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parlays and teasers explained

Sports betting is so much more than wagering on single-game events. Parlays and teasers allow you to combine bets of all kinds on a single stake. It’s definitely harder to get all of your selections in a parlay or teaser correct, but if you do, the payoff can be immense.

We like to say that it’s like a choose-your-own-adventure book, except there’s the possibility of money at the end of it!

What Are Parlays?

A parlay describes a bet that includes multiple games. To win the parlay, though, all parts of the bet need to win. When you wager two (or more) games at once, your chances of success are smaller, but your payouts get bigger. 

With a parlay, you can add any type of bet (bets against the spread, moneyline bets, over/under betting, etc.).  If you make a parlay with four games, but only three of your picks win, your parlay loses and you surrender your wager. Parlay bets are sometimes referred to as multi bets or multiple bets. 

For example, if you think the Patriots will cover the spread against the Chiefs in Week 1 and also want the Packers to beat the Seahawks that same week, you can combine those two bets into one. You’ll need to win both bets to see a return on your investment, however.

Each bookmaker has their own limit on how many games you can add to a single parlay. 

What Can’t You Parlay?

While building your own parlay bet gives you nearly unlimited betting freedom, most sportsbooks do have some restrictions on what you can events you can’t place within a single parlay.

At nearly every sportsbook, you will not be allowed to parlay the moneyline and the spread of the same game. Doing so exposes sportsbooks to more potential financial loss than they are willing to take on. The logic behind this is that you can’t parlay events that are connected, as the moneyline and spread obviously are. 

The same logic applies to parlays involving futures bets. If the outcome of one selection in your parlay is even partly connected to another, your sportsbook isn’t likely to allow you to parlay them. For example, if you’re betting on Winnipeg Jets to win their Western Conference Playoff Finals, you can’t parlay this bet with the Jets winning the Stanley Cup.

Lastly, it’s rare that sportsbook will let you parlay first half/first quarter sides or totals with full game sides or totals.

Of course, there is no definitive answer for what all online sportsbooks will or will not allow you to do when it comes to making parlay bets. No two online sportsbooks are wholly alike, and what’s restricted at one book might be permitted at another. Always be sure to read the terms and conditions of the sportsbook you’ve elected to bet with before proceeding with your parlay.

What Does a “Push” Do?

There’s always the possibility of a “push,” or a tie.

For example, if you bet on the on the Raptors at -8 against the Nets and they won by a score of 108-100, this would be a “push.” If your bet was part of the parlay you’d made, it would result in one leg of your parlay being unsuccessful. Consequently, you’d either lose your parlay, or your sportsbook would consider your entire parlay to be “push,” and you’d receive your money back.

How a sportsbook handles a “push” in a parlay depends on their terms and conditions of parlay bettings. As such, always read the terms and conditions before laying any cash down.

Sometimes, sportsbooks remove the leg from your parlay that was deemed a “push”. This affects your payout accordingly. For example, say you parlayed 8 events, and one was a “push” while the other 7 were successful. In this scenario, your sportsbook would just pay out the parlay odds of those 7 events, disregarding the event that had resulted in a “push.”

How a sportsbook handles a “push” in a parlay depends on their terms and conditions of parlay betting. As such, always read the terms and conditions before laying any cash down.

What Are Teasers in Betting?

A teaser is a type of parlay, but one that only pertains to betting against the spread or totals.  The same rules for wins and losses that we mentioned above for parlays also apply to teasers.

Teasers get bettors to adjust spreads in their favor, in exchange for a smaller potential payout. You may find a betting site that allows you to “tease” the spread of one game in either direction, but generally, teasers require you to make a parlay.

Teasers in Action

Let’s say you like both Atlanta and Pittsburgh, but are worried about them covering their respective spreads. Instead of leaving it as a regular parlay, tease the spreads in your favor.

You’ll be given the option of teasing the spread by 6.0, 6.5, or 7.0 points. If we teased our spreads by 6.0 points, our new spreads would be Atlanta (-0.5) and Pittsburgh (-3).

Teasers and parlays example: Falcons vs Bears

-105 and -115 spread example

To get a return on your money, Atlanta would just need to win the game, and Pittsburgh would need to win by more than three.

Of course, your winnings will be diminished with favorable spreads, requiring you to risk more to collect a decent payout.

Searching for more pointers, or seeking out more information about how betting works? We’ve got you covered with our betting 101 guides.