The Ultimate Guide to Casinos


The Parlay Betting System

Anyone familiar with sports betting will recognize the term “parlay” as a type of combination wager in which all selections must win in order for the entire bet to be successful. It has the advantage of paying out at higher odds than if each selection had been backed individually, but with the drawback of losing if even one selection fails. For casino games, the Parlay betting system refers to a form of positive betting progression, whereby a series of two or more increasing wagers are dependent upon winning each successive bet. It is sometimes called “pyramiding.”

How does the Parlay betting system work?

The object of Parlay betting is to take advantage of consecutive wins. This is accomplished by reinvesting profits in the subsequent bet. For example, a craps shooter might wager $10 on the Pass Line, roll a seven and collect a $10 payout, but instead of pocketing the winnings, the shooter will “let it ride.” The bet increases to $20 on the Pass Line for the next throw of the dice, but the risk is still just the original $10. If the shooter is again successful, the payout will be $20 and the profit will be $30, including the $10 from the first roll.

How many times should the bet be allowed to pyramid before profits are taken? That’s a matter of personal preference. In the version of Parlay betting known as “Paroli,” which is used exclusively with even-odds wagers, the limit may be three consecutive wins, but in practice many craps players will press their bets for four wins in a row or even more, while profiting from side bets or by “taking odds.” They reason that the likelihood of success on the next bet is always about 50:50, so the risk-reward ratio warrants shooting for one more big win.

What is the logic behind the Parlay betting system?

The strategy is to multiply winnings exponentially, not unlike accumulating compound interest on an investment. Apart from its simplicity, what makes the Parlay betting system attractive is that wagers remain small when the player is losing and they grow progressively larger when winning, fueled by the House’s own money. For relatively little risk, there is the potential for large payouts. Nor is Parlay betting by any means limited to even money wagers. A roulette player may chose to parlay a win on a single number by betting all or some of the 35 units won on the same number to repeat. Essentially, any type of bet may be parlayed any number of times within the betting limits of the game being played.

Why is the Parlay betting system flawed?

Consecutive wins are required for the Parlay betting system to work and, at some point, all streaks come to an end. For that reason, the success of Parlay wagering depends entirely upon knowing when to end a series of wins and collect the profits. When a craps player gets “on a roll,” the tendency is to over play and “let it ride” one too many times. If profits are not taken, intervening losses can’t be covered. And unless short streaks of wins are rather frequent, the system may not gather sufficient momentum to cover the losses in any event. Additionally, when Parlay bets are made at odds higher than even money, the probability of securing more than two wins in a row falls quite low, so it is advisable not to “let it ride”—at least not all of the winnings; the ratio of risk to reward simply does not warrant such gambling with otherwise guaranteed profits. Again, the most important decision a Parlay bettor can make is to quit while ahead.