The NFL is watched by millions of fans across America and beyond every single week with a good chunk of those fans trying to turn their love of the game into cold, hard money.
One way they try and do that is through the use of NFL parlay bets. Here we explain what a parlay bet is, how you place them, and give you a couple of things to watch out for.
Shall we get started? Let’s go.
An NFL parlay bet, what’s that?
The obvious thing to say here is that an NFL parlay bet is a bet placed on the outcome of NFL games; specifically, a parlay bet is a bet that combines multiple selections from different events into one big ticket.
If you’re being factually accurate, bets of this nature are only called parlay bets when there are four or more selections made, however, the term is widely used to describe any form of ‘standard’ multiple bet, which means people use the term for doubles and trebles but not for more complex wagers like Lucky 15s.
For you as the punter, placing a parlay bet is super easy. All you have to do is add different selections to your betslip and wrap them into one bet as opposed to paying separate stakes.
What defines a parlay bet?
The key definition of a parlay bet is that it’s a collection of predictions from different games where one stake is placed against one big bet. All selections have to come in for the bet to win; if one selection loses then your entire bet loses.
Now to the bets, whilst your selections can be made against pretty much any NFL markets they mustn’t come from the same event. For example, bet A below is a parlay bet and bet B is not:
- Bet A – Dolphins to win, Bills to win, Rams vs Falcons over 45.5 points, Chiefs to win
- Bet B – Dolphins to beat Patriots, Over 37.5 points, Tua Tagovailoa over 267.5 passing yards, Total points ‘odd’
The eagle eyed reader may well have picked up on something we’ve done in our bet scenarios too. If you haven’t don’t worry; we’ll point it out now.
Bet A, the parlay bet, contains four selections from four different games – that’s standard parlay practice. What’s different is that you can mix and match betting markets within the same ticket; a scenario like that above, which contains three money line 1X2 bets and one total points bets is a 100% legitimate parlay bet.
Are parlay bets better than single bets?
The answer to this question is a highly subjective one depending on what you wish to achieve out of the bet. If you’re pushing for a steady return with less risk then betting through a series of singles then is probably for you. If, however, you’re looking for big returns from a small stake then parlays will be right up your street.
Single bets are much easier to win as you predict, for example, just one team to win a game but the odds are never going to blow your socks off and, to win big, you’d need to invest a hell of a lot of money into each stake.
NFL Parlay bets are basically the polar opposite of this. That means you can create mega potential returns for a minimal stake; that is the main attraction to these parlay bets.
How are parlay odds calculated?
We won’t spend too long on how parlay odds are calculated as there are loads of tools that automate this process for you available online for free but it’s worth touching on.
Let’s look at the opening weekend fixtures to explain:
Eagles vs Lions: Eagles to win @1/2
Dolphins vs Patriots: Dolphins to win @ 20/33
A £10 ‘parlay’ bet returns £24.09 whilst two singles at £5 stake each (£10 total) returns just £15.33. That’s because the parlay bets see odds boosted through the fact probability starts to shift in favor of the bookmaker!
A word of caution
When you read and/or talk to people about NFL parlay bets you’ll always find instances of the big wins and not the countless losses. Those big wins can and do happen but it’s important to remember how the basic principles of probability work when adding more selections to your bet.
In a scenario where you have a choice between win, loss, or tie there are three possible outcomes per game. If you place a double – the most basic of ‘parlay’ possible – there becomes nine possible outcomes. If, however, you opt for a third game then that nine becomes 27.
That scale continues to rapidly build with each game you add. If you predicted every match in an NFL game week your potential returns would be phenomenal – but the probability of you winning would be practically zero.
Our recommendation, which still has no guarantees, is to focus on building smaller, more achievable parlay slips as opposed to ‘lottery style’ once-in-a-lifetime slips.
There you have it, your guide to NFL parlay bets.