How to Bet Parlay Cards

This tutorial explains parlay card betting. Learn what a parlay card is, how to bet a parlay card, and how parlay card rules affect your payout. The ½ Point Parlay Card is the most popular parlay card. Some sportsbooks also offer “ties win” and “ties lose” parlay cards. Pick from the sportsbook’s preselected list of point spreads, totals, and prop bets. Always review your parlay card’s rules before placing a bet.

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What is a Parlay Card?

A sportsbook will create a list of point spreads, totals, or player props from one or more leagues. The list will be printed on paper for in-person betting or found on a sportsbook’s website for online betting.

Think of the parlay card like a restaurant menu. You choose which which games and lines you like best.

Sportsbooks commonly produce parlay cards for the NFL, NBA, college football, and college basketball. They will release a parlay card a few days before the first game begins. Most football parlay cards come out Tuesday or Wednesday.

How does the Parlay Card Bet Win or Lose?

Your parlay card wins if all your selections win. A tie selection counts as a win if you bet a “ties win” parlay card.

Your parlay card loses if any of your selections lose. It also loses if you bet a “ties lose” parlay card and one of your selections tied.

Like a standard parlay, a tie selection on a half-point card reduces your payout size by one. For example, if 1 of 4 selections ties, your payout will be reduced to the amount for 3 selections (4 – 1 tie = 3). Half-point parlay cards are the most common and popular type of parlay card.

When does the Parlay Card Bet Tie or Push?

A parlay card cannot tie or push. The entire card either wins or loses.

The parlay card’s rules determine what happens if an individual selection pushes. A “ties win” parlay card means a tie selection counts as a win. However a “ties lose” parlay card means a tie selection counts as a loss. One or more losing selections mean you lose your bet.

Rare – In the event of a misprint, unforeseen event, or multiple game postponements, the sportsbook may cancel and refund your parlay card.

How to Bet on a Parlay Card

  1. Sportsbooks will publish and display parlay cards for in-person betting. Online bettors should refer to a sportsbook’s exotics page.
  2. Make 3-12 selections. Carefully fill in the card.
  3. Ties reduce payout by 1 selection on ½ point parlay cards. Tie selections are subject to parlay card rules.
  4. Return to the sportsbook with your receipt or stub to collect your winnings.

What do Parlay Card Line Numbers Mean?

Your parlay card will have a betting line next to each selection. These lines will not change. Once you place your bet, the sportsbook must honor the lines they printed.

Occasionally, a sportsbook will release an updated parlay card and stop accepting an older version. You must bet on the new card unless you already submitted the old one.

The line will have different meanings depending on the selection.

Note that parlay cards do not list odds next to each line like a straight bet. Like a standard parlay, you determine your own wager amount. A winning payout depends on the number of selections you make and the parlay card’s rules.

Point Spread Lines

Decide whether the favorite or underdog will win given the sportsbook’s line. A bet on the favorite wins if the final score difference is greater than the spread. An underdog bet wins if the final score difference is less than the spread.

Over-Under Total Lines

Decide whether the game total will be over or under the sportsbook’s line. A bet on the over wins if the final point total is greater than the sportsbook’s line. A bet on the under wins if the final point total is less than the sportsbook’s line.

Prop Bet Lines

Decide whether the player’s final statistic value will be over or under the sportsbook’s line. Or, whether the final result will be “Yes” or “No”, or one of some other set of outcomes. Your prop selection wins if the final result matches your selection.

More about Reading Betting Odds

SportsBetting3.com’s article “How to Read NFL Odds” discusses how to read betting odds in detail.

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How do Sportsbooks Grade Parlay Cards?

Your parlay card wins or loses according to the rules on the card. The number of selections you make will determine the winning payout.

The minimum bet for most parlay cards is $2. The maximum bet will bet will be subject to the sportsbook’s house rules. In general, most players bet less than $100 per card.

Maximum parlay card payouts range from $100,000 to $200,000. Like the minimum bet, maximum payouts are also subject to the sportsbook’s rules.

Example ½ Point Parlay Card

William Hill NFL ½ Point Parlay Card

The parlay card uses a number of symbols, shorthand, and abbreviations for each selection. The sportsbook used the following on the above card:

  1. A star indicates the home team.
  2. Bold text indicates a team name.
  3. The underdog point spread line is in bold.
  4. The favorite’s line would be the opposite of the underdog’s value.
  5. Light text indicates the over-under total line.
  6. No tie bets are possible because each line has ½ point increments.

How to Calculate a Parlay Card Payout?

Your payout is determined by the number of winning selections you made.

Suppose you bet $10 on a 4-selection parlay card. The winning payout is “13 for 1”.

Parlay Card For 1 Payouts

First, subtract 1 from the larger value when you see “for 1”. In this case, 13 – 1 equals 12.

Next, multiply the difference times the bet amount. The product is your payout. In this case, 12 x $10 Bet = $120.

For 1 Formula
(For Value – 1) x Amount Wagered = Payout.

Parlay Card To 1 Payouts

Calculating a “to 1” payout is easier than a “for 1” payout. Do not subtract 1 from the “to value”. Instead, simply multiply the “to value” times your bet amount. The product is your payout.

A successful 4-selection parlay “12 to 1” payout would be 12 x $10 Bet = $120.

To 1 Formula
(To Value) x Amount Wagered = Payout.

Common Half Point Parlay Prices

The following table contains common half-point parlay prices. Exact payout values may vary depending on each sportsbook’s parlay card rules.

Half Point Parlay Prices
Win Payout Win Payout
3 for 3 6.5 for 1 8 for 8 190 for 1
4 for 4 13 for 1 9 for 9 400 for 1
5 for 5 25 for 1 10 for 10 825 for 1
6 for 6 50 for 1 11 for 11 1500 for 1
7 for 7 100 for 1 12 for 12 3000 for 1

½ Point Parlay Card Rules

  1. Tickets must have a minimum of 3 player propositions (4 if applicable) in action or the wager is void and the wager amount will be refunded. Ties are considered “no action” and reduce to the number of propositions with action. Tickets with less than 3 propositions in action are void and the wager amount will be refunded.
  2. Payoffs will be made on the wagering ticket generated from the stub portion of this card only.
  3. Printed point spreads at the time the wager is accepted are used in the determination of winners, losers and ties. This card will have no ties as ½ points are used.

“Ties Win” Parlay Card Rules

  1. Games not played on date specified or invalid selections are considered no action and card will be reduced to next lowest number of plays.
  2. Cards must have three team minimum otherwise wager is void and money will be returned.
  3. Only this card’s point spreads will be used in determination of the winners.

“Ties Lose” Parlay Card Rules

  1. Games not played on date specified or invalid selections are considered “No Action” and reduces card to next lower number of plays.
  2. Tickets must have a minimum of three valid propositions in action or wager is void and money will be returned.
  3. Printed point spreads at the time the wager is accepted are used in the determination of winners and losers.

Pros And Cons

Pros

  • Winning parlay card payouts are much higher than separate straight bets.
  • Parlay cards are conveniently found at most Las Vegas sportsbooks. Smaller outfits may offer better payouts than popular tourist destinations.
  • Mail winning ticket stubs to the sportsbook to collect payment by mail. Online sportsbooks will credit your account with the winning payout.
  • Small minimum bets are ideal for novice bettors.

Cons

  • Parlay cards are subject to more risk and variance than separate straight bets. One losing selection ruins the entire card. 5 or more winning selections isn’t common.
  • You might get better odds closer to game time on an “off the board” parlay. Parlay cards are printed before sharp money comes in.
  • You must retain the parlay card stub or receipt in order to collect your winnings. Registered mail fees will cut into a modest parlay card payout.
  • Parlay cards are generally considered a losing bet with rare exceptions. “Ties Win” and “Ties Lose” cards are the least advantageous. Some sportsbooks offer a reduced payout even if one selection loses. Player must make at least 10 selections to qualify (9 of 10 Special).

Tips

Compare Integer Spread Lines to Parlay Spread Lines

Compare integer NFL spreads to ½ point parlay card lines. Look for key numbers 3 and 7.

Suppose the New York Giants are 3 pt favorites vs. the Chicago Bears. See if the ½ point is added or subtracted from the integer spread. If the parlay card has a 2.5 spread line take the favored Giants. If the card has a 3.5 spread line take the underdog Bears.

Make 5 or Less Selections

Keep parlay cards to 5 selections or less. Like a standard parlay, it’s rare to win a parlay card bet with 6 or more selections.

Research Team Performance ATS

Research football and basketball ATS (against the spread) trends before making parlay card selections.

Carefully Fill Out the Card

Carefully bubble in your card before submitting it. Each invalid selection will reduce the total selections by 1. A small mistake could substantially reduce your potential winnings. Don’t waste other gamblers’ time hastily scribbling out a card at the ticket window.

$200 Betting Limit

Most sportsbooks limit parlay cards to $200 bet maximums. Anything more than $100 will attract unwanted attention from management. Keep bet size reasonable especially if you’re on a hot steak.

Bets to Try

  1. ½ Point Parlay Card against integer spreads – Find 3 or more integer spreads. Compare these to lines on a ½ point parlay card. Bet the favorite on the card if the ½ point is subtracted from spread. Take the underdog on the card if the ½ point is added.
  2. Bet 3 or more integer spreads on a “Ties Win” Parlay Card – 3 straight bet ties would result in 3 refunds. But winning a 3 selection “Ties Win” parlay card would pay 6 for 1.
  3. Super Bowl and March Madness Parlay Card Props – Select player propositions on your parlay card for major sporting events. These selections are commonly found on “Ties Lose” parlay cards. Combine spreads and totals if possible.

Parlay Card Betting History

Parlay card betting preceded modern parlay sports betting. These cards began surfacing in the USA during the late 1800s as sporting leagues organized. They were commonly found at early baseball games and bars adjacent to ballfields.

The Progressive Movement of the early 1900s initially stunted the spread of parlay card betting. But the arrival of the roaring 1920s, professional football, and better organized gambling syndicates brought them back.

Nevada was the first state to fully legalize casino gambling in 1931. Despite this change, sports betting remained in the shadows. Most bets were booked illegally. Eventually it became better regulated, but not before many legal operators left the market due to a 1951 tax.

In October 1974 this tax was decreased. Legal sports betting operations became profitable once again.

Other Names

  • Parlay Card Bet

Similar Bets

Tables and Reference

Sample Parlay Card Payouts

½ Point Parlay Prices
Win Payout Win Payout
3 for 3 6.5 for 1 8 for 8 190 for 1
4 for 4 13 for 1 9 for 9 400 for 1
5 for 5 25 for 1 10 for 10 825 for 1
6 for 6 50 for 1 11 for 11 1500 for 1
7 for 7 100 for 1 12 for 12 3000 for 1
“Ties Win” Parlay Prices
Win Payout Win Payout
3 for 3 6 for 1 7 for 7 75 for 1
4 for 4 10 for 1 8 for 8 150 for 1
5 for 5 20 for 1 9 for 9 275 for 1
6 for 6 40 for 1 10 for 10 600 for 1
“Ties Lose” Parlay Prices
Special 9 for 10 Bonus
Win Payout Win Payout
3 for 3 6 for 1 7 for 7 80 for 1
4 for 4 11 for 1 8 for 8 150 for 1
5 for 5 20 for 1 9 for 9 300 for 1
6 for 6 40 for 1 10 for 10 600 for 1
9 for 10 20 for 1

Sample William Hill ½ Point Parlay Card Payouts and Rules

William Hill Parlay Card Example Las Vegas Nevada

House Edge on Standard Parlays

House Edge on Standard Parlays
+ Taps out Payout on Mobile
Selections Actual Odds Usual Payout House Edge
2 3/1 2.6/1 10.00%
3 7/1 6/1 12.50%
4 15/1 10/1 31.25%
5 31/1 20/1 34.38%
6 63/1 40/1 35.94%
7 127/1 75/1 40.63%
8 255/1 150/1 41.02%
9 511/1 300/1 41.21%
10 1027/1 700/1 31.54%

Fixed Odds Parlay Table

Fixed Odds Parlay Table
# Selections Las Vegas Payout Offshore Payout
2 13/5 13/5
3 6/1 6/1
4 10/1 12.28/1
5 20/1 24.35/1
6 40/1 47.41/1
7 75/1 91.42/1
8 150/1 175.44/1

Required Reading

References


thoughtco.com/beating-football-parlay-tickets-537015
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parlay_(gambling)
books.google.com/books?id=N-RMAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA429#v=onepage&q&f=false
lasvegasadvisor.com/question/sports-betting-history/