I mentioned last week, that if your book offers “if/reverses,” you can play those instead of parlays. Some of you may not know how to bet gratis an “if/reverse.” A full explanation and comparison of “if” bets, “if/reverses,” and parlays follows, along with the situations in which each is best..
An “if” bet is exactly what it sounds like. You bet Team A and IF it wins then you place an equal amount on Team B. A parlay with two games going off at different times is a type of “if” bet in which you bet on the first team, and if it wins you bet double on the second team. With a true “if” bet, instead of betting double on the second team, you bet an equal amount on the second team.
You can avoid two calls to the bookmaker and lock in the current line on a later game by telling your bookmaker you want to make an “if” bet. “If” bets can also be made on two games kicking off at the same time. The bookmaker will wait until the first game is over. If the first game wins, he will put an equal amount on the second game even though it has already been played.
Although an “if” bet is actually two straight bets at normal vig, you cannot decide later that you no longer want the second bet. Once you make an “if” bet, the second bet cannot be cancelled, even if the second game has not gone off yet. If the first game wins, you will have action on the second game. For that reason, there is less control over an “if” bet than over two straight bets. When the two games you bet overlap in time, however, the only way to bet one only if another wins is by placing an “if” bet. Of course, when two games overlap in time, cancellation of the second game bet is not an issue. It should be noted, that when the two games start at different times, most books will not allow you to fill in the second game later. You must designate both teams when you make the bet.
You can make an “if” bet by saying to the bookmaker, “I want to make an ‘if’ bet,” and then, “Give me Team A IF Team B for $100.” Giving your bookmaker that instruction would be the same as betting $110 to win $100 on Team A, and then, only if Team A wins, betting another $110 to win $100 on Team B.
If the first team in the “if” bet loses, there is no bet on the second team. No matter whether the second team wins of loses, your total loss on the “if” bet would be $110 when you lose on the first team. If the first team wins, however, you would have a bet of $110 to win $100 going on the second team. In that case, if the second team loses, your total loss would be just the $10 of vig on the split of the two teams. If both games win, you would win $100 on Team A and $100 on Team B, for a total win of $200. Thus, the maximum loss on an “if” would be $110, and the maximum win would be $200. This is balanced by the disadvantage of losing the full $110, instead of just $10 of vig, every time the teams split with the first team in the bet losing.
As you can see, it matters a great deal which game you put first in an “if” bet. If you put the loser first in a split, then you lose your full bet. If you split but the loser is the second team in the bet, then you only lose the vig.