Betting 101: Are Parlays Worth It, Or Are They Bad Bets?

Devon Platana

Whether or not you’re new to sports betting, you’ve likely heard the word “parlay” many times. For those unfamiliar with the term, a parlay is a type of bet that links multiple wagers together for a bigger payout.

Novice bettors often flock to parlays because of the idea that they can win big. After all, sportsbooks’ social media accounts are often making posts about bettors who turned a $5 parlay into thousands of dollars.

Even if the odds are extremely improbable, seeing someone strike gold on social media is enough to convince bettors to put their own money down.

However, are parlays a good idea? Should novices avoid them in favor of safer bets? After all, getting one leg wrong can result in the whole bet falling apart.

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of parlays, as well as how bettors should approach them.

What is a Parlay?

As mentioned above, a parlay is when you link at least two different wagers together in hopes of winning a much bigger payout. They also come in different shapes and sizes. While you can easily do a two-leg parlay, some bettors enjoy the chaos that comes with linking even seven or eight wagers together.

Nevertheless, your average parlay better is probably working with anything between three- and five-leg wagers. Anything more than that is an extreme long shot, so expectations should be tempered in that case.

Parlays can always be played across every sport at any time of the year. In fact, some bettors even enjoy combining wagers across multiple sports just to add some variety.

Parlays can be used across different markets. Whether you’re looking at moneyline or spread betting or maybe some prop bets peak your interest, most sportsbooks have options to suit your needs.

Bettors need each of their legs to hit in order for the parlay to pay off. After all, one missed bet will lead to it falling apart. Having said that, the thrill of a parlay is what keeps bettors coming back for more.

Parlay Betting Pros

When it comes to parlay betting, there are a fair share of pros to consider.

The most obvious one is that parlay betting can net a way bigger payout than single wagers. While it’s nice to strike gold on a singular wager every now and then, nothing beats when all five of your parlay legs hit, giving you a lot more cash while providing you with bragging rights over your friend group.

Parlays also offer bettors a chance to spend less money, theoretically. You can win a lot more money on a $5 wager when it comes to a parlay instead of a singular bet. It’s also helpful if you’re on a budget because you can take, say $20, and spread it across multiple parlays instead of pigeonholing yourself with one wager.

Another pro about parlays is that they add a level of excitement that singular wagers do not. There’s nothing like watching a full day/night of sports, hoping that each of your legs comes through. While the losses can be heartbreaking, the wins are rewarded and add extra excitement to an otherwise normal sports-viewing experience.

Parlay Betting Cons

Although parlays can provide sports bettors — especially novices — with a lot of thrills, it’s not always sunshine and rainbows.

For new bettors, parlays can be a slippery slope. Yes: seeing large payouts on social media pages can be tempting, but those kinds of winnings are few and far between. Nobody should expect to strike gold like that every time because, as mentioned before, one lost leg leads to the whole parlay falling apart.

That brings us to the second con of parlays. There’s very little margin of error when it comes to parlays. Some newer bettors will dedicate themselves to chasing big parlay paydays, but all of that disappears once a single bet comes in wrong. If that’s your mentality, you might not enjoy the full experience of sports betting.

There’s also the fact that big parlay paydays require a decent amount of underdog picks. Relying on underdogs can be stressful since they’re, well, underdogs for a reason. While upsets do occur in sports, sometimes on a nightly basis, it’s tough to rely on multiple underdogs to get the job done.

It’s also tough to build a strong betting strategy with parlays. When it comes to singular wagers, you can do a lot of research on the two teams before coming to a conclusion. For parlays, there’s a lot more research to do because you don’t want your wager to be based on guesswork alone.

Unless you know what you’re doing, parlays can also be demoralizing just because they’re so tough to pull out. Losing on parlay after parlay can take the enjoyment out of sports betting, which isn’t what you want.

Are Parlays Really Worth It or a Waste of Time and Money?

Parlays can be a lot of fun, especially with their huge potential payouts. But you don’t want to dedicate all of your betting budget to them. One every now and then can liven things up, however, parlay after parlay might turn you away from sports betting.

At the end of the day, you want to know what you’re getting into before you start thinking of parlays. You must be sure of the risk that comes with playing them, especially if you’re banking on a social media-worthy payday.

Long story short: parlays can be a good idea — in moderation. Like everything that has to do with sports betting, the key is to be responsible and do your homework.

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