Football Betting Strategy: Parlays


With mobile technology improving year on year, it’s becoming quicker and easier to place a football parlay on the best betting sites.

Football bettors love parlays as they allow you to rack up massive potential profits by rolling multiple selections into a single bet. Premier League odds provide a great chance to test our parlay strategy on a weekly basis.

Some savvy bettors have earned life-changing sums by laying down a relatively small stake and correctly predicting a number of football results.

Yet many parlays crash and burn due to a lack of strategy, so it pays to do your homework before taking the plunge.

A simple appreciation of basic football statistics will help when it comes to compiling your parlay. Studying the formbook and researching team news is one thing, but understanding the underlying data behind sensible parlay selections is the next level that many bettors would be wise to take.

Never forget that there are always three potential results in a football match, which means a treble involves getting the right outcome out of 27 possibilities (3 x 3 x 3).

But there is so much more to parlays than simply picking a result – learn how to mix and match your ‘multiple’, how to pick the outcomes that suit your own hunch and get the right mental approach to your bet in this complete guide to parlay betting.


What Is An Parlay?

Parlay Principles: Best Practice

Alternative Ways To Bet On Parlays

Where Should I Bet?




What Is A Parlay?

A Parlay combines several selections into a single bet and it only pays out if all of your predictions prove to be correct. It is often abbreviated to acca, while Europeans refer to this type of bet as an accumulator. Each selection you add is known as a leg, and the more you add, the greater the potential payout you stand to make.

For example, you could bet on Liverpool, Crystal Palace, Juventus and Atletico Madrid to all win on a single weekend. If just one team lets you down, your bet will be settled as a loser. However, if all four win then you will earn a far greater payout than you would have done if you had simply divided your stake in four and backed each team individually.

Some of our recommended football bookmakers offer parlay insurance which means you can get your stake back as a free bet should only one team let you down, but you might have to pick at least five or six teams to meet the terms.

Parlay Principles: Best Practice

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You should use a parlay when you want to risk a small amount of money in a bid to win a large sum. You can also use a parlay when you are convinced that a few favourites will win and you want to earn more value by rolling them into one bet. Below are some basic principles to adhere to if you’re considering placing a parlay.

Stick To What You Know

It can be tempting to beef up your parlay by throwing in all sorts of games from across the world or scouring the lower leagues. However, you should always stick to competitions you are familiar with, while avoiding exotic betting markets that have the potential to scupper your bet. Stick to classic markets such as ‘outright winner’ selections, ‘draw no bet’ or ‘both teams to score’ when building an accumulator. You can find more information on alternative types of parlays below.

Avoid Low and High-Risk Bets

Constructing a parlay is a delicate balancing act, and it is advisable to avoid adding overwhelming favourites or massive underdogs into it.

While you might think your football parlay is bombproof when you put in football results trading at -200 or lower, it’s often the case that at least one side will let you down – football can be a hard sport to predict at times. A team might be given a soft penalty or there could even be a red card in the match which affects the outcome.

A huge favourite will not significantly boost your potential payout anyway, as the odds are too low, so they are worth ignoring.

Similarly, adding in Brighton to beat Chelsea away at +800 might do wonders for your potential profit, but it could easily sink your parlay. Aim for the sweet spot in between by picking several selections that offer reasonably strong value and combine for a handsome potential payout.



Avoid Early Kick-Offs

Pick a result in the early kick-off at your peril. It may be tempting to predict the outcome of the early televised game on a Saturday afternoon, but if you don’t get it right your parlay falls at the first hurdle and you’re left cursing your luck as the rest of your bet is beat before most of the games have even kicked off!

There are ways to protect yourself if you really want to include the early kick-off result, such as a ‘draw no bet’ pick (see alternative parlay betting below), but in our experience it’s rarely worth the risk as it can leave you out of pocket and give you a temptation to place another accumulator to replace the beaten bet. That’s never a good spot to be in as a bettor.

Don’t Go Overboard

A C$1 eight-leg accumulator that pays at +2000 is the same as a C$5 four-leg acca that returns +400, right? Well, not exactly. As mentioned, every time you add an additional selection to your betslip you also increase the chances of that coupon ending up as a gallant loser, rather than the sea of green ticks that we want it to be.

It is human nature to want to risk as little as possible for a huge reward. Unfortunately, the economics of that as far as football parlay betting is concerned simply don’t add up. Instead, try wagering a higher stake with fewer selections in your parlay. The return will be the same, ultimately, but your chances of getting over the finishing line are far greater.

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Be Patient

The beauty of football betting to the neutral observer is just how difficult it is to predict. Okay, so many of us will make accurate guesses as to who will win the league title, who will finish inside the top four, Premier League relegation odds and so on.

But the journeys that those teams go on to achieve their goals is strewn with obstacles and dropped points; how often do we see one of the ‘big boys’ struggle away from home against a tough but limited outfit? Almost every week.

The point is that predicting football outcomes is difficult, and so predicting four or more on the same slip is extremely tough. That’s why bettors can go weeks on end without landing a winner.

To alleviate this, you could try to spread your selections out over multiple weekends, or factor in some mid-week fixtures. There’s nothing stopping you stretching an acca over a Saturday-to-Saturday seven-day period, or longer if you have the patience and the odds are available!

However, be mindful that a week is a long time in football, long enough for a key player to get injured in training and miss the last leg of your bet.

Alternative Ways To Bet On Parlays

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If you usually only pick teams to win when building your parlays and have a low success rate, you should reconsider confining yourself to simply including outright winner selections, because that seriously limits your chances of success. Below are alternative outcomes you can include on your slip to add variation to your parlays.

Draw No Bet Market

What is draw no bet you ask? Well, it essentially covers you in case the team you bet on ends up drawing a particular match. For example, you might fancy Chelsea to beat West Ham at Stamford Bridge, but you also think the Hammers are capable of nicking a point. If you are prepared to accept a less attractive set of odds on Chelsea winning, you will get your stake back in the event of a draw, hence ‘draw no bet’.

Allow us to explain further. You might find odds of 10/11 on a Liverpool win over Man Utd. If you bet C$10 and they secure victory, you earn a profit of C$9.10. If Liverpool fail to win, your bet is a loser. If you are wary of Man Utd’s attacking threat before placing the bet, you might want to go for ‘Liverpool draw no bet’, meaning you accept odds of around 4/11 on a Liverpool win instead. If Liverpool win, your payout is just C$3.63. However, if it is a draw, you get your money back.

Now we have established what draw no bet is, how can it help you construct an accumulator? Many punters have had that sinking feeling that comes when one team lets you down and your acca crumbles, snatching a large profit away from you.

If you throw draw no bet selections into your accumulator, you mitigate the risk of this happening. In the event of a draw, that leg of the accumulator will be struck off and your stake simply rolls over to the next selection. It reduces the potential final payout, but it prevents one drawn game from torpedoing your acca.

Both Teams To Score Market

The both teams to score market is a great option if you feel like a particular game will be open and entertaining, or a tight and cagey affair. If both teams like taking risks and leave gaps at the back, you might go for ‘yes’. If it is a clash between two mean defences, you might want to opt for ‘no’ in this market.

You may find betting on ‘both teams to score’ and even ‘both teams to score in both halves’ offers great value, while it is also easy to research how often both teams score when a particular side is playing. This type of bet can be a great addition to an accumulator, as it allows you to find value on a match in which you are unsure who will win.



Handicap Accumulators

By placing a handicap odds accumulator instead of a match odds accumulator, you can sometimes get as big a return from your stake by making three selections with a handicap multiple as you can by making six selections with a match odds multiple.

If you’re not familiar with handicap betting, it’s a market that allows you to plump for sides to effectively win by a bigger margin than just one goal.

For example, you might expect Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea to win their respective matches but also win by at least two clear goals. Theoretically, each team could be 1/2 to win their game but 11/10 with a -1 goal handicap.

Therefore, by putting three 11/10 chances in your multiple, you are creating odds of 7/1 from those selections alone and you then just have to hope that the match favourites are able to win their respective matches by a sufficient margin.

Alternatively, a match handicap bet might see you go for the outsider with something like a +2 goal start which means the team could still lose by a single goal for you to win on your bet as you’ve backed them with a two goal advantage, or ‘head-start’.

Given that Premier League, La Liga and to a lesser extent Serie A produce one-sided affairs every week – especially when you get one of the strongest teams against one of the weakest – the handicap market is a good route to go down whether you’re considering a single, double, treble or accumulator wager.

Remember though, having a fewer number of selections reduces the chance of a particular leg letting you down and you can focus hard on getting the right selections to put in your handicap multiple bet.

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Over/Under Goals Parlays

If you're unhappy with the odds offered on your favourite teams, consider changing your football betting strategy and building your next parlay around the 'over/under goals' market.

Betting on total goals is a parlay-friendly way to boost your chances of seeing a return, given that the market limits the number of possible outcomes.

If you were to back team A in the 'match odds' market, for example, you'd have a one in three chance of winning, as team B could also win, or the match could end in a draw. When betting on 'total goals', however, there are only two outcomes - the number of goals scored will either be over or under your chosen total.

The betting options can start at as low as 0.5 goals per game, climbing up to 9.5 goals in some circumstances, giving you the chance to tailor your bet on a per-game basis. You can also decide whether you want to bet over or under your chosen total, so if you think a match is going to be relatively tight and low-scoring, under 1.5 goals may be a sound option with reasonably high odds. On the other hand, if you think the game is more likely to be a goal-fest, then you could take a chance on over 3.5 goals, meaning a minimum of four goals must be scored.


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To demonstrate this strategy, let's consider a typical Barcelona or Real Madrid match. Both teams are strong in attack and their individual games often end up with four or more goals, so a bet for over 3.5 could be a good way to test the waters. Taking this a step further, let's look at a potential C$10 fourfold parlay – a solid beginner’s bet.

Say for example 888Sport is offering odds of +130 on over 3.5 goals in the Villarreal vs Barcelona match and also +130 in the Getafe vs Real Madrid game. Add to this the -110 odds for over 2.5 goals in the Southampton vs Manchester United match for example and -175 for over 2.5 goals in the Man City vs Newcastle game and you’ve got a potential return of C$158 – a tidy C$148 profit. If you compare this to the C$40.90 return when simply backing all of the favourites to win, you can see the money-making potential of this exciting market.



Also Check Out: The best World Cup odds and get in on the betting action.



Where To Bet?

All sportsbooks will offer parlay betting, so now that you know how to construct the perfect acca that suits your own desires, head over to the best football betting sites to put your new-found knowledge to the test. Specifically, if you're based in Ontario be sure to check out our Ontario Sports betting page for the best offers in that province now that gambling has been legalised.

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