In sports betting, the parlay is a popular option for bettors willing to take a higher risk. A typical pay out on a four-team parlay is around 12 to 1. On an 11-team parlay, it is nearly 1200 to 1. Of course, those odds are so good because the risk is so high. A four-team parlay is extremely difficult to hit, and an 11-team parlay is almost impossible to get right.
That’s why many professional sports bettors will either avoid parlays or limit them to two and three-team sets. However, there is one inventive way that bettors can play a parlay and reduce their risk. By accepting smaller payouts, they increase their likelihood of winning. This strategy is known as the “if” bet.
The “If” Bet
The “if” bet is a fairly recent innovation that reduces the risk for those playing parlays. With a regular parlay, once the action starts, you must get all choices correct to realize a payout. With the “if” bet, however, the action stops once the bettor misses one of his picks.
As an example, let’s say you play a four-team parlay and the first pick is right, but you get the second wrong. With a parlay, your money is committed to the final two games, even though there is no chance that you can win. With the “if” wager, the action stops once you get one of your bets wrong, and the remaining part of your wager is returned.
“If” Bet Example
For our example, we’ll take the same four-team parlay, but this time we’ll make it an “if” bet. Our four-team wager is a string of $11 bets on four football games. Here are the teams:
- $11.00 on the Patriots at -7.5
- $11.00 on the Bears at +10
- $11.00 on the Raiders at -3.5
- $11.00 on the Seahawks at -3.5
If you win the first bet but lost the second, you cannot win your parlay. Normally, this would mean that you will lose the entire $44 wager.
However, with the “if” bet, you lose very little cash. There is no action on the last two games. Plus, you win $10 on the $11 wager that you made on the first game. Instead of losing $44, you have lost only $1.
If you win your “if” bet, you’ll get back about $95. Note how much less your payout is on this reduced risk wager when compared to the standard parlay. With a standard parlay, if you get all of the wagers correct, you will get a return of about $400.
Better Off With Single Bets?
Many people wonder if it is better to stick with single bets than complicated parlays. The fact is the payout on the “if” bet is not much better than that of single bet wagers. One way to increase your profit is to rollover your winnings into the next wager.
In our example, if you played single wagers and continually rolled one win into the next bet, you’d win approximately $170. Of course, you’d also lose more if you kept putting your profits into the next part of your “if” bet.
“If” bets can offer a little better payout over standard point spread wagers, while they greatly reduce the risk you take with a standard parlay. Some sports bettors use “if” bets to help lessen the effect of losing streaks. The fact that you can possibly win something while losing part of your bet, and that you greatly reduce risk that’s associated with a standard parlay, makes the “if” bet a much safer choice for those who are on a bad run.