicki

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What is a Parlay?

(Now available on the ZenSports app!)

A Parlay is a single sports bet that is a combination of multiple wagers into one. With a Parlay Card, you can combine multiple bets with money lines, spreads, totals, futures, and props. You also are not limited to creating a Parlay Card with bets in just one sport. You can add bets from other sports and leagues as well. Parlays are popular because they involve a bigger payout than a single bet, and it can be a low-risk, high reward return. However, it is harder to win a Parlay than a single bet because even if just one bet loses, the entire Parlay Card loses. 

Here is an example of the most common type of parlay:

Bet 1

Atlanta Hawks +4.5 over Detroit Pistons

Bet 2

Washington Wizards +3.5 over San Antonio Spurs

An example of this can be viewed in ZenSports:

In this case, you are betting that the Hawks will cover the -4.5 spread, and the Wizards will cover the +3.5 spread. To win the bet, both teams must cover and both bets must win. If one  bet loses, then you lose the parlay altogether.

By adding multiple bets into one Parlay Card, you increase the payout of the Parlay Card. To compensate for the more difficult odds of getting all the bets in a Parlay correct, Parlay Cards pay out a much higher odds multiple than the traditional odds that can be found with only individual bets. There is no limit to how many bets you can add to a Parlay Card.


Let’s say you wager $10 on just one game with -110 American odds (1.91 Decimal). If you win, you will only receive a $9.09 in net profit. 

However, let’s say you wager $10 on two games (both with -110 American odds/1.91 Decimal) to make it a two-team Parlay. Your odds will increase to +282 (3.82 Decimal) and you will receive a $28.20 net profit if you hit both of your bets correctly (NOTE that Parlays will not always pay true odds like in the above example, and so you may get less than +282 odds, but you will still get much higher than -110 odds).

Other Types of Parlays

(Please note, these other Parlay types are not yet available to bet in the ZenSports app, but will be coming later this year).

Round Robin

A round robin is a creative type of a series of multiple parlays that come from a more extensive list of bets. The name derives from a round robin tournament where every contestant must play every other contestant in the tourney. 

After you create a parlay in most sportsbooks, it will give you the option to make it a round robin by creating smaller bets from the teams selected in your wager.

For example, let’s say you make a three-team wager with the teams below:

Chiefs -8.5

Packers -4.5

Dolphins +6.5

Instead of one straight parlay, you decide to break it up into three different two-team parlays. It will look like this:

ParlayRiskTo Win
Chiefs -8.5$10$26
Packers -4.5  


ParlayRiskTo Win
Chiefs -8.5$10$26
Dolphins +6.5   


ParlayRiskTo Win
Packers -4.5$10$26
Dolphins +6.5   

If all three of your teams successfully cover the spread, then you will win all three bets, and you will win a net profit of $78 ($26 x 3) along with the $30 you risked.

If two teams cover, but the third does not, then you will win only a net gain of $6 since you won $26 but lost $20 that you risked on the other two bets (you still get the $10 back you wagered on the game you won).

If only one team covers out of the three, you will not win any of the parlays and lose the $30 you risked.  

You can add additional teams to a round robin. However, the more teams you select to your round robin, the more parlays you will have to hit, which can be very difficult. A round robin with six teams would require 15 two-team bets!


A teaser is almost identical to a traditional parlay bet, except the bettor may adjust the line spreads or use an alternative over/under to better the chances of winning the wager. The payout is lower if the teaser hits, but the odds are more advantageous to winning the bet. 

For examples, let’s say the sportsbooks list the following odds:

NFL SpreadMoneylineTotal
Chiefs-3 (-110)-15049.5o
Chargers+3 (-110)+14049.5u


NFL SpreadMoneylineTotal
Packers-3 (-110)-15047.5o
Bears+3 (-110)+14047.5u

A regular parlay of $10 on the spread in each game would net you $26.45 with those odds.

However, If you like the underdogs and want more value. You can adjust the lines to this parlay:

Chargers +9 over Chiefs

Bears +9 over Packers

In this case, the net payout will only be $7.14.

Same with the favorites. You can adjust the lines to:

Chiefs -9 over Chargers

Packers -9 over Bears

The payout will still only be $7.14.

Teasers also vary by sports. With NFL bets, sportsbooks offer teasers of 6, 6.5, or 7, while the NBA has teasers of 4, 4.5, 5, 5.5, 6.


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