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If Bets

College Football Betting: If Bets

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper,

“If” bets are confusing at first, but once you master it, you can use it as an alternative to parlays or making two straight separate bets. It also is a helpful alternative when time is a factor or if we are running low on our bankroll. You bet 2 teams on the same ticket. “If” you win the first bet, you place an equal amount on the second game.

Basically, an “if” bet is like a parlay. In parlays, you need to win the first game to have action on the second game just like “if” bets. On an “if” bet, you only bet the same amount that you bet on the first game. You do not also bet the winnings.

When working with an “if” bet, you might think the games need to start at different times. “If” bets can be made on games played simultaneously. When the first of your two games ends, an equal amount is bet on the second team even though it is already in progress. It might almost be over. It doesn’t matter.

An “if” bet forces you to take a stand and not make changes. It also makes the second game contingent on the result of the first game. Unlike making two straight bets, you cannot later change your picks. If you win the first game, you cannot collect your winnings. The action on the second game is locked in. However, when games overlap, an “if” bet allows you to essentially make 2 straight bets without having to invest double the money. Rather than betting $110 two times, you just make one “if” bet of $110.


This is the big difference: The first game on your ticket in an “if” bet is crucial. If the first of your two teams is a loser, the entire bet is a loss. But if the first game wins, you receive credit for that win even if the second team loses. You would only lose the juice. So being 1-1 on this bet is only good if the first game is a winner. So the first game is the more important of the two. You can also bet a “reverse,” which is discussed in another article.

Here are the 4 different scenarios:

Both Teams Win: You wager $110 on an “if” bet containing two teams. The first team wins, so you win $100 on your $110 bet. That same amount of $110 is now wagered on the second game and that wins for another $100 profit. You win a total of $200 and receive your $110 back.

First Team Wins/Second Team Loses: You make a $110 “if” bet. The first team wins and you win $100. $110 is automatically bet on the second team, which loses. Your ticket is cashed for $100 and all you lost was the $10 juice.

First Team Loses/Second Team Wins: When the first game loses, you automatically lose this bet, regardless of what happens in the second bet.

Both Team Lose: The bet is obviously a loser.

“If” bets are contrary to what we know about good handicapping. We ideally like to sit down and handicap the games. All games are either worthy of our betting consideration or they are not. We shouldn’t be using the mindset that we will only bet a game if a different game wins. Either it’s a bet you should make or it is not. In addition, if we are 1-1, our results should always reflect that. In an “if” bet, there are times where going 1-1 would make us a loser, as opposed to the nominal loss of vig you would incur by making straight bets.

There are times where it makes sense, but it’s because things in your life are getting in the middle of you and your action. Say you are in Las Vegas. There are things to do. If you can be in the sportsbook all day on an NFL Sunday, more power to you. But sometimes, we need to go have dinner, take the kids somewhere, or entertain a woman who might be repelled by sportsbooks. And you might be short on money after fulfilling everyone’s needs. So sometimes the circumstances make an “if” bet a good choice.

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