How to Profit Betting NBA Parlays

Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics talks with Head Coach Ime Udoka. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP

NBA contests provide fast-paced, thrilling action by the best athletes in the world, and having a vested interest in the outcomes of the games makes it even more exciting to watch. But how can parlay wagering be financially feasible when so many experts advise betting straight bets only?

What’s a Parlay?

A parlay is simply two or more bets under the roof of one single bet. This means the individual bets are considered one big bet and if one loses, they all lose. However, if they all win then the amount of money you will receive in return is greater than the combined amount if you bet them separately.

The risk in a parlay is minimized as well because it is considered one bet comprised of two or more wagers which means only the cost of that parlay can be lost whether one or more of the bets contained therein loses. However, if all of those bets were bet separately the losses would apply to each and every one.

To be fair, we must consider that even if four of five teams in a five-team parlay cover but one does not then the parlay will lose. However, if those five teams were bet separately at a standard vig of -110 then the bettor would experience a win of 2.9 units (1+1+1+1=4 -1.10 = +2.9).

Standard Parlay Payout Table

Below we see the payout tables for varying parlays with all teams inside the parlays being offered at the standard -110 price, for a $10 parlay. As is clear, the more teams in the parlay the greater the payout. Parlays can be for any denomination but we used $10 to make it easy.

  • 2-Team Parlay – Risk $10 to win $26
  • 3- Team Parlay – Risk $10 to win $60
  • 4-Team Parlay – Risk $10 to win $100
  • 5-Team Parlay – Risk $10 to win $200
  • 6-Team Parlay – Risk $10 to win $400
  • 7-Team Parlay – Risk $10 to win $750
  • 8-Team Parlay – Risk $10 to win $1500
  • 9-Team Parlay – Risk $10 to win $3000
  • 10-Team Parlay – Risk $10 to win $7000

NBA Parlay Scenarios

The reason we bet NBA parlays is to gain maximum reward at minimal risk. Below are the three possible scenarios vis parlays versus flat bets.

Scenario 1 (Both Bets Win): We put the Cavaliers +8 and the Celtics -5 in a $10 two-team parlay. Both teams cover the spread and we win $26 because two-team parlays pay 2.6/1 and the $26 we won on the parlay is more than the $20 we would have received if we bet these teams separately.

Scenario 2 (Bets Split): Using the same two teams and spreads we see use the Cavaliers +8 and the Celtics -5 in a $10 two-team parlay. One team, the Cavaliers, covers, and the other, the Celtics, does not. We would lose $10 because both teams need to cover, and by the way, there is never any vig over and above your initial bet because it is built into the cost of the parlay.

If these teams were bet separately, only $1 would be lost because Cavaliers +8 wins +$10 while Celtics -5 loses $11 for a net loss of one dollar.

Scenario 3 (Both Teams Lose): Same two teams and spreads, Cavaliers +8 and the Celtics -5 in a $10 two-team parlay. Both teams fail to cover. We would lose $10 because both teams need to cover, but the most we can lose is $10 whether one or more teams lose as it is an all-or-nothing proposition to win a parlay. However, if we bet both these losing sides separately for $10 apiece, we would lose $22 including the vig.

How to Win Betting NBA Parlays

Using moneylines, instead of point spreads, is an excellent way to lay big betting odds at a friendly price. In the parlays above we used a standard -110 vig. However, if you are inclined to betting NBA favorites on the moneyline because you are tired of your team winning but not covering then this is an excellent way to get down and for much less.

Let’s take a real-world example. On a night in March of 2022, we had the following matchups:

  • Celtics -6 ½ vs. Hornets
  • Jazz -6 ½ vs. Nuggets
  • Lakers -4 vs. Trail Blazers

These lines were a consensus of the best U.S. licensed sportsbooks like BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, and FanDuel. Now if we were to put these favorites in a three-team moneyline parlay we would see the moneylines on each favorite were Celtics -240, Jazz -250, and Lakers -165.

If we parlayed these three teams using the point spread, we would know that according to our handy-dandy parlay chart above, a $10 parlay would pay $60 assuming they all covered the number.

However, on this night the Celtics and Jazz both won but failed to cover while the Lakers narrowly edged out a cover over the Blazers. Therefore, that point spread parlay would have flamed.

Yet if we decided to take less of a return but more insurance using the moneyline on all these teams then, using a parlay calculator, we would see that these three moneylines (-240, -250, and -165) would have cashed and returned $22 on our $10 wager.

Parlays can be extremely useful if you’re betting the chalk on the moneyline but if you have strong leans on several teams then use the point spread parlay and reap even higher financial rewards. Parlays are minimal risk and maximum rewards so give them a try!

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