Parlay betting: A complete guide for beginners

This guide will teach sports bettors what parlay betting is, how to bet on them, and how to profit from them using the various sportsbook promotions.

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What is a parlay or accumulator bet?

Parlays, or accumulators as they are known in Europe, are single wagers involving multiple players or teams in a sporting event. The Illinois sports bettor adds teams or players to a single bet in the hopes of a much bigger payout than betting each game one at a time.

Different types of parlay wagers

There are several parlay or accumulator wagers, and below are the most commonly found:

Standard Parlay

A standard parlay is a multiple-wager card where the Illinois sports bettor hopes to win two or more wagers on the same bet. Each leg of the bet must win for the slip to be graded a winner. In the case of a tie or push, the bet is voided, and the payout would be one leg less.

  • Chicago Bears -110
  • Detroit Lions -110
  • Green Bay Packers -110.

In the above example, the bettor has parlayed three teams or legs at -110, and the parlay would pay +600, and a winning ticket pays $695.79 on a $100 stake.

Pre-made Parlay Card

The sportsbook creates pre-made or pre-packaged parlays, and a sports bettor can select a pre-built parlay they can wager on at odds set by the bookies. These bets are appealing as sometimes the legs on the pre-packaged cards may be offered as something other than individual bets.

Pre-made parlays may come at different odds than the standard parlay, and the Illinois sports bettor would be advised to remember these parlays have smaller payouts than a traditional parlay.

Same Game Parlay or SGP

These are correlated bets with multiple games or individual wagers from the same contest.

Each leg must win for the ticket to be a winner, but the odds and subsequent payouts are lower than the standard parlay usually found at legal Illinois sportsbook sites.


Teasers are parlays where the player bettor can “tease” or move the line in their favor, but the legs must add up to the oddsmakers’ required number of points. Illinois sports bettors can tease NFL games by 6.0, 6.5 points, and 7.0 points, and NBA bettors can tease 4.0, 4.5, and 5.0 points.

The two-team teaser is the most common, but Illinois sports bettors can add as many legs to the betting slip as they’d like as long as it meets the oddsmakers' teaser requirements.

Round Robin

Round-robin bets are parlay wagers with between 3-10 combinations. An Illinois sports bettor would select multiple two-team parlays with the hopes that any combination of the teams wins the bet.

The round robin differs from the parlay because the round robin separates the parlay into smaller parlay combinations. The bettor wins if any of those combinations are graded a winner. Unlike the traditional parlay, the bettor wins if any combination hits instead of needing each leg to win for a conventional parlay.

In-Game or Live Parlay

Players can create traditional parlays during the game as they can pregame, which is called live betting.

The ticket is built the same way, and SGP and teaser wagers are also available to Illinois sports bettors, but the odds are usually lower than the pregame parlay.

Tips & strategies when parlay betting in Illinois

Parlays and teasers are attractive because the payouts can be enormous for minimal risk, but the odds of doing so are incredibly high.

Therefore, we advise novice Illinois players to refrain from betting parlays. There are some basic strategies for success, and we’ll examine four below:

Use bonus bets or bet credits

Parlays are risky, but a bettor can turn bonus bets into a nice profit. The secret is to play it smart and not try and crush an eight-leg parlay with a .06% probability of winning and instead use the freebie on a three-leg parlay.

Look at it this way: A free $100 bet wagered at -110 would net $90.91, and while that’s an excellent return without any risk, a three-leg parlay would pay nearly six times as much with the same risk.

Use teasers

Teasers are popular because they can tease or move the lines from 6 to 7 points. Let’s use a six-point teaser as an example:

  • Chicago Bears +2.5
  • Minnesota Vikings -7

We’re going to play a two-team, six-point teaser, and we are going to tease the Bears from +2.5 to +8.5. Most NFL games end in either three or seven-point victories, and we teased the Bears to avoid the three and the seven.

The favored Vikings are teased from -7 to -1 to prevent the push on the seven, and instead of winning by seven points, the Vikings only need to win by two points, and that’s a much better number to cover. An Illinois sports bettor betting this two-team teaser would need to wager $100 to win $120.

The most important thing to remember about teasers is to reduce the favorite's points and raise an underdog past the key numbers three and seven.

Manage your bankroll

Illinois sports bettors need to remember that parlays and teasers have higher payouts for a reason and should never wager more than 0.25% of their bankroll on a parlay or teaser bet.

An Illinois sports bettor with a $1000 bankroll would wager $2.50 per parlay or teaser bet and should only increase the stake once a bettor reaches a bankroll of $1250 or a 25% increase. This system isn’t sexy, but it will keep a bettor from going broke during the inevitable losing streak.


Is it wise to bet on parlays?

Due to the high odds and volatile nature of sports betting, it's not wise to bet on parlays. That doesn’t mean playing the occasional parlay is terrible because it isn’t. If the Illinois sports bettor isn’t practicing sound money management principles, they could lose their entire bankroll chasing high-risk, low-reward parlays and teasers.

Can I parlay multiple bets on the same team or game?

A bettor can parlay multiple bets from the same group or game. Same Game Parlays are wagers allowing multiple bets from the same game, just as any other parlay but at much lower odds than a traditional parlay.