How to Get Value Out of If Bets

Mike Evans #13 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. DeFelice/Getty Images/AFP

There are many types of wagers out there, some more exotic than others, but below we will focus exclusively on “if win” wagers. It’s the cherry on the ice cream because if it kicks in, then you know you’ve already won the first leg and now have a chance to win the second with minimal risk. If you are not following along, keep reading, we will clear it up for you.

Contingency bets are popular for many reasons but for those unfamiliar, allow us to explain. Let’s assume it is NFL season and you see two teams that you like but one is a bit more appealing than the other. In our hypothetical scenario, we see the Tampa Bay Bucs are on the road in Carolina and laying 11-points. That’s a square bet but you are confident that the Bucs will easily handle the Panthers so you include Tampa Bay -11 in your NFL picks.

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But before you do, you also like the looks of the NFL odds on the Buffalo Bills -1 ½ at New England. However, you’re not quite as confident about the Bills as you are the Bucs so you decide to make this an “if win” wager. In this case, you can bet the Bucs -11 for $100 and if they win, you will trigger a bet on the Bills -1 ½ for $100.

If both bets win, you will make a $200 profit. Hurray! However, if the Bucs cover but the Bills don’t then you will lose only $10 assuming a standard -110 vig on the Bills (Bucs +$100, Bills -$110 = -$10). But if the Bucs lose, the Bills bet never goes through so the most you are risking is $110 on the Bucs assuming the standard -110 vig on the Bucs.

If win bets limit your exposure and your risk. You cannot lose both bets because the contingency prevents it. However, if we assume the Bucs failed to cover but the Bills did, you would never get the benefit of that Bills cover because the bet never went through, as the Bucs would have to win for the next bet to be activated.

How to Maximize If Win Wagers

So, here’s the way to maximize your win wagers. Let’s use the example above but now we must consider the times the games are being played. Assuming this is an NFL Sunday, we must first use a 1:00 PM EST game as our first game.

In this case, we will assume the Bucs -11 over the Panthers is one of the early games. Now we must use the second leg of our if win wager on a later game. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be another NFL game but to keep things easy, let’s assume the Buffalo/Patriots affair is a late game.

The reason we separate the two legs is that if the first leg clicks (Tampa -11 covers, triggering the second bet, Buffalo -1 ½) now we can do a myriad of things. We could hedge and bet the Patriots for less money, guaranteeing a profit no matter which team wins.

We could also engage in a bit of arbitrage and try to “middle” the game. Although this comes with risk, it is a very tempting betting opportunity. In this case, we could put the Patriots +1 ½ in a $100 teaser with one of the Sunday night teams.

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Therefore, the Patriots would be getting +7 ½ while the Bills are -1 ½ which means if the Bills win by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 then both sides win which means you have won $100 on the Bucs, $100 on the Bills, and now you have a two-team teaser with one leg (Patriots +7 ½) already in.

Let’s assume the Sunday night game is Washington vs. Dallas. The Cowboys are a 10-point home favorite but you have teased them down to -4 as the second leg of this teaser that all started with an if-win bet on the Bucs and Bills earlier in the day.

If the Cowboys defeat Washington by more than four points now you have added another $100 to your bankroll by hitting your two-team teaser and end the day plus $300 to the good. And you did so with minimum risk because of the if win trigger in place to mitigate your damage!

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