Parlay is a system of betting that stacks together separate event odd to form a single, larger bet with a bigger pay-out. It is also called a combo or accumulator bet, and most recently a multi-bet. In a casino setting, and of course online it’s a method that can be used on mobile roulette apps for instance.
Originally used in casinos, it has spread widely to sports betting, with many punters attracted by the increased knowledge of teams and the bigger prize for every stake. It has also led to a rise in many predictors who give ‘expert analysis’ before matches.
Assuming a parlay in which you place £1000 on a night of European elite club football:
UEFA CL Fixtures
Home team Away team Home win Draw Away win Result
Bayern Munich Manchester United 1.70 3.20 4.50 0–0 (draw)
Sevilla Leicester City F.C. 1.70 3.30 4.40 2–1 (home win)
Arsenal Borussia Dortmund 1.30 4.00 8.50 3–1 (home win)
If you stake £1000 for a correct score on each match, then you receive a pay-out of $1,000 × 3.2 × 1.7 × 1.3 = £7,072, a £6072 profit above your £ 1000 investment.
The major downside is that a wrong prediction in any one of the parlay events means you have lost the entire bet.
Parlay does not have a specific sequence rule, and has no scientific assurance on any single bet accumulation. It is a forced dependence of independent events, meaning the possible wins are just and illusion to the gambler, and in no way affect any outcome. Calling a single bet is tricky enough; what about an accumulated bet. Bookmakers love it because of the lower possibility of winning, and also you lose more than in placing single bets.
If it pays off, however, it is a promise of an instant windfall, only bettered by a jackpot. In the 2016-17 season of the UEFA Champions League, for example, one night of group stage fixtures saw a win for all teams labelled ‘big’- Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, PSG etc. A parlay was relatively easy on that night, with a huge reward for the punter.