What is a Multi or Parlay in US Sports Betting?

Multis, aka parlays, are bets that combine multiple individual bets into 1 larger bet, with much higher risk and reward.

For example, we could bet that:

  1. The New England Patriots will beat the New York Jets (1.9 odds)
  2. The Buffalo Bills will beat the Miami Dolphins (1.8 odds)
  3. The Seattle Seahawks will beat the LA Rams (1.7 odds)

If we place $50 on each bet separately, we have the potential to win

  1. 1.9 * $50 = $95
  2. 1.8 * $50 = $90
  3. 1.7 * $50 = $85

For a grand total of $180. Not bad.

But, if we were to do a multi, we would bet that all three of events would happen, and multiple their odds together to make one super bet. We would call this a multi with 3 legs (each game = 1 leg)

The odds would get multiplied together, for a final odds of 1.9*1.8*1.7 = 5.814

Rather than bet $50 on each game separately, we can bet $150 on that multi, and, if all three of our picks win, we would win $872.1. High risk, high reward.

How to Earn Bonus Bets with Multis

As we learned in the complete guide to matched betting, we make our risk-free profit with the help of bonus bets. Along with dutching, multis are a great way to earn tons of bonus bets, thanks to a very common promotion, most often referred to as “Parlay Insurance”

FanDuel Soccer Parlay Insurance

Parlay Insurance is an offer that let’s you place usually 4 (in the above case, 5) legs of a multi. Remember, a leg is an individual bet. If you hit 4 out of 5 legs, you can get your bet back in site credit (which can then be turned into cash!)

Multis require long-term mindsets!

Unlike with taking deposit bonuses and turning them into cash, multis will not provide you with winnings every time. For Multis, we need to trust the Expected Value (EV)

What is Expected Value?

The Expected Value of a bet is the anticpated return of that bet in the long run. That means you won’t get the return every time.

Let’s take an example bet with these outcomes:

50% of the time, you win $50

40% of the time, you win $0

10% of the time, you lose $50.

Now, to find the Expected Value, we simply multiply the odds by the winnings, and add them up. (Note: be sure to divide the odds by 100 before multiplying, as you see below [50% = .5])

50% of the time, you win $50 ($50 * .5 = $25)

40% of the time, you win $0 ($0 * .4 = $0)

10% of the time, you lose $50. (-$50 * 10% = = -$5

Add those all up, and we get an Expected Value of $25 + $0 – $5 = +$20.

That means if you took this bet 10 times, you can expect to earn $200.

If you took that bet 100 times, you can expect to earn $2000.

However, if you take that bet just once, there is still a 10% chance that you lose $50. Multies are not guaranteed profit every time, but if you have a positive Expected Value and continue playing those favorable odds, you will come out on top!

Let’s do one more Expected Value example: Is betting Red on a Roulette Wheel a good bet?

A Roulette Wheel has 37 numbers (0-36), 18 Red, 18 Black, and 1 Green (0).

If we bet $50 on Red, what would our Expected Value be?

Lands on Red: +$50 * (18/37) = +$24.32

Lands on Black: -$50 * (18/37) = -$24.32

Lands on Green: -$50 * (1/37) = -$1.35

Expected Value of a Roulette Wheel: -$1.35. That means if you put $50 on Red 100 times, you can expect to walk out with -$135. Let’s stick to things with positive EVs.

How Do we Get positive EVs with Multis?

For regular bettors, Multis are a guaranteed negative EV. But for matched bettors, we can use promos and bonus bets to swing the odds in our favor.

Say we have a 4 way Multi on NBA games, but we have that “parlay insurance” promo, meaning we get our bet back if exactly 1 of legs fails.

If all 4 of our teams win, we win big.

If 3 out of our 4 teams win, we break even.

If 0, 1, or 2 of our 4 teams win, we lose.

Like most matched bets, we need to use a calculator to find our best bets.

You can get a free, complete matched betting calculator on the right sidebar, which includes a Multi calculator.

In the example above, we have 3 outcomes:

All 4 of our teams win – we win $44

3 of our 4 teams win – we lose $12

2 or more of our teams lose – we lose $50

The probabilities come from odds to back each team from the bookkeeper, and to lay each team from the betting exchange.

This bet may not be a sure thing, but it has an expected value of $10.32. We want to aim for bets with EVs of over $10, so this is a good bet.

Keep in mind, we may lose money on any individual Multi. But if we keep making bets with EVs of $10+, after 10 bets we can expect a profit of $100.

Head to head Multis are a great tool for Matched Betting, but since your betting on different teams, you can’t really control the odds. There’s an even better alternative in Same Game Multis.

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