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As more and more states legalize sports gambling, more and more sports fans will have quick, easy access to placing a bet instead of that once-a-year trek to Las Vegas that fans used to wait for. And awaiting new sports bettors is a sea of confusing terms that can often be as intimidating as a baccarat or craps table for the uninitiated.

Two of the big terms that will be thrown around a lot are parlay and teaser, so here’s a guide to understand what exactly those mean.

How does a parlay work?

A parlay is a wager that links two or more bets, with all of the bets needing to win for a payout. The more correct bets in a parlay, the higher the payout. For example, a five-team money line parlay, which would typically pay off at +2000 (20:1), means all of the teams you pick have to win for the payout. But if only one of your picks loses, you would lose the parlay.


A parlay can have 10 or more picks, combining all types of wagers across several games or props, with a huge payout for winning all of the bets. However, the likelihood of winning 10-plus simultaneous bets is extremely low. (Standard parlay payouts can be found here:

Sportsbooks often post winning multi-leg parlay tickets on social media to promote the high payout possibilities. In this case, a bettor hit a 14-leg parlay and turned $20 into more than $91,500. That is a return of 4,300:1.

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Recently, U.S. sportsbooks have introduced the concept of same-game parlays. For this type of wager, a bettor selects from lines, totals and prop bets from the same game. In the case of the most recent Super Bowl, a same-game parlay might combine Kansas City -3.5, Patrick Mahomes throwing for more than 250 yards and Rob Gronkowski scoring at least one touchdown. The odds for same-game parlays are lower than multi-game parlays because the events are correlated in some way.

How does a teaser work?

A teaser is another multi-game bet, usually attached to football games, college or NFL. You adjust the point spreads in the games chosen by 6 to 7 points in both directions in your favor. In other words, you get to subtract six points from the spread of a favorite and add six points to the spread of an underdog. For example, a -13 favorite would become -7, while a +3 underdog would become +9. (Standard teaser payouts can be found here:


More popular teaser bets occur when the lines aren’t the typical football-scoring point differentials, such as -3 or +7. If a favorite is -5, a teaser allows that team to become an underdog at +1. Conversely, an underdog at +8, now moves to a two-touchdown gap at +14.

Playing sports betting parlays or teasers appeals more to casual bettors willing to take a flyer on long odds for fun. But bettors who consider themselves sharper (or “sharps”) typically stay away from both types of bets.


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