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If Bets

NFL Betting: If Bets

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper,

“If” bets are a little tricky, but once you understand it, you can use it as an alternative to parlays or when you have a limited bankroll in special situations. The word “If” is a pivotal part of this type of wager. You put 2 teams on the same ticket. “If” you win the first bet, you place an equal amount on the second game.

If you think about it, an “if” bet is similar to a parlay. In a parlay, you need to win the first game to have action on the second game and that also pertains to “if” bets. The difference is that in a parlay, you bet the winnings and the bet on the second game. On an “if” bet, you merely bet the same amount should the first game win.

Don’t be confused with the dynamic of the “if” that might make you 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.


An “if” bet forces you to take a stand and not make changes. As opposed to just making two straight bets, you cannot later amend your picks. If you win the first game, you cannot collect your winnings. The action on the second game will take place. Then again, when games overlap, an “if” bet allows you to essentially make 2 straight bets without needing to invest the money that requires. Rather than twice betting $110 to win $100, you just make one “if” bet of $110.

If the first of your two teams is a loser, the whole “if” bet is a loss. But if the first game wins, you’re still in the money even if the second team loses. You would not break out even, but you would only lose the vig. So being 1-1 on this bet is only a winner if the first result that comes in is a winner. Therefore, the first game is the more critical of the two. To avoid this, bet a “reverse,” which we discuss in another article.

Here are the different scenarios:

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

First Team Wins/Second Team Loses: You make a $110 “if” bet. The first team wins and you win $100. $110 goes on the other team, which loses. Your ticket is cashed for $100, making you a loser of the $10 vig.

First Team Loses/Second Team Wins: When the first game loses, it doesn’t matter what happens in the second game. You lose this bet.

Both Team Lose: The bet loses.

“If” bets strike against what we know about what makes good handicapping. We sit down early in the week and hash it all out. Games are either worthy of betting or they are not. Those should ideally be the two categories--yes or no. “If” betting makes it so you are betting on a game only if another game wins. If you’re a perennial loser, maybe it’s better to limit how many games you bet. But leaving a lot of 1-1 two-game spreads on the table because an “if” bet made it the same as being 0-1 can cost you.

There are times where it makes sense, but it’s usually because other things in your life are getting in the way. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Some of us can’t park it in a sportsbook for 12 hours when we go to Las Vegas. There are shows to see, dinners to go to, and people who need your attention. So when unable to make bets at will due to time constraints in a brick-and-mortar setting, an “if” bet is a legitimate alternative.

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